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The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2004)

by Gideon Defoe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Pirates! (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8273520,712 (3.77)54
It is 1837, and for the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain and his rag-tag pirate crew, life on the high seas has gotten a little dull. With nothing to do but twiddle their hooks and lounge aimlessly on tropical beaches, the Captain decides it's time they had an adventure. A surprisingly successful boat raid leads them to the young Charles Darwin, in desperate need of their help. And so the pirates set forth for London in a bid to save the scientist from the evil machinations of a diabolical Bishop. There they encounter grisly murder, vanishing ladies, the Elephant Man - and have an exciting trip to the zoo.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Time Machine Did It by John Swartzwelder (gtown)
    gtown: The plots aren't similar at all, but both authors write with a similarly twisted, absurd sense of humor.
  2. 00
    Piratica: Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl's Adventure Upon the High Seas by Tanith Lee (joririchardson)
    joririchardson: Both of these books have the same silly, adventurous feel to them.
  3. 00
    The Portable Door by Tom Holt (Othemts)
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» See also 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
These books are just adorable. Want a super fast afternoon read? Love pirates? Love ham? This is for you! ( )
  jamestomasino | Sep 11, 2021 |
The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists is incredibly familiar to me, like a book I've read many times or one that is part of the same reading categories as so many other books I've read so that I must have read it at least once - and yet, when I brought it home from the library with a touch of nostalgia to reread something after 15 years, I discovered that it was completely new to me.

That nostalgia feeling, the familiarity, is an integral part of the book. (Also, I'm pretty sure I checked it out from the library at least once and simply never got around to reading it before it had to be returned.) Written in 2004 when Pirates vs Ninjas was just starting to be a pop cultural thing, it takes the ideas of pirates and piratical behaviors/settings and throws historicity and logic out the window. This isn't to say it's completely anachronistic or silly, but actual facts about the 1830s and piracy are sparse on the ground, thanks to the book being a loving homage or parody of serial adventure stories from the early 20th century. "An adventure with Scientists" purports to be a mid-series book, with callbacks to other adventures and character establishing traits from earlier books, and it uses similar dangerous-and-scary-yet-somehow-cozy plot devices and adventurous settings.

There is a level of absurdity in the book that I love. While the HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin appear, they bear very little resemblance to actuality (Darwin's big scientific theory is that dressing a chimpanzee up as a gentleman will indeed make him a gentleman). The pirates are known only by descriptors rather than names, and they're obsessed with ham, in addition to traditional piratical things like shanties, grog, treasure, etc. At one point, the pirates are in two levels of disguise, wearing all three sets of clothing at once: pirate garb, scientists' lab coats, and ladies' clothing. Why? because they're a little bit silly and it makes an amusing picture.

This story is amusing and brief and really I love in equal measures its silliness and its parody of adventure series books. It's definitely 2004-ish feeling, though, with a sort of casual misogyny that I noticed start to fall away in the years following as more people became aware of it, as well as the way pirates were such a big thing back then. I'm really glad I don't encounter the objectification of women in quite the same way or nearly as often in more recent media. ( )
  keristars | Mar 31, 2019 |
If you have seen the Aardman Animations film featuring the Pirate Crew in this story and want to read the book, the book is very, very different. I was not aware of this and I wish I had been. Although I did like the book, I would have liked it a great deal more if I had not been constantly waiting for plot points from the movie to show up.

In the book, we are introduced to the Pirate Captain and his crew, most of whom do not have real names, but are referred to instead by descriptions ("the pirate with gout", "the albino pirate", "the pirate with a scarf"). The crew are getting restless after a prolonged vacation in the tropics -- after all, one can laze about on the beach, ogle the pretty locals and drink rum for only so long before it loses its allure. A false hot tip from the Pirate Captain's rival, Black Bellamy, leads the crew to chase after and plunder Charles Darwin's ship, the Beagle, only to become embroiled in scientific theory, a sinister murder plot, a kidnapping and much more.

The front cover of this book describes it as "Blackadder of the High Seas", and that was precisely the comparison I wanted to draw for the second book in this series, which I read first. (Blame the library; that's the order in which they arrived.) It's all very absurd, with plenty of clever jokes that require the reader to make the necessary inferences (e.g. the airship: "I love what you've done with this roaring log fire next to the spare hydrogen cylinders!"). The text is also sprinkled with footnotes that provide some interesting factual tidbits.

The book is also decidedly more in tune with the period (1837) than the movie is, which I would describe as "gleefully anachronistic". The book is also a bit less madcap. So if you want to check out this series and see the movie, read the book first, or at least be prepared for two very different stories that have essentially the same spirit. ( )
  rabbitprincess | May 26, 2018 |
After enjoying the Adventure with Ahab, as well as the Pirates! movie, I collected a couple of Pirates! books and put them on the bedtime story shelf for Jefferson, a decision I was ultimately pretty disappointed with. Despite both this book and the movie involving The Pirates! running into Charles Darwin, that is almost entirely what they have in common And largely to the detriment of this book.

This book is decidedly not family friendly. It was rife with a casual misogyny that was both uncalled for and seemed to come out of the blue, given my previous experience with the brand. It's especially irritating as the author's entire backstory is that he started writing books to impress a woman. This one was his first book, so maybe he learned and grew and moved past it? I'm still giving the other book I bought some serious stink-eye. It's quite likely to disappear off of the bedtime story shelf before we finish the book we are currently reading.

The rare, rare case of a movie being SO MUCH BETTER. Not sure I'll give Defoe another chance. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
This book is really a funny, short read. It's random, hilarious, and off the wall. ( )
  JesEcho | Aug 26, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gideon Defoeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To Sophie,
who has a quarter of a million pounds
First words
'The best bit about being a pirate,' said the pirate with gout, 'is the looting.'
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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It is 1837, and for the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain and his rag-tag pirate crew, life on the high seas has gotten a little dull. With nothing to do but twiddle their hooks and lounge aimlessly on tropical beaches, the Captain decides it's time they had an adventure. A surprisingly successful boat raid leads them to the young Charles Darwin, in desperate need of their help. And so the pirates set forth for London in a bid to save the scientist from the evil machinations of a diabolical Bishop. There they encounter grisly murder, vanishing ladies, the Elephant Man - and have an exciting trip to the zoo.

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Average: (3.77)
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