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John Kendrick Bangs

John Kendrick Bangs fantasy author(1862-1922)
“Bangsian” fantasy is fantasy in an after-life setting. John Kendrick Bangs also wrote several stand-alone novels and story collections.
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Houseboat on the Styx

Houseboat on the Styx — (1895-1901) Publisher: Bangs wrote mostly comic satirical fiction and is immortalized by the term Bangsian, which refers to a fantasy set in the afterlife, usually involving famous dead folk as the characters. The House-Boat is a good example of this.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsJohn Kendrick Bangs review 1. A Houseboat on the Styx 2. The Pursuit of the Houseboat 3. Mr. Munchausen

A House-Boat on the Styx: Bangsian fantasy

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A House Boat on the Styx by John Kendrick Bangs

John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922) was an American humorist who edited some popular American magazines such as Harper’s Weekly and Puck. His satirical novella A House-Boat on the Styx is responsible for the term Bangsian Fantasy, which refers to stories about famous people in the afterlife (e.g., Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series).

In A House-Boat on the Styx, Charon the ferryman is dismayed to discover that he’s got some competition in the transportation business — a posh new riverboat has appeared on the Styx and there’s no way his craft can compete. His fears of bankruptcy are relieved, though, when... Read More

The Pursuit of the Houseboat: Captain Kidd vs. The Ladies of Hades

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The Pursuit of the Houseboat by John Kendrick Bangs

At the end of John Kendrick Bangs’ A House-boat on the Styx, the men went ashore to watch Goliath fight Samson, leaving the houseboat untended. So the ladies, headed by Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth, took the opportunity to trespass. While they were playing pool below decks, the pirate Captain Kidd and his crew, unaware that the ladies were aboard, hijacked the boat and set out for Europe so they could do some looting.

As The Pursuit of the Houseboat opens, everyone is discovering what’s just happened. When the men realize that the boat is missing, they have no idea how to find it but, fortunately, Sherlock Holmes appears and offers his services. Meanwhile, the pirates and the ladies are shocked and horrified to find themselves sharing the houseboat. The rest of the plot involves t... Read More

More fantasy by John Kendrick Bangs

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsOlympian Nights — (1902) — An American traveler of the twentieth century finds himself stranded in Greece, robbed and alone, and takes sanctuary in a cave… that proves to be the entrance to the home of the gods. As the gods’ guest, he learns just what the immortal divinities are up to in modern times, with hilarious results. Bangs portrays the gods going about their duties and personal affairs in the terms of American high society, with all the elegance, archness, wit, jealousy, and pettiness of the idle rich. Mythic grandeur and modern wit prove a perfect fit in this sharp satire.


fantasy and science fiction book reviewsRollo in Emblemland: A tale inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland — (1902) John Kendrick Bangs (1862–1922) was born in Yonkers, New York, and is known for his work as an author, editor, and satirist. He worked for “Life”, a number of “Harper’s” periodicals, and “Puck”, perhaps the foremost American humour magazine of its day. Inspired by the fantasy of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice”, Bangs wrote “Rollo in Emblemland” together with Charles Raymond Macauley in 1902. The story tells of a young boy named Rollo who visits a strange country peopled with symbols and icons—emblems of culture like John Bull, Uncle Sam, the Owl, the?Stork, Puck, Mr Punch, Father Time, Cupid, and others. Macauley’s line drawings are charming and some of the verse in the book is reminiscent of Carroll’s.


fantasy and science fiction book reviewsAlice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream — (1907) 1907. Like Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Blunderland is the fantastic tale of Alice in a land where nothing is as it should be. We travel to Blunderland, where children live in the Municipal Home of the Children, the Duchess is their mother while the City is their father. We encounter the dormouse, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the other characters so familiar to us from our childhood. This is a witty, humorous tale of adventure and city politics.


fantasy and science fiction book reviewsThe Autobiography of Methuselah — (1909) I, METHUSELAH. George W. Methuselah, that is. I, the oldest man of all time, am setting down my story here. Not in hieroglyphics, mind you, for I am no draftsman and these chisels and rocks are an awkward medium. (And Dear Reader, I assure you my tale is not as heavy at its manuscript!) No, I have chosen English, because French, Spanish, and German haven’t come into being yet. The reason why I didn’t choose Esperanto is contained herein. Here, for your edification, are my memories of my great, great, great grandfather and grandmother Adam and his Madam. (Eve, that is!) The true story of Cain and Abel? Look no further! And you’ll want to hear the story of how my father, Enoch, named me. As Granpa Adam might have said, it’s a rib-tickler! You’ll be treated to my poetry, the genuine tale of my son Noah and that damp business with the Ark and… But enough! You’re not getting any younger! Read! Enjoy. already!

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