“Life So Dear Or Peace So Sweet” — C. C. Finlay

Charles Coleman Finlay is the author of the novels The Prodigal Troll, The Patriot Witch, A Spell for the Revolution, and The Demon Redcoat. Finlay’s short fiction—most of which appears in his collection, Wild Things—has been published in several magazines, such as The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and Black Gate, and in anthologies, such as The Best of All Flesh and my own By Blood We Live and The Living Dead 2. He has twice been a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula awards, and has also been nominated for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the Sidewise Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Award.

This next story draws us into Colonial America, a time and place where piracy ruled—even in the provincial government. After all, it’s a well-known fact that most flamboyant of American forefathers, John Hancock, made his fortune as a privateer.

When Proctor Brown and Deborah Walcott, two young Quaker witches, set out on a mission for General Washington, they expect to use their powers to catch a spy, not a pirate. But when magic goes awry, the pair find themselves pulled into a pocket world of oceans, islands, and never-ending night. In this alternate corner of reality, nothing is as it seems, and while they have found their quarry, he proves just as enigmatic as the strange world they’ve entered. Is he another victim of this place’s magic, or a magician himself? And how can Proctor and Deborah discover a way out of a land that just might be . . . hell?

In this tale, C.C. Finlay gives us new piece of his Traitor to the Crown milieu. It’s magic on the high seas—in a realm as dark as a pirate’s heart.