First Watch
by Peter Hansen, historical/fantasy (2011)
Riptide Publishing, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-937551-04-9


In the days of World War I, there is a submarine called the Flèche. Of course, there are many submarines out there, all trying to blow each other up to bits, but this one is captained by Cthulhu's less famous brother who doesn't even warrant a name here, the poor thing. I don't think I can blame him for insisting that our hero Edouard Montreuil bend over and let him do his horny tentacle thing on that guy. Edouard, a soldier in the war, would have died if he hadn't accepted the many-tentacled one's offer of second chance at life. Of course, if he knew then that he has to star in his own Demon Beast Invasion episode every night, he wouldn't have accepted that offer that eagerly! Perhaps his old flame Farid Ruiz can kill that Shuma-Gorath wannabe and, who knows, even rekindle some passion together in the process? All he needs to do is to get Ruiz to join the crew without arousing the captain's suspicion. How hard can that be?

I don't know what to expect from Peter Hansen's First Watch, but now, I can tell you - this isn't hardcore tentacle pornography as much as it is a romantic tale with tinges of Lovecraftian poetry. The author has done a good job in building up the tension all the way to the - uh - climax. Normally I am leery of tales that end with a sex scene because such a scene always feels like an obligatory concession to meet the raunch quota, but here, everything works. Perhaps too well, as I actually end up feeling sorry for Shummy-G here. All he wants is someone to bugger, after all, and he is actually within his right to do his thing to Edouard here as Edouard has agreed to offer his body to Shummy-G in exchange for a second chance at life. Poor darling - I hope one day he finds someone who will appreciate his brand of tentacle love.

Oh yes, Ruiz and Edouard. They aren't the most well-developed characters around, but this is a pretty short story, and they have enough depths for a story of this length. And it's a pretty solid and entertaining short story, as the pacing is good, the atmosphere is appropriately chilling, and the story has me at the edge of my seat from start to finish.

Oh, and about that tentacle sex thing - it's there, but fans of shokushu goukan are going to be disappointed as this one is more in tune with HP Lovecraft than tentacle porn manga. When the author goes a little bit more explicit than normal, it's still not too explicit - it's more like the unveiling of the monster's face in a horror movie. The effect is more for shock and horror than tantalization. In a roundabout way, what I'm trying to say here is that the tentacles are more horror than fetish, more "Single Scaly Tentacle Monster looking for love" than "Shuma-Gorath is coming to rape all beach bunnies, fapfapfap". Fans of tentacle stuff may be disappointed by the rather mild sexual explicitness in this one, but I suspect that readers who are open to all possibilities may be pleasantly surprised by this one.

Rating: 84


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