Okay, so obviously this is a thing that has to happen. Instead of our regular quick-and-dirty reviews, this is a slightly more detailed recap of HUGO AWARD NOMINEE CHUCK TINGLE’S HUGO-AWARD-NOMINATED Space Raptor Butt Invasion.
I can’t even explain how happy it makes me to type that.
The story opens with some deft set-up and some less-deft mispunctuated dialogue:
“It’s gonna be a long year for you up here.” My fellow astronaut, Officer Pike, says. (loc 6)
I like to think that Pike’s name is a Star Trek shout-out. Anyway, our narrator (Lance) is being left behind IN SPACE on Zorbus to spend a year manning the outpost alone, as part of the Earth Outreach Program. They usually work in teams, but due to budget cuts the Small station on Zorbus will only have Lance.
Lance is unconvinced his sacrifice is worth it.
“I know you’re right, but what is it helping to have me just sit out here like this. We already know that there’s not enough oxygen on thei rock to sustain life.
Pike smiles. “But there could be! There is hope and you know it.” (loc 27)
I don’t understand how hope fits in here, but that’s probably exactly the sort of scientific stuff that the people who usually vote on the Hugos are all over. I mean, they can probably appreciate this stuff on a whole other level than I can. The upshot is, Earth is only going to be inhabitable for ten more years, even with population control.
Lance gestures to a window, which is an excuse to show us some scenery. I won’t bother quoting, but basically its grey and hilly and space-ish.
Pike reminds him that other people have it worse. People always do that to me when I complain, too, and it never actually helps much. But Lance is shocked out of feeling sorry for himself:
“You know it could be much worse.” Pike offers. “In station sixteen on Kerlin they don’t even have a gravity drive.” (loc 36)
Lance invites Pike to play one last game of ping pong, but just then Shuttle Five Alpha arrives and Pike has to leave right fucking then, no delays. He offers an ominous warning before he leaves:
“All joking aside,” he says. “Don’t think too hard out here, stay light.”
I give Pike a strange look, not quite fully understanding what he means.
“Space can get a little strange.” Pike tells me. “People can start seeing things…” He trails off. “Anyway, just take care of yourself.”
Lance sets out to cross “the hills of space dust” (loc 82), and to his surprise spots a space suit wearing figure next to “our perpetually worthless terraforming station.” (loc 82)
The figure mounts its vehicle, which from the cover art appears to be a Space Segway, and vanishes into the distance.
Vance wonders if he’s hallucinating. Once he’s safely back inside the main station he asks the computer, but it confirms he’s alone and will be for a year. Lance falls asleep on the couch, still perplexed.
I awaken to the sound of a loud knocking on the hatch door, and then sit upright in a frantic moment of confusion. (loc 111)
At first he thinks it’s Pike, but then he remembers he’s all alone. IN SPACE.This is quite obviously an allusion to Fredric Brown’s Knock, and proves Tingle’s work not only has literary merit but also an awareness of science fiction canon, as befits a Hugo nominee.
Lance walks over to the hatch, identifies himself as Lance Tanner of the Earth Outpost Program, and lets the visitor in. Lance is a badass in the tradition of Captain Kirk, and he’s also going to fuck whatever’s out there, in the tradition of Captain Kirk.
Perplexingly, the stranger laughs at the mention of Earth, as though he’s heard of it before. DUN DUN DUN.
The three-fingered stranger introduces himself as Orion, and then removes his helmet.
There beneath the tinted glass is the smiling face of a voracious velociraptor, one of the most feared dinosaurs to ever roam the earth. (loc 146)
The raptor says that he was told that Zorbus was uninhabitable, and when Lance asks who told him we get this shocking reply:
“The raptor scientists back on Earth Two.” The prehistoric beast responds flatly.(loc 146)
Okay wait. If the dinosaurs fled Earth, why is this one speaking English and calling its planet Earth Two? Weren’t they long gone before humans, English, and the word Earth? Is this a subtle clue that the dino is, in fact, hallucinatory?
Orion chuckles over the theory that dinosaurs died in “some kind of ice age,” calling that “revisionist history.” (loc 159)
He confesses that he, too, is all alone IN SPACE and Lance suggests they hang out together.
They play ping pong. I’ve visited CalTech and JPL and I found this part entirely believable.
Over the next few days Lance comes to see Orion as a sweet and gentle soul, and also starts to feel attracted to him.
Our difference in species surely couldn’t classify me as gay, could it? (loc 183)
Things come to a head, as it were, one night after they’ve been playing ping pong and eating astronaut ice cream. Lance asks if Orion has ever wanted to try sex with a human.
“Yeah, I mean, who hasn’t?” Orion offers. “The thing is, I’m a pretty big dinosaur and human women are just to delicate. I would probably crush one if I tried.” (loc 192)
Lance makes the obvious suggestion, and Orion counters that he’d have to top. Lance double checks on the implications:
“I mean, it’s not gay if it’s a dude raptor and a dude human, right?” I ask.
“Totally not gay.” (loc 203)
With that out of the way they get down to it.
“I am a filthy little human.” I repeat, coyly, then pull down the waistband of his space briefs and remove Orion’s enormous raptor rod. I grip it tightly and then start to pump my firm grip up and down over his length. (loc 217)
Are you sure this isn’t a little bit gay?
Now without a limit to his dominating deep throat, Orion pushes me down until my head is pressed deep into his lap, my eyes and nose forced up against his rock hard reptile abs. (loc 237)
Long-time Tingleversophiles will already be aware of the significance of abs.
“Pound me like the homo spaceboy that I am.” I beg. (loc 244)
I know they said this wasn’t homo but you have to appreciate the character development for what it is.
“I’m the one who decides who gets fucked around here.” He says, slapping me hard on the ass. (loc 244)
Dude, there are literally only two of you here. That’s not much of a decision.
“Oh fuck, you’re the best dinosaur bud a guy could ask for.” I whimper. (loc 255)
“So you’re going to take my Jurassic load up your asshole and you’re gonna like it.” (loc 292)
“Please fill me with your nasty dino load!” I cry out. “I want your jizz inside of me!” (lol 303)
After some sex and sparkling dialogue, Lance decides that his year on Zorbus isn’t going to be so bad after all.
Questions for Book Club:
- The first rule of Book Club is don’t talk about Book Club. That’s not a question.
- Bearing in mind the importance of population control in this futuristic scenario, what do you think is the relevance of Lance’s discovery of the joys of buttsex?
- Read over Pike’s warning to Lance. Does the appearance of a comma in the first dialogue tag here signify anything? Could the entire dinosaur thing be a product of Lance’s imagination? What details support the idea that it’s all hallucinatory?
- So is Zorbus inhabitable or not?