eeded something to tide this column over while I chew through the massive Seven Eves. Of course, I turned to my old friend, Project Gutenberg, for assistance.
Was looking, actually, for Journey to the Center of the Earth (which I’d just seen (the old one, not the crappy, stupid new one. Please!). Anyway, it wasn’t up except in audio format. But I did find this book, The Blockade Runners, which you gotta admit looks like a promising short story. So without further ado, let’s start the review.
And my opening hook to this review, late yet relevant?
So, you think the Millennium Falcon is a cool ship? It has nothing on The Dolphin.
This ship, which in this Verne tale is constructed and trialed in 1862 in the Clyde below Glasgow, is a damn hot ship. You see, James Playfair, an up and comer in the business house of Vincent Playfair & Co, has a damn sharp idea. The war in the States rages on, and the Glasgow mills groan for the cotton they can no longer get. His idea – build a ship fast enough to have a chance of breaking the Yankee blockade. James can make astronomical profits each way – ammo and uniforms in, and cotton, cotton, and more cotton (all the fiber he can stuff under his hatches) on the way out. What could be easier?
But, against better judgment, he takes a new hand on at the last second, a brute of a fellow with questionable skills and a wormy tag-along nephew. And I’ll say this – I thought I knew where this story was going but Verne hit me was a left hook, one so clever that I don’t even want to hint at it (you’ll get your chance to read it yourself; I’ll include the link). So anyway, soon The Dolphin is running through Yankee fire to get into Charleston Bay (for both the Rebs and the Northerners can range the mouth). But in the end, circumstances will force him into a mission against the interests of the South, and his running of the guns (from both sides) in the fog and gloom is something to be enjoyed. It harks back to the spirit of Hornblower, complete on-your-seat-edge reading that puts more contemporary books of the same ilk (such as Phantom) to shame. I remember exclaiming to my wife over a book meal at a local diner how exciting it was. I completely enjoyed it.
So, if you want a short story that will literally blow you away, read this classic from a master. And the punchline to the entire tale, the final line? Priceless!
You can get it for eReaders right HERE, for free!