In 2005, Circlet Press threw open its transom for a writing contest called “the Best Fantastic Erotica”. The prizes they offered for winning short stories were rather impressive, so I sent them a little piece I had written about an exotic encounter in a far-off place.
“Monsoon” went on to win the grand prize in that contest, and was published in an anthology of the runner-ups and honorable mentions in 2007. Of all my fiction to date, I believe “Monsoon” has generated the largest ratio of reviews-to-word-count. In any case, I am very glad that so many people enjoyed the little tale.
“Tan (Sex in the System) presents the top stories from Circlet’s Best Fantastic Erotica contest in an anthology that runs the gamut from sensual SF to surreal fantasy. Arinn Dembo’s “Monsoon,” the deserving prize winner, tells the tale of Benton, a photographer and womanizer traveling in India, whose encounter with a mysterious seductress results in an eerie surprise…” —Publisher’s Weekly, March 2008
“Monsoon” by Arinn Dembo…It’s not surprising that this lushly written story of an exotic one-night stand was selected as Circlet’s winner. Dembo so firmly and skillfully establishes the South Asian setting you can practically feel the baking heat and smell the curry…the slow build-up to the payoff is exactly the sort of subtle, sexy style that’s rewarding in an erotic story.” –Lydia Thorn, Uniquely Pleasurable
“The opening story, “Monsoon” by Arinn Dembo — by far the best contribution — is a gentle, elegant and subtly disquieting piece where a photo journalist travelling in India is visited during the night by an unidentified lover who satisfies his physical and emotional needs.” –Mario Guslandt, SF Site
“Monsoon” by Arinn Dembo is one of the best stories I have read in a long time, something I could easily have seen in The New Yorker back in the day when they were accepting slipstream fiction and more female authors.” –Carol Ann Moletti, “On Women’s Fiction”
“The lead story ‘Monsoon’ by Arinn Dembo gets my vote for the finest piece in this anthology, written in the lush, exotic style of Ian McDonald’s 2007 Hugo Award Winner “The Djinn’s Wife”…
Dembo layers this story with beautiful imagery of a woman’s power to evoke comfort as a mother (indeed even Mother India), a lover, a cook, or a servant. The life-giving power of the female, embodied by the monsoon rains that give life back to the land, threads through this haunting tale. “Monsoon” is the kind of erotica that could be found in any fantasy or literary fiction anthology; the sexual content blends so seamlessly into the story, it’s hardly noticeable.” -Carole Ann Moletti, The Fix: Short Fiction and Poetry Review