Wednesday, January 7, 2015
The Pirates! In an Adventures with Scientists
Info: Pantheon Books, copyright 2004, 144 pages
Not since Moby Dick...No, not since Treasure Island...Actually, not since Jonah and the Whale has there been a sea saga to rival The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, featuring the greatest sea-faring hero of all time, the immortal Pirate Captain, who, although he lives for months at a time at sea, somehow manages to keep his beard silky and in good condition.
Worried that his pirates are growing bored with a life of winking at pretty native ladies and trying to stick enough jellyfish together to make a bouncy castle, the Pirate Captain decides it's high time to spearhead an adventure.
While searching for some major pirate booty, he mistakenly attacks the young Charles Darwin's Beagle and then leads his ragtag crew from the exotic Galapagos Islands to the fog-filled streets of Victorian London. There they encounter grisly murder, vanishing ladies, radioactive elephants, and the Holy Ghost himself. And that's not even the half of it.
I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this little gem. I remember scouring Goodreads for a list of possible selections for our staff book club...typing in a title that made me laugh hoping for some read-likes...and getting very excited when this particular miniature story popped up. I'm really wishing I could remember the original title I had put in; there might have been other interesting read-likes that I would have enjoyed. Oh well. I found this one at least.
It took about fifty pages for me to realize that I was actually already familiar with this particular story. Overly-confident Pirate Captain, monkeys trained to behave like humans, Charles Darwin...why, it's Pirates! Band of Misfits! I'm a big fan of stop-motion animation and absolutely love this particular movie, so Defoe's tale of the Pirate Captain and his adventure was just pure fun.
The Pirate Captain might just be the worst pirate, and captain, to every sail the seven seas (which he can not name :) At times ham-loving leader reminded me a bit of Robert De Niro's Captain Shakespeare on Stardust (another great movie). A captain that wants to appear tough but has a heart of mush.
Charles Darwin is a scientist (of course) but his discoveries have led to some sore feelings from the church, and in retaliation for potentially spreading blasphemous information, his brother has been kidnapped. Darwin wants to see his monkey butler but he also wants to save his brother...enter the pirates who have mistakenly taken over his research ship and you've got one heck of a fun tale.
The story is short, coming in at only 144 pages. It's not high literature. It's quirky and sarcastic, and just a great fun read. If you're a fan of offbeat books (or the movie!), pick up The Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists and give it a whirl.