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The Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists & An Adventure with Ahab Paperback – June 20, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077508
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077502
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gideon Defoe, who lives in London, is the author of The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, and the forthcoming The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists (Pantheon Books, 2006). Like all the English, he lives with his butler in a castle, and spends most of his time having jousts.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

'The best bit about being a pirate,' said the pirate with gout, 'is the looting.'

'That's rubbish!' said the albino pirate. 'It's the doubloons. Doubloons are easily the best bit about

The rest of the pirates, sunning themselves on the deck of the pirate boat, soon joined in. It had been several weeks since the Pirates' Adventure with Cowboys, and they had a lot of time on their hands.

'It's the pirate grog!'

'Marooning! That's what I like best!'


'The Spanish Main!'

'The ship's biscuits!'

One of the pirates pulled a special face to show exactly what he thought of this last comment, and soon all the pirates were fighting. With a sound like a bat hitting a watermelon, pirate fist connected with pirate jaw and a gold tooth bounced across the deck. The pirate with gout found himself run through in a grisly manner, and one of the cabin boys accidentally got a shiny pirate hook in the side of the head. It would probably have gone on for hours in this fashion, but both of the heavy wooden doors that led to the downstairs of the boat crashed open, and out onto the deck strode the Pirate Captain himself.

The Pirate Captain cut an impressive figure. If you were to compare him to a type of tree-and working out what sort of tree they would be if they were trees instead of pirates was easily one of the crew's favourite pastimes-he would undoubtedly be an oak, or maybe a horse chestnut. He was all teeth and curls, but with a pleasant, open face; his coat was of a better cut than everybody else's, and his beard was fantastic and glossy, and the ends of it were twisted with expensive-looking ribbons. Living at sea tended to leave you with ratty, matted hair, but the Pirate Captain somehow kept his beard silky and in good condition, and though nobody knew his secret, they all respected him for it. They also respected him because it was said he was wedded to the sea. A lot of pirates claimed that they were wedded to the sea, but usually this was an excuse because they couldn't get a girlfriend or they were gay pirates, but in the Pirate Captain's case none of his crew doubted he was actually wedded to the sea for a minute. Any of his men would have gladly taken a bullet for him, or even the pointy end of a cutlass. The Pirate Captain didn't need to do much more than clear his throat and roll his eyes a bit to stop the fighting dead in its tracks.

'What's going on, you scurvy knaves!' he bellowed. Pirates were often rude to each other, but without really meaning it, so none of the brawling pirates took being called a 'scurvy knave' too much to heart.

'We were just discussing what the best bit about being a pirate is,' answered the pirate dressed in green, after a bit of an awkward pause.

'The best bit about being a pirate?'

'Yes sir. We couldn't quite decide. I mean, it's all good . . .'

'The best bit about being a pirate is the shanties.'

And with the argument settled, the Pirate Captain strode back into the galley, indicating for the pirate with a scarf to follow. The rest of the crew were left on their own.

'He's right. It's the shanties,' said the albino pirate thoughtfully. One of the other pirates nodded.

'They are really good. Shall we sing a pirate shanty?'

The Pirate Captain was secretly relieved when he heard the strains of a rowdy shanty coming through the roof of the galley. Just recently he had been worrying about discipline on board the pirate boat, and there was an old pirate motto: If the men are singing a shanty, then they can't be up to mischief.*

'Come into my office for a moment,' he told the pirate with a scarf, who was his trusty second in command. The Pirate Captain's office was full of mementoes from the previous pirate adventures. There was a ten-gallon hat from the Pirates' Adventure with Cowboys, and some old bits of tentacle from the Pirates' Adventure with Squid, as well as several Post-it notes reminding the Pirate Captain to say things like 'Splice the mainsail!' or 'Hard about, lads!' On the walls there hung several fantastic paintings of the Pirate Captain himself-one of them showed him looking anguished and cradling a dead swan: this painting was titled WHY? Another was of the Pirate Captain reclining naked except for a small piece of gauze. And a third pictured the Pirate Captain sharing a strange futuristic-looking drink with a lady who seemed to be made from metal. There were also quite a lot of nautical maps and charts about the place, and even an astrolabe. The Pirate Captain wasn't 100 per cent sure what the astrolabe did, or whether it was actually an astrolabe rather than a sextant, but he enjoyed fiddling with it when he got bored, nonetheless. Right at the moment boredom was an issue that weighed heavily on the Pirate Captain's mind.

'Care for some grog?' he asked politely. The scarf-wearing pirate wasn't very thirsty, but he said yes anyway, because if you start turning down grog when you're a pirate it doesn't help your reputation much.

'Ship's biscuits? I've got ship's custard creams, and ship's bourbons,' said the Pirate Captain. He held out a tin that had a boat painted on it and the pirate with a scarf took a bourbon, because he knew custard creams were the Pirate Captain's favourites.

'What do you think all that brawling was about, number two?' asked the Pirate Captain, absentmindedly seeing how fast he could spin the astrolabe using just one finger.

'Like the men said . . . it was just a friendly discussion that got a bit out of hand,' replied the scarf-wearing pirate, not entirely sure where the Pirate Captain was going with this, but amazed as always that he could carry on a conversation whilst doing complex calculations with an astrolabe. That sort of thing was why the Pirate Captain was the Pirate Captain, the pirate with a scarf reflected.

'I'll tell you what it was about,' said the Pirate Captain. 'It was about bored pirates! I've made a mistake. We've been moored here in . . . in the . . .' The Pirate Captain rubbed his nose, which he liked to think of as a stentorian nose, even though stentorian is actually a tone of voice, and squinted at one of the charts.

'The West Indies, sir,' said the scarf-wearing pirate, helpfully.

'Mmmm. Well, we've been here too long. I thought that after our exciting adventure with those cowboys, we could all do with a break, but I guess us pirates are only really happy when we're pirating.'

'I think you're right, sir,' the scarf-wearing pirate said. 'It's nice enough here, but I keep on finding sand in my grog, from all that lying about on the beach. And those native women, wandering about with no tops on . . . it's a bit much.'

'Exactly. It's time we had another pirate adventure!'

'I'll let the other pirates know. Where will we be heading for? Skull Island? The Spanish Main?'

'Oh, Lord, no! If we plunder the Spanish Main* one more time, I think I'll tear out my own beard,' said the Pirate Captain, trying on the ten-gallon hat and narrowing his eyes like a cowboy as he studied his reflection in the mirror.

'So what were you thinking?'

'Something will come up. It usually does. Just make sure we've got plenty of hams on board. I didn't really enjoy our last adventure much, because we ran out of hams about halfway through. And what's my motto? "I like ham!" '

'It's a good motto, sir.'

Back on deck, the other pirates had finished their shanty-which had been about how a beautiful sea-nymph had left her rich but stupid Royal Navy boyfriend for a pirate boyfriend because he was much more interesting to talk to and could make her laugh-and now they were roaring. This was another common pastime amongst the pirates.



'Aaaarrrr, me hearties!'

It didn't mean much, but it filled a few hours. They all stopped when they saw the pirate with a scarf had come back from his meeting with the Pirate Captain. He almost slipped in a pool of the cabin boy's blood that was left over from the fight.

'Can somebody swab these decks?' he said, a little tetchily. Left to their own devices, the pirates tended towards the bone idle.

'It's Tuesday! Sunday is boat cleaning day!'

'I know, but somebody could get hurt.'

The diffident pirate gave a shrug and went off to find a swabbing cloth, whilst the remaining crew looked up expectantly from where they were sprawled. The scarf-wearing pirate gazed out across the sparkling water, and at the tropical beach with its alabaster sands, and the forest of coconut palms behind that, and then he noticed one of the pretty native ladies and so he quickly looked back down at his pirate shoes.

'Listen up, pirates,' he said. 'I know all this endless wandering up and down the beach . . . and our interminable attempts at trying to choose which sort of mouth-watering exotic fruit to eat . . . and all these wanton tropical girls knocking around . . . I know it's been getting you down.'

A couple of the pirates muttered something to each other, but the scarf-wearing pirate didn't quite catch what they said.

'So you'll be happy to know,' he went on, 'that the Pirate Captain has ordered us to put to sea, just as soon as we've collected some hams for the journey.'

A buzz of excitement ran around the deck.

'Perhaps we should cook the hams first, before setting off?' asked the pirate dressed in green.

'That sounds like a good idea,' said the albino pirate.

'Do you think roasting is best?' asked the pirate with a nut allergy.

The scarf-wearing pirate sighed, because he knew how seriously the pirates took their ham, and he could predict how this was going to end up. He tried to look hard-nosed, which involved tensing all the muscles in his nostrils, and with as much authority as he could manage he said, 'Yes, roasting is good. It allows the free escape of watery particles that's necessary for a full flav...

Customer Reviews

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If you need a good laugh, this is it.
It's a very easy read and you will want to have another of these delightful books on hand to read when you are finished.
L. McEntire
I enjoyed these books, though they end rather quickly.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
I keep deciding that the entire premise is just too silly, too overboard, and seriously, can't I find anything else better to do with my time than read this sort of thing?

Then I read yet another line that makes me practically swallow my tongue from laughing, and if a book can do that, what else do you need to know about it?

Mostly I'm just angry, very very angry, jealous, and full of rage and spite and envy and all of those other un-pirate-like feelings, because I didn't come up with this idea first and publish a book, so I can finally go back to my dad and say, "THIS is what I plan on doing with two degrees in English, and by the way, stop sending me those stupid internet chain letters." Even though, coming more than twenty years after the fact (of the degrees, that is, not the chain letters), I would think that he could probably have figured out under his own steam what I did, and did not, plan to do with two degrees in English.

Curse you, Gideon Defoe, with your nonsensical novels and your decades-old internet chain letters! I am perfectly capable of driving your pontoon boat without crashing it into a sandbar! And I am furthermore able to converse in the King's English while doing so! Good day to you!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Wade on May 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
If these guys ever post a Pirate Wanted Notice I'm putting in an application! Enter the day to day business of the Pirate Captain and his top notch ... er ... top ... his crew.

What at first seems like silliness in the end turns out to be ... well ... better silliness. But along the way each pirate will become your friend (a true feat considering few of them have names other than "The Pirate in Green" or "The Pirate with the Strawberry Birthmark"). You will know them well enough to not only laugh at the lines on the page, but (as at face value they're the most polite pirates on the seven seas) it's much more fun to read into what they're NOT saying -- especially as they try to deal with their beloved ... but lost in his own world (or perhaps his own beard) Pirate Captain.

Readers will reference Monty Python and that's pretty much right on. But I couldn't help but think of the comic strip, Overboard, as well. We're just spending a day at the office with these pirates where business as usual often means sunning oneself on the deck in between adventures.

Be ye warned - at the beginning you'll think "what am I doing wasting my time with such simplistic ..." - but hold on, because ye be wrong. These books are intelligent, comic, adult fun hidden in the simple words of simple men. I especially enjoyed the second book, Adventure with Ahab, probably b/c by that point I knew the lads well.

I rarely keep books after I've read them once - especially with fiction - but this one stays on the shelf to be picked up on those dark days when the nasty winds are blowing to and fro and the powers of darkness are again at me door - for the Pirate Captain has got me back!

Of course, I'll probably have to buy him a ham - he loves ham, you know.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. E. Koziol on July 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you are going to take one book to the beach this summer - this should be the one. Excessively silly - similar to Douglas Adams - akin to Monty Python - Arrrrr, I've got nothing else wonderful to say about it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Laakso on December 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
There really is nothing else to say, but LOVE IT! Sailing through Texas to get to Nevada? Hunting down the bishop while wearing womens dresses over scientist costumes over pirate garb? This book is too silly for words and is like Monty Python does pirates. LOVE IT!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Doench on July 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Pirates! in An Adventure with Scientists is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. The mark of a truly funny movie is that you find yourself repeating the lines to your friends (i.e. "looks good on you though," "you motorboatin' son of a...," etc.), and this book falls in the same class. Read it, and encourage your friends to read it. "Dino-pirates, my worst nightmare!" -- that one will never get old.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dennis C. Birtch on April 24, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love these Pirate books by Gideon Defoe. His take on the characters of the past is a comic relief based on a fresh perspective of who they were. Plus who doesn't love ham. I urge everyone to read a handful of these short witty books. My only WARNING is that this version of the book is only "The Pirates: On an Adventure with Scientists" It does not include "An Adventure with Ahab." I don't think that should stop you if you want to read a good book. The title is just a little misleading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nule on May 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have yet to see the movie and I still want to, but I have a feeling the movie version will go a long way towards correcting the books flaws. I understand there's a long tradition of this kind of satirical writing and that some people will really enjoy it, but it's so simplistic and the characters are so stereotypical and flat that it's hard to enjoy the humor in the book. The book doesn't do too bad of a job of recreating the feel that Adams' Hitchhikers books or even to an extent Pratchett's Discworld novels, but this author doesn't quite have the skill in this book at least of making the characters interesting enough for you to want to read. Getting through the short novels felt like a chore, even when the story premises themselves weren't that bad.

I understand that the author has since produced subsequent novels based on these characters and I have some hope that they've improved. However, I am not willing to buy another to find out. Especially since the Kindle prices are more than the paperback versions. The Kindle versions are also flawed (though I suspect this is a Kindle problem, not the book itself) in that clicking on one of the copious footnote links changes the locations of the links on the page if you go back and forth between the text and the footnote. Real books don't do that and it's really disorientating. As an aside the footnotes weren't very interesting for the most part, so feel free to skip them if you wish to maintain a more fluid reading experience.
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