Captains Stupendous: A Penny Dreadful Review
This week, I encountered the most absurd work of literary brilliance I have ever read. It is a book from Telos Publishing (www.telos.co.uk) entitled Captains Stupendous and authored by Rhys Hughes.
This exceedingly odd book chronicles the encounters of one Welsh journalist with a fungal infection with the larger-than-life Faraway brothers. Lloyd Griffiths, the journalist narrator, insists this collection of increasingly strange adventures is entirely truthful. This is, it is claimed, not a work of fiction at all, but a history. Truth is, after all, stranger than fiction.
The narrative begins as a fairly standard novel in the Victorian style of first-person adventure interspersed with scenes of important information. The beginning reminds me rather of Moby Dick. It deals with fairly standard Steampunk adventures – airplanes and propulsion systems, bandits and inventions. Then, the narrative becomes muddled, the scenes and tenses blurring, time and place becoming unhooked and frenetic. The plot becomes steadily wilder, including dinosaurs, animated skeletons, locomotive men, and eventually time travel. The characters who aren’t narrating break the fourth wall and address the reader.
I feel that this tonal inconsistency works well and is masterfully executed. I feel that it suits the bizarre events it describes. This is a complicated and fascinating work that probably ought to be studied in universities. I am quite certain I’ve missed something. If books that make you think are not your cup of tea, I suggest that this flavor may not be to your liking. It is thought-provoking and very, very strange.
I give this incredible adventure four gears out of five. I think I have to read it again to quite understand it. At any rate, I highly recommend it for the cultured Steampunk. It must be read to be believed.
Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather