Just why do humpback whales sing? That's the question that has marine behavioral biologist Nate Quinn and his crew poking, charting, recording, and photographing very big, wet, gray marine mammals. Until the extraordinary day when a whale lifts its tail into the air to display a cryptic message spelled out in foot-high letters: Bite me.
Trouble is, Nate's beginning to wonder if he hasn't spent just a little too much time in the sun. 'Cause no one else on his team saw a thing -- not his longtime partner, Clay Demodocus; not their saucy young research assistant; not even the spliff-puffing white-boy Rastaman Kona (ne Preston Applebaum).
From Jonah to Pinocchio, men have dreamed of stowing away alive in the bellies of whales. Nate Quinn experiences this doubtful honor in Moore's outrageous new novel (after Lamb). Nate studies whales, operating a small research unit in Lahaina in Maui along with Clay Demodocus, a famous undersea photographer, and two seasonal hires: Amy Earheart, supposedly a grad student from Woods Hole Institute, and Kona, a dreadlocked Hawaiian stoner. When Nate spots a humpback whale with "Bite Me" tattooed on a tail fluke, mysterious disasters start to strike. Then Nate, out with Amy, is swallowed by the tattooed humpback. Technically, this is impossible, nature having created narrow throats for humpback whales, but the tattooed one is a living ship, a simulacrum of a humpback run by a crew of humans and "whaley boys"-human/ whale cross breeds. Nate learns that they were designed by the Goo. (The Goo is a giant, intelligent organism that evolved undersea billions of years ago and has lately been spying on humans with fleets of false whales.) The whale ships dock in Gooville, an underwater city populated by supposedly drowned humans and horny whaley boys on shore leave. The place is run by the "Colonel," Nate's old teacher, "Growl" Ryder. Nate runs into Amy and helps foil the Colonel's mad plan to destroy the Goo. Meanwhile, Clay and Kona plan to come to Nate's rescue. Moore is endlessly inventive in his description of the rubbery, watery world of Goo, and his characters are perfectly calibrated, part credible human beings and part clever caricatures. This cetacean picaresque is no fluke-it is a sure winner. (June) Forecast: Moore's wacky fantasia may not be for everyone, but Morrow is ensuring that it reach the maximum number of readers possible, with a 16-city author tour and a major ad/promo campaign. Cult classic? Could be. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Fantastic read
Posted September 19, 2009 by Jeff , Kansas CityI absolutely love Christopher Moore, and this is my favorite book of his. An absolutely fantastical, creative, zany plot - you'll never see where things are going until you get there. First rate.
2 . Swim with the...Fishes...Nonfishes...Pastrami?
Posted February 19, 2009 by Jade , WyomingI don't really know what I would do if I looked at the fluke of a whale and saw the words Bite Me painted on. I'm sure that I would think I was crazy. I wonder what living in Gooville would really be like. To me it sounded great.
June 01, 2004
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Excerpt from Fluke by Christopher Moore
Amy called the whale punkin.
He was fifty feet long, wider than a city bus, and weighed eighty thousand pounds. One well-placed slap of his great tail would reduce the boat to fiberglass splinters and its occupants to red stains drifting in the blue Hawaiian waters. Amy leaned over the side of the boat and lowered the hydrophone down on the whale. "Good morning, punkin," she said.
Nathan Quinn shook his head and tried not to upchuck from the cuteness of it, of her, while surreptitiously sneaking a look at her bottom and feeling a little sleazy about it. Science can be complex. Nate was a scientist. Amy was a scientist, too, but she looked fantastic in a pair of khaki hiking shorts, scientifically speaking.
Below, the whale sang on, the boat vibrated with each note. The stainless rail at the bow began to buzz. Nate could feel the deeper notes resonate in his rib cage. The whale was into a section of the song they called the "green" themes, a long series of whoops that sounded like an ambulance driving through pudding. A less trained listener might have thought that the whale was rejoicing, celebrating, shouting howdy to the world to let everyone and everything know that he was alive and feeling good, but Nate was a trained listener, perhaps the most trained listener in the world, and to his expert ears the whale was saying -- Well, he had no idea what in the hell the whale was saying, did he? That's why they were out there floating in that sapphire channel off Maui in a small speedboat, sloshing their breakfasts around at seven in the morning: No one knew why the humpbacks sang. Nate had been listening to them, observing them, photographing them, and poking them with sticks for twenty-five years, and he still had no idea why, exactly, they sang.
"He's into his ribbits," Amy said, identifying a section of the whale's song that usually came right before the animal was about to surface. The scientific term for this noise was "ribbits" because that's what they sounded like. Science can be simple.