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Tendrils & Tentacles

Tendrils & Tentacles cover
Our first anthology
of genre micronarrative.

“Surprising quality”
—John O'Neill, Black Gate editor

Tendrils & Tentacles, Various Authors, Reviewed by Edward Cox.

Tendrils & Tentacles is a collection of flash fiction and prose poetry that dips its toes into sci-fi, fantasy and horror, and all the spaces in between. It is billed as a cooperative enterprise of Speculative Technologies, a writers group from Wisconsin who are, apparently, surrounded by beer and serial killers. And when a book gets that kind of billing, I defy anyone to not pick up a copy and take a peek inside.

“One of Those Days” by Jason Loch raises a smile when a servant sets about his day-to-day chores in a household with nothing day-to-day about it. “Martian Mandala” by Eli Parke is an eerie tale where Martian settlers are haunted by strange inspirations. In Miranda Raine’s “Goldfish”, backstreet surgical procedures lead to a startling discovery, while in Breanna Billman’s “Door with No Name” hidden entranceways are always hidden for a reason.

Although nothing is particularly long in this book, the shorter the piece is the stronger it seems to get, especially the pieces with a leaning towards horror. Jeanie Tomasko’s “Violet’s Saturdays”, with its sinister look at peculiar weekend routines, is a good example of this. F.J. Bergmann’s “Symbiosis” is another short-but-weighty effort, which uses an almost cheerful tone to approaching the horrific. From the very first sentence, we know we’re in deep trouble:

No one knew where the stuff had come from, but its pink,fluffy fibers had filled all the air ducts with clouds of fuzz and were beginning to festoon the tunnel ceilings with rosy stratocumuli.

Make no doubt about it, Tendrils & Tentacles is a strong book. It’s unusual to find a collection with so little weakness about it, but each piece here is brushed and polished, and genuinely has something to say. These stories are intriguing and entertaining, as fulfilling as they are ambiguous; and this group of authors, in amongst the beer and serial killers, always finds something to pique the interest.

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