Print Written by Scott Varnham

Review: The Wind Whales of Ishmael / Author: Philip Jose Farmer / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: March 22nd 

Anybody who thought Ishmael’s story was over at the end of Moby Dick has clearly never read The Wind Whales of Ishmael, the novel where Philip José Farmer takes the whaler with the snappy moniker and dumps him in a time period so far in advance of his own that the sea itself is mostly dried out. Not to worry though; whaling ships, sharks and whales themselves have taken to the air, and there’s fresh voyages to be had!

We’re introduced to this far future Earth through Ishmael’s eyes, which lends it something of the feeling of Wells' The Time Machine. In a nice touch the moon and sun are now a lot closer to Earth, meaning that the usually minute effects of their gravitational pull upon the land have become visible, rendering the ground as fluid as the sea used to be. This means that Ishmael, the experienced sailor, is now almost permanently land-sick. Of course, Ishmael’s sailing and whaling experience has to come in handy sometime, so he leads a group of whalers to avenge the destruction of their city by hunting down the giant monstrosity that caused it and the enemy nation that set the beast upon them. And of course, he brings his new friends some methods from his own time that could be used to achieve the ends they desire.  

His expertise, although admittedly not in the matter of sailing, comes in handy when the gang are infiltrating the lair of the enemy nation and have to deal with all manner of things, such as mutated spiders that attack in a co-ordinated fashion, tentacle creatures that grab people when nobody’s looking at them, and a moving statue. This section of the book was a superb read and was reminiscent of many old but good action/horror films.

At 187 pages (including introduction, afterword and whatnot) it’s the shortest book to date in the range of reprints by Titan. Nevertheless, it’s a brisk and thrilling tale that doesn’t get too bogged down in establishing the world that it’s set in. However, while this book works excellently on its own, if you’re anything like us it won’t be enough. You’ll find yourself picking up more and more until you realise that you’re a Farmer-addict. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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