Saturday, January 05, 2008

'Fluke' could have been a bleeding-heart appeal to "save the whales" but author, Christopher Moore, avoids all the maudlin and instead spins a tale of great imagination and wit, conjecturing the purpose and meaning behind whalesong, and offering an unusual perspective on why hunting the great whales to extinction isn't exactly a good idea.

Fortunately, the novel isn't about the whales themselves, but rather focuses on the lives of a struggling whale research team which comes so close to deciphering whalesong that someone or something begins sabotaging its operations in order to preserve the secret.

What's fun is the question of who is in on, and what motives lie behind the conspiracy. Is it a rival researcher, or a business or military interest? Hmm...

I like the idea that although trust is an issue between the team members, suspicion fails to drive them apart. Instead, they continue to trust each other to do their jobs as part of the team despite their personal flaws and mysterious backgrounds. This team truly believes in (I'm inferring this) not jumping the gun; nobody's perfect; innocent until proven without a shadow of a doubt guilty; and everybody has something to contribute to the effort.

Each of the main and a couple of the minor characters grow and develop. Either by discovery, learning or revelation, they eventually experience a transformation that gives their initial passion a purpose and a new perspective and direction in life. Yes, I know this is supposed to happen in a good narrative, but it's good to see the team also getting stronger as a result.

Despite the weirdness about mid-way through, 'Fluke' is a compelling, easy read. Moore liberally peppers his narrative with situational and dialogue humour. There is also some exploration on the issue of dealing with sexual attraction in a professional relationship, though the situation between the older male lead researcher and his perky, cute, smart-as-a-whip assistant who has every guy on the island drooling after her is too conveniently and unconvincingly resolved. Few of us are ever gonna get that lucky.

So, let's see... this past hols, I've managed to read Gaiman's "Interworld", Maguire's "Son of a Witch", Moore's "Fluke", and Gaiman's "Marvel 1602" (a graphic novel). I'm getting slow.

Oh, yeah. Anyway, "save the whales!"

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