It really is a rollicking adventure, as you’d assume; and one that scarcely wastes a single page on the non-rollicking.
It’s full of great characters. Long John Silver is far more wonderfully murderous lunatic than you might expect to occur within the pages a 19th century (or any other century’s) children’s adventure novel; and although, early on, the character of Jim Hawkins verges on ‘wet blankety’ – even he is redeemed by ill thought out but blindly successful attempts at heroics.
It is very amusing in places, as well. Benn Gunn’s (that 'lurking nondescript') first encounter with Hawkins is a particular stand out in that respect.
Being from the pen of that ‘mere complication of cough and bones’ and effortless genius – R.L. Stevenson – this is certainly worth reading.
At a particular point in the short-story, it seems tantalisingly close to becoming a black comedy, but – courtesy of its ending – it could basically be considered a high functioning ghost story.
It contains a zealous German professor, a wet blankety nephew, a monosyllabic Icelandic duck farmer, a few myopic Godzillaesq dinosaurs, a prehistoric Sheppard and a delightfully ludicrous ending that reads like a diary of a very slow log flume.
It isn’t pure pulp, however, and it contains a few very emotively rendered passages, such as when Axel gets lost in the bowels of the earth. Also contain the following passage:
“If we are neither drowned, nor shattered to pieces, nor starved to death, there is still the chance that we may be burned alive and reduced to ashes.”
At this the professor shrugged his shoulders and returned to his thoughts.
It’s a very effective mix of domestic satire and sci-fi fantasy. A little shrivelled antique shop owner, who is bullied by his wife and step-children, takes refuse in the bizarre extra terrestrial images only he can see broadcast inside a crystal egg (which is wife is determined that he sell for five pounds).
It has an ambiguous ending and, so I believe, can be considered a precursor to Well’s War of the Worlds.
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2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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