Fan-Fiction squared; that’s the best way to describe No Safewords, a new anthology of fan fiction based around Laura Antoniou’s BDSM themed series of novels The Marketplace.

In the introduction to No Safewords Laura herself describes her series of works as fan fiction inspired by the works of John Preston, a writer and pioneer of gay rights in America during the twentieth century, and this admission sets a fantastic narrative over the rest of the anthology.

As an anthology of fan fiction No Safewords is placed very well to explore the varied dimensions of organised, and usually contract based, fetishism. Being outside of the original author’s (Antoniou) control, the contributors to this anthology have had free reign to delve into aspects of the Marketplace world without the constraints usually placed on an author trying to continue a set narrative.

It’s often easy to forget that this anthology is based around somebody else’s work; while there are tales written utilizing Antoniou’s own characters and settings most of the pieces have their own voices, settings and twists. Some show the love and compassion often found within the commitments of the BDSM community and relationships, and others are just head long dives into the activities and complexities of a world where it is legal to own another human being, if only for a period of time.

My favourite pieces within this anthology are probably Her Owner’s Voice by Leigh Ann Hildebrand; a beautiful tale of a woman who inherits her father’s estate, household slaves included, and sets to work in finding out what kind of owner she is and what she truly wants out of those under her. And while her greatest desire is far from the usual fare, a secretarial slave with a voice that belongs only to her, it is ultimately one that proves satisfying above all else.

The Second piece that really grabbed my attention was Pearls in the Deep Blue Sea by Jamie Thorsen. A strangely sweet tale from the point of view of a spotter in training for the Marketplace – a spotter being a member tasked with introducing new members to the incredibly obfuscated community – when she places the community at risk by mentioning the Marketplace’s existence in a streak of pride, and her subsequent reprimand and emotional epiphany.

Throughout No Safewords Laura makes constant editorial appearances; introducing each piece and brining her own perspective to how they relate to the world that she so meticulously created. This constant interaction with the reader manages to assemble these sometimes scattered pieces into once complete picture.

Fans of The Marketplace Series will enjoy this anthology, as will those with an open curiosity; both of the BDSM world in general, and in this marvellous fictional community.

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