Book Cover
Title Fluke
Series ---
Author Christopher Moore
Cover Art Ruth Martin
Publisher Harper Collins 2004
First Printing Harper Collins 2003
Category Humour
Warnings Giant whale willies

Main Characters

Nathan Quinn, Clay Demodocus, Kona, Amy

Main Elements Whaley boys

Just why do humpback whales sing? That's the question that has marine behavioural biologist Nate Quinn and his crew poking, charting, recording, and photographing very big, wet, grey marine mammals. Until the extraordinary day when a whale lifts its tail into the air to display a cryptic message spelled out in foot-high letters: Bite me.

Trouble is, Nate's beginning to wonder if he hasn't spent just a little too much time in the sun. 'Cause no one else on his team saw a thing - not his longtime partner, Clay Demodocus; not their saucy young research assistant; not even the spliff-puffing white-boy Rastaman Kona (ne Preston Applebaum). But later, when a roll of film returns from the lab missing the crucial tail shot - and his research facility is trashed - Nate realizes something very fishy indeed is going on.

By turns witty, irreverent, fascinating, puzzling, and surprising, Fluke is Christopher Moore at his outrageous best.

I was given this book as a gift for my birthday. My cousin knew this book was about whales, and that I liked whales, but I don't think she read it beforehand. It starts off normal enough and I figured this would be a work of fiction, as opposed to my normal science fiction or fantasy. But then Nate gets swallowed by a whale and things get....well, they get kind of weird. No, things get very, very weird.

Strangely enough I enjoyed the book, though I still don't know how to classify it. I guess its science fiction, its just so odd that it almost feels more like fantasy. I will mention that not everyone is going to like this. For example the male whaley boys (I'll let you read the book to figure out what they are) like to show of their, err, prehensile private parts. At the same time, if you can get over that (which I don't think the main character ever really did, I don't blame him) you can enjoy these strange little creatures with their peverse sense of humour.

Talking about strange creatures, there's also Kona, a kid from New Jersey who wants everyone to think he's a native. Personally, I thought he was the most interesting character of bunch, totally hilarious. It was quite the adventure trying to figure out what the heck he was talking about.

The book got so weird that you could no longer really believe in its reality, but maybe that's why I kind of liked it, you never knew what the next weird thing was going to be. That's why I'm trying really hard not to actually tell you what happens in the book :)

On the other, more serious, hand this book also has some hard scientific fact. I learnt a quite a bit about whale behaviours, and of scientific researcher behaviour (what, you didn't already know they were a species all to themselves?).

You see how time and money can be wasted because of bureaucracy. One researcher describes how he was setting up some sound buoys to keep right whales away from ships so they don't get hurt. When asked if it works he says of course not, if they were stupid enough to hit the loud noisy ships, what would a little sound buoy do? When asked why he was doing it then, he replied that he got grant money to do it, so he was doing it. It was either that or give up and retire. We also see how researchers can be bought to fudge the numbers so that whalers can start hunting again. We even get a glimpse of what the military can be up to.

I won't tell you whether or not Nate found out "Why the Winged Whale Sings", but it is an interesting mystery. The truth is, we know very little about these marine giants, except as one character said, "They're big and wet."

Posted: October 2006


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