Author: Kiernan Kelly
Cover Artist: Deana C. Jamroz
Publisher: MRL Press
Length: 29 pages
When wishing for a way to save yourself from drowning under a deluge of personal disasters, remember that the old adage, "be careful what you wish for" applies doubly during the holidays. Robert Hanley finds this out the hard way when he books himself a time-traveling penny saver vacation that lands him knee deep in danger of losing not only his mind, but his heart.
Poor Robert Hanley, the word "nebbish" was made for him. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong, all over him. The holidays are anything but cheery for him; he's looking at the total collapse of his love life, his job, his living situation. You just know that there's a letter from the IRS waiting in this guy's mailbox, but he doesn't go home, he goes on this crazy cut-rate vacation instead.
And of course, since everything in this guy's life sucks moose balls, vacation doesn't go as he hopes, either. This is a total romp of a story, so getting whisked to ancient Babylon via some unexplained high-tech gadget makes perfect sense, and is probably more pleasant than the journey he expected. Except for the landing. :hysterics:
Being the only blue-eyed blonde for several thousand miles makes Robert a curiosity; being naked and broke makes him the property of the first person strong enough to claim him. And then the property of the first person wealthy enough to purchase him. But it's only for a week, and being the temporary sex slave of the king beats unlimited rot-gut rum on some crowded tropical beach.
This is sheer fantasy, so a little handwaving is enough to transport Robert back 2500 or so years, and a little more handwaving makes everyone understand one another. The language is light and bouncy, and so much fun that of course you want to buy into whatever ludicrous situation comes next. Time waits for no man, though, as Robert considers the end of his week:
The deadline for my departure was nearing, and I began to wonder why I was in such a hurry to leave Babylon. What was waiting for me back home? Yes, there was indoor plumbing, antibiotics and television; on the other hand, I had no job, no boyfriend, no money, and no prospects.This is a much sweeter take on the master/slave theme than most, because Robert has the option of not playing with Marduk, but of course he does. That leads into a niggle – there's an element of the sex that doesn't ring true, but Robert's certainly happy with how things go.
The holiday connection is a little tenuous, which is okay; the story is so much silly fun we can ignore that awful Santa hat on the cover models. The resolution is sweet but not over the top, and is almost a little too somber for the tongue-in-cheek-ness of the rest of the story, but fitting. Time may wait for no man, but the time spent in this story was time well spent. 4 marbles