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Literature / Somewhere Beneath Those Waves

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This is a non-themed short-fiction collection by Sarah Monette. Most of the stories fall into the category of speculative fiction, but weirdness of the earthly variety carries a few. Be prepared for a catfish mermaid, gender benders both fantastical and mundane, and a train ride into steampunk Hell. Enjoy the ride.

Somewhere Between Those Tropes:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: "Respectable" spy Quentin's reaction to this exchange with courtesan-spy Annabel in Amante Doree:
    "[Mistrust] is one of the hazards of our profession."
    "Truly. Courtesans are such notorious liars."
  • Afterlife Express: The titular trains in Katabasis: Seraphic Trains. They are rumored to run from the city to Heaven, Hell, and Faerie, and will only stop for the chosen ones.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Ranging from radiation that spawns dragons (After the Dragon) to unexplained clairvoyance (A Night In Electric Squidland, Impostor).
  • Come to Gawk: At the mermaids in National Geographic on Assignment: Mermaids of the Old West.
  • Creating Life: How the townsfolk produce a virgin sacrifice for the monster in Darkness, As a Bride. It works out about as well as the title suggests.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: Mick's, as described in A Night in Electric Squidland and Impostors.
  • Creepy Children Singing: The murdered ghosts singing the eponymous tune in Ashes, Ashes.
  • Comforting the Widow: A gay version occurs in Absent from Felicity.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Annabel St. Clair of Amante Doree, and Mick and Jamie from A Night in Electric Squidland.
  • Dragons Are Dinosaurs: Draco Campestris.
  • Dramatic Drop: Booth experiences one after a crowd of vampires surrounds him in The World Without Sleep.
  • Femme Fatale: Annabel St. Clair of Amante Doree. Although, as Quentin discovers, she's technically a transgender homme fatal.
  • Gender Bender: In No Man's Land, a male soldier suddenly finds himself in the body of an enemy female soldier... and looking at his original body, which is now dead.
  • Ice Queen: Clair from Katabasis: Seraphic Trains. She refuses to show any real affection to Sean or his poetry, or to anyone else for that matter; it's implied she loves the city more than any living creature.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: Clement asks Booth to rescue St. Christopher's Glass from the goblins (The World Without Sleep). The guardians are really the Shadows, and the goblins are good guys.
  • MockGuffin: A good example appears in The World Without Sleep, wherein the blind dominie Clement, who can't even see the light in St. Christopher's Glass, begs Booth to retrieve it from the goblins because the vampires' fear of it is the only thing holding them back from utter brutality. As it turns out, not only do the goblins not have it, but the vampires don't fear it, already know it's gone, and want to help Booth return it to Clement.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: While No Man's Land doesn't explicitly state that "Koth" and "Yoggo" are nicknames, they don't sound like names you'd give yourself, and generally appear in derogatory contexts.
  • Our Angels Are Different: The demi-angel whom Booth encounters in The World without Sleep is beautiful, androgynous, and deeply concerned with the well-being of his parishioners... but also blind, gullible, prejudiced, and capable of temper tantrums.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: In National Geographic on Assignment: Mermaids of the Old West, different fish species each produce their own mermaid variant.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In The World Without Sleep, vampires are hideously ugly, reek of old and new blood, and make no bones about their predatory nature, but they're scrupulous about keeping their promises. They also hopelessly love demi-angels and run factories that manufacture night.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Enid wants to do this to old Mrs. Latham in The Seance at Chisholm End.
  • Rape as Drama: No Man's Land, A Light in Troy.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: Subverted in Katabasis: Seraphic Trains, where Sean would rather stay in his strangely appropriate Hell than return to life.
  • Resurrective Immortality: The accidental Body Surf in No Man's Land.
  • Selkies and Wereseals: The protagonist befriends a selkie in Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home.
  • Sexposition: In "Amante Doree," Sevier and Annabel discuss Vasquez's murder and why the British government are upset about it. Or rather, Sevier discusses it while making Annabel go down on him.
  • The Spymaster: Jules Sevier (Amante Doree).
  • Twin Telepathy: Venefidezzi and his brother's transcends death (The Seance at Chisholm End).
  • Undead Child: The ghosts in Ashes, Ashes.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Demanded by the monster in Darkness, As a Bride. The townsfolk try to trick him with a mechanical virgin, and he's not fooled for a second.
  • War Is Hell: Not only are most of the people you work with and most of the people who might capture you rapists and torturers, but you may wake up in somebody else's body... looking at your own crushed one (No Man's Land.)