A warm welcome to author Thursday Euclid joining us today to talk about new release “Built for Pleasure”.
Thursday Euclid’s Top 5 Sci-Fi Movies
(in no particular order)
- Blade Runner
- Children of Men
- Starship Troopers
Okay, there we go. I did it, and without falling back on “Star Wars” for any of them or just giving a default top 5 that anyone might serve up. They’re not uniformly critically acclaimed, and I will admit that some of the ones I almost put on here (looking at you, “Alien vs. Predator”!) are out and out trash. Others, like “Pacific Rim,” are tremendously entertaining, with great representation, but left less of an impression on me. So why these movies?
Writing a sci-fi romance novel, I had to consider what I value in sci-fi, what elements matter most to me. In “Blade Runner,” as in Built for Pleasure, the fundamental truth is about what it is to be human. What makes us human? What precludes humanity? I don’t think many people would argue about this film’s inclusion on my list—it’s widely regarded as a classic—but I think maybe it means more to me as a marginalized person—disabled, queer, transgender—than it might mean to some. I always felt there was something innately queer about this movie’s themes and approach, and it remains compulsively watchable to this day.
“Aliens” is the sequel to “Alien” and for whatever reason, I vastly prefer it. I’ve seen “Alien” maybe twice, but watched “Aliens” countless times. When I was a teenager, I had a VHS copy I wore out. No amount of adjusting the tracking would fix it. What made it so central to my life? Ripley, the heroine who is at once maternal and genderless, went a long way toward providing a role model I could actually see myself in. And let us never forget Private Vasquez, the first butch I ever encountered, who gave me a road map for who I might someday be. Bishop, the android, also left a major impression. My takeaway from this story was the importance of character-driven science fiction. There’s a minor shoutout to this ‘verse in Built for Pleasure—the corporation in “Aliens” is called Weyland-Yutani, which I turned into Weyani-Leland to serve as the name of Wolf’s manufacturer.
“Children of Men” tackles a society on the brink of extinction, plunged into despair. It examines with vivid characterization what it means to trust, to seek allies, and to find betrayal around every turn. I don’t want to say too much in case you haven’t seen it, but it’s one of the most bleakly beautiful films I’ve ever seen. There’s a quiet dignity to the characters even as they’re betrayed again and again that inspires me. More than ever, this film is relevant to our world as refugee crises make the news. We’re all human, and we must be there for one another and fight for each other, until the end.
Unlike the previous films, “Starship Troopers” is not universally adored. It’s a cult hit, and I am one of the people who can’t get enough of it. I’ve probably seen it 20 times. If it’s on TV, I’m tuning in. So what makes it the kind of movie I watch and rewatch? It’s satirical in the extreme, making a mockery of the fascist, militaristic themes of the Heinlein novel from which it borrows what it wants and ignores the rest. The way it approaches Us vs. Them mentality is goofy, delightful, and a little chilling when you get down to it. Some of that supermacho militaristic pride makes its way into Built for Pleasure as well, coloring Mal’s background and his family’s dynasty.
The most recent entry on this list, “Snowpiercer” is a visually striking and emotionally harrowing film starring one of Hollywood’s most watchable actors, my personal favorite Chris Evans. He’s a long way from clean-cut Captain America territory in this film, and seeing just how twisted the end of a civilization has left our protagonist is by turns shocking and fascinating. While it’s about as plausible a storyline as most in comics (this is an adaptation of a French graphic novel) the classism and desperation on display are all too real. Classist issues are a quiet but essential part of my novel as well, underpinning the corporatocracy of the culture in which my heroes live.
Built for Pleasure follows a classic tradition of cyborg novels and class warfare in dystopias disguised as utopias. It borrows thematically from these–the stories I go back to again and again to help me make sense of my world. But while these films end ambiguously and lack LGBT protagonists, I delved into the world of m/m romance to hybridize my science fiction plot and give my heroes the happy ending I so rarely see in mainstream sci-fi.
Venture forth and watch these, if you haven’t yet (and maybe give my book a try too).
Retired military officer Malcolm Torvik runs a rehabilitation facility for malfunctioning pleasure cyborgs. When WLF-6759—Wolf—arrives at Reboot Camp, the former battle cyborg presents problems Malcolm’s never faced before. Most pleasure cyborgs are sensation junkies, constantly high on the chemicals sex releases into their bloodstream, but Wolf’s faulty refit means it’s spent a decade suffering through unwanted encounters—and sometimes fighting back despite the consequences.
At first Wolf’s rebellion frustrates Malcolm even as Wolf’s undeniable physical perfection draws him. Then Wolf’s unexpected vulnerability and need open a whole new dynamic between them, and Malcolm finds himself feeling far too much for something that isn’t even human. Or is it? Could Homo sapiens technica be just as human as Malcolm is? And if it is, what’s Malcolm supposed to do about it? Malcolm’s been alone for so long…. Is it possible he’s found love with a cyborg? How far will he go to ensure Wolf’s freedom? Malcolm knows what he must do—for both of them—but it might cost him much more than his comfortable life.
The Thursday Euclid is a strange and elusive creature dwelling in the Texas Gulf Coast region. Frequently mistaken for Bigfoot, Chupacabra, or the monster of the week, he is, in fact, a 30-something black sheep with a penchant for K-pop, geekery, and hot and sour soup. When he’s not playing Dragon Age or SWTOR, he’s probably watching B-movies or talking to his best friend and frequent collaborator Clancy Nacht.
Email: thursdayeuclid at gmail dot com