THE OUTER BUOY by Jan de Hartog


A Story of the Ultimate Voyage
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 De Hartog completes his offbeat series of stories about Dutch sea captain Martin Harinxma (The Centurion, 1989, etc.) with a padded tale that never lives up to its intriguing premise. Harinxma, who last time out dabbled in time travel, is now 82, a widower wallowing in an old age funk, when he is approached by Ellie Bastiaans, former aide to his old employer and enemy, Kwel. She offers Harinxma, and a team of other aged warriors to be selected by him, the opportunity to participate in a startling new attempt to explore the vast ocean of space. Utilizing an OOBE--Out Of Body Experience--Martin and/or one of his cohorts will journey to the moon to obtain dosimeter readings from a Lunar Rover left there by the final manned space flight, Apollo 17. Why men in the last years of their lives would be chosen for such a venture is a disturbing question in Harinxma's mind, but Bastiaans's ability to maneuver Harinxma into doing what she wants (even when he is fully aware of the manipulation) and his own innate curiosity lead him to contact some old comrades and undertake the adventure. Tragedy strikes, however, seemingly ending the project, and Harinxma gets a clear reminder of his own mortality. In the end, he alone chooses to embark on the fateful journey toward a more distant shore than he has ever set out for before. Filled with some interesting ruminations on age and the nature of our lives, this story is ultimately too plodding and drawn out to be satisfying for the casual reader. However, those who have followed Harinxma this far along his epic journey will most likely want to accompany him on the final voyage.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-43604-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1994


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