Fiction Friday: Hollywood Squid Review (F&SF)

Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Hollywood Squid by Oliver Buckram.
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Fiction Friday: Hollywood Squid Review

Before we begin, I’d like to mention I picked this week’s short story purely on title alone. I mean, when you have an absurd title like that, how can you not read it out of curiosity? Anyway, this is a science fiction short story from Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. You can buy it here. This is a story about alien squids who not only change color to camouflage themselves but are also liars who play jokes on humans. One of them happens to be an actor. It’s a quirky, yet fun short story that is worthy of its humorous title. So, let’s begin.

Plot

The story is about a man named Tony Casagrande, AKA Big House, a director whose career is on the downturn after his previous film failed because of the alien arrival. Mysterious squid-like beings who are notorious liars. One of them, Epimenides, AKA Eppie, wants to be an actor because movies are all about lies. Made up stories meant to entertain. However, getting a squid to be a famous actor is harder than they thought, as none of Tony’s cinema buddies are interested in his ideas. However, they soon discover that their script, which is about Hollywood running a diamond smuggling operation, is more real than they thought. And the head of Hollywood, Mr. Jack Glantz, is at the center of all of it. The truth becomes stranger than fiction as their story literally becomes a possible reality.

I love the idea of a fake work becoming real. The Hollywood setting is a nice touch. Also the fact that the squids’ sole purpose of lying adds to the charm. The story was somewhat predictable, but it’s charming enough that it works. It feels like this could be made into a comedy film. It has that perfect atmosphere of goofy, yet enjoyable antics of a washed-up director stopping an evil plot of his own supposed creation. It reminds me of that Old Spice (I think it’s from them) commercial about a fake movie where a cop teams up with a squid. I wonder if the creator got that idea from there. I can’t say for sure how long he worked on this, but I couldn’t help but make that connection. After all, we get our ideas all over the place, right?

Perhaps that was the author’s thought when making this. He wanted to capture the essence of a Hollywood comedy film in short story form. I think the author did a good job of that.

 

Characters

The main character is Tony Casagrande, a take on the kind of Hollywood directors you could imagine making up. He’s a washed-up director who’s hit rock bottom and needs the next big hit to get his career back on track. Again, going with that comedy film vibe of the loveable loser archetype, Tony fits that description. His partner is Epimenides or Eppie for short. He’s the squid. Since alien squids in this world love to lie, he figured being an actor was the best thing for him. He was the star of this story. He’s adorable and is aloof enough that even Tony looks normal in comparison. The antics they get into are hilarious. For example, towards the end, Eppie disguises himself as a sombrero complete with Tony’s mariachi getup that turns the two into an absolute mockery that even social media stars get in on it.

Those were the two that stood out to me. The rest felt like they were simply part of the show. Most of them appear briefly. Even the villain, Jack Glantz appears for a few moments but is a big focus towards the end. The main focus was on Tony and Eppie, which is fine. I would have liked to have seen more presence from the two other characters, though. This story is about 5000ish words. Either way, the dynamic between the two was worthy enough of my enjoyment.

 

Writing

The writing is very quick and witty. Not too much in the way of overly long paragraphs. It’s mainly dialogue between Tony and Eppie. I was able to follow along very easily and again, going with the film vibe, had a cinematic approach to it. I always enjoy stories where I can follow along word for word and imagine the scenario in my head. I don’t mind beautifully written stories, but only if I can still follow along without pausing to read description or backstory.

The author did a great job of describing how Eppie is able to be a living mood ring. He can change color at will and it depends on what’s happening at the moment. The specific nature of his color scheme was a nice touch.

Good work all around. Not much else to add here.

 

Overall, this was a good read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun Sci-Fi story about alien squid being actors.  That’s the kind of stuff I love to see more of, and the story would be something I would have loved to make.


That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.