We’re back in space today with Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), specifically with Michael Merrian’s “Tenari,” and oh, I enjoyed this so very much. One of things I was worried about heading in to this anthology was the idea of pirates as protagonists, and how often I’d likely be pretty much rooting for them to fail, given what pirates do. They’re not nice people, right?
Well, “Tenari” is a great example of how many of the authors dealt with this: by giving us a character who is absolutely flawed, yes, but who has turned to piracy for reasons that aren’t completely unsympathetic, and then presenting the reader with a situation where not only is the pirate sympathetic, the reader really, really wants them to succeed. Here we have a pirate crew deciding to take on a small cargo ship only to discover the cargo isn’t riches, it’s something far more valuable and puts the pirates in the position of having to defend it against a far greater evil.
Ultimately, the story works because the characters make the switch, become borderline heroic, and the plot allows for this growth despite it being a short story and despite the characters in question beginning in a place of moral lacking. There’s also just enough world-building that the sci-fi aspect gets to be front-and-centre as a motivator, and—something I keep saying in this anthology—I’d love to read more about this crew, picking up from where the story leaves us.