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.
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Originally written on November 21st 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.