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Christopher Moore, Fluke, or, I Know why the Winged Whale Sings. New York : HarperCollins ; 2004. 321 pages.
Nate Quinn is a humpback whale researcher. He lives on Oahu and heads a team that is trying to translate the male whale songs, songs they only sing when in the clear breeding grounds of Hawaii and no one knows why. Nate is happy in his academic world as an "action nerd", checking out his hot female research assistant, but when he sees "Bite Me" written on a fluke and keeps getting a message that he should take a hot pastrami sandwich to the large male singer, Nate starts to question his sanity. Little does he know that he may not actually want to know why the winged whale sings!
I can see why this may not be everyone's favorite Moore book but, as a fellow "action nerd" I absolutely loved it! I was enchanted from the first few pages when the following is revealed about scientists:
- I should have gotten a real job
- I should do work where I can actually make money
- Too bad my work won't make a difference
- Field work is boring
- No one understands that I always work weekend
- You can spot other "action nerds" by their raccoon sunglass tan!
- Scientists drink
I was seriously laughing out loud because all of these things are so true! There were so many aspects of the first half of this book that honestly reflected the life of a field scientist--it's not glamorous, you don't make a lot of money, you're always dirty, but you do what you do because you genuinely love every second of it...even the boring seconds.
The second half of the book seemed to take a complete 180 from the first part and we jumped into the world of the illogical--a big jump for a logical scientist like myself who was enjoying the parody of myself. We suddenly were set adrift in the crazy world of Moore's imagination; I liked the second half less but liked some of the nature versus nurture topics that were underlying the story. I also thought it was amusing because so many times my friends and I get pissed off that research isn't going the way we want it to and think that all of our research might be based on total bullsh*t and the reason things are the way they are is because of robots on Mars are just screwing with us!
I loved this book but don't know that someone more distant from science would pick up on the subtle nuances that made Fluke completely brilliant; however, I think you would still enjoy it. And make sure you read the final pages that discuss what aspects of the book were based on actual facts.
-- Notes by NR