Monday, October 09, 2006

The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists

by Gideon Defoe
After reading a particularly toothsome book (see directly below), I was having trouble finding anything suitable to follow it up. The Pirates! was perfect: short, silly, and infinitely charming. The story concerns a Pirate Captain (called only, "the Pirate Captain") and his merry crew, who are misled into attacking the H.M.S. Beagle. Somehow the pirates go on to befriend Darwin, who tells him his Important Theory (ahem) and asks for their help in rescuing his brother, Erasmus, from the dastardly Bishop of Oxford. This is Pythonesque humor: the author has absolutely no interest in confining himself to historical accuracy or even the rules of "good writing." Cliches are abused, to comic effect; chapter titles are completely irrelevant; and most of the pirate characters are called things like "The pirate with a scarf" or "the pirate who played the accordian." Defoe's goal was apparently to make the reader laugh out loud, and he does that with aplomb. I felt compelled to read sections aloud to some friends and family, who, luckily, thought it as funny as I did.

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