Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pirate Latitudes: 3/5

Pirate Latitudes Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Michael Crichton writes three kinds of books: (1) thrilling blockbusters (or at least wannabe blockbusters), like Jurassic Park or Sphere; (2) contemplations on science and the human condition, like State of Fear or The Lost World; and (3) simply fun historical novels, like The Great Train Robbery, Eaters of the Dead, and, now, Pirate Latitudes. So if you only like Crichton for his Jurassic Park-like thrillers, stay away. If you only like Crichton for his Prey-like contemplations, stay away. But if you like lightweight, easy reading that's fun, give it a chance. It's not his best work, but it's not his worst either. (Sphere and Congo, respectively, get my votes.)

Maybe the best I can do is quote Robert Louis Stevenson's prologue to Treasure Island:

If sailor tales to sailor tunes,
Storm and adventure, heat and cold,
If schooners, islands, and maroons,
And buccaneers, and buried gold,
And all the old romance, retold
Exactly in the ancient way,
Can please, as me they pleased of old,
The wiser youngsters of today:
--So be it, and fall on! If not,
If studious youth no longer crave,
His ancient appetites forgot,
Kingston, or Ballantyne the brave,
Or Cooper of the wood and wave:
So be it, also! And may I
And all my pirates share the grave
Where these and their creations lie!

To paraphrase: If you think boats/pirates/sea adventure are cool, you'll probably like this book. If not, you probably won't.

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