Friday, June 24, 2011

Space Western: "Octopus Tanks" by Max Gladstone (2008)

Here’s a recent short story that I overlooked: “Octopus Tanks” by Max Gladstone, which was published in 2008 on the well-known website Set on Mars, the story is “a tale of vigilantism and revenge, grounded firmly in the daily struggles of an ordinary woman on an unforgiving planet.” Here are the opening lines:
IT was the video, seen in her childhood, that caused Tara to fall in love with octopuses:

A blue ocean, the sinister gray curve of a hunting shark, and then, from the sea bottom, the ballooning crimson amorphous shape, eight arms wrapping and clinging. The shark had thrashed, its jaws working futilely, tail swishing through the water. Eight arms tensed, folding the shark in half the wrong way. The octopus dragged off its meal.

Now, thirteen years and a few million miles later, she rolled onto her back and tasted the iron dust in the dry air. The scientists had been surprised that a snail’s cousin could kill and eat the oceans’ king predator....
Max Gladstone has written several novels and published a handful of short stories. Having spent time teaching in rural Anhui province in southern China, he now resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gladstone was just interviewed by the blog Conversations with Writers.

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