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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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02/08/2008 Archived Entry: "eBook review: Billy and Bear"

Everyday Spectres: Billy and Bear
By Vic Winter
Published by Torquere Press ebooks, January 2008

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Despite being a cat person myself, I liked this little novelette by Vic Winter about a shape shifting man and his lover. Billy is a working class lad toiling at a factory in some anonymous big city; Bear is his faithful dog, a big, brown stray that followed him home from the park one night and turned into a gorgeous man with café latte skin and waist-length dreads. After getting it on in the shower, they wake up together and decide to stay together.

It would have been nice if the story had opened this way, but it didn't. It opens at the factory where Billy works, when he's clocking out at the end of the day, after Bear's been around awhile. We meet Bear after Billy is attacked on the way home by a gang of young toughs in fancy running shoes. They outnumber him four to one, but Bear comes running up in dog shape and rips up the arm of the one who has a hold on Billy, enabling him to break free and run home. Only after Billy gets home, breathless and bruised but otherwise unhurt, do we meet Bear in human shape and learn that he's a sexy brother who can change into a dog.

Despite the hot sex that occurs between the two, especially during a full moon, I found "Billy and Bear" to be a bit disappointing plot wise. The author does not make full use of the gang of youths who attacked Billy, nor does he give us any clues as to Bear's background until near the end of the story, when they all come rushing out during a wave of wild dog attacks, which Billy is afraid his lover is responsible for. But they turn out to be the work of this same gang. Then we find out that Bear wasn't born this way, he volunteered for an experiment in which men could be changed into dogs "To make better guards--a combination of man and dog to protect perimeters." According to Bear, he was considered a failure by the scientists who created him and was slated to be used as a test subject (read "lab animal"). So when the Doberman gang busted out, he took advantage of the opportunity to escape himself. I would have liked to learn more about the experiment and what other kinds of hybrids they were creating in that lab, especially in view of the latest news from England that they've succeeded in creating human/animal clones for experimental purposes.

The author also had a chance to spice up the story when he brings back the Doberman gang toward the end of the story. They stalk Billy as he's leaving work late. He notices them following him after he stops for groceries, but he eludes them by hiding in a local bar just a few minutes away from his apartment. He calls Bear to warn him, fearing that the gang is trying to get to his lover through him. This would have been a great place to have a fight scene, with Billy and Bear against the Doberman gang. But the author blew it; he allows Billy to leave the bar and get home safely, even burdened with groceries! What good is creating a plot complication if you don't use it?

This could have been a much better story if Vic Winter had developed it more. Maybe if he hadn't gotten distracted by the sex scenes between Billy and Bear--in which Bear comes dangerously close to reverting to "the beast within", another plot complication he could have run with-—he might have paid more attention to the details. As it is, I have to give this story a B-, because it's original, cute, and sexy, but it fails to live up to its potential. I hope Mr. Winter does better in the future. If he ever does a revision or a sequel in which we learn more about Bear's background, I'll be happy to read it. Otherwise, "Billy and Bear" is just another run in the park with a boy and his dog; brief, breathless fun in which no one really gets hurt and everybody goes home happy.

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