I’ve been struggling to find the time to read or write lately, what with work and a new puppy, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. And some of that thinking led to mermaids.
Mermaids are one of my favourite subjects to read or write about when it comes to short fiction. They’re open to so many different interpretations: want your merfolk to be classic beauties? Go for it! Got a hankering for eerie merfolk who dwell deep, deep down and drag humans to their deaths? I’m there. Whether your interpretation includes fish-faced merfolk who migrate with the local whale pod or a village of unruly humans who were thrown into the sea by an angry god, I’m interested.
There’s sure to be a mermaid tale (see how I deftly avoided the obvious pun, there?) for every reader–and writer. I’ve compiled a list of 5 of my favourite mermaid stories below; I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, and if you’ve got recommendations of your own to share, feel free to leave a comment.
Abyssus Abyssum Invocat by Genevieve Valentine
Moody and romantic, this story is one of my absolute favourites. What can I say? I like writing that conveys poetry and tragedy, and Valentine achieves both in this piece. The school-teacher/student dynamic adds a forbidden air while the use of parentheses and repetitive phrases gives the story an hypnotic style. Read it at Lightspeed.
The Mermaid Caper by Rich Larson
Mermaids and revenge easily go hand-in-hand, though it’s rare for that dish to be served by another character entirely. In this story, the ‘mermaid’ is a talented accomplice and her two companions are the ones out for blood. Set in what I assume to be a Victorian-esque period, this piece will have you holding your breath. Read it at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
Each to Each by Seanan McGuire
This story was published in Women Destroy Science Fiction! and as you’ll see, mermaids are so versatile they’ll slip into science fiction. If submariners and genetic modification whet your appetite, this one’s for you. And like most good scifi, not everything goes according to plan…. Read it at Lightspeed.
So Sharp That Blood Must Flow by Sunny Moraine
More revenge, though the tale is one you’ve (sort of) heard before. This little mermaid doesn’t get her prince but she’s determined to end the story on her terms. I must have forgotten to embrace angst when I was a teenager, because it came back strong in adulthood, and this dark, bloody mermaid story hits the spot. A gritty read, imbued with terrible magic. Read it at Lightspeed.
A Ladies’ Guide to Collecting Mermaid Love Songs by Aimee Picchi
Not all tragedy has to be depressing and dark. This story manages to capture a wistful and hopeful feeling, which works beautifully with the academic style. A truly creative interpretation and a perfect palate cleanser to round out my 5 faves. Read it at Daily Science Fiction.
Another element of mermaid stories that appeals to me is the inclusion of sea-witches, since witches are another favourite of mine. But that’s a whole ‘nother 5 faves post….