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The Collected Fiction, Vol. 3: The Ghost Pirates and Other Revenants of the Sea

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The third volume of our Collected Fiction of William Hope Hodgson. Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternat The third volume of our Collected Fiction of William Hope Hodgson. Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.


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The third volume of our Collected Fiction of William Hope Hodgson. Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternat The third volume of our Collected Fiction of William Hope Hodgson. Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.

30 review for The Collected Fiction, Vol. 3: The Ghost Pirates and Other Revenants of the Sea

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    William Hope Hodgson actually spent time on the sea. He worked as a sailor in the very late 19th/very early 20th century, which was a time of transition (there were still sailing ships although steamers were taking over; and did you know that there was an entire class of steel-hulled four-masted windjammers? I didn't) as the Age of Sail gave way to the Age of Coal. (And then WWI broke out and he enlisted in the British army, twice, and was killed by a German shell in 1918 at the age of 40.) So wh William Hope Hodgson actually spent time on the sea. He worked as a sailor in the very late 19th/very early 20th century, which was a time of transition (there were still sailing ships although steamers were taking over; and did you know that there was an entire class of steel-hulled four-masted windjammers? I didn't) as the Age of Sail gave way to the Age of Coal. (And then WWI broke out and he enlisted in the British army, twice, and was killed by a German shell in 1918 at the age of 40.) So when he says things like: Indistinctly, I made out that the weather sheet of the fore t’gallant had carried away, and the clew of the sail was whirling and banging about in the air, and, every few moments, hitting the steel yard a blow, like the thump of a great sledge hammer. you can safely assume that he knows what the heck a t'gallant is, and likewise a clew, and why it matters. So this is, as per the title, a collection of many of his nautical stories, some of which have a mild supernatural element and some of which are wholly secular. The longest piece is the short novel The Ghost Pirates (which I insist on referring to as The Gh-gh-gh-ghost P--p-p-Pirates!), which is about a ship that encounters ... well ... And the remainder are short stories, all filled with very precise, specific nautical terminology whether or not the occult rears its unfathomable head. Generally good stories -- certainly much more readable, albeit much less memorable, than his novel The Night Land -- but possibly a bit much to take all in one go; especially given that in many of the stories with the more unnatural elements, he likes to try to come up with a "rational" explanation.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zorro

    Μέτριο. Δεν άξιζε τόσο ψάξιμο.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    The third entry in Night Shade Books's series of superb William Hope Hodgson collections, this installment collects his novel "The Ghost Pirates" and 28 other sea-based stories. The stories are a mix of weird tales, mysteries, slice of life tales, and pulpy adventures. The Ghost Pirates As with his other ship-bound novel "The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig'", Hodgson makes excellent use of his experience as a sailor, serving up an atmospheric ghost story. Apart from the nautical theme, however, "The G The third entry in Night Shade Books's series of superb William Hope Hodgson collections, this installment collects his novel "The Ghost Pirates" and 28 other sea-based stories. The stories are a mix of weird tales, mysteries, slice of life tales, and pulpy adventures. The Ghost Pirates As with his other ship-bound novel "The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig'", Hodgson makes excellent use of his experience as a sailor, serving up an atmospheric ghost story. Apart from the nautical theme, however, "The Ghost Pirates" is a very different novel from "The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig'", and in some ways an inferior one. The highlights of this book are without a doubt the dialogue and the atmosphere. "The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig'" lacked any spoken dialogue, so its inclusion here is a nice change. The jargon-sprinkled sea salt conversations are at times hard to follow, but they feel authentic and flavorful. Some reviewers bemoan the lack of a glossary of nautical terms—Hodgson doesn't go to any effort to explain capstans and binnacles to the reader—but I didn't feel as if missing out on a word here or there impacted my enjoyment of the overall story. While the plot itself is quite sleight (a characteristic shared by all of the Hodgson novels I've read to date), its execution is well done. Hodgson was a master of atmosphere, setting up a number of strange occurrences that gradually build into a tense, unnerving scenario. I enjoyed "The Ghost Pirates," but I think I would've liked it better had I read it before "The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig'", rather than afterward. "'Glen Carrig'" is filled with such bizarre fever dream imagery that the spirits of the dead, however spooky, seem rather conventional by comparison. That being said, "The Ghost Pirates" is an interesting traditional ghost story, and well told. ... and Other Revenants of the Sea Making up the bulk of the book, the short stories that follow "The Ghost Pirates" are, inevitably, a mixed bag in terms of quality, but as a Hodgson enthusiast I appreciated the inclusion of even the lesser works (the posthumously published "Old Golly," or "We murdered a black sailor because he was black and maybe he's haunting us now?"). The best of the stories are quite good, and the vast majority of them are at least interesting. Fans of Hodgson's supernatural fiction will find a lot to like here. There are sea serpents, a were-shark, derelict ships overrun with carnivorous fungi and other bizarre horrors, fish men, even a ship made of stone. The more conventional stories were also fascinating, however. "The Sharks of the St. Elmo" is a particularly tense story about a becalmed ship surrounded by thousands of thrashing sharks as far as the eye can see. The narrator finds himself pushed into a leadership role as the captain and First Mate drink themselves senseless and the crew begin searching about for a "Jonah," a cursed shipmate who must be disposed of lest he damn the rest of the men. Jonahs are a recurring topic in many of the included stories. Shipboard bullying is another recurring theme in this collection of stories. I suspect it's telling that, despite his prior career as a sailor, Hodgson refused a position in the Royal Navy when he enlisted in the first World War. Some of the brawlers featured here are presented in a favorable light (e.g., the eponymous "Jack Grey, Second Mate" is a badass who would be at home in a Robert E. Howard yarn), but most of the time they're vicious, drunk foes to be bested by the protagonists. "We Two and Bully Dunkan" is a clever shipboard heist in which two sailors get their revenge against their tormentors. Like a Boys' Life Magazine story gone horribly wrong, "The 'Prentices' Mutiny" is a harrowing tale of a ship's youngest crew members under siege by bullying shipmates turned murderous. While I consider "The Ghost Pirates" to be the weakest of Hodgson's novels, it's still a worthwhile read, and the more than two dozen nautical stories that accompany it make this volume a particularly appealing package.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Grace Harwood

    The Edition I read was just "The Ghost Pirates" free on Kindle in the Public Domain Books series. It was a bit of a cross between a boys' own adventure story with lots of stiff upper lip and "jolly well pull yourself together" and a good old fashioned ghost story. In the end I felt the supernatural element won out as the atmosphere created by the mists, the mysterious shapes in the water and the grey men together with the contrast between the vast open space of the ocean and the claustrophobia o The Edition I read was just "The Ghost Pirates" free on Kindle in the Public Domain Books series. It was a bit of a cross between a boys' own adventure story with lots of stiff upper lip and "jolly well pull yourself together" and a good old fashioned ghost story. In the end I felt the supernatural element won out as the atmosphere created by the mists, the mysterious shapes in the water and the grey men together with the contrast between the vast open space of the ocean and the claustrophobia of the ship as the men start to disappear/die really created a nice tense feel to the story. It was a but reminiscent of Stoker's Dracula in the Ship's log section of the story but a bit more developed with some pleasing characters and enough salty sea dogs to cheer any reader up. A good ripping yarn - free on kindle so don't miss out

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael Battaglia

    Thus far in the series, we've seen each volume thematically centered around one novel from Hodgson with one being basically a survival at sea story with some vague horror elements (and written in an old fashioned style, although people who thought that was pushing it were probably not at all prepared for "The Night Land" but we'll get to that eventually) and the other a combination of "survival not at sea" story and attempting to write the trippiest story you could imagine for the early 20th cen Thus far in the series, we've seen each volume thematically centered around one novel from Hodgson with one being basically a survival at sea story with some vague horror elements (and written in an old fashioned style, although people who thought that was pushing it were probably not at all prepared for "The Night Land" but we'll get to that eventually) and the other a combination of "survival not at sea" story and attempting to write the trippiest story you could imagine for the early 20th century. Here, he seems to take both those elements and synthesizes them so that the horror and the boat stuff are far more integrated and the reading experience is tremendously enhanced by it (unless you go with the theory that he wrote these stories in the reverse order in which they were published . . . there appears to be evidence that suggests either could be true) as a result. Being about halfway through "The Night Land" now I can probably comfortably say that "The Ghost Pirates" is probably the best pure story he ever did, even if "House on the Borderland" gets most of the plaudits simply because it's so darn strange. The thing to remember with Hogdson is that the bulk of what he wrote were nautical based stories, and he was pretty good at them. Generally most of them work because they're short but he has the confidence that only someone who has been on boats quite a bit can have and even when he's using the same basic story idea over and over (there are two stories in this collection alone where passengers use trickery to gang up on an abusive captain) he's got a decent enough style that you get the sense he's making it as differently as he can. The "cosmic horror" stuff that made Lovecraft go "squee!" (or whatever the equivalent was for the 1920s) is mostly relegated to "House on the Borderland" and some scattered stories where people generally seem to face sea monsters or the Carnacki ghost stories (half of which wind up not being about ghosts at all). He can do creepy in spades but a lot of times its man against the ocean against the unknown against his own crew. Even "Glen Carrig" was mostly about getting away from the weird seaweed ocean they had found themselves in and the giant crabs and fishmen and whatnot seemed to be there simply to liven things up or give the crew a different obstacle to overcome. Here, it's a new game entirely. Written in a slyly oblique style that is worlds away from the imposed archaic nature of "Glen Carrig" or the "anything goes" feel of "House on the Borderland", this one features a crew on a boat that is subject to very strange things happening to them, that range from weird beings glimpsed to odd events, generally all of which are passed off as being witnessed by tired crew members or people going a little nuts from being out in the ocean all the time. A little rest and a little discipline and all the problems should go away, right? Except the problems don't go away. In fact, they get worse. Much, much worse. Hodgson does a number of interesting things here, all of which seem to accentuate the sheer creepiness of the story that much more. For one, he leaves any description of the forces gradually taking over the ship to be maddeningly vague so that their appearances are gauged more on the reactions of the crew (who are trying not to lose their cool, and slowly failing) and the officers (who are forcing everyone to pretend they didn't see anything), with events described to us fairly plainly, giving the story a realistic yet utterly unsettling feel as the incidents begin to increase in frequency. Hodgson paces the story ridiculously well, with the sense of unease slowly creeping over the reader as it becomes very clear (to you at least well before the crew) that these people are well and truly screwed and the chance of them getting out of the story alive is very, very slim. And once that realization hits you, the story becomes fantastically disquieting because you find yourself searching in the cracks of the incidents being described and what people are saying for some real hint as to what's going on (and since we're limited to the one narrator we don't always see everything that happens). But the "ghosts" (if that's what they are) never seem to interact with the crew and there's no hint at all what's making them do this, whether it's instinct or malice or payback of some kind, we're never told. Instead things continue to escalate until its clear that the ghosts are definitely trying to kill everyone on board and are taking over the ship to do so and watching these men struggle against a force that they don't understand and is completely out of their league is one of the most futile things I've ever seen in literature. By the time all heck finally breaks lose in the story's climax, you don't realize just how much Hodgson has been tightening the screws all along and yet, the release is not a relief in any sense. They don't stand a chance and its that dawning horror, more on the part of the reader than the story participants, that gives the story its power. Leading off with that story is going to be a fairly tough act to follow for anyone and its not surprise that the rest of the stories, while entertaining and competent, lack the power of "The Ghost Pirates". The collection frontloads the more memorable ones, "The Voice in the Night" which is a fairly effective horror story (and made into a movie), the truly weird "The Shamraken Homeward-Bounder" (which may stop some people due to its utter commitment to natural sounding sea dialects, the short and doomed tale "Out of the Storm". Most of the rest don't feature supernatural elements and often follow characters who are getting revenge on someone else ("The Regeneration of Captain Bully Keller" and "We Two and Bully Dunken" which are oddly entertaining despite having the same general setup), or encounter oddness that is either present as otherworldly can be explained or is simply beyond understanding or simply feature all the things that can go wrong on a boat even when you know what you're doing, which is everything. Depending on your appetite for nautical fiction this will either seem a feast or designed to give you the bends, but none of the stories are pure clunkers. Even the scattered tales that round out the collection and were published posthumously have something to recommend them, whether it's an interesting take on a scenario or a turn of phrase or even a tantalizing glimpse into something he could have expanded on later. They're not all essential (I say this because apparently hardcovers of this are up for sale for lots of money these days) and frankly with "The Ghost Pirates" being public domain it can be easily read anywhere. But for anyone interested in weird fiction, its one of the key stories, even more than "House on the Borderland" since it depicts so easily what Lovecraft and the rest strove to convey, the casual ease by which the universe can dispassionate ignore our struggles and then turn around and crush us anyway, and never give us a reason as to what we did to deserve it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I liked a few of the stories, but most were extremely slow and built around creating a moody atmosphere. That happened at the expense of telling an interesting story in most cases. The one story that really stood out for me was "The 'Prentices' Mutiny". And unlike most of the other stories, this was not about the supernatural, but about a bunch of apprentice sailors fighting a cruel captain and second mate. If you like slow-moving, atmospheric stories about long, slow nights out at sea you will I liked a few of the stories, but most were extremely slow and built around creating a moody atmosphere. That happened at the expense of telling an interesting story in most cases. The one story that really stood out for me was "The 'Prentices' Mutiny". And unlike most of the other stories, this was not about the supernatural, but about a bunch of apprentice sailors fighting a cruel captain and second mate. If you like slow-moving, atmospheric stories about long, slow nights out at sea you will probably like this more than I.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dan Johnson

    Gripping tales of life on the sea, told by a master. The superstitiousness of seamen is highlighted in many of the stories, and a supernatural aspect surrounds most. I had to expand my knowledge of late nineteenth and early twentieth century seagoing vessels while reading.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    Stories of the supernatural with a nautical bent? This is so in my wheelhouse! (pun intended)

  9. 4 out of 5

    L J Field

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brent F.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daemon Peterson

  12. 4 out of 5

    Servo19

  13. 4 out of 5

    Simon Bucher-Jones

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sirensongs

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  16. 5 out of 5

    William Gwynn

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Hinck

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  19. 4 out of 5

    Martin Åberg

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Tindall

  22. 4 out of 5

    Δημήτρης Χανιωτακης

  23. 4 out of 5

    Simone Caroti

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Ervin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Donny Lemur

  27. 4 out of 5

    Will MacLaughlin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  29. 4 out of 5

    Salman Hossain

  30. 4 out of 5

    K. Breese

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