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Shimmer, Volume 2, Issue 3, The Pirate Issue, 2007 by John Joseph Adams
Edited by Beth Wodzinski
Cover Artist: James Owen
Review by Sam Tomaino
Shimmer  ISBN/ITEM#: 1933-8872
Date: 25 November 2007

Links: Magazine Website / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Shimmer Volume 2, Issue 3, is billed as a Pirate Issue and is guest edited by John Joseph Adams, an assistant editor of F&SF. It features stories by James L. Cambias, J. Kathleen Cheney, Jeremiah Tolbert, Mikal Trimm and others.

I'm sick of pirates. I was never a big fan of them and this wave of pirate stuff in pop culture has not endeared them to me. When I saw that the Shimmer Vol. 2, Issue 3 was "The Pirate Issue", I groaned. What would I encounter here? I needn't have worried. I enjoyed all the stories.

The issue starts off with "A Hand for Each" by J. Kathleen Cheney. The HMS Fortitude sails from Madras, India, bound for England. Not far from Ceylon, they find themselves attacked by "islanders" and only one Lieutenant Davies awakes to find only himself alive. He gives the bodies of his fellows a sea burial and does his best to survive as he cannot helm the ship himself. Things take an even grimmer turn when he is given an impossible task by an islander with supernatural powers. "Captain Blood's Booty" by Jeremiah Tolbert takes place in an entirely different milieu. Our narrator who surfs the Internet is in grave danger and seeks help from other cyber magicians. They win, but only at a price. Melinda Selmys gives us an unusual pirate in "The Blackguard of God". Father Neil is not convinced a pirate is truly repentant and will not give him absolution. The pirate invites the priest to see what his life is like and the priest takes command of his ship. He becomes the fierce Padre Neils and understands the pirate better.

Mikal Trimm gives us a story about the power of pirate gold in "Come to the Islands". Erik Blunt, on vacation with his wife and friends in Tobago, is wandering on the beach when he finds something unusual, a gold Spanish coin. It has a distinctive effect on him. James Cambias gives us a story of pirates in the future with "The Barbary Shore". David Arnold has taken an alias called "Captain Black" and controls "lunar resource satellites" that plunder the satellites of major corporations, but he has found his nemesis with Captain Elizabeth Santiago of the Space Control Center. Even in space, this makes for a classic tale. "Pirates by Adeline Thromb Age 8" by Marissa K. Lingen starts out as seemingly innocent drawings and narrative by a little girl, but things take a different turn. In "The Sweet Realm" by Jill Snider Lum, Edward "Blackbeard" Teach is killed and finds himself in a Valhalla like pirate afterlife. But he really can't stand it so he is offered something else.

Rajan Khanna's "The Furies" features Michael, who is a pirate aboard the Mandrake when they are attacked by other pirates. He somehow survives and is taken prisoner by the pirates of the Harpy. For a reason which I will not give away, he can't join them but becomes their servant until he proves his worth. Justine Graykin gives us a nice little fantasy in "The Perfect Hook". Caroline is a young mother who is whisked away to Never Never Land, not by Peter Pan, but by his nemesis. She is offered he chance of a lifetime to sail the seas with the hooked one. What will she do? Last of all, a new writer named Grant Stone has written "Hard Times for Bartleby Crow". Bartleby is a fierce pirate who believes he can escape any captivity. Imprisoned in some foreign jail, he tells his story of great hidden treasure to his only audience, a mouse. Bartleby Crow is confident he will be free again but the story takes a surprising turn.

So Shimmer got me to enjoy pirate stories. That's quite an achievement. You should pick up this issue or, better yet, subscribe!

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