Posts Tagged ‘pirates’

4356425222_4b5180ffe0_zThe Australian Outback drifted past below the airship, a vast wilderness that glowed with an amber warmth between patches of tenacious scrub. Bolted into the airship’s console was a part of that ancient world, a twisted branch painted in bright colours.

“Only you would do this.” Dirk Dynamo shook his head. “Cross a continent for an artefact, then stick it in your latest machine.”

“But look!” Sir Timothy Blaze-Simms’s top hat almost fell off as he leaned across a row of dials. “It’s like the stories said. The Dreaming Branch can see futures unfolding around it, telling us the most efficient course.”

Suddenly there was a hiss and the airship began to sink.

“I say!” Blaze-Simms yanked a lever and the hissing stopped. “The upper inflation valve must have slipped.”

Another hiss made him whirl around, stopping the sound by grabbing another lever. Then the hissing appeared again, and this time Dirk caught a brief flash of someone pulling a lever before they disappeared and Blaze-Simms turned to set things right.

“Stop that.” Dirk looked around the control room.

“When you give me the Branch.” A little woman with wrinkled brown skin, dressed only in a loin cloth, faced him from the corner. He could have sworn she hadn’t been there before.

“I don’t think so.” He strode across the room, but just as he reached her she waved a hand across her body, took a side-step and disappeared.

“Got you!” Blaze-Simms lunged at the woman as she appeared by the console, but she pulled a lever and disappeared once more, leaving him frantically trying to set things right.

“This is an outrage!” Blaze-Simms exclaimed. “Vandalism. Piracy, even.”

The airship was losing altitude now, heading fast toward the ground.

“All I want is the Branch.” The woman was by the window, smiling at them both.

“Well you can’t have it.” Blaze-Simms folded his arms indignantly. “I bought it fair and square from a man named Jeffrey Two Trees.”

The woman snorted.

“The Dream Branch is of the alcheringa, the eternal dream beyond our waking world.” An angry expression crumpled her face. “It wasn’t Jeffo’s to sell.”

Dirk had been slowly approaching her from one side, and now he leaped, hands outstretched. But again she waved her hand and reappeared across the room.

“I can do this all day.” She turned a wheel and the tone of the engines changed, the airship accelerating in its downward path.

“I can pay you for it.” Blaze-Simms pulled a wallet from his tailcoat pocket. “Cash or cheque.”

“No.” She pulled another lever, disappeared as Dirk grabbed at her, and reappeared to flick a switch. “I don’t know what any of these do, but I bet I’m breaking something.”

An ominous clang somewhere to the aft made Blaze-Simms grimace.

“Perhaps a share of the profits?” he asked. “With a navigation device like this-“

“Ground’s getting close,” the woman said. “I can dream walk away before we crash. Can you?”

“Tim, give her the stick.” Tension knotted Dirk’s guts. He’d escaped crashes before, but they were falling fast and a long way from help.

“Dream walk.” A distant expression crossed Blaze-Simms’s face.

“Tim!” Dirk shouted. “The branch!”

“Oh, yes.” Blaze-Simms pulled a spanner from his tailcoat, hurriedly unfastened the branch and threw it to the woman.

“Nice meeting you.” With one more wave she vanished.

The ground hurtling ever closer, Blaze-Simms rushed between levers and dials, turning, twisting and yanking until the airship levelled out. Dirk breathed a sigh of relief as they drifted a few feet above the outback.

“Sorry about your invention.” He looked over at the navigation panel, with its dead dials and the empty space where the branch had been.

“Hmm?” Blaze-Simms looked up from a notebook. “Oh, never mind that. Didn’t you hear what she said? She was dream walking, stepping from place to place through another realm. Imagine if I could make a whole airship do that!”

Dirk stared out the window at the little old lady waving up at them. He couldn’t see her teaching Blaze-Simms her secrets, no matter how big the cheque.

* * *

Today’s story isn’t the only one in which Dirk Dynamo and Sir Timothy Blaze-Simms deal with airship piracy. You can find them fighting to control a pirate airship over the Atlantic in ‘A Wind Will Rise’, my contribution to the Avast, Ye Airships! anthology, out now. And if you would like to see them fight giant rats or the preserved head of Leonardo da Vinci, why not read Riding the Mainspring, free to anyone who signs up to my mailing list.

And if you’d like to read more free flash stories from me, you can find a list at this link, or have them delivered to your inbox via the mailing list.

AvastYeAirshipsIn a daring history that never was, pirates roam the skies instead of the seas. Fantastical airships sail the clouds on both sides of the law. Within these pages, you will find stories of pirates and their prey with a few more pragmatic airships thrown in. With stories ranging from Victorian skies to an alien invasion, there is something for everyone in these eighteen tales of derring-do!

Tomorrow sees the launch of Avast, Ye Airships!, a collection of stories themed around airship pirates, edited by Rie Sheridan Rose. It features ‘A Wind Will Rise’, my latest story to feature Dirk Dynamo and Sir Timothy Blaze-Simms, gentlemen adventurers of the Epiphany Club, as they battle a slaving pirate airship over the Atlantic.

If you’re anything like me, you probably love stories about both pirates and airships, which makes bringing them together doubly awesome.

So what are you waiting for, me hearties? Hop on over to the publishers’ website to buy a copy. There be gold in them there clouds.

The full contents of the collection:

Beneath the Brass by Stephen Blake
Maiden Voyage by Jeffrey Cook & Katherine Perkins
Colonel Gurthwait and the Black Hydra by Robert McGough
Captain Wexford’s Dilemma by Ogarita
Her Majesty’s Service by Lauren Marrero
A Wind Will Rise by Andrew Knighton
Hooked by Rie Sheridan Rose
Go Green by Ross Baxter
Lost Sky by Amy Braun
Miss Warlyss Meets the Black Buzzard by Diana Parparita
Plunder in the Valley by Libby A. Smith
The Clockwork Dragon by Steve Cook
Adventures of a Would-Be Gentleman of the Skies by Jim Reader
A Clouded Affair by Steven Southard
The Climbers by D Chang
The Steampunk Garden by Wynelda Ann Deaver
Lotus of Albion by Steve Ruskin
And a Bottle of Rum… by K.C. Shaw

AvastYeAirshipsYou like airships, right? And everybody likes pirates.* So what could be better than a whole collection of stories about airship pirates?

Nothing. Except maybe if I had a story in that collection. Oh wait, I do!

Coming out at the end of February, Avast, Ye Airships! is an anthology of stories about airships, pirates and of course airship pirates. It features the latest adventure from Dirk Dynamo and Sir Timothy Blaze-Simms, the heroes of my Epiphany Club stories, as they tackle a flying slaver in the skies above the Atlantic. With only their wits, their fists and a pedal-powered flying machine, can these brave adventurers end this aerial menace?

Other authors in this collection include:

  • Rie Sheridan Rose (editor) – writer of various things, including steampunk and horror
  • D Chang – game writer and designer
  • Robert McGough – writer of steampunk, horror and southern gothic fiction
  • Ross Baxter – sci-fi and horror writer who started writing to fill the time while at sea – how cool is that?
  • Steven R Southard – writes all sorts of historically flavoured genre fiction
  • K. C. Shaw – author of several airship pirate stories
  • Steve Cook – writer and teacher, a combo I’ve also been
  • Lauren Marrero – romance novelist
  • Steve Ruskin – I’d tell you more, but sadly I can’t get his webpage to load
  • Jim Reader – writer, house husband and Texan, which is close enough to ‘cowboy’ to make me jealous
  • Jeffrey Cook – a writer whose first book came out of NaNoWriMo, proving that motivating month can work
  • Charlotte Hunter – writer of creepy things
  • Stephen Blake – from southwest England, a land traditionally full of pirates, smugglers and other seafaring rogues
  • Libby Smith
  • Diana Parparita
  • Wyenlda Deaver
  • Amy Braun

I’m really looking forward to this collection, and will share more details nearer the time. Hopefully by then I’ll also have some more Epiphany Club-related news, but that’s dependent on me finding editing time, so don’t hold your breath.

Polly want a cracker?

 

* Not the real ones who terrorise the Indian Ocean with assault rifles. The ones with parrots and dubloons.

I mostly prefer to read and watch new things, but lets face it, there’s a part of all of us that craves the comfortable and the familiar. This weekend some friends stayed over with their young daughter, who will often have cartoons on in the background while she’s playing. In the space of 24 hours she insisted on The Pirates in an Adventure With Scientists twice and Despicable Me three times. That desire for the familiar is deeply ingrained, even in those for whom the whole world is full of novelty and wonder.

We shouldn’t be surprised that we get a lot of familiar, derivative cultural outputs. They’re something that our brains crave, that help us recharge between the new and the adventurous.

And hey, who doesn’t want to watch The Pirates in an Adventure With Scientists over and over again?

 

I love Defoe’s Pirates books. I love the film based on the first one. I love their wacky antics. I love how little relation they bear to real pirates. I love the strange historical mishmash and the fantastical elements. I love the way my nieces have started playing at being the Pirate Captain, complete with luxuriant beard.

So when I found this book hidden like buried treasure in the children’s section of the St Ives Oxfam shop, I was pretty excited.

Top of the heap in my holiday reading pile

Top of the heap in my holiday reading pile

 

Kids books for adults

One of the central gags of the Pirates books is that they’re written much like children’s books. The prose is simple, the focus on dialogue and action rather than thought and emotion, and there’s a complete disregard for many expectations adults bring to a book.

But I’ve never thought that these were really children’s books. Sure, children can enjoy the wacky adventures, but how many of them will get jokes about Marxism and Moby Dick, or about the romantic feelings of the pirates?

These are stories that say ‘who cares if you’re an adult, don’t you want some silliness and child-like delight?’ To which I say heck yes. I love stories that progress from ham night through to 19th century philosophical giants wrestling on the rim of a volcano. I don’t always need things to make sense, but I often want them to be fun.

Defining delight

A brief aside here, much like the footnotes in Defoe’s book.

The delight I feel reading a book like this is very different from the delight I feel reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium. The latter is a deep, powerful emotion that puts me in touch with the wonder of the world around me and makes me see everything with fresh eyes. The delight of The Pirates is a light, frothy thing that puts a skip in my step and makes me laugh out loud. They share the same name, but they’re very different feelings, and both wonderful in their own way.

Take that genre!

One of my favourite things about children’s books is that they are less bound by genre expectations than adult ones. That feeling that anything goes is replicated here. It’s not that the book sets out to expand genre boundaries and conventions, it just ignores them. It’s OK for romanticised seventeenth century pirates to roam the streets of Victorian London, spend time in literary salons and attend an opera with a steampunk finale. Things aren’t explained, they don’t make sense, but they are always fun.

Yaarh me hearties

I’m sure you get the idea by now. This is a silly book, but one written in a smart way. It’s a lot of fun, and if you’re looking for a light, easy read it’s well worth it.

What have I learnt from it as a writer? Mostly that you can get away without much explanation if you’re funny enough. Which isn’t much help as I don’t write comedy, but it’s worth knowing.

Anyone else read it? What did you think?

Everybody loves pirates, right? I mean the exotic, romanticised ones with the cutlasses and the eye patches, not the real ones who rob ships and kill people. Because that’s the thing, we’ve got a warped view of pirates. They’re somehow become romantic figures of action, excitement and freedom, when real pirates have always been organised crime on the high seas.

LocoThology 2013 - now with added pirates

LocoThology 2013 – now with added pirates

Not that I’m complaining. I love the image of those wild sea rovers with their fancy hats and their cutlasses. That’s why I contributed a story to LocoThology 2013, an anthology of speculative fiction about pirates. LocoThology is Loconeal publishing’s annual themed anthology of speculative fiction, and this year it’s about all that is most swashbuckling on the high seas, or possibly in outer space in one or two cases.

My story, Mutiny, is a flash fiction piece about what happens when a ship rebels against its crew. I had fun writing it, and I hope people will have fun reading it. If you’re interested, you can get hold of the anthology through the Loconeal website.

Now to splice the mainbrace and head for less exciting seas – I’ve work to do me hearties. Yaaaarrrr!