I didn’t know Santaphilia was a thing until reading this story from Nikki Noir and S. C. Mendes. I can’t say I was surprised, just that it never crossed my mind to imagine there might actually be an official term applied to individuals with a Santa fetish. As a bearded man named Nikolas–who also happens to celebrate a December birthday–it almost seems disappointing that I’ve missed out on an opportunity to capitalize on this fetish existing. There’s so much more to this story than just Amber’s frustrated attempts to find a man who is willing to fulfill her fantasy of making love to the Jolly Old Elf himself, though that does set the stage quite nicely. Rooted in a possible hallucinatory experience when she was 12-years-old, Amber’s fixation on Santa begins at the same point when her family life falls apart. Saint Nick sits her down and tells her she’s special, warning her that life is about to become more challenging and assuring her that she’s strong enough to make it through everything. Ten years later, is it finally time for Santa to return? At its core, Santa’s Package is a tale that delves into the potential ambiguity of that point where mental illness and legitimate visitation might coexist. How easily can our perceptions and attitudes be manipulated? Are there cases where someone seemingly insane is actually the victim of experiments and sinister machinations? Santa’s Package may not answer these questions for you, but it’ll certainly raise new questions to consider and explore, and isn’t that what the best literature is meant to do? There’s a whole lot of potential inquiry crammed into this relatively small package, but if you’ve had the pleasure of discovering this one under your tree, you should certainly enjoy it.
Santa’s Package was released through http://www.godless.com as part of the AntiChristmas event for December of 2021. You can obtain a copy for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the Godless app for your mobile device. The link is below:
Trench Mouth begins with a series of vignettes. It begins with human intrusion into the ocean depths upsetting a balance that existed in an alien world on our own planet, drawing a cruel and vicious attention to our existence–our delicious flavor–and ultimately to the surface waters where unsuspecting prey is in abundance. It begins with eight people who have nothing left to lose signing up for a chance to become something more, something new, something better than they are. In the dark depths of the ocean, where Fathom-5 illuminates a tiny patch of ocean floor just beyond a seemingly bottomless trench that carves down into the crust of the Earth, experiments are being conducted. Will Dr. Yale and her colleagues advance the next stage of human evolution, preparing us to venture into a massive new realm largely off limits until now? Will monsters, both man-made and ancient, tear everything apart before we even have a chance to find out for ourselves? We know how it begins. I guess you’ll have to read past the beginning to discover how it ends for yourself. It’s appropriate to talk about how it all begins, because Trench Mouth feels like a beginning, the origin story of some larger tale that might unfold over years to come. I, for one, would gladly join Christine Morgan in the depths again if she chooses to tell us more of this world she’s created. Reminiscent of my favorite underwater science fiction/horror novel, Starfish by Peter Watts (the beginning of his Rifters series), Morgan has done something fantastic with Trench Mouth in telling a story that stands up next to a novel written by a man with a Ph.D and a long history of working as a marine biologist. Nothing feels out of place or poorly researched within these pages, and it makes the whole experience feel that much more immersive. Perhaps my favorite element is the Morgan makes the denizens of the deep feel like fleshed out characters in and of themselves, by sharing perspectives that are at once alien and strangely familiar.
You can obtain this book for yourself wherever books are sold. I will include a couple of links below: