Threesome: Him, Him and Me – Matthew Bright, ed. (Lethe Press)

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As hot as sex between two men can be, sex between three men is undeniably hotter.  As to the reason behind this phenomenon—and why it seems to be a staple of queer life—Matthew Bright adroitly notes in the introduction to his anthology Threesome:  Him, Him and Me, “…surely it’s simple maths, then, that the more genitalia in one place, the more exciting?”  I would argue that it’s not simple mathematics, as the hotness level can climb exponentially—and the stories in Bright’s anthology provide ample evidence of that fact.

Although it is a truth universally accepted that threeways are unquestionably hot, every time you add another human to the mix, things invariably get complicated.  (Just as sex between two men can be uninspiring or disastrous, adding a third doesn’t automatically improve it.)  Several stories explore the potential emotional fallout of a threesome, despite (or because of) the hot sex.  “Call for Submission” by N. S. Beranek, which opens the volume, is practically a meta-story—it involves a writer asked to contribute a short story about a threesome to a volume of short stories—that presents the gamut of conflicting emotions between the writer and his partner both wanting/not quite wanting to open up their long-term relationship to a third.  “Share and Share Alike” by Evey Brett similarly involves a couple who must confront their shared feelings for a third man from their shared past. “Dr. Dave” by Dale Chase, with five characters, actually has three threesomes at play (as opposed to three-way sex, of which there is only one example in the story).  Both of these stories acknowledge that sex among three men can also involve shifting pairs, and not always sex among all three.

Which is not to say that the entire volume revolves purely around emotional angst.  (Hey, this is a book of erotica, after all.)  Some stories incorporate other fantasy elements, such as drag (“Fancy Dress” by Chris Colby) and uniforms (“The Guards of Governor’s Square” by Shane Allison).  And as befits an anthology about a popular sexual fantasy, several stories have a fantastical bent:  for example, Rob Rosen (“Invasion”) humorously describes three-way sex between two male Earthlings and an extraterrestrial with two penises.  A couple stories even straddle the line between erotica and horror: “Spring on Scrabble Creek” by Jeff Mann depicts the vampire Derek Maclaine and two human partners with his trademark BDSM, and Jerry Wheeler’s “Strawberries” (the only reprint in the anthology) is genuinely creepy.

While each story is outstanding, three (appropriately) stand out as my favorites.  “Vanilla” by `Nathan Burgoine is a delightful account about a competition between two men for a baker; with a little magical help, everyone wins.  Bright’s contribution, “Time to Dance,” is a poignant tale about three high school students during their final term at school making a statement at their senior prom (in its own way a revenge fantasy worthy of Stephen King’s Carrie–although way less bloody).  “The Big Match” by Lawrence Jackson is hands down my favorite story in the entire anthology:  told entirely through a series of e-mails mostly between two (ostensibly straight) mates the week before  a big soccer game on the telly, several twists occur to produce an unexpected threesome.

The stories themselves are sandwiched between two short pieces of non-fiction:  Bright’s introduction and an afterword by Redfern Jon Barrett, himself a member of a trio.  Of all the possibilities for sex between three men, the only one not explored by the authors herein is between three men already effectively married to each other, so Barrett’s closing essay about living in a polyamorous relationship suggests that possibility, a potential outcome of three men coming—and staying—together.  It is a fitting end to a provacative (in more ways than one) collection about the endless permutations among three men.

Reviewed by Keith John Glaeske

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