A Pirate Life
Cordite Books

A Pirate Life

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Read Nicholas Jose's introduction to A Pirate Life.

ISBN: 9780648917656

Ken Bolton

Pirates? Why? I had no particular interest in them, had not read about them, barring Patrick O’Brian more than a decade ago and a Hornblower book when I was a kid. I’d seen Johnny Depp? In any case I knew I was going to enjoy writing these as soon as I began. I wanted to make a board game, that the kids in our family might discover one day and like.

Board-games, too – no interest. But I’ve made two, a game called Rally On, whose board I made with Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood in mind. A map I had always liked. And Piracy.

To make the game I began writing the short passages that make up this book – texts for cards the players would pick up as they moved around the board, pursuing each other, fleeing, battling, earning points. They would land on squares that specified Adventure, Landfall or Strange Fate: the player would pick up the required card, laugh or groan – and, if they were amused, read it aloud.

So, in some ways the game was always literary.

But it is a strange form – a book offering itself as like a board game. Does a stack of cards have a beginning? An end? A sequence? The cards in the game would be shuffled. You could read A Pirate Life at random, open any page. Perhaps you should – as you sail, pillage and wonder.

The pirates in this game do often wonder. Though convention would have it that they never did, here they do. But, doesn’t everybody?

–Ken Bolton