For the Holidays: Pirates of the Caribbean’s Keep to the Code and Fast Ships, Black Sails Join Forces

(Fast Ships, Black Sails video featuring original music from Danny Fontaine & the Horns of Fury along with contributors in pirate garb–check it out! Created by Ann V.)

Poking my head up before the final push on the novel to let everybody know about the special Fast Ships, Black Sails feature at Keep to the Code, the official Pirates of the Caribbean fan site. The feature includes an original web-only Neil Williamson pirate story, the video, an mp3 of Fontaine’s original Fast Ships, Black Sails song, and much more. Thanks to the Keep to the Code people, Matt Staggs, and Ann V. for putting that together.

You can buy Fast Ships, Black Sails at your local indie bookseller or through this link on Amazon. For reasons that aren’t really clear to us, considering the antho features work by Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, Carrie Vaughn, Kage Baker, Eric Flint, and Michael Moorcock, among others, the antho is under-represented at the chain stores.

That makes it doubly important to check it out at your local indie or online, especially if you want to support anthos open to “names” and newcomers alike. (Some of the stories getting the most praise are from writers whose work we would never have seen if we hadn’t had an open reading period.)

This is a really entertaining original antho of first-rate fantasy stories, with a few great SF stories as well. You really don’t have to like pirate stories to enjoy this anthology, although if you do it should be a no-brainer. It makes a great gift for the holidays. Wonderful adventure, intrigue, and humor. (And that Naomi Novik–that’s basically the first short fiction she’s ever published…)

Even the kids agree. Kelly Barnhill reported this reaction upon receiving her contributor copy (with pirate swag):

So, a pirate book arrived at Chez Barnhill today and my children responded thusly… Said Cordelia the six year old: “This is the very best day of the whole year.” She then examined the little flying dragons [on the cover] and proceeded to name each one. My favorite so far is Hezekaiah. Said Leo the four year old: “My very own pirate eye! Do those guys love me?” He’s been wearing it nonstop for the past ninety minutes. Said Ella the nine year old, “Mama, will you please make a list of the stories that are appropriate for a girl my age.” Then she handed me a pen and paper and raised her eyebrows expectantly.

Need more convincing? At least three stories have already been snatched up for various year’s best anthologies. And the anthology is getting rave reviews from the likes of Gardner Dozois, Ed Gorman, Locus, The Fix, and the Guardian. Like this starred review from Publishers Weekly:

“Saintly pirates, loony pirates, pirate cooks and talking animal-buccaneers slash and swagger through the Caribbean, the Internet, the perpetually frozen Atlantic and the seas of distant planets in this collection of 18 original stories. The anthology begins strongly with Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette’s Boojum, a tale of one space pirates self-discovery, and concludes equally well with a gentleman rogue and his magical puppet in Garth Nix’s Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar-Pirates of Sarsköe. The levity of Castor on Troubled Waters, Rhys Hughes’s playful romp through time and space, and Howard Waldrops conflation of fictional pirates, Avast, Abaft!, are balanced by 68° 07′ 15″ N, 31° 36′ 44″ W, Conrad Williams’s …horror [story]. These ingenious variations on a theme deserve to be savored slowly.”

(Loyal fans/readers–please feel free to spread the word by posting the link to this post. It’d be very much appreciated. Any reviewers who haven’t gotten a copy, contact us at vanderworld at and we’ll see what we can do…P.S. The limited edition Shriek is shipping soon. Okay, now it’s back into the last stretch of novel-writing.)

13 comments on “For the Holidays: Pirates of the Caribbean’s Keep to the Code and Fast Ships, Black Sails Join Forces

  1. Jeff Pert says:


    Just wanted to let you know the Borders in South Portland, Maine, has copies on hand.

  2. Hey, Jeff. Thanks for letting me know!

  3. Larry says:

    You really know how to do the hard sell, don’t ya? :P I have a copy of the anthology, but I’m going to wait until midterms are done next week before I read/review it. Thanks for reminding me that I did want that limited-edition of Shriek, so shortly I’ll be placing my order.

  4. Ha! I’m really NOT trying to hard-sell it. But the fact is, if it doesn’t do well it will be harder to justify open reading periods for future anthologies and to keep slots open for new writers. That said, it’s obviously doing well in terms of critical acclaim, and I fully expect to see more stories taken for year’s bests, possibly even some awards consideration.


  5. Arrrghh, great video!

  6. Larry says:

    Yeah, I know, Jeff, but I couldn’t resist teasing there. That being said, let’s continue hoping for the best.

  7. Brendan says:

    Just out of curiosity, how many copies does an anthology have to sell to be considered doing well? Or maybe that is an industry secret? Is it the same as a novel, or more, or less?

  8. GlenH says:

    Adding to the curiosity, how many copies of a single author collection from a publisher like night shade books or elastic press constitutes doing well?

  9. Andi says:

    Greetings from Romania!!
    (I’ll link to this post…)

    All the best…

  10. Larry says:

    If I had to guess (being no author or publicist), I would imagine having at least a 75% sell-through rate at stores and/or going to a second printing would constitute “success” on a sliding scale. Depends on the print run then, I believe.

  11. Brendan: I think it all depends on the print run, the advance, etc. The total cost to the publisher and the total return. Where it sells, too. If a book sells well through the indies but not through the chains, then that’s going to cause some problems. There’s also the variable of critical acclaim. Which can help lessen the blow of lower sales in some publishers’ eyes. Although probably not over time.

    Anthos are risky anyway, so you have more leeway with them. And unless editors have four or five in a row that totally tank, most new projects will be judged mostly on the commercial viability of the idea and the list of contributors.

    From the publisher’s point of view, if the book earns out the advance, then it will have done pretty well. And other factors come into play. Selling the Italian rights has lowered Night Shade’s risk.

    I have been told that if a Bantam Spectra tradepaper edition sells over 8,000 they’re generally happy. Or at least not wanting to go after you with a shotgun.

    Glen: I can’t speak for any publishers, but selling 3,000 copies of a single author collection from any indie is often considered good. Unless you’re already a best-selling author with your novels. Elastic Press, and I’m guessing so they’ll probably correct me, would be happy to sell a thousand copies. NS I’m thinking wouldn’t be happy at all with that. Again, you’d have to ask them, though.

    This is all just off the top of my head, and one thing I’ve learned is that despite the fact that this *should* be a cut-and-dried factual type of thing, it isn’t. There are too many variables as to what will be considered “success”.

  12. Ann VanderMeer says:

    Good news, folks! Fast Ships, Black Sails should be available in most Borders and Barnes & Nobles stores. And I understand that it is selling steadily and well. May I remind you what a great holiday gift this would make????

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