By now everyone is is probably aware of my fondness for tentacled science fiction heroes. I even have one, a bartender named Teo whose extra appendages come in mighty handy on a busy Friday night. He appeared in my book The Klockwerk Kraken. Then he took his lover home and all his tentacled relatives were present for the sequel Spindrift Gifts.
But when I mention my hero and his family, I generally get one of three reactions:
Let’s address the first one. The Ewww! Factor probably arises from the visceral reaction to a creature so alien to oneself. After all, octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish have no bones; they live at the bottom of the ocean; and they have lots of arms–like spiders (another phobia-inducing critter). On top of that, octopuses are really smart—way too smart for something with a squishy body. These animals are problem solvers. But a lot of people focus on the tentacles. They must be slimy since they’re under water. They can reach out and grab you. They have suckers on them that attach to you and don’t let go. But think about the hugs all those arms can give! There’s nothing Ewww! about hugs, right?
And then the last one, why? Well, for my stories, it really comes down to a panel I attended at RainbowCon 2014. The panel was on the subject of taboo. And tentacles are at the forefront of taboo subjects due to the resurgence of Japanese anime and something called “tentacleporn”. Really, the Japanese have been interested in tentacles since the 1800s when a book of erotic art included the image named “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife.” It is precisely because of the alieness of the Eww! factor that many people are intrigued by tentacles in a sexual manner. The panelists encouraged writers to step outside their normal prose and write something a little different, a little out of the ordinary. So I chose tentacles. I don’t think they are necessarily the sexiest thing about my hero, but even he admits that intimacy with him is adventure–it’s sex outside the normal two arms and two legs.So my challenge to you is to step outside your comfort zone as well. Try reading my story The Klockwerk Kraken and see if you might be intrigued by a few tentacles.