Expanding Horizons Press, $2.99
This anthology may be called Tentacles, but if you want that kind of thing, I’m afraid you have to look elsewhere. The stories in this collection are “serious” business, with fiends and allies that just happen to have tentacles.
Eve LaFoy kicks things off with Solar Pioneer, where a volunteer spaceship captain arrives at a satellite laboratory of sorts only to discover that there is a mad scientist running loose in cahoots with a tentacled alien fiend. Will our hero survive the whole thing or will this be his personal Event Horizon space horror?
DR Larsson follows with Mr. Sweede, a futuristic tale of a body-stealing Cthulhu-thing on the loose, preying on various people until a victim is finally on to it and wants to put an end to his activities. Will this fellow succeed or will Cthulhu live forever?
Eve LaFoy is back with Zaural, which has a more space opera feel to it than the previous two space horror stories. This one has a tough captain who, in an attempt to solve some colonists’ problems with the local tentacled inhabitants, finds out that she may have bitten off more than she can chew when those tentacles come a-calling. This one isn’t kinky or weird at all, mind you. The story is more in line with those “native aliens just want to be free so let’s hug and hump an alien tree today!” tales that pepper the genre, although this one is a bit more ambivalent and even bittersweet compared to those PETA commercials in space.
Finally, Haley Whitehall closes the anthology with The Sacrifice, which sees a kitchen servant girl kidnapped by pirates and thrown to the neighborhood sea kraken as a sacrifice. This one is set in a more historical fantasy setting, unlike the previous three stories, and the author somehow manages to turn the idea of being sacrificed to a kraken into something akin to a female revenge fantasy. It works, mind you.
I’ve given short summaries of the stories found in this anthology because they are all short to the point that there’s no point trying too hard to analyze them. All I can say is that they are all entertaining stories in their own right. The length and pacing all feel right, and when the story ends, it really feels like the door has closed at the right place and moment. The four stories here are all different from one another in tone, feel, and even genre, but they all work very well in their own ways.
For its price and length, Tentacles is worth the money, if you ask me. It gives me what I’m looking for: a good time with a pleasant diversion, so what’s not to like? The authors couldn’t do a better job if they had a bunch of Disney squids happily serenading me with Pete Townshend’s Let My Love Open the Door. Love the tentacles, people, they really aren’t that bad.