Cover art by Sarah Anne Langton
FOX POCKETS VOLUME ONE
Publisher: Fox Spirit
Published: 25 June 2013
On the cover:
(From the publisher's website.)
They say worse things happen at sea and here is the proof. From the perils of stealing dreams to the danger of your own imagination welcome to Piracy. Here are tales of the high seas, the skies and even space, filled with fierce women, strange beasts and adventure.
This is an anthology of short stories and flash fiction. I'll do a quick, spoiler free, rundown of the individual stories before giving my overall impression.
BECALMED by Den Patrick
A story about the dangers of handling one type of stolen goods. This is a good story. It evokes a great sense of empathy, and I think on some level everyone can relate to it.
THE TROUBLE WITH DAYDREAMS by Catherine Hill
High sea piracy may not be for everyone we learn in this very short story. I really liked this. It's short, to the point, and it has a very nice ending.
BLACK ETHEL'S BEAST by Kit Marlowe
In this story a captain duels a stowaway. This is a good story, but one that felt too much of an episode of something bigger to me. Something bigger that I would very much like to read, I hasten to add.
NO QUARTER by Rahne Sinclair
A raging sea battle is the setting for this story, where magic plays a part. This is full of action. Despite its short length it doesn't stand behind many longer pirate adventures in its invocation of the smell of gunpowder and the sound of breaking timber. An excellent little tale with an epic feel.
LEAVE THE PISTOL BEHIND by Chloë Yates
A visit from an old acquaintance comes as a surprise in this tale. Very good story whose last sentence brought a grin to this readers face.
PAST LIVES by Jenny Barber
The catch fights back in this story. A story that gives a very nice twist to an archetypal story type. Very well executed.
NORA by Margrét Helgadottir.
A woman is attacked by pirates, and shows her true mettle. This story is subdued and effectful. It doesn't shout where it can whisper, but you will want to listen. A really good one.
PLUNDER by Fransesca Terminiello
A tense tale of a teenager at sea. This has great tension, and though you can sense what the outcome will be, it doesn't stop you from being dragged in by the excellent atmosphere created.
INSURGENT by Christian D'Amico
Space pirates find a ship with cargo that for them is a jackpot. Apart from the ending feeling a bit like the end of a novel's first chapter, this is an excellent tale.
GERONIMO by T.F. Grant
Modern piracy has consequences in this story of the future. This has an interesting premise, and it is certainly topical. I found this very interesting, and in some ways chilling.
PIECES OF 23 by Rob Haines
A tale of swashbuckling on the datasea. This is a fast-paced story set in a very different environment to those stories that precede it in this anthology. It's a very nice and original tale. Quite refreshing.
THE REAL DEAL by R.J. Booth
An author is kidnapped by a gang of ruthless pirates in this story. This is a good story, one that doesn't signpost where it is going, but it leads you to a satisfying end.
TRUE TO THE SONG by Asher Wismer
A pirate hijacking that is something out of the ordinary. This is a story with a surprising element in it. An element that very much sets it apart from most other pirate stories you will encounter. A great read.
SILVERMELT by Emma Teichmann
A musician gets caught up in events he doesn't quite see the scope of. Good story with a bit of mystery to it. It does however end very abruptly, and leaves you wondering if something is missing.
SKYWAY by K.C. Shaw
A woman grabs an unexpected opportunity in this Steampunk story. This is a brilliant little story. It has plenty of action and adventure, and a very enjoyable plot.
X MARKS THE SPOT by S.J. Caunt
A girl catches the "pirate-bug" at a very early age. This is a very enjoyable story. One that will most likely bring a smile to your face. A very nice ending to the anthology.
I am not sure I can really pinpoint what the fascination with pirates is. I've read enough about the real history behind what Hollywood serves up to know that their life was mostly very far from glamorous. And yet they still hold a fascination to me, as they obviously do to a lot of other people around the globe. If you are reading this, I will assume that you have been caught by some of the allure surrounding pirates, and is interested in reading stories about them. In which case this anthology will be something for you.
The quality of the stories is high throughout this anthology. Not every story hit me in exactly the right spot, but there were no real duds either. It is noticeable though that the word "piracy" does evoke a very particular image in many people's minds, and that this does lead to similarities between some of the stories. This wasn't a big problem though, and it can easily be avoided by not reading all the stories in one setting. It does mean that the anthology feels stronger when authors move away from the traditional image of piracy and in a different direction.
Nitpicking about stories being similar when the anthology is read in one sitting aside, I really liked this anthology. It is short, as are the stories in it, and it is all the stronger for it. This is excellent for those that want some short fiction that will fill a few minutes now and then. For those that like their fiction to come with a piratical leaning, this is an absolute must.
NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this from the publisher.
LINK: Fox Spirit