REVIEW: Space Raptor Butt Invasion (Chuck Tingle)

spaceraptorTITLE: Space Raptor Butt Invasion
AUTHOR: Chuck Tingle
SUBGENRES: gay, dinosaur erotica, surrealism, satire

Chuck Tingle is a veritable man for all seasons: raconteur, philosopher, satirist, amateur paleontologist, erotica superstar… and now, lo and behold, a Hugo Award nominee. Huzzah! Grab the lubricants and snuggle up with your favorite stegosaurus! Time to celebrate with an all-night bacchanal of butt-slamming and dino-humping!

Well, sort of. You see, the nomination is a total piss-take—the end result of some misguided ballot-stuffing campaign. I’m not going to talk about the neoreactionaries who brought this about, nor am I going to recount Tingle’s wonderfully subversive counter-strike against them. And I’m certainly not going to sanctify or defend the Hugo Awards—because, let’s face it, they’ve shit the bed many, many times. I’d rather concentrate on the work itself.

Because let’s face it: Chuck Tingle is too good for this shit. His work is subversive, surreal, and often intricate in their self-reflexive structure. He’s far too good a writer to be anyone’s “gag candidate.” Unless, you know… you’re gagging on dinosaur sperm.

Which brings us to Space Raptor Butt Invasion, the story that earned Tingle his Hugo nomination. By any standard, this is a far more conventional and straightforward dispatch from the Tingleverse than what we’ve seen in the past—and that’s okay. Think of this as “Tingle for Beginners.” You don’t want to leap ass-first into the Tingleverse’s deepest waters—especially when that ass might get pounded by another ass. It’s a tale as old as time, really: Lance is an astronaut stationed on a remote terraforming station. Due to budget cuts, he’s fulfilling his year-long mission in total isolation… which, naturally, leads to boredom, ennui… and space madness. But don’t worry: he’s soon joined by Orion, a “voracious velociraptor” from Earth-Two. The two get along swimmingly, staving off their loneliness with games of zero-g ping pong. But what happens when Lance finds himself suddenly attracted to his new reptilian friend? Will he be able to overcome his own sexual insecurities? And is he man enough to take that big “Jurassic load?” This is a Chuck Tingle story, so you can probably figure things out from here.

Okay, I’m not gonna lie… this is all quite ridiculous. Tingle milks this threadbare premise for all its worth, ramping up the bizarre comedy right to the, er… end. Tingle’s usual blend of subversive humor and ribald surrealism works quite well here, particularly in the story’s treatment of its protagonist’s burgeoning realization of his own fluid sexuality. This is, after all, a story where a big transspecies fuckfest challenges the essentialist binaries of gender, sex, and sexuality… where the sudden craving for dino-cock forces our protagonist to reevaluate the boundaries of his own compulsory heterosexuality. Or, as Tingle himself puts it, “It’s not gay if it’s a man and a dinosaur, is it?” Perhaps this is the unifying rule of the Tingleverse, where the restrictions governing our desire have no hold or sway. Sexual desire has no “right” or “wrong” form. It can be transspecies, transterrestrial, transhuman even. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the sort of thing I’d love to see win a Hugo (although, to be fair, “Cat Pictures Please” is also quite good… and holy hell, did you guys read The Fifth Season?).

Needless to say, I really loved this book. It lacks some of the metatextual complexity of some of Tingle’s best work, but more than makes up for this with the sly wit and humor. Oh, and the butt-slamming, of course. Don’t forget about the butt-slamming.

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