I’d like to start off by apologizing to all readers of Set the Seas on Fire who come to it expecting monkeys, pirates, ninjas, or airships. While there may be one or two small monkeys lurking in the background of the larger crowd scenes, they are hardly essential to the plot, and can easily be overlooked. As for pirates and ninjas, they are sadly not in evidence. And airships? Heaven forefend.
No, I’m sorry to report that I have missed a golden opportunity to write a gimcrack adventure story of pirates facing off against ninjas, one or both of which groups might also be monkeys, while sailing aboard airships. As if that weren’t bad enough, I’ve completely failed to include even a single octopus or squid, which every reader of substance knows are essential components of any proper maritime tale.
I can mount no effective defense, and can only plead for mercy. Rather than the wide ranging, high-flying yarn I could have written, I have instead supplied an almost entirely monkey-free narrative, which is at once a Napoleonic-era nautical adventure and a love story (with tasteful nudity), complete with Polynesian zombies.
Now, while it hardly excuses the story’s complete lack of airships, I might point out several circumstances which might mitigate in my favor. First, as everyone knows, ninjas and pirates are somewhat past their sell-by date, having been somewhat over-represented in popular culture these last few years. While there wasn’t time or space to address the issue in the pages of Set the Seas on Fire, I would like to propose that we substitute some new alternatives for these tropes from this point onwards. I discussed this matter at length last week over lunch (with Matt Sturges, Dave Justus, and Jason Chalker, in the event that they worry I’m taking credit for the whole thing), and the consensus was that going forward all ninjas shall be replaced with birthday clowns, and all pirates shall instead be railroad conductors. (In the interest of fairness, I should point out that Set the Seas on Fire *does* contain zombies, who are likewise somewhat played out, which is why in all future editions of the novel the brave crew of the HMS Fortitude will instead be menaced by mimes.)
Again, my apologies to all readers, past and future, of Set the Seas on Fire, and I can only hope that the lack of piratical monkey ninjas in airships in the narrative is somewhat balanced by all of the exciting sword-fighting, the ship-to-ship combat, the giant devil bats, the scantily clad islanders, the insights into cartography and maritime history, and the capsule histories of dueling and the art of the sword (to say nothing about the zombies). And rest assured that a story is currently in preparation which revolves around airships attacked by piratical octomonkeys (half-octopus and half-monkey, of course, and not simply eight-armed monkeys, as some might mistakenly assume, because that would just be silly).