on stranger tides

Heresy of the Week: In defence of endings

money fort unfinished peter jackson CAD

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

With series increasingly in vogue in film, TV, books and games, the value of a satisfactory sense of finality has gotten lost in the mix. Branding and marketing weight wins over story, meaning that ideas get flogged well past the point where they should be laid to rest.

Read on…

“On Stranger Tides” by Tim Powers – A Review

“On Stranger Tides” by Tim Powers

(Corvus, 416pp, £7.99)

I went into this book knowing very little about it. Really the only thing I had to go on was the rather lacklustre Pirates of the Caribbean film based on it, which is hardly the best endorsement.

But I found myself very pleasantly surprised with the result. The actual similarity between the book and the film is limited to the name, the fountain of youth, and the involvement of Blackbeard. If the film had been more like the book, then it might not have been the disappointment it turned out to be.

So why did I like “On Stranger Tides” so much? Well, the first thing it has going for it is excellent characters. The pirate genre lends itself to colourful, imaginative and exciting casts, and Powers doesn’t disappoint. Main character Jack Shandy is the classic character who never really wanted to be a pirate, but found an outlaw life thrust upon him, whilst Blackbeard manages to be engagingly bad, but more than simply a cardboard-cut-out comic villain. Add to the mix a host of brash but morally-questionable buccaneers and you couldn’t really want for better pirate fare.

One thing that I was a little less passionate about was the ending. Throughout, Powers keeps the story fast paced and exciting, with the action running right up to the end. Which is great, but it makes the ending feel rather abrupt. To go from full-throttle to over zap quickly killed the mood a little, but I couldn’t say what I would have changed and it didn’t damage the reading experience too much.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book. I was somewhat sceptical at first, believing that pirate stories were something of a genre cul-de-sac, but Powers’ excellent writing and brilliant story converted me very quickly.