Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates (1993) – Martin Caidin

America, 1930

Martin Caiden best known for his novel, Cyborg, which would serve as the basis for The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman guides the man in the hat on his next adventure, which plays out as less than an adventure and more like a lot of exposition.

Indiana Jones is the leader of an elite team, and they have been assigned the task of hunting down and discovering the truth behind strange giant airships, and their saucer -like fighters which have been attacking valuable shipments all over the world.

With an outfitted Ford Trimotor plane, the group races from meeting to meeting, with only a few meager action beats to hint that it may be an Indiana Jones story. Caiden definitely knows the aeronautic side of things, and he handles the information well, and shares it accessibly, but the story feels clunky.

It seems instead of chases and fisticuffs, Indy wanders from meeting to meeting, and even the climax doesn’t see him being very proactive.

You’d think with a mystery involving flying discs would be a rip-roaring adventure, but this one feels like it stumbles. It hints at a villain that Indiana doesn’t even confront, and despite mentioning all the historical records of strange things in the skies above us, offers no real follow-up on that, instead using that as a loose foundation on which to build the idea of this modern, seemingly unstoppable skyship and it’s additional craft.

skypirates

We are introduced to a lot of supporting characters that almost brush up against the stereotype and are merely there to help Indy with the exposition. The dialogue doesn’t feel like anything Indiana would say, or least not written as he would deliver it.

There’s a really good idea and story in this book, but I think it needed to be longer (the story doesn’t even break three hundred pages) and more involved (and follow the cliffhanger serial format that served the original three films so well).

And of course, I’m not asking for Indy to solve a mystery that has been plaguing mankind since we first looked up in the sky, but I think I would have liked a little more substance to the story – you don’t reference the historical record, and then not do it any justice.

Now, to be clear, I didn’t hate this one, it was world’s above The Interior World, but it just doesn’t feel like an Indiana Jones story. That being said, it is the first one of the novels that hints at connecting to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles when Indy mentions he served in the Belgian army. We know Indy can work in a team, and it’s great when he can share the adventure, but there are so many people in this one that all of them just seem there to share in the exposition as there is another dialogue scene about something big that happened off stage.

Caiden has another book in the series before the torch is past onto another writer so it will be interesting to see what he does in his next story, and if we see any payoffs from the characters, and barely glimpsed villains seen in this tale.

If adventure has a name it must be… Indiana Jones, and he will be back in…

Indiana Jones and the White Witch!

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