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Fast Ships, Black Sails Paperback – October 1, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Saintly pirates, loony pirates, pirate cooks and talking animal-buccaneers slash and swagger through the Caribbean, the Internet, the perpetually frozen Atlantic and the seas of distant planets in this collection of 18 original stories. The anthology begins strongly with Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monettes Boojum, a tale of one space pirates self-discovery, and concludes equally well with a gentleman rogue and his magical puppet in Garth Nixs Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar-Pirates of Sarsköe. The levity of Castor on Troubled Waters, Rhys Hughess playful romp through time and space, and Howard Waldrops conflation of fictional pirates, Avast, Abaft!, are balanced by 68° 07' 15" N, 31° 36' 44" W, Conrad Williamss baffling little chunk of horror. These ingenious variations on a theme deserve to be savored slowly. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

The VanderMeers impressed some high-quality scribes into contributing, and, whether comic or dramatic, almost every one of this pirate-themed anthology’s 18 stories is well worth reading. Naomi Novik’s “Araminta, or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake” is a beaut of a variation on the theme of the (disguised) lady who outwits pirates and receives her heart’s desire. Rachel Swirsky’s “Adventures of Captain Blackheart Wentworth” is a wonderfully funny tale of pirate rats. Carrie Vaughn’s “Nymph’s Child” tells the bittersweet story of what happens after a female pirate is spared because of pregnancy. Howard Waldrop’s “Avast, Abaft!” takes off on Gilbert and Sullivan, while Rhys Hughes’ “Castor on Troubled Waters” is a complex, comic story of pirates and gambling debts. Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette’s “Boojum,” while referencing another deucedly clever Victorian’s work, is the scary tale of a semi-sentient pirate spaceship. The other 12 are mostly up to snuff with those half-dozen. By the way, the editors’ preface includes various references that those interested in piracy may find very interesting. --Frieda Murray

The Daredevil Snared (The Adventurers Quartet) by Stephanie Laurens
"The Daredevil Snared" by Stephanie Laurens
The latest story of love on the high seas, by best-selling author Stephanie Laurens. Learn more | See author page

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597800945
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597800945
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
While this may not be the first pirate story anthology, Fast Ships, Black Sails doesn't hold back, with its captivating cover featuring a classic pirate standing proud at the prow of his ship, while small glowing-eye dragons fly around, a tiny dragon skeleton sits on his shoulder, and in the cloudy distance is what appears to be a ghost pirate ship. This collection edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer features a combination of classic swashbuckling pirate tales, as well as fascinating stories of the fantastic from authors like Conrad Williams, Garth Nix, Elizabeth Bear, and many more.

In the opening story, "Boojum" from Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette - possibly the best in the collection - we are in space, and the mighty spaceships are living entities that grow and change and have mouths; they are biomechanical. The authors do an excellent job of creating an interesting world that leaves the reader wanting more. In Naomi Novik's -- author of the successful Temeraire series - "Araminta, or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake," the daughter of a very important noble is kidnapped by pirates and thought murdered, but Araminta is a special woman with some unique powers allowing her to outwit the pirates who have taken her hostage. In Michael Moorcock's too short story "Ironface," there are pirates in space and Ironface is the most feared in the solar system, who makes the trip to Venus to accept the expensive bribe that he collects each decade, then his ship, Pain, floats back out into the dark realms of space.

Fast Ships, Black Sails has the perfect pirate story for any reader, as it presents both the classic and the unusual stories of privateers and buccaneers sailing the high seas, as well as the dark matter clouds of the cosmos.

Find more reviews, as well as a selection of my writing, and a link to the book review podcast BookBanter at [...]
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Format: Paperback
This is a very strong anthology with some absolutely excellent pirate fiction. The stories range from traditional pirate tales to genre spoofs to tales with a touch of fantasy to space pirate stories, and I enjoyed the heck out of nearly all of them. Just a couple fell flat for me, but overall, this is a fantastic anthology that would be a great addition to the pirate section of your bookshelf.

You don't have a pirate section? I can't be the only one who does.

I think my favorite stories are "Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette, "The Nymph's Child" by Carrie Vaughn, and "Pirate Solutions" by Katherine Sparrow. "Boojum" is the aforementioned space pirate story, narrated by Black Alice, a junior engineer on a living ship. Boojums are strange space creatures that allow humans to use them as transports; they will allow their crew to pillage ships as long as the boojum gets to devour the ship itself-and whatever crew is left on board. Alice develops a bond with the ship, and when they're attacked by the vicious Mi-Go (yes, that is a Lovecraft reference), Black Alice must do something desperate to survive. This is a very strange story, but it is incredibly imaginative and very well-written.

"The Nymph's Child," written by Carrie Vaughn of the Kitty Norville series, is about a woman who had sailed with pirates disguised as a man. When they are captured, the captain-who is her lover-tells the Marshal that Gregory Lark es actually Grace Lark and is with child. Years later and Grace keeps a tavern and has a proud teenage daughter who seems desperate for adventure. When an old face shows up and asks the secret to crossing the Strait of the Iron Teeth, where a dragon is rumored to dwell, Grace must face up to her past and come to terms with her daughter's desires.
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Format: Paperback
Naomi Novik's name drew me to this anthology, since I like her Temeraire series so much, but the standout story of this collection is the first one, BOOJUM by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. Of the others, some were enjoyable diversions, while others had me skipping pages. Some were engaging stories, others felt self-indulgent (taste is an individual thing, after all).

An anthology like this can serve a couple of purposes - not just enjoyment for itself but also as a taster of various authors' work. I've found a couple of new ones to follow up, so that's good.

There is such diversity that it doesn't necessarily read well story after story, but as a dipper, one story at a time rather than several in a row.

It's an engaging and varied collection of bonbons, pirates in all sorts of times and places, not all involving peglegs and parrots. But the one I've read over again, the one that will stay with me, is Boojum.
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Its difficult to rate an anthology, as the stories are rarely of uniform quality, for obvious reasons. Out of the 20-odd tales here, there are 5 or 6 I truly enjoyed, 2 or 3 I skimmed over out of duty, and the balance were readable, if you had time to kill.

Pirates of all types are found in this collection: space pirates, ice pirates, supernatural pirates, pirate pirates, and last but by no means least, rat pirates.

Boojum, the opening tale by Bear and Monette is one of the best in the book, but I also found Garth Nix and Naomi Novik did sterling work also. Suara Sea by Flint and Freer was fun, but my favourite story was "A cold day in hell" by Paul Batteiger. The imagery conjured up by that tale was superb and its setting unique: to call it Pirates on Ice is not to spoil the story but hopefully to intrigue. The world found in that story could support a whole novel, if not a series of them.

The nonsense tale "The Adventures of Captain Black Heart Wentworth" by Rachel Swirsky was also great fun, but sadly unfilmable, save by Pixar. Thats not to say a story should be filmable to be a success, but I challenge the reader not to regret being unable to see that tale on the big screen.

For the price, there are books of uniformly higher quality available, but as far as anthologies go, this is a solid one, assuming you like pirates (and if you don't, you should).

A great gift for talk like a pirate day, or to any Pastafarians who hold pirates in reverance.
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