If You Take My Meaning • 2020 • Tentacle Romance novelette by Charlie Jane Anders

Rating: 4 out of 5.

First sentence: They woke up stuck together again, still halfway in a shared dream, as the city blared to life around them.

Synopsis: Alyssa is about to become a biological body enhancement from an alien race in the form of tentacles, just like her girlfriend Sophie. The alien Gelet live peacefully inside a mountain offering these augmentations which provide the ability of mind sharing. 

The procedure is horrific, Alyssa nearly kills herself tearing the tentacles out of her body. Eventually, she heals and finds a completely different point of view to her previous egoistic motives.

Review: Tentacles are the flagship of alien strangeness, of body horror. But this novelette couldn’t be more different from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. In fact, it is a refreshing, lovely take of mixing strangeness, mind sharing, character development from egoistic to altruistic. 

This different point of view took me completely by surprise, and I loved the novelette for it. I’ve learned that this story is a follow-up to the author’s The City in the Middle of the Night featuring Sophie, which I haven’t read. But I enjoyed it as a standalone, although it took a bit concentration to get into the setting. 

It’s not often that you can witness a proper character development within the scope of a novelette. This has been done masterfully, and I wished it would have been longer. 

Meta: isfdb. Available online at Tor.com. Finalist for the Locus Award.

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2 Responses to If You Take My Meaning • 2020 • Tentacle Romance novelette by Charlie Jane Anders

  1. The synopsis leaves me scratching my head, Andreas. She wants tentacles that give her mind sharing but then she doesn’t want them anymore?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andreas says:

      Sorry to have confused you!
      Just after the change when she woke up, she was completely alien by the tentacles. That’s when she hurt herself. That was a moment’s action. Later on, she was fine with it.


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