Guilty pleasure erotic genre-fiction that is polyamorous, not harem?
May 3, 2021 4:02 PM   Subscribe

I would like to find some of these books written from a perspective that is more true to the poly experience. I want more emotional intelligence and fleshed-out characters to go along with the sexy scenes and fun action/horror/mystery/space exploration/whatever.

I am bisexual and I'm not too fussed about the POV gender or equipment. I would enjoy suggestions for any kind or, dare I even hope, something with multiple POVs from a whole spectrum of characters? What is important is that characters are relating to each other through more than just the POV character and that the author is doing the work to develop them.

Basically, give me Star Trek where everyone is fucking everyone and it's messy, but people are trying to do right by each other.
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I think A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers ticks several of those boxes. Some, (but by no means all,) poly characters, no harems that I can recall, and a spectrum of characters, most of whom are good people trying to do the right thing. It's an engaging read with lots of queer aliens in interesting relationship configurations.
posted by prewar lemonade at 4:39 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]

Becky Chambers is definitely not erotica, though.

I know some authors who do this in the fantasy genre, if you want it, but not SF. I'm sure it exists, though.

Have you tried fanfiction? You could probably find some actually excellent stuff based on popular properties. I would go over to AO3 and look for either your favorite franchise or, if you'd rather, one you don't know, so you can meet new characters through the fanfic lens.
posted by gideonfrog at 4:52 PM on May 3 [5 favorites]

(Oh what a reading comprehension fail! Ha, yeah that is not erotica, sorry!)
posted by prewar lemonade at 5:24 PM on May 3

I was gonna say that "Star Trek where everyone is fucking everyone and it's messy, but people are trying to do right by each other" is exactly fanfic, so I second gideonfog. AO3 is and has an amazing filtering/tagging options so you can drill right down to what you want, and Star Trek is an old established fandom so there should be some really good stuff in there.
posted by platypus of the universe at 5:32 PM on May 3 [1 favorite]

Abigail Barnette's Boss series isn't initially poly but the main couple eventually meet and partner with another person. It is an erotic romance series but there's families and friends and jobs and travel and health crises and drama, it's not just a sex catalog.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:58 PM on May 3

AO3 might work not only for fanfic, but there's a fairly robust section for Original Works, which is either fanfic with the canon details filed off, or just original fiction but with very clear fannish literary conventions. That said though, once you hit tags like polyamory a lot of the original work is mainly intended as uncomplicated erotica, but there are gems (with character development etc)!
posted by cendawanita at 6:36 PM on May 3

You might enjoy The Slipstream Con and related Ylendrian Empire books by Michelle Moore and S. Reesa Herberth. They're not solely erotica, but they've definitely got more sexy scenes than Becky Chambers' books do. It's not easy to find all of them (and I haven't read all of them), but I think they're pretty close to what you're looking for.
posted by wintersweet at 7:27 PM on May 3

Sam Delany is vintage not-heteronormative sci-fi, interpreting poly-experience as relative in some stories.
posted by ovvl at 7:28 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]

The Expanse series is certainly nowhere near erotic, but I like the family/crew dynamic that Michio Pa has. Every crew member on her ship is also a spouse.

Similarly, Holden has 7ish parents.
posted by McNulty at 9:15 PM on May 3

I can't offer advice on anything extremely steamy, but fantasy/sf authors Laurie J Marks and Melissa Scott have put out works with happily poly families.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:53 AM on May 4

Headway is a 4 part Harry Potter work where everyone is an adult. It's orphaned, I don't know who the author was. There's some sexy sex and lots of emotional work, and the writing is really good at that, wry and lots of show not tell.

AO3 user irnan wrote a fair bit of Steve/Bucky/Natasha that is joyful and emotional about getting together. I should note that you have to log in to read their works.

I feel like I'm telling you things about my taste, here. If you don't like these fandoms, don't worry about telling me - I am a fandom tourist honestly, and just read things I enjoy.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:41 AM on May 4

Filthy Figments has everything you want but it's erotic comics. Maybe a little less fleshed out because many of the stories are short.
posted by meemzi at 11:55 AM on May 4

KIT ROCHA! You want the Bisexual Love Army of Kit Rocha, particularly the Beyond series. Great plot, all sorts of different romantic/sexual groupings, scorching hot sex!
posted by epj at 2:40 PM on May 4

You absolutely need Sierra Simone's Thornchapel series. Angsty magical poly erotica goodness with lots of wonderful friendships.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:00 PM on May 4

Mary Anne Mohanraj writes both erotica and sci-fi about polyamorous characters, and her work is informed by her own experience living as openly bisexual and poly for the past 20+ years.

Her sci-fi works are listed here, some short stories available online. And this is a list of her mainstream lit works, which includes her erotica.
posted by MiraK at 9:02 AM on May 10

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