The Monster of Triton Bay by Mark Searle (Long Fiction)

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Lester Curtis
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The Monster of Triton Bay by Mark Searle (Long Fiction)

Post by Lester Curtis »

The author of this piece raised a question that he didn't answer, which is: What happened to the merman--the male--that Christian sighted first?

Beyond that, it was interesting to see the give-and-take in the relationship between Christian and the mermaid, how he treated her and how he reacted to her eventual advances. This is deep into Uncanny Valley territory, apparently more for him than for her, but he managed to adjust his attitude and behavior to keep her, at first just healthy, then happy. The whole thing got more complicated when he developed a dependency on her to help him earn his living, and further, to exceed the minimum for survival to afford some little extra luxuries.

Somewhat disturbing, but very well done.
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Re: The Monster of Triton Bay by Mark Searle (Long Fiction)

Post by Megawatts »

This story for some reason reminds me of The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. Maybe because Christian wasn’t catching fish much anymore and had to venture into Triton Bay. There, he catches something very unexpected.

Christian’s thoughts and feelings come forth throughout the story and the more we read, the more his thoughts and feelings captivate us—grabbing our attention and holding it. Christian is believable, a real person like him could live on that shores, somewhere.

The encounter with the mermaid, Ariel, suggests that maybe the Aquatic Ape theory might have some merit. An encounter like Christian’s in which the mermaid isn’t a beautiful girl with a fishes lower half as seen in so many pictures and paintings of mermaids, further points to an aquatic ape.

When Christian and Ariel fall in love—well the love affair certainly isn’t you typical Romeo and Juliet scenes. No, but the mermaid become depressed at first when Christian doesn’t respond to her advances. She withdraws and pouts until Christian realizes what she wants.

A good job at writing a story that is somewhat unusual and maybe a little tasteless for some readers, but that’s what writing is all about.
Good job!
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Lester Curtis
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Re: The Monster of Triton Bay by Mark Searle (Long Fiction)

Post by Lester Curtis »

eric_searle wrote:Thank you both for your kind words! It means a lot.

I struggled a lot with that last bit -- "may be tasteless for some readers" -- before submitting this piece. I don't think I ever found the right balance between unsettling the reader (showing how viscerally uncomfortable a situation it is for Christian) and staying, well, tasteful (it's not a story I would show my grandmother). Any advice on how to strike that balance? Or examples of writers who do that particularly well?
Well, I'm just not sure it's possible to get past that Uncanny Valley aspect of it without turning it into a Disneyesque piece. The word 'alien' appears in a few places, and that's what she is. I think it works well as it is; you've done a careful job of describing her and his reactions to her and how he had to overcome some quite natural revulsion in order to please her. I found it a bit uncomfortable myself, but that's part of the point of it.

I really like the story arc: he finds her apparently near death and, being the kind of person he is, decides to nurse her back to health and release her and go back to his routine life. But by the time she's back in good condition, she's become attached to him, and at first he doesn't realize it. Then, he has to decide what to do next, and her contribution to his daily catch pushes him to keeping her. After that, though, he begins to work more and more toward satisfying her, in building a more accommodating tank for her to sleep in and experimenting with different foods to find out what she likes, and ultimately in learning how to make love with her. Their efforts to bridge the communication gap were nicely done, too.

You've taken an uncomfortable situation and handled it with delicacy and, to me, a touch of humor at times (such as when he tried to teach her to read). But the evolution of their relationship is where the story shows its strength, and where most of the conflict arises and gets resolved.

I even liked the ending; when the point of view switches to her internal thinking, we get to see how deeply she respected Christian, even in the act of consuming his body.
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