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Lyle Zapato

The Strange Adventures of Captain Quinton

Lyle Zapato | 2013-12-05.0890 LMT | Cephalopods | Lost Worlds | Retro

'The Strange Adventures of Captain Quinton' cover showing man in diving suit battling giant devil-fish in sunken ship
(Click for larger cover and spine)

The above is the cover of The Strange Adventures of Captain Quinton: Being a Truthful Record of the Experiences and Escapes of Robert Quinton During His Life Among the Cannibals of the South Seas, as Set Down by Himself (1912).

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Lyle Zapato

Pratchett's Nation

Lyle Zapato | 2009-09-20.1325 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment

This is strange.

First of all, Terry Pratchett published a novel last year, Nation, that features tree-climbing octopuses and no one thinks to notify me, of all people? I'm hurt! If I wasn't already paranoid, this would put me over the edge.

Well, anyway, I'm in the loop now. I only discovered it last night while looking for more things to put on the media subpage on the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus site. (An aside: What was the deal with 2008? Five books -- that I've discovered so far -- were published with tree octopuses in them, not even counting school text books. And only one of the authors thought to let me know. Thank you, again, Eric E. Olson.)

But here's the weird thing: The cover of the UK edition has a tree-climbing octopus on it, hidden in the shadows. Excellent! But then I looked a little closer at it. It seemed strangely familiar. Here's a lightened and contrasted detail (taken from an extra-large image of the cover found here):

Detail of tree-climbing octopus from UK cover of 'Nation' UK cover of 'Nation'
The added white square on the cover is where the tree octopus can be found.

Now where have I seen that tree octopus before? Oh, yeah, here it is:

Original tree octopus image
Tree octopus image that's been on my site for a decade.

I applaud the cover designer's desire for technical accuracy by using an image of an actual tree octopus (albeit not O. arbori, as specified by Pratchett), but is it really the smartest thing, from a legal ass-covering perspective, to take an image off of some website and put it on a very notable commercial product? I mean, you're designing the cover for a freaking Terry Pratchett novel, not doing graphics on some penny-ante website in your spare time; someone's going to eventually notice, no matter how much you darken the image.

I can understand if the cover artist left the octopus out, and your boss told you just before the deadline that there had to be a tree-climbing octopus on there, and Google image search is just a few tempting clicks away... but, really? No one around the office can draw an octopus, not even one that would be mostly in silhouette? What are they teaching you people in design school? Drawing octopuses should be part of the fundamentals!

Just so we're clear, I have absolutely no intention of making any sort of drama about this (not that I rightly could... ahem), and everything's cool as far as I'm concerned. Mostly I'm disappointed that more effort wasn't put into having a proper tree-climbing octopus illustration on the cover (and none at all on the North American version, at least that I can see). But whoever's in charge of the cover-design department at Pratchett Heavy Industries needs to give some stern lectures to their underlings lest they get themselves into trouble in the future.

Tha Stinkin' Pirate

Pirobots!

Tha Stinkin' Pirate | 2006-07-01.7030 LMT | Simulacra | Random Found Thing

Ferget tha scurvy, Depp'd Pirates o' tha Carrribbean ride, now ye can git yer own pirobotical shipmate...

(I pirated tha video off ah site I discover'd whilst searchin' tha eBay fer booty, but I've lost me map ta tha pirobotmonger's whereabouts. I'm plannin' ta replace me whole crew wit audioanimatrrronics, so if ye be knowin' tha site's bearins', I'd be much obliged.)

Tha Stinkin' Pirate

Submarrrines

Tha Stinkin' Pirate | 2006-03-14.5520 LMT | Technology

Arrr ye Jonesin' t'be Cap'n Nemo? Now fer ah scanty three million doubloons ye can have yer own Nautilus!

Exomos Nautilus

Aye, she be ah bonny submarrrine what can hold ah crew o'ten an' dive sixteen fathoms inta tha briny deep. Good fer takin' pirate tourists t'see Davy Jones' Locker wit ther own deadlights. She also be functionally piratical, as 'er mizzenteeth can slice open ah Gap freighter's hull an' release tha precious booty o' cargo pants wit'out ther crew bein' none tha wiser -- so ye can write'er off'a yer taxes as ah business expense! ARRR!!

Tha Nautilus' maker be Exomos, who be also makin' underwater warships. Aye, Exomos be sellin' arms ta both tha military an' tha militant pacifists -- scallywags after me own heart, arr!

It be no coincidence that ther port o' call be in Dubai -- better known as tha Pirate Coast! Land o' loot, rum, an' animatronic dinosarrrs! Tis ah pity tha landlubbers turn'd it inta Trucial an' put monorails all o'er tha place. Nothin' makes an ol' salt scupper 'is eyes as ta see pirates ridin' 'round ah track. Reminds me o' Disneyland -- sends shivers up me timbers, arr...

Never ye mind! I've ah submarrrine ta purchase! Where'd I bury me booty...?

Tha Stinkin' Pirate

New Threat To Pirates

Tha Stinkin' Pirate | 2004-08-20.1000 LMT | Technology

Avast me hearties! Thar be ah new threat ta tha piratical life devised by ah ruddy crew of Dutch blaggards, an anti-pirate system called Secure-Ship. It be comprised o' ah series o' yardarms emanatin' from tha gunwale what carry metallic lines stowin' 9,000 volts o' 'lectricity, an' makes boardin' ah ship like tryin' ta wrestle 'lectric eels. Yer Jacob's ladder'll take on ah whole 'nother meanin' should ye lay yer daddles on this infernal riggin'! Many ah seadog o' mine has been scuppered whilst tryin' ta crib cargo pants from Gap freighters thus fitted. Be ye warned!