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The Wind Whales of Ishmael Mass Market Paperback – May 5, 1955

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Editorial Reviews


"[A] jolting conception, brought off with tremendous skill." (The Times)" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Philip José Farmer was a multiple award-winning science fiction writer of 75 novels. He is best known for his Wold Newton and Riverworld series. In 2001 he was awarded the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Prize and a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. He passed away in 2009. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books (1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044189240X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441892402
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,649,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sean Levin on April 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Philip Jose Farmer's work has never failed to delight me, and this book is no exception. Once again, Farmer puts his own unique spin on a classic literary character, this time featuring Ishmael from Herman Melville's MOBY-DICK (which honesty compels me to admit I have not read yet, though I certainly plan to) in Earth's remote future. Although this novel does not contain quite as much world building detail as many of Farmer's novels, he more than makes up for this in his excellent characterization of Ishmael and in many exciting action scenes.

Some reviewers, as noted by Farmer's great-nephew Danny Adams in his excellent afterword, have described this as a "lightweight" novel by Farmer's standards. Perhaps. But to this particular Farmerphile, even lightweight work by Peoria's finest author is better than a lot of books being produced by authors today, in the science fiction genre or otherwise. While ISHMAEL is perhaps more straightforward than most of his works despite its unique premise (something one can always find in books by Farmer, who after all wrote biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage that treated them as real people whose lives were fictionalized by Burroughs and Dent respectively, and tied them genealogically to dozens of other pulp and adventure heroes and villains,) and does not shatter any taboos as do many, the book does not suffer for it, and you could certainly never confuse Farmer's writing for anyone else's.

I am thrilled that Titan Books is reprinting so much of Farmer's output, as one can no doubt deduce from my reviews of all their previous releases of same. Farmer was a groundbreaking author whose work needs to be introduced to a new generation of fans, and I applaud Titan for taking up that gauntlet.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul F. Brooks VINE VOICE on August 1, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Phil Farmer has cleverly used historical and fictional characters in many of his stories. This novel propels Ishmael of Moby Dick fame from the mast of the ship Rachel, sailing the South Seas in 1842, into the far, far future of Earth. Farmer attributes this "time travel" experience as a consequence of looking at the cryptic carvings engraved upon Queequeg's coffin. Additional references to Moby Dick show up throughout the story. Ishmael is saved from drowning by a providential appearance of the harpooners coffin and on several occasions he ponders about Ahab and his obsession with The Whale.

Ishmael find himself in a future with a swollen red Sun, oceans evaporated to the point where islands appear to be mountains and the primary means of travel are lighter than air ships that rely on sails and air bladders. Ishmael quickly established himself as a warrior leader and after disposing several kinds of vicious predators gets a kingdom and the girl.

To be honest this is a minor Farmer work; light and pleasant reading. I would recommend this book for some interesting comments about the idol cults Ishmael must contend with to win over the confidence of the natives. Farmer almost always works some perceptive observations pertaining to religion into his books and this one is no exception. Readers looking for some deep analysis of Moby Dick will be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Burton on August 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
Even if you've never read it, almost every reader know the story of Moby Dick. Opening with "Call me Ishmael[,]" Hermann Melville's novel is the tale of the white whale and obsessed Captain Ahab's quest to kill it, a hunt that does not end well for anyone. Only Ishmael, the narrator, survives to put the story down, drifting on the coffin of his bunkmate, Queequeg.

And that's where Philip José Farmer begins The Wind Whales of Ishmael. As he floats adrift, Ishmael finds himself falling out of our time and into the future, the far future, landing adrift in a future Earth dramatically different from our own. The oceans have nearly evaporated, life has evolved to the air, and man survives in air balloons hunting the leviathans of the air.

The Wind Whales of Ishmael is an intregeuing and fun story, if a bit dated. I recently read Edgar Rice Burrough's A Princess of Mars, and I couldn't help but see echoes of John Carter in the Farmer's Ishmael. He arrives in a strange and foreign world, is saved, and saves, a beautiful princess, and soon rises to prominence using his specialized knowledge and skills. The tale is short and exciting, the plot creative and the setting strange and exotic. Ishmael is an every man, a hero that survives and thrive a hundred thousand years in the future.

First published in 1971, Titan Books has put out a new edition of The Wind Whales of Ishmael with a foreword by Michael Croteau and an afterword by Danny Adams.
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