It was that blurb intro that first caught my attention and convinced me to give Tall, Dark, and Wrigglya read - despite its somewhat corny title and cover that leads little to the imagination. What we have here are four stories edited by D.K. Jernigan, spanning the genre spectrum from science fiction to horror, and from romance to erotica.
D.K. Jernigan opens things herself with A Bargain- the strongest, most interesting, and most well-rounded story in the collection. A coming-of-age romance, this one has a decidedly faery tale feel to it that works. It's a tale of life by the sea, of not fitting in, and of finding oneself in a bargain of a very unusual nature. There's some real drama and suspense here, with an erotic element that's far more sensual than explicit, putting a tentacle twist on mermaids.
Chained to the Wheel by Angelia Sparrow is the one story in the collection that I didn't care for. Not that there's anything wrong with Sparrow's writing - in fact, I've enjoyed her work before - but I simply don't get the appeal of 'cyber' tales. That disconnect from physical reality robs the tale of all drama and suspense for me, negating any sort of threat or peril. I know, I know, there are very often real-world consequences to life online, but they just hold no appeal for me.
The first of two interstellar sci-fi tales, A Home Among the Stars is, by far, the strongest in terms of world-building and cultural exploration. Gryvon presents us with the tale of a young man rescued from the religious intolerance of his homeworld and thrust into a whole other situation. I really liked the evolution of Aaron's character, and found him to be quite enjoyable. The romantic tentacle encounter is teased early on, and looms over much of the story, but it's still a pleasant surprise in the way it finally takes place. The ending didn't quite work for me - it just asked too much of the reader in terms of suspension of disbelief - but that doesn't ruin the overall effect.
Finally, Deadline is the one story that actually opens with the tentacle romance, and then goes on to explore the consequences. Peter Hansen explores themes of sexual orientation and xenophobia in a story that starts out bold and fun, and then becomes much darker. While the characters were a bit thin, and didn't really engage on an emotional level, there was some genuine suspense here that made me wonder if or how it would all be resolved.
Overall, Tall, Dark, and Wriggly wasn't quite the collection I expected - I would have enjoyed some darker, more horrific themes - but it was an interesting read that I suspect will have some cross-genre and wide-audience appeal.
WARNING: No tentacle sex!!!
Quite a bit is left unsaid in this story. I see it as a positive thing, it adds to the mystery.
The ending fails to spell out not only MCs future but their immediate future as well. Like "5 seconds from now" future. No one had seen the captain die. The boys step outside the room and - who knows?
They see the captain?
They drop dead?
Their zombie body parts start falling off?
Omg I need a bucket for this one!!!! Tom ♥.♥ =)~~~~ *turns into a pile of goo*
At one point I felt sorry for the captain. He seemed like a very lonely creature with a major crush on an alien (to him) being. Such a big crush, indeed, that the poor dear made himself so trusting, so blind, accepting all the BS Edouard fed him. All the way to the very end.
"Betrayal. Misery. Edouard Montreuil... ...Stay beneath the water with me, Edouard Montreuil. I’ll wrap myself around you in the trenches, and I’ll make you a god of the deep..."
This is A Happy For Just F*ckin Now Ending. Somehow it worked for me.
Surprisingly, I don't want a sequel, but another book set in the same universe would be great.