Friday, July 10, 2009

Why the Republican Party Sucks: Part 3 of an Inifinite Part Series

Just wondering......

How many of those Republicans in Congress who are opposed to allowing their employers (i.e. ordinary Americans) a "government option" for health care have voluntarily given up the "government option" health care plan that their employers (i.e. ordinary Americans) are providing for members of Congress. One would think that if the "government option" is so bad then the Republicans in Congress would not avail themselves of it, insure themselves privately, and save their employers (i.e. ordinary Americans) the expense of insuring them.

Imagine the tax cut that could be passed along to ordinary Americans if the millionaire lawyers who take up so much space in Congress just paid for their own health care!

Just wondering.....


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Review: Fast Ships, Black Sails, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Fast Ships, Black Sails, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, published in 2008 by Night Shade Books.


A pirate themed anthology of original science fiction and fantasy stories. Story titles follow, along with my opinion of each one:

  1. Boojum, by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette: good
  2. Castor on Troubled Waters, by Rhys Hughes: bad
  3. I Begyn as I Mean To Go On, by Kage Baker: OK
  4. Avast, Abaft!, by Howard Waldrop: bad
  5. Elegy to Gabrielle, Patron Saint of Healers, Whores and Righteous Thieves, by Kelly Barnhill: good, but insufficiently piratical
  6. Skillet and Saber, by Justin Howe: OK
  7. The Nymph's Child, by Carrie Vaughn: OK, but insufficiently piratical
  8. 68d 07m 15sN, 31d 36m 44sW by Conrad Williams: bad
  9. Ironface, by Michael Moorcock: bad
  10. Pirate Solutions, by Katherine Sparrow: bad and insufficiently piratical
  11. We Sleep on a Thousand Waves Beneath the Stars, by Brendan Connell: OK
  12. Voyage of the Iguana, by Steve Aylett: bad
  13. Pirates of the Suara Sea, by David Freer and Eric Flint: good
  14. A Cold Day in Hell, by Paul Batteiger: excellent
  15. The Adventures of Captain Black Heart Wentworth, by Rachel Swirsky: bad
  16. Araminta, or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake, by Naomi Novik: good
  17. The Whale Below, by Jayme Lynn Blaschke: excellent
  18. Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar-Pirates of Skarskoe, by Garth Nix: excellent
My Opinion:

It's a tough call -- IMHO there are a lot of turkeys herein, stories that just aren't about pirates at all, or are about ex-pirates, or the children of ex-pirates, neither of whom are having piratical adventures. And some stories that are about pirates, but which are just plain bad. On the other hand, some of the stories are very good.

The first one, Boojum, tells the story of a living pirate vessel which sails a future solar system in which Lovecraft's Mi-Go patrol interplanetary space. Elegy.... is a wonderfully written story, but it felt a bit out of place, given my expectations of swashbuckling adventure stories. The Nymph's Child was a bit the same way, but not quite as well done. Pirates of the Suara Sea, and The Whale Below both succeed by merging a more traditional sort of pirate tale with science fictional trappings. A Cold Day in Hell features a naval officer on a hunt for a reknown pirate who terrorizes the American coast during the golden days of piracy -- only in this alternate version of our world, an ice age has begun to settle in on the world, and ships can only sail the seas rigged with skates for racing across the ice. Araminta is a secondary world fantasy wherein the titular heroine uses magic and her superior wits to survive at sea. The star of the anthology has to be the very last tale, Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar-Pirates of Skarskoe, which appears to feature characters that the author, Garth Nix, has written about before. Here Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz masquerade as pirates, join a pirate crew, and manipulate the pirates into assisting them on their quest. I'm definitely interesting in looking up some of Nix's other work now, to see what I've been missing.

The Roundup:

There are enough good stories here for me to recommend looking this book up in the library. I wouldn't buy it, unless you are a pirate fanatic, or just really, really like anthologies.


What other people have to say about Fast Ships. Black Sails:

Richard Larson at Strange Horizons

Brad Moon at Wired

Fabio Fernandes at The Fix

Charles A. Tan at Bibliophile Stalker