Yellow Matter (1993)

A William Barton story is never simple, but if I would give a simplified synopsis of the plot, it would sound like, “A man becomes a whore for aliens, to pay for his monthly longevity treatment, since it’s an easier job than the treadmill that his life has been until then, working a grueling job everyday just to live longer, where living longer means just extending this neverending cycle of work and longevity treatment.” But like I said, William Barton’s stories are never that simple.

Thomas Morley, the man in question, doesn’t become a whore just because of the ‘easy’ money, equally important is his longing for something he can’t admit to himself, he craves love, and if all he gets is the cheap emotional substitute of being a whore (actually courtesan would be a much more apt description in his situation), then so be it. At the end of the story, Morley’s situation in life doesn’t look much worse than at the beginning, he has traded one treadmill against another, how the reader perceives his situation alas depends on how much he despises the concept of being a courtesan. The chapbook (it’s only 40 pages long, probably a novella) has a depressing and claustrophobic feel to it (everybody seems to be trapped by something, work, passion, life), an interesting setting with many colorful aliens and some weird human/alien sex scenes.