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By John Finneran
Patrick O'Brian (1914 - 2000) was a popular author best known for his Aubrey-Maturin series, concerning Jack Aubrey, an English sea captain, and Stephen Maturin, an Irish-Catalan physician/intelligence agent. You can find out more about O'Brian the man by reading the many obituaries that are linked from Gibbon Burke's excellent Guide to Patrick O'Brian Web Resources. (More O'Brian links can be found on my links page.) For our immediate purposes, I'll just note that O'Brian was born Richard Patrick Russ, and that he first wrote under the name of Patrick Russ: a few of his earlier works on this web site are noted as the work of Patrick Russ.
If you've never read O'Brian, I suggest you start with Master and Commander, the first of the Aubrey-Maturin books, and continue on until you either get bored or finish the series. If you're like many readers, you may find yourself finishing the series faster than you imagined, and hungering for more. Fortunately for you, O'Brian has indeed written more.
This web site is dedicated to reviews of his short stories and some of his other obscure works. Most of these reviews were originally posted to The Gunroom, an e-mail list devoted to discussing Patrick O'Brian's works and miscellaneous tangentially related subjects. Bear in mind that the reviews were originally meant as informal exchanges, and do not reflect the polished efforts of the posters; thus there may be sentence fragments, mistakes in spelling, grammar, etc. that by no means reflect the sort of work that the posters might produce for a formal publication, but the substance of the reviews and discussions tend to be very interesting and often of very high quality.
I've done some minimal editing: I've generally tried to cut the part of the message where the writer quotes an earlier message as much as possible to avoid redunancy, but still make the thread clear. I've also sometimes re-arranged the chronology of messages to make the flow of ideas clearer (e.g., message #3 may respond to message #1: in this case I might arrange the messages 1, 3, 2, rather than 1, 2, 3). I have not included postings that were strictly administrative or that drifted too far from the subject (except sometimes, when they were fun, or I felt like it).
Finally, this should be considered an on-going discussion, open to all, whether subscribers to The Gunroom or not. So if anyone would like to add something to these discussions, feel free to send me an e-mail.