Genre: science fiction – time travel / fantasy – lesbians on boats (pirates)
Queer Representation: cis lesbian
Warnings: rape taunts (it IS a pirate book after all)
Like all of Jane Flecther’s books, please pay ABSOLUTELY NO ATTENTION TO THE COVER. This book is GOLD and so help me I will pay for the next cover myself can we please get this woman covers that properly showcase her work!?!
Catalina de Valasco is on a galleon, headed for the Americas to meet her rich husband (whom she has never met). Pirates attack! The cabin boy of said pirate ship is Sam, our dashing tomboy lesbian love interest, cleverly disguised (or so she thinks). Anyway. The crew is slaughtered but finding a lady in a fancy dress, they realize hey, ransom! Sweet! So they change course and head for the Bermuda Triangle (stay with me).
So it’s hard, right, being a pirate that likes ladies? I mean, you’ve got one ON YOUR SHIP but your captain won’t let you rape her because they she isn’t worth as much money. Not all the crew agree with this financial plan, and several attempts are made, which Sam cleverly foils with chickens. We are not yet to the major plot twist. Hang in there. They sail through the triangle as they try to go somewhere that will pay ransom for an annoying, high-bred Spanish lady. There is weird weather and there is a mutiny etc. Sam, Catalina, Catalina’s (very gay) manservant Alonzo, and some of the would-be-rapists are stranded on an island where robots try to kill them. Yes. Robots. Strap in.
Welcome to ISLAND IN THE SEA OF TIME without the BS colonial narrative and obvert racism. The few that survive the first robot attack are found by other island survivors and taken to a safer location, where they learn that the island is (wait for it) a Greek/alien invention (Catalina reads Greek, conveniently!) and moves through time. The current refugees come from different cultures, times, and places, and make for a fantastic back up crew. The goal – to get off the island without being killed by robots, or minotaurs, or weather. Secondary goal – can Sam get together with Catalina, or will Catalina’s crushing upper class eighteenth centuries Spanish morals get in the way? And why is Alonzo trying to kill Sam? How would you expect a meeting of modern day lesbian millennial to go with said eighteenth century closeted lesbian?
WELL YOU GET TO FIND OUT.
Catalina is….kind of over the top and it’s kind of perfect:
Catalina tightened her jaw and drew her shoulders back. The blood of kinds ran in her veins. She was a true daughter of Spain, who could trace her ancestors to El Cid, and beyond. Whatever else, she would not let this rabble see fear on her face. They deserved nothing by contempt, and that she would grant them, in abundance.
Sam is the standard ‘my dad didn’t know what else to do with me so he dressed me as a boy and took me to sea’ trope–pirate with a heart of gold, loves the ladies, etc. The ‘pirate’ part makes this difficult, of course, noting Catalina’s attitude towards pirates, per above. As a fun twist, the pirate crew all think Sam is a ‘backdoor man’ because he doesn’t visit the whorehouses with them. In a +10000 for Fletcher, Sam’s gender reveal does not come from her shirt being torn open. Instead, the more modern people on the island have no trouble seeing she’s a woman dressed as a man and just flat out ask her. Sam has no issue adopting this very upfront attitude:
She turned to Sam. “And you are?”
“Sam. Sam Helyer, I was cabin boy on the Golden Goose. The ship has sunk, and I’m the last survivor.” Sam hesitated, as if making a decision. “So I’ve missed my change to tell my cremates I’m not a boy. Probably just as well. I don’t think they’d have been happy about a cabin girl.”
While people around her laughed, Catalina needed long seconds to be sure she understood what Sam had just said. But there could be no doubt. She was dimly aware of Alonzo at her side giving a low growl. Mostly, Catalina just felt her jaw drop open.
Per usual, I have quibbles with how the binder is addressed:
Babe picked at the band Sam had wrapped around her breasts. The binding had been necessary when she was passing as a boy, and she had kept it for comfort when running and jumping.
If every author could just come and sit next to me for a quick second – IF A BINDER IS TIGHT ENOUGH TO PROPERLY CONCEAL BREASTS, IT IS NOT COMFORTABLE. Maybe for a few hours. DEFINITELY not for running. Those shits constrict the HELL out of your lungs. Running in a binder that tight is a good way to pass out. ASK ME HOW I KNOW.
Okay, binder grump aside, you should buy this book because, at the very end when they’re trying to battle a robot minotaur, they have to use lightsabers.
Yes. You heard me.
“The only thin we have that stands a chance of hurting the Minotaur are these plasma blades.”
Uh huh. Call them ‘plasma blades.’ We all know what’s going on. Time Island has alien tech and LIGHTSABERS. LESBIANS WITH LIGHTSABERS WHO WERE PREVIOUSLY ON BOATS.
you are welcome. It has a happy ending and no lesbians are eaten by fish robots.
Get your own lightsaber and try to find Atlantis by buying the book here. Don’t feel bad if you have to rip the cover off to keep it on your bookshelf. Still very much worth it.