Bernice Summerfield 7.4:
Summer of Love
written by Simon Guerrier
I guess it was only a matter of time before someone wrote an actual, honest to goodness sex comedy for Bernice Summerfield. Bernice has returned to the Braxiatel Collection which has been falling apart recently (presumably in the novels which I never followed and would explain the introduction of Doggles, a character I'd never heard of before). For some reason people are shagging like rabbits and Ben Tarrant, former art thief and current head of the Collection, is wandering the grounds naked reprimanding students.
The punchline to it all is actually brilliant: this is a literal sex pollen story. I kid you not, an actual canonical sex pollen story which has both magnificent comedy potential and some very, very serious disadvantages where the issue of consent is concerned. The script absolutely leans into both aspects of the classic fan fiction trope and I'm not sure it entirely works but here we go.
On the plus side there's plenty of comedy to be had from Bernice watching the Collection descending slowly towards all-out gangbang whilst Jason is off-world. As she explains herself, she and Jason are hardly monogamous (“monogamous when they can be” is the phrase she uses) but she's obviously not in the mood to play away at this stage of their relationship. Unfortunately she has advances from Doggles, Adrian, Joseph the robot porter, the gaseous groundskeeper Haas (who I swear used to be an Ice Warrior, probably another event from the novels I missed), various students and even Bev to contend with.
On the down side, of course, are the consent issues which range from the merely bad (Doggles acting like a kicked puppy at his thwarted advances) to the downright repugnant (Haas engaging Bernice in an activity without telling her it'll give him a thrill). Its sort of impossible to do a sex pollen story without addressing this, at least if you want it to be anything other than masturbation material on a fan fiction site, but I'm not sure that Guerrier sticks the landing. I'm rather reminded of some of the more... unsavoury implications of his Graceless series but a lot milder.
Like, a lot milder.
The main joy of the story, aside from Bernice's constant need for a cold shower, is getting to hear Bev Tarrant lording it over the Collection as its nudist master which turns out to be less about sexual inhibition and more about treaty negotiations with a series of local worlds who are in real danger of invading the Collection now Brax is gone. I do wish this series spent a little more time at the Collection as I've always liked the cast, especially Adrian and Bev who appear to now be a couple which makes sense of why they're always mentioned together by Peter in the Legion-era box sets.
Next stop, according to the cliffhanger, is a Bernice and Jason story as they go searching for “advice” on how to keep the Collection safe. For some reason this involves the Oracle of Delphi. You've got to love anthology series.