Tough Traveling: People on Boats

Tough Travelling“Tough Traveling” is a weekly Thursday feature created by Nathan at Review Barn where participants make a new list each week based on The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. This hilarious little book cheerfully pokes fun at the most prevalent tropes in fantasy. All are welcome to take part, and there is a link up over at his site. Join in any time!

This week’s trope is PEOPLE ON BOATS:

Grab a map of Fantasyland and you are sure to see there is water.  Of course not everything important is going to happen on land, right?  Sometimes people actually have to get on a boat and hit the water.  Where, being fantasyland, anything can happen.

With this week’s trope, I’ve got the feeling that each list is going to look very different. Hopefully I’ve got a few unexpected picks on here!

 Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaBasically Everyone- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne


It doesn’t really get more ‘classic SFF’ than this one! Captain Nemo and co. are on board the fantastical Nautilus, which isn’t just a boat – it’s a submarineAwesome.

His Majesty's DragonWill Laurence – His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

Before getting roped into the world of dragons and becoming a member of a dragon air force, Will Laurence was a highly decorated and respected naval captain. There are a couple really great scenes where Temeraire flies alongside Laurence’s ship to eat fish and frolic – so I guess this one is ‘people [and dragons] on boats.’

Life of Pi by Yann MartelPi & Co. – Life of Pi by Yann Martel


I mean…the whole book is just people on boats. And animals on boats. Yet somehow it was really great. Not sure that I’d call it SFF per se, but it’s definitely got some heavy magical realism going on.

Child of a Hidden SeaEveryone Living on Stormwrack – Child of a Hidden Sea


In this portal fantasy (another Canadian title!), an entire world is based on the concept of people living at sea, on ships. One of the most important elements of Stormwrack culture is the Fleet, a group of ships that all travel together and essentially comprise a floating city.

10 thoughts on “Tough Traveling: People on Boats

  1. Ha! I can’t believe I forgot about Life of Pi! I used to live in the same city as Yann Martel and would see him around from time to time; once I asked him what the hell was up with the cannibalistic island. He was evasive and did not answer, and I am still baffled by that island.

  2. How did I forget Life of Pi! Oh man, what a great choice. Child of a Hidden Sea sounds interesting. I’ll have to wander off and learn more about this book. I see a few people have listed Novik’s book, and I still haven’t read it.

  3. Verne is indeed a classic, and I’m very happy to see that book mentioned. I would not have thought about the first book of the Temeraire series, but it’s perfect: after all the great adventure starts on a ship, doesn’t it? 😉

  4. Wooo, Nemo & crew! That’s a classic pick right there. I read this one as a kid (in translation) and I remember liking it a lot!

    And Life of Pi was cool, too. I made my whole family read that book. Have you read Beatrice and Virgil? I have and I have to say I wanted to burn it afterwards… It left such a bad taste but it was one of those books that stays with you for a long long time. *shudder* I don’t know why it affected me that strongly…

  5. Well, funnily enough I haven’t read either 20,000 Leagues or Life of Pi but I own both books and have done so for ages – and both occurred to me for this week’s topic but I couldn’t in fairness include them as I haven’t picked them up yet!
    Great list.
    Lynn 😀

  6. It’s good to see Temeraire on several lists this week. One of my favorite scenes in any fantasy book EVER is when Laurence watches the hatching of Temeraire on his ship, and instead of bonding to the other guy, he bonds to Laurence. That was such a great moment.


  7. I like your Life of Pi pick! Not traditional SFF but definitely on the fringe and as you say, surprisingly fascinating for being about a boy and a tiger alone on a boat together.

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