Strange Horizons, 24 July 2006

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.

In “Minty Bags a Squidboy” by Michael Hulme, Minty, not wanting to be outdone by her two girlfriends’ bad taste in men, decides to date a squidboy named Kevin. Yes, he’s of a squid-like race of outcasts from the sea. Seriously, this is what the story is about. And yes, I’m also rolling my eyes, or I was when I first started reading it.

Hulme writes the story in present tense, and there are places where he tells instead of shows, does a little info-dumping, and even switches the POV between Minty and Kevin more times than I have fingers. And yet, despite this obvious example of what not to do when writing a story, I was intrigued throughout the whole tale.

The characters make this story worth it, or at least one character. I couldn’t have cared less if Minty and her shallow “I need attention” friends had jumped off a cliff and ended their idiotic lives (which, regretfully, didn’t happen in this story). No, it’s the squidboy, Kevin, that you’ll feel for. Not because he’s cool or heroic or has witty lines, but because he’s the only character in the whole story who is honest, hard-working, and caring—well, him and the other squidpeople. And despite such admirable traits, he and his kind are hated, despised, and generally treated like dirt. In an age where the race-card is often played for political gain, this story shows you the ugliness of true racism.