I’ve never been a pirate person, but after reading Catherine Lundoff’s introduction to Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space), I realized a good deal of why: so much of the pirates of fiction (and nonfiction) that I’d been shown were out of my wheelhouse. Handsome, white, straight guys doing their tales of derring-do and winning the blushing maiden and meh. Not for me. But Lundoff has delved deeper into history than I ever will, and with this collection is all about telling different tales than the ones we most often see.
Case in point? The opener, Ginn Hale’s “Treasured Island.” Set in a world full of wandering islands (huge creatures with whole ecosystems on their backs, and jellyfish-like tendrils under the waves), the story begins with an accidental mutiny from a tired pirate who has seen the shine wear off an already dark and tarnished life. His people, though, are said to be able to curse those who do them wrong, so instead of killing him, his pirate captain tosses him overboard within reach of one of the island behemoths, and he survives there, among the trees and creatures and earth that’s formed on the back of the giant seafaring creature.
What follows is a lovely story of vengeance, compassion, and—just maybe—a worthy redemption or two. The world-building is lovely, the characterization is spot-on, and the voice was a tongue-in-cheek fun welcome to the anthology.