When I first bumped into the character of Cinrak, the capybara pirate in Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), she was on a voyage to replace a gem she’d kinda/sorta broken that belonged to her lover, the rat queen (and was a part of her crown). That story delighted me, and gave me a sense of “when we last met our heroes” that I love in short fictions, where you feel like there’s a whole world already underway all around the characters, and you’re just along for a short ride.
The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper is like being invited for all the rides, and I am so happy to be aboard. This latest story, “The Wild Ride of the Untamed Stars,” is the tale of exactly how that gem in the rat queen’s crown got broken in the first place, and oh, it’s freaking adorable. It’s full of A.J. Fitzwater’s wonderful, joyful magics, and begins with the literal riding of shooting stars in a contest to win the queen’s hand in marriage (and even that gets shifted a wee bit in Fitzwater’s hands).
That Cinrak’s lover, the opera singing marmot Loquolchi, also enters the race, for the same prize, is a genuine delight, and the ongoing one-upmanship between them throughout is freaking adorable. It’s hard to explain why I’m so captivated by these anthropomorphized creatures and their tales of dapper derring-do, but I am. They’re so very uplifting, and so genuinely queerly inclusive on so many levels, that I think it feels a bit like time-travel: these were the tales I wish I’d had when I was reading Toad, or the Fantastic Mr. Fox, or the like: they’ve got that same whimsy, but they invite me, a queer reader, to join in the fun.
And, once again, here’s A.J. to let us in on the secret of where the story comes from!
From the author:
The story that began it all! Wild Ride was originally written for a competition where one of the characters had to be a rat. Ridiculous fun is not usually my writing wheelhouse, but I figured if I’m going silly, turn it up to 11! That mantra carried over into writing the rest of the stories; silly enough? No? Needs more cowbell!
Wild Ride is also the shortest story, and I had to work quickly to do a lot of world building and pace. I’m especially enamoured with the sapient moons, and Cinrak’s Alice pocket; what else has she got stashed in there? I also wanted to play up the old trope of “winner gets the queen’s hand in marriage,” so I made it a joke of giving the literal hand! The original version had a pretty gruesome cutting off of the paws and growing back magical styles. Plus Orvillia’s relief at no one actually wanting to get married is hilarious – everyone’s too busy for the everyday ridiculousness of mawwiage.