Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review: The Melinoe Project

The Melinoe Project
by D.L. King
Renaissance E-Books, 2007
ISBN 978-1-60089-024-6

The Melinoe Institute is a scientific organization staffed by a coterie of brilliant, powerful women and dedicated to the study of male sexual response. When Ray Reynolds, office temp and amateur fetish photographer, agrees in return for a handsome stipend to serve as a subject in the Institute's latest research endeavor, he embarks on a sexual odyssey that will change his life forever. By signing the contract and the multiple release forms (which promise “no permanent damage” but authorize the Institute to perform “any necessary emergency procedures”), Ray enters a world of female dominance that veers wildly between his fondest dreams and his most terrible nightmares.

D.L. King's The Melinoe Project is brilliantly executed, hard-core femdom fantasy. During his twenty-four hours as a Melinoe guinea pig, Ray endures every sort of stimulation imaginable, as well as some that no reader will have imagined before tackling this novel. Even before the project begins, Ray becomes a sexual object, as Melinoe staff gather an exhaustive set of anthropometric data. They measure and record the length of his erect nipples and his penis, the shape, depth and capacity of his rectal cavity, the volume of sperm in a typical ejaculation. Ray knows that he is attracted to women who use him and give him orders, but the women of Melinoe push him to his limits and far beyond.

The clinical detachment of the Melinoe researchers is a faรงade. They are devoted to their work, but they also enjoy it. Ray turns out to be a remarkably durable and sensitive subject. Each member the Melinoe staff wants a chance indulge her special talents and explore Ray's reactions. There's Donna, for example, the expert in electro-stimulation, and the fearsome Susan, who can carve her initials in your back with her bull whip. Then there's Sunny, the grad student recruited to Melinoe after the director happened to read the younger woman's thesis on the psychology of female dominance, who finds herself strongly attracted to the robust and pliant subject.

Ms. King's creative and kinky mind invents all sorts of technological devices that can be applied to tease and torture a submissive: micro-electrodes that can be inserted anywhere, including the anus and the urethra; a lab table of flexible, conformable lucite that can be programmed to assume any shape or enforce any type of bondage; a wheel-chair with a built-in, electrified butt plug. The novel is steeped in pseudo-scientific detail that makes the fantasy more vivid. The no-nonsense manner of the Melinoe staff throws Ray's visceral experiences into strong relief.

Although The Melinoe Project portrays some of the most extreme fem-dom scenes I've read, it nevertheless offers a responsible and enlightened view of the relationship between a Domme and her submissive. There is no abuse here. Ray eagerly consents to participate in the project, and the Melinoe staff, even when whipping, shocking or burning the poor man with melted wax, never lose their concern for his long-term health and well-being. His compliance and endurance earn their respect. The occasional humiliation that they inflict is intended to arouse him, not to belittle him.

Exploring and transcending limits is an essential aspect of submitting to a dominant. The women of Melinoe understand this. As Sunny says to Ray, while he is recovering from his ordeal:

There will be times when I may require things from you that you that you're not sure you can give. Ray, you know I care a great deal for you and I want you to believe that I would never ask anything of you which I don't believe you to be capable of doing.

Dominant and submissive are partners in a quest for mutual pleasure and fulfillment. Even when the slightly mad scientists of the Melinoe Institute are doing their worst, they never forget this truth.

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