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Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Joys of Naval Fiction

I stumbled across James Pattinson several weeks ago, ordered a bunch of his book from through interlibrary loan and have been reading his naval-oriented titles. He served as a ship's gunner on merchant ships during World War Two so his narratives ring true. They are quite good stories. Perhaps my favorite is The Silent Voyage. Two friends, Brett, representing his father's lumber interests, and Grill, a seaman who had known Brett as a child, find themselves on an old freighter bound for Russia. (The story takes place in the early fifties, so the Cold War plays a prominent role in the story.)

Their ship is sliced in half by a Russian ship in the midst of a fog bank, and Brett and Grill who had been forward on the bow at the time of the accident are the only survivors, scrambling up rope ladders thrown over the side by Russian sailors. The captain is hospitable but refuses to put them ashore and claims their radio has malfunctioned. They are not restricted in any way except during a puzzling rendezvous with another ship in mid-ocean and from asking about the material on deck.

They find themselves soon near the Antarctic, the ship slipping into a hidden deep water bay where they see numerous Russian subs. They had been run down by a Russian sub supply ship and now possess knowledge of a secret Soviet base.
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