Fast Ships, Black Sails by Jeff VanderMeer, Ann VanderMeer

hcq's review

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Could not finish--so, so dull.

In fairness, if it had said on the front what it said on the back (Fantasy and Science Fiction pirate stories), my husband would never even have brought it home, and I wouldn't even have started it. I don't like most fantasy; I like real pirate stories.

jen1110's review

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Yar! I am now convinced that I will develop a time machine. When I do, I will go back in time a couple of years and tell the editors of this collection exactly what they need to include to make me the most happy. That's the most likely explanation for the sheer awesome contained in these pages.

There are sky pirates, space pirates, computer pirates, and ship pirates. There are people hunting them, people using them, and people becoming them. The stories are consistently well-written and delightful.

I enjoyed this book so much that I had to go buy a copy for my very own. The library can have their copy back, but I needed to keep the stories.

celli's review

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The stories I liked I really really liked...particularly "Araminta, or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake" by Naomi Novik (awesome, awesome heroine) and "A Cold Day in Hell" by Paul Batteiger, where the ocean froze over at the turn of the 17th century and ships catch the wind but slide on skates.

I read Araminta out loud to a friend, and was intrigued by the different way I understood the story, speaking it instead of reading it to myself. It made everything more immediate, since I couldn't stop and look back to doublecheck anything or stop and think further about what had just happened.

greymalkin's review

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Very uneven. I didn't even read some of them past the first page, they were just too awful. But a few were good and some were quite good. I loved Naomi Novik's story, unsurprisingly. Some of the ideas were rather entertaining and I wouldn't have minded them expanded into full length books or re-written by better authors.

alexctelander's review

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FAST SHIPS, BLACK SAILS EDITED BY ANN AND JEFF VANDERMEER: 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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trin's review

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After slogging through the first story in this collection, I realized that rather than make myself grind through the whole book, I could just read the one story I checked it out from the library for: the one by Naomi Novik, which was excellent. And now, mission accomplished, I can take the book back, guilt-free!

This may seem like a duh thing to most of you, but I feel very adult and proud of this revelation.

ronpayne's review

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The stories by Nix, Novik, Batteiger and Baker were the best and more than a few of the others were worth reading. There were unfortunately a handful of stinkers too. I rated each story and they averaged out to 2.88, which rounds up to three stars.

quietgalaxy's review

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I'm not a fan of short stories collections. This is really just a fact that can't be overcome. That said, that's mostly because I find it hard to take all the stories together, when in reality they stand alone. I did really enjoy several of those stories (although at least a few of them I definitely did not enjoy). My favorites included. "Ariminta," "Boojum," and "The Nymph's Child." (Perhaps it says something about my tastes that all of those stories have female protagonists. What can I say, I love lady pirates.) In addition, I enjoyed most of the stories that took an especially fantastical (or science-fictional) take on sea-faring; historical archetypes in new settings is generally a lot of fun.