Short Stories 366:107 — “Cetaceous Secrets of the Jewelled Nadir,” by A.J. Fitzwater

coverOne of the things I cannot underscore enough about how wonderful The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper is as a whole is how the collection is basically all anthropomorphic queer joy. Now, that isn’t to say there are never stakes, nor that there isn’t growth—and with growth, time passes, and we all know what tends to happen as time passes—but that as a whole the tone is so very warm and snuggly.

When I got to “Cetaceous Secrets” and found the wonderful capybara pirate Cinrak a little less than blazing bright, I had a moment of sadness. Of course things would change, and of course the recent events in Cinrak’s life had been often harder, but I wanted my snuggly warm fuzzy joy back… And I needn’t have worried, because A.J. Fitzwater was totally on the case.

When some of my favourite characters appear and invite Cinrak to visit something truly magnificent in the deep depths of the ocean, the magic that happens isn’t just of the “keep a capybara pirate breathing many, many fathoms down” variety. Instead, we get a look at what it means to have lived enough to know losses and have expectations weighing—even in a world of rodentia seafarers—balanced with the power of restorative compassion from chosen family. And man I loved that.

Also! As always through our trip through this awesome collection, I was lucky enough to get some insight on the origins of this tale from A.J. Fitzwater!

From the author:


I wanted to mix the real world concept of whale fall with the magic we know Rodentdom’s cetaceans carry. In Search for the Heart of the Ocean, Xolotli presented Cinrak with the compressed heart from a dead whale. This was a chance to show how and where those precious jewels were created. 

I wanted to give Cinrak the opportunity to see her ocean world from a different perspective. It’s a little Pinocchio, but a lot more fun and wise than scary. Xolotli also deserved another outing, because what a scintillating and mysterious character. Plus it was a chance to show more of that beautiful kraken-whale love. 

That feeling of pressure that was growing in Cinrak’s heart in Hirsute came to the fore here. This was a chance to show the interconnectedness of Rodentdom life; what affects one, affects all. The whales wanted to honour Cinrak for her care of the oceans, so they gifted her what is basically a therapist’s room. Things getting a bit too much, pirate frand? Come chill with the whales and let the dead hearts and spleens and stomachs take care of your hurts.

Find The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper at Queen of Swords Press, or Books2Read.
Find A.J. Fitzwater on Twitter, or at

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