Sunday Shorts—The Serpent’s Tail by Mharie West

coverFound in Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), Mharie West’s “The Serpent’s Tail” gives us some Vikings to enjoy, and joins them when everything hits the fan. I was a bit conflicted with this story—I was really enjoying all the stories thus far in the collection as quite empowering in the sense of seeing people like me (or just seeing people other than the typical straight-white-cisgender-male) in these pirate tales, and this was the first story with a specifically queer male character in a relationship with another guy…

…and that’s the problem the character has to deal with. It’s the inciting issue of the story: their relationship has tipped over into public knowledge among their shipmates and incited them to turn on him.

So, on the one hand, it’s great to read about a gay viking: he’s got a loving fellow, also has a wife and children (and the wife is in the loop and relationship, as it were, and her character has some solid disability rep, too). But on the other? All the bad things happening to them are because of the queerness, they’re on the run and have to abandon everything, and the ending is a potential upturn in their luck. Thematically, after the other stories thus far, it was just a bit of a surprise and felt a little bit like a downer. But I did enjoy the story (especially the visually impaired woman).

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