I’ll end this series of posts with some of my favorite pirates — space pirates. Science fiction has a marvelous subgenre known as space opera. The name comes from both soap operas and also from horse opera, which was a nickname for westerns. But for me, what space opera most resembles are nautical adventure stories. Most of the time the action takes place in and around spaceships, with the nomenclature and hierarchies of naval life that haven’t particularly changed from the 17th century. And like any good shipbound adventure, sometimes you’re gonna get pirates. In some of the “space navy” series the pirates are a traditional foe that the naval forces are trying to control. Sometimes the pirate forces are more like mercenaries that have crossed a line. As tempting as it was to include mercenaries (especially my favorites, The Dendarii Free Mercenaries from Bujold’s Vorkosigan books) I wanted to stick to those operating truly outside the rules. So as your last homework for Talk Like a Pirate Day, here are some science fiction pirates. (more…)
There’s something irresistible about a pirate. They live outside the law, they have ultimate freedom to sail about wherever they please, and they take what they want. I mean, sure… those can be the characteristics of a fantastic villain as well. Romance novels are full of villains. Alpha-type anti-heroes with what would be a poisonous level of testosterone in real life are perfectly acceptable in a romance novel, as long as they never hurt animals or children. And romance is the bastion of the misunderstood hero in villainous clothing. When pirates appear in romance novels (and good gravy, do they appear), the seeming villain often turns out to have a secret squooshy soft center, at least where the heroine is concerned. Romance pirates are often trapped by circumstances in the piratical life, and perhaps all they need is the love of a good woman to retrieve them to the bosom of polite society. Or maybe that loving woman will sail off happily over the horizon with her pirate. Either way, there are probably dozens of pirate romances out there. Let me introduce you to a few:
The Windflower by Laura London Top Pick!
Written by husband and wife team Tom and Sharon Curtis, this is the one. If you’re only going to read one pirate romance (and yes, I know most people will never EVER read romance, much less pirate romance), this is the one to read. I had heard about this book for ages on romance sites like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and never could find a copy (paperback copies, USED, were selling for almost $100, if you can believe). I finally borrowed one, and got to read the story of Merry Wilding and the crew of The Black Joke. Merry is a terribly sheltered young woman as the novel starts in 1813. She plans a trip to Europe and sets sail from New York only to fall into the clutches of pirate Devon Crandall. Crandall thinks Merry is the mistress of his greatest enemy (cue the misunderstandings!) and yet finds her irresistible. What seems like the epitome of Old Skool romance with the milksop innocent and the rape-threatening hero (oh yeah, that happens) is elevated by its execution and by the marvelous full cast of characters that the authors assemble on board this unconventional pirate ship. So, so happy this has been re-released and is available for new readers. (more…)
Yesterday I pulled together a list of traditional historical fiction pirates. While they might not have been as plentiful in the real world as they are in the novels of naval adventure, there is no doubt that pirates really did sail the seas of history. But the idea of pirates is too irresistible not to borrow for other genres. So how about some piracy on imaginary seas? Fantasy has a long tradition of stories of high adventure, with swordplay and settings that hint at history while taking all the imaginative liberties the genre is known for. And some of these action-packed, magical tales even include pirates.
Wake of the Bloody Angel by Alex Bledsoe
The series of novels featuring sowrd-for-hire Eddie LaCrosse are always fun, and all feature action and swordplay. It was inevitable, I suppose that he would cross paths (and swords) with pirates one day. That day arrives when the woman who runs the bar where he has his office asks him to find the pirate she loved and lost. His ship, The Bloody Angel, disappeared years ago and Eddie enlists the help of a pirate queen to search for the pirate’s fate. This series is funny, fast and a little ridiculous, but in a good way. (more…)
Yes, this Friday is National Talk Like A Pirate Day! In honor of the day your coworkers go around saying “argh!” without provocation, I knew I had to pull together a list of pirate books. I was going to do a post on just space pirates, because good golly are there a lot of them. But I thought it would be fun to round up all my favorite genre pirates. Sometimes the pirates are the heroes of the story — misunderstood rogues with hearts of gold. Sometimes they are the cutthroat villains of a novel — the thing that our hero is running from. The best thing about adding a pirate to a story is that you almost automatically get a blend. Pirates bring adventure, danger, and excitement to a plot. Since there are so many books of all different genres that feature pirate, I’m breaking it up into a few posts. Today will be your traditional historical fiction pirates. Then later in the week I’ll round up three of the other genres that pirates most often makes an appearance: fantasy, romance and SF. So avast ya scurvy bilge rats, put down yer grog. I’ve yer tastiest tales o’ the jolly roger afore ye. (Sorry — I’ll stop.)
Historical Fiction Pirates
The most traditional way to encounter pirates in fiction is in the historical fiction genre. Even in that broad category, there’s a lot of variety in these stories. For as long as people have sailed the planet’s oceans, there have probably been pirates, so you can get pirate stories set in many time periods. The stories are often full of colorful locations, bigger-than-life characters, and lots of action. In other word, these books are often great adventure stories. That’s probably one reason that pirate stories have been successfully made into successful Hollywood movies, from classic Errol Flynn vehicles like Captain Blood to the more recent blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. I’ve collected some of the most popular historical fiction novels featuring pirates, but let me know if I missed one of your favorites. (more…)
TITLE: Retribution Falls
AUTHOR: Chris Wooding
PUBLISHER: Gollancz, 2009 (Spectra, 2011)
SERIES: Tales of the Ketty Jay, Book 1
Darian Frey captains the airship Ketty Jay, scraping up jobs of dubious morality and legality but usually staying on the lawful side of piracy. The crew of the Ketty Jay are of dubious morality as well, each hiding secrets and running from the past. When Frey takes a job to hijack a trunk of gems from another airship he know this is both bigger and more illegal than anything they’ve pulled before, but the payday is too good to resist. When everything inevitably goes wrong, Frey and the rest of the Ketty Jay crew will face piracy and murder charges. They need to find who set them up if they want to survive to fly another day. (more…)
Cyberpunk is dead, long live cyberpunk! The genre that was the hottest thing in science fiction in the 1980s and early 1990s has had its death certificate drafted many times. From the signature works of William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Bruce Sterling and K.W. Jeter it supposedly ended soon after authors like Neal Stephenson started writing cyberpunk so over-the-top that it almost parodied the genre. But if you look at some of the classic elements of cyberpunk:
- A near-future urban setting, often gritty and veering towards dystopia.
- A dark view of technology often with innovations that seem amazing but end up with a loss of individual privacy or identity, and the technology being often embedded or integrated into biology.
- A tone Influenced by hardboiled and noir detective fiction, usually paired with the fast pace of a thriller.
This description could be applied to plenty of books before Neuromancer came along, (Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination being one strong example), and there are books published in recent years that carry the cyberpunk torch, using elements from this recipe book to create new and entertaining SF novels. By all means, if you prefer you can call it something else, but I’ll just be over here reading it. From a blend point of view, most cyberpunk falls under the SF/Adrenaline umbrella in the blender. Here are a few from the last 5 or so years, but feel free to comment with your favorite cyberpunk torch carriers. (more…)