Monday, November 7, 2011

A story of gay love?

I love this book and give it five stars out of five.

Okay...what to say about Alex's book because my mind is circling. If you read it casually through from beginning to end, there is nothing new here. A great pilot gets trained and blows up a huge military weapon at the end. But if you go one layer deeper (which I always do), this book is about unconsummated gay love between an older man who is all alone and a young, handsome man who has yet to find himself. Disclaimer: Alex has not said his protag is gay. But I totally think he is. If I made this into a movie, I would want Chris Colfer to play Byron. Chris plays Kurt on Glee. Here's a picture of him:
My vote for the
actor that plays Byron

First: Byron is completely closeted. In this society, men have telepathy and are constantly thrusting each other's minds into one another. Byron keeps his "shields" up most of the time but occasionally lets Bassa (the older man) penetrate him. It's really quite sexual and invasive.

Second: Bassa tells Byron that he can't tell people who he really is. He's afraid that if Byron "comes out of the closet" that other pilots may try to repeat his piloting maneuvers and would die because they just aren't as special as he is. But in the end, Byron has no choice but to "come out" and when he does and succeeds, he gets a standing ovation.

Third: This book is a complete "sausage hang". There are no women. But they aren't needed as this is a "gay" love story in a science-fiction setting.

Fourth: If you think I may be full of crap, then take a look at these sample quotes:
"Despite the vast number of partners and friends over the years, Bassa had never connected with any of them...Byron felt confused and betrayed...He didn't matter to Bassa at all..."
"He felt Bassa's grip on his arm tighten and the sound of movement reached his ears. Byron hesitated, afraid to open his eyes. Reaching deep for the courage, he lifted his head and met Bassa's gaze. Bassa squeezed Byron's arm and released his grasp, stretching his back as he leaned away. Byron moved his arm, stiff from resting in one position for so long."
"He struggled to swallow without losing any of the valuable liquid." <== ?????
Bassa chuckled. "It's probably stronger than you're used to," he offered as Byron gasped for air.
A little, Byron admitted.
"You'll sleep good, I promise."  <==== mmmhmmm
These two are just sharing "Telepathy"
"He caught his breath as the liquid slid down his throat, its warmth causing him to wince. Byron coughed once, unaccustomed to a drink so robust. However, he could feel his muscles relax...He would indeed sleep well tonight."
"He'd protested their pairing at first, but now he was grateful for Bassa's presence. The man had taught him many things, most of which extended well beyond their time in the cockpit." <=== makes you wonder, doesn't it?
This book is pretty damn steamy and is full of homoerotic tension. It's extremely interesting and shows that Alex is really writing two stories here which makes him a great writer. What happens near the end is kind of heart-breaking.

If Alex ever consented to an interview, I would ask him for certain if Byron is a gay man. If he said no, then I truly would be surprised because then all of this would just be a coincidence with an "aww shucks...I just wanted to write a story about a pilot" and I honestly wouldn't be impressed by that at all. But as it stands now (without knowing that)...I'm awarding this book a perfect 5. :)


  1. Woow, I'm impressed :) I think Alex will never answer your question because the point of the book is just making it intriguing. I guess :/

    P.S. I like your new blog design very very much:)

  2. ...well Michael, you've piqued my curiosity concerning Alex's book. Him and I are Blogger peers, both of us sharing the events surrounding our recent releases. As soon as I can get my hands on a copy, I'll be reading CassaStar shortly.

    Great post,


  3. Very interesting, indeed. I like when things are left unsaid. Then I can believe whatever I want about the characters, which makes me more connected with the book. I love that about reading.

    I'm loving the new blog look, btw. :D

  4. I like the ambiguity of it all, so I agree that Alex shouldn't answer. I was interested in Alex as a fellow blogger, but you've just forced me to add this book to my TBR list. The book trailer with the video game look already had me hooked; you just reeled me in. :)

  5. This is a great story. Who cares if the characters are gay or not? And Michael...sausage hang? Eeeeww! But then, what do I know about gay terminology? This one though doesn't seem to fit into the tasteful style of Alex.

  6. Oh, Michael. Sausage hang?

    It's interesting how we each bring our particular POV to a story! I can't wait to hear what Alex thinks of your theory. LOL.

  7. Nice redecorating. I have this border on one of my many story blogs. But what's with the wolf? Is it supposed to be symbolic and stuff? Or maybe you like "Hungry Like the Wolf".

  8. You do point out some interesting evidence. Perhaps it can be difficult to have a close male relationship in a book without it coming across as gay?

    I'm now very curious about if and when Alex will respond.

    Nice upgrade to the blog.

  9. I haven't read this one either, but sounds like I should. And I'm with the others. I think it's something Alex shouldn't answer. :)

  10. ooh, i've also read CassaStar...about a year ago maybe? You should drop me an email and we can chat, to avoid spoilers

  11. Your analysis makes me want to read the book even more. I'm totally obsessed by those kinds of deeper readings in books. Indeed, that kind of dual narrative is a sign of great writing.

  12. @mutt: It makes as much sense as penguins did on the last one. I went with a winter theme because it's winter. I'll probably change in the spring.

    @everyone else: Just for the record, I thought the X-Men movies were pretty gay as well. Archangel especially. There's plenty of evidence to support my hypothesis.

    @Em-Musing: I'm entitled to voice my opinion. My blog is my opinion and so is the language I "choose" to use.

  13. Your posts never fail to impress me, Michael. I loved the quotes. Lots of sexual tension there, no doubt about it.

  14. I will answer the question - 100% no.
    They are good friends and close brothers. Like in the movie Brian's Song. There is a bond that has nothing to do with sex. As a Christian, I'd use the example of how close Jesus was with his disciples.
    Sorry, but I wrote it as an example of friendship. That is the message I hope everyone will take from CassaStar.
    And CassaFire will definitely confirm Byron's attraction to women.

  15. @Alex: I'm a little disappointed but wish you luck with the sequel.

  16. Well, my question, then, is does it change your rating of the book?

    However, I would say that the reader is always free to interpret a work in whatever way they please; that's part of the writer/reader dynamic. It doesn't always matter what the writer intends.
    Yes, I learned that in college.

  17. @Andrew: That's why I don't comment on what people read into my books.

    That and the "My Aunt's Dog Theorem."


    Maybe, Michael, Alex hasn't considered the deeper implications of what he wrote. It was hard to miss the impact of those quotes you put in. It doesn't have to be that Alex consciously intended his characters to be gay; he may have intended them to have a deep emotional connection and that deep emotional connection is equivalent to the one between two partners, so that the connection leapt beyond platonic/brotherly and into romantic, without Alex meaning to do so.

    In any event, there seems more evidence in your quotes here that these characters are gay than there was "evidence" that Dumbledore liked other men.

  18. Interesting! As a Christian I've always liked the story of David and Johnathon as the ideal love between male friends. I also know the love between gay men and women runs just as deep and beautiful as any other kind of love. I think fidelity is the key to true love be it heterosexual or homosexual.

  19. This reminds me of last night's "Family Guy" where Ryan Reynolds moves into the neighborhood and starts coming on to Peter. But when Peter finally says, "Hey, I'm not gay!" of course Ryan Reynolds says, "I'm not either" and then goes into a bunch of BS about "similar energies" and whatnot. So maybe the characters in that book just have "similar energies." Or something.

  20. I love searching for deeper meanings, and I think you got this one right ;)

  21. They look a lot more gay than Dumbledore, that's for sure.

  22. @Mutt: Alex said it was a story similar to that of Jesus Christ. Although I've no idea how what he wrote is in even the same ballpark as Jesus and the disciples. But whatever.

  23. Gotta say, I've never seen the term "sausage-hang" before. Love the new wolf banner.

  24. Funny. The thought crossed my mind when I read this a while ago, but shrugged as it was never officially mentioned. *Face-palm* for not catching the deeper meaning, if that truly was intended.

    Excellent point, though. Great writing has two stories in one. :)

  25. It does indeed make your wonder! Sounds like a cool story, and interesting if the homosexuality is truly intended. I think it just makes it more interesting. :)

  26. Wow, interesting review! I like how you dissected out the characters motivations and put a unique spin on it.

    I, uh, like the examples you use too, with the various....ummm...liquids. ;)

  27. Um... interesting. Personally I don't see it.

    Anyway, I loved the story and I loved the friendship Alex portrayed.

  28. Your review makes me want to read the book. No women! Sounds like one of those war novels.

  29. Hmmm...shows you how little I notice. I liked the characters in your last masthead, but this is cool too.

  30. I read CassaStar and LOVED it, but with a completely different interpretation of the meaning. Maybe Alex just has mad writing skills that construct characters we can all relate to in our own way. I thought the simplicity is what made it beautiful. He didn't rely on over the top sci-fi elements to tell his story. I connected to the characters and didn't want to put the story down until I'd finished every last word. I TOTALLY can't wait for CassaFire.

  31. I haven't read CassaStar, but this review intrigues me--books with different ways of interpreting them are always interesting to read.

    And I really like the new blog look!

  32. I read CassaStar awhile ago- shortly after it came out.
    I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the book- really liked the characters, and am looking forward to the sequel.

    So, that being said, these are my thoughts about the point being made in this review (and the review itself).

    As i read the book i felt very aware that there were homoerotic undertones between Bassa and Byron. At the time i was under the impression that Byron and Bassa were not gay, but instead very close 'brothers in arms'- which Alex has confirmed.
    Now me- i like some good homoerotic reading now and again. So this perceived undertone did not affect my enjoyment of the book- whether or not is was evidence of something 'more' (which i knew wasn't the case)- just as the revelation of their heterosexuality doesn't affect it either.

    That being said- while i agree the first two quotes are good examples of the type of tone set in the book, the last three quotes are just ridiculous- pulled COMPLETELY out of context to make a point that may or may not even exist.
    Now if those quotes were intended humorously, well they didn’t do their job coming across as such. Which really proves the point of this whole review- that sometimes what you write, and what you INTEND with the words you use, is not how it’s received. And that you can use language to the best of your abilities, but sometimes people are going to read into things that just aren’t there.

  33. One of the most awesome things about reading (a good book) is that each reader can take something different from the text. Thanks for the review! :-)

  34. @anonymous: Thanks for commenting. I disagree. If you read the book and understand what words mean then you know what I'm talking about. I could cite a hundred more passages for you but I'm not going to take the time. Believe what you want. I also like the book. I gave it five stars. I see nothing wrong with gay overtones. I am a gay man. So take that as you will. Next time uncloak.

  35. I've read CassaStar twice now, and I love the book. There is certainly love in the central relationship, but for me the joy of this book as a reader, was the portrayal of a strong, platonic, brotherly bond. Alex's power as a writer has managed to make this love and relationship as important as any sexual/ erotic relationship I have ever read. For me, this book is a love letter to friendship.

  36. A very intriguing interpretation, Michael. CassaStar was a good read. Made me blubber at the end. Few books do that.

  37. I just want it made clear that although my interpretation of Alex's book does not jive with others that have read it (the ones that it does sync with are just sending me private emails and are afraid to post) AND YES THERE IS MORE THAN JUST ME AND DAVID POWERS KING...

    I want it clear that I loved Alex's book. This is a POSITIVE review of five stars...the maximum that I give.

    People who are angry that I would "dare" to call Byron gay or assume such...I think you guys need to check your homophobia at the door. Because I liked what I read even "if" it differs from the allegory of Jesus that Alex was going for.

  38. i don't think i saw any comments that said 'how dare you call Byron gay'. pretty sure everyone is either intrigued, or just appreciating that the book can be interpreted in different ways.

    As for my previous comment- obvs you're entitled to disagree (as i am with you). But i don't appreciate the implication that if i disagree with you then i either A) haven't read the book (which i already said i have) or B) don't understand the meaning of words.

    As i said in my previous comment, i too don't have a problem with gay undertones- in fact i often enjoy them. Also, i agreed that i felt there were homoerotic undertones in the book.
    However- i agree with you that there were hundreds of other ways to show those tones. You should have used them. Choosing to highlight two quotes where Byron is drinking an expensive alcohol- Pretty much any lines about drinking a beverage can be made to sound dirty with enough winking and nudging. Your implecation is that Alex was using alcohol as a metaphor for semen is farfetched- i didn't see it, and per Alex's comment above, he clearly didn't write it that way.

    I have a new question for you. At the end of your review you said you gave it 5 stars under the assumption that Byron is gay. Now that you know he's not, how do you rate the book (since you said you wouldn't be impressed by that at all)?

    Finally- i don't normally comment anonymously, but my work pc now blocks logging in to google accounts.
    I'm normally under Anne- when i get home i'll be posting under that

  39. Sausage hang is a new one for me! I like to say "hot dog party." As in, "I was going to watch that new TV series, Boardwalk Empire, but it looked like a hot dog party."

  40. Michael, you certainly make a good case for your theory.

    It's probably more intriguing because it's left unknown. And it makes for a bigger audience.

    Sausage hang - not loving that expression. But it made me laugh. I've probably never read that type of book!

  41. Wait, who was angry that you called Byron gay? I'll have to go back up and read the newest comments that i missed.

    When i read CassaStar i picked up on some homo-erotic undertones. Not the drinking ones (truthfully, i thought you were joking about those bits...) But i shrugged them off. I mean, i read a fair bit of Yaoi so i wasn't even sure it wasn't just me reading into something. I mean, it's hard for me not to see Sam and Frodo in a homo-erotic light, too. *shrugs*
    I was pretty sure Alex didn't intend it and so i never assumed either of them were gay. I kinda hoped they would get it on (again, i read some Yaoi) but knew they wouldn't because I just figured they were really good friends since that was how Alex had said it on his blog. I also knew he would have a female MC in the next book and i always assumed she would be a love interest for Byron, which i'm glad to see i was right.

  42. also, i forgot to mention this ealier. I am totally going to use sausage-hang from here on out. It's way better than sausage-fest which is what i usually used

  43. @Anonymous: Thanks for telling me who you are. Okay, so if we step away from the book and take away the whole secondary storyline that I enjoyed this is what I am left with:

    1) Talented pilot gets trained by mentor. Mentor is a real hard ass but they become best friends. Tragedy happens. Pilot blows up something big.

    Okay...well your question how do I rate that? Three stars. It's average. It's a space opera with straight men. Nothing remarkable. Nothing to write home about.

    I guess I could say the editing was good.

    It reduces my review of this book to a one-liner: "Quick read worth $5 bucks for a bus trip or a red-eye flight."

    Does that answer your question?

  44. @Anne: The thing is, I am disappointed that I have grossly misread this book. I'm not changing my review as it may help Alex get some sales he normally wouldn't have. However, I think there is more than enough evidence in the novel that could be put forth in a debate over the context of the actual words in a class that took hour to discuss. But the fact that essentially the story is so flat and basic and the love between Bassa and Byron is just a best friend guy thing seems so cliche. It's just like Goose and Maverick in Top Gun and has been done over and over. And for the record, the heat level in the exchanges (primarily due to the telepathic bond of Bassa and Byron) was WAAYYY higher than anything Goose and Maverick experienced.

  45. ...i would totally read some Goose and Maverick slash.
    As long as the level of writing was sound.

  46. Wow! I didn't expect THAT! I'll take Alex at his word. Have to admit I found myself laughing my @$$ off reading your review and the comments. I'm almost curious as to what you would think of my characters. Almost. Well, thanks for the review.

  47. Hmm... Kurt Hummel. Love him. He's my favorite character on Glee. When Blaine showed up I was sooo happy. I can't wait for the new episode tomorrow. It's going to be beast! -runs around in circles-

    Love the colors. A little change now and again doesn't hurt.

  48. Hi Michael, It's interesting that Alex said he had Jesus and the disciples in mind when he wrote this. There have been those that saw the same homoerotic relationships between Christ and the twelve. It's funny though how often men write stories without (meaningful) women in them...

    Love the new design and your picture. It's very nice and your header definitely lets readers know you are here! I was wondering about the wolf too. What does that mean? Is it related to your book?

  49. That was so much fun to read Michael. I swear, only you could "cum up" with a theory so intriguing. I must say, I've read the book (enjoyed it immensely) and didn't ~entirely~ get this vibe. The quotes - while out of context - were totally dead on to back up your assumptions. Just goes to show you can find facts to support any research project :)

    Can't wait to see how you interpret the alpha-male bonding in my Scent short story (lol).

    I love your new digs Dude; and the change of picture is nice. Makes you look deceptively sweet . .


  50. Fascinating! I'm not familiar with the novel or with Cavanaugh's work, but after reading your review, I had every reason to agree with your conclusion that the characters are gay. Then, here in the comments, the author chimed in, clarifying that the characters are NOT gay. Hmm... writing and reading are both such subconscious events. I'm still not sure who's correct in this discussion!

  51. Michael, if this is your interpretation, don't worry about it, and please don't let my answer diminish your opinion of the story. Perception is everything. I wrote it based on my life's experiences; you read it based on yours. And that's all right!

  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

  53. Oh! I wasn't expecting this at all - really interesting review. This book has been on my TBR pile forever. I need more time!

  54. Great review, Michael. Haven't read it, but Alex should be happy that there are tons of people on here who want to now. Right? It's a win/win.

    This debate kept reminding me of this little bit of sexy telepathy. Gotta love that Kirk and Spock connection.

    P.S. just because male characters are married to women / into chicks doesn't mean there can't be homoeroticism or outright dude-on-dude action in their story. Brokeback Mountain, anyone?

  55. I agree that he shouldn't respond-guessing is half the fun with this kind of stuff!

  56. Such a controversial comment section! Alex is fine with it. Once we write our books and send them out into the world, we can't control what people take out of 'em. Any discussion on a book is good.