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Mostly Cross Posts from my blog, Readings From the Dark Side

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We the Calari of Calar III

We the Calari of Calar III - Wart Hill 3.5
I am so psyched for all the tentacle stories in this year's event. This story is probably the sweetest example of the genre I've read--basically all warm baths instead of the damp dungeons. I really liked the set up and think the story would do well expanded into a fuller novella. I loved Sea and the sex was both original and hot, but Davin was a problem for me. His behavior did not track with the thoughts going through his head.

Inhabiting Davin's head, this is a practically a fully non-con, alien abduction, monster sacrifice story. Obviously, his views are out of sync with most of his family and planet, which makes sense. He's been prejudiced by his fear-mongering, hooch-addled Grandpa. Likewise, his perceptions clearly don't fit reality, since Sea is sweet to the point of being noble, and totally non-threatening. But Davin's behavior doesn't match his perceptions either, and that's a bigger problem. If he's so opposed to what's happening, why is he so passive? He consistently obeys Sea, gets on the ship, gets in the water, etc. And yet it wasn't clear to me why: Sea isn't threatening him and we're not told that there will be any consequence if Davin just refuses. He complains and protests verbally, but he doesn't fight, which just doesn't track if he thinks he's being raped or abducted. I think there is a way for Davin's reactions to make sense, but we would have needed a bit more character development and/or world building to smooth out his contradictions, e.g. more build-up of the attitudes of the rest of his planet about the Calari and why Davin would feel he had to agree to go, more about the dreams and Davin's conflicts within himself about his illicit appendage desires.

I'm chalking these problems up to the short length. Hill is a very strong writer, and the world-building was remarkably efficient given how short the story was. There cannot be too many well-written tentacle stories in my opinion, and this one had the added benefit of being sweet, original and (dare-I-say) humane in its vision of a very alien species who is nevertheless warmly accepting of humans and desirous of merging our differences. All of which is good news, because the only thing the story did need was to be longer.