Even although the books are flagged as containing taboo themes, there are still strict limits on their content, due to the arbitrary rules that industry intermediaries impose on speech, under pressure from politicians and morals campaigners. Although mainstream novels and productions such as Game of Thones are free to depict “real” incest, the incest depicted in these stories, and in other commercial pornography, is only ever step-incest (“an odd moral workaround,” as Guy sardonically notes in a blog). On the novel’s product page he explains:
It’s a somewhat sweet story, but since it’s about a girl and her dad, nobody will publish it. It’s a fantasy of course, and I don’t condone anything of the sort, but I do believe we should be allowed to read, write, and fantasize about whatever we like. Including this.
More relevant for our purposes, you also won’t find any underage characters in these stories, but only legal-age teens. The copyright page of For the Love of Daddy asserts, “All characters portrayed are at least eighteen years of age,” and in another collection, Guy insists “The term “school girl” is used to refer to college-aged women who are eighteen or over.”
But beyond that, even when these (fictional) adult characters are roleplaying with their (also fictional) adult partners as in Daddies and Babygirls, they regress to the age of “teenagers and not children.” Sixteen—the age of consent in the majority of U.S. states—is the youngest age that a fictional character even pretends to be in this collection.
Most would say that this exhibits good taste rather than prudery. But even so, it lies beyond the pale for Amazon. This is despite the fact that lots of law-abiding, otherwise sexually normative adults, most of them women, have tastes for such content (including some of the most taboo genres of fiction such as shotacon). And they are within their constitutional rights to read and enjoy it, for whatever reasons they have to do so.
On non-commercial fiction websites such as Archive of Our Own, readers can adjust their comfort level for taboo fiction by means of tags that they can use to filter out unwanted content. Not so with commercial erotica, however, in which that control has been taken out of the hands of reader and author alike, and handed over to industry executives.
Amazon isn’t the only intermediary that Guy had to contend with in bringing these tales to market. Another is his payment processor PayPal, the same online giant that cancelled Prostasia's account in July due (apparently) to our publication of some illustrations of furry art that contravened their unwritten rules.
Leading up to Banned Books Week, we don’t just need to worry about the government imposing unconstitutional censorship, through new laws like the JUSTICE Act. We also need to scrutinize what companies are doing, under increased pressure from morality groups with close links to both church and government. Guy puts it this way:
Freedom of the press is meaningless if your printers, your publishers, your distributors, your retailers, your credit card companies, your online payment gateways, and your government all get a say in what they think should be allowed out into the world.
You may not want to ever read one of Guy’s more “taboo” stories. But there’s a very good chance that you’ll find something to your tastes in this collection, or in other books in his diverse, sex-positive library. There are sweet stories, and rough ones; vanilla scenarios and kinky ones. Some are hot, some are funny, and a few are both. Guy conveys an understanding of a wide range of sexual dynamics and sexualities. What kind of stories would he be capable of, if he wasn’t being censored by publishers and payment companies? Perhaps we’ll never know.
In his own words:
There are times when I think books and stories can and should be used to model good behavior, safer sex, and healthy relationships. But there is certainly room–necessary room I think–to read and write stories about horrible, taboo, illegal, or otherwise immoral things.
Fiction is speech, and like all speech, it can be good or bad. Taboo Tales is rather good, for written erotica: Guy is both an experienced writer with an easy, informal style, and presents as an equally experienced bisexual man; a selection of 32 Poems About My Penis is another of his books (it’s better than it sounds, really). To cut this review short, I’ll simply suggest you read one of his free stories to see if it’s to your taste.
But whether it’s “good” or not isn’t really the main point of this review. Unless we are willing to accept tyranny, we don’t let anyone decide whether speech is good enough for us to hear or read—that’s a decision that we all have the right to make for ourselves. Speech that causes direct harm is the only speech that the government has the authority to censor. That isn’t the case for written fiction—of any kind, under any circumstance.
Governments are no longer the prime censors that we need to worry about. Companies too have a responsibility to ensure that their editorial and business decisions do not prevent the exercise of human rights, such as by effectively excluding a wide range of lawful sexual speech from reaching its audience. If you're interested in ever being allowed to read Taboo Tales, now might be the time.