This is a (Puffin) kid's book that I read years ago. Johnny, an orphan living with an unsympathetic aunt, stows away on a hover cruiser that then sinks in mid-Pacific; he is saved by Dolphins taking him to an island where Professor Kazan (brilliantly characterised as "he had a kindly but rather distant expression, as if he wanted to be friends with everyone, yet preferred to be left with his own thoughts") is researching into Dolphin language.
This is a classic boy's adventure story (the ease with which the boy is disencumbered of parents and indeed any family at all is so typical, think Swallows and Amazons and hundreds of orphan sagas) that reminded me strongly of the Adventure stories of Willard Price. There is a lot of fact about coral reefs and the Pacific Ocean drip-fed in through the medium of talking about Johnny's swimming trips with his mate Mick. At the same time, Clarke builds the story around science that, at the time of writing (1962) looked promising: the hovercraft had just been invented and Behaviorism reigned supreme in Psychology from which Clarke mined details of computer-run education via learning programs and animal control using electric shocks to either the pain or pleasure centres of the brain.
And at the end, of course, Johnny has to be a hero in the aftermath of the hurricane, when the Professor is dying and there is a race against the clock to get help with the aid of those friendly dolphins.
Beautifully written: July 2016, 156 pages
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57