John Kendrick Bangs review 1. A Houseboat on the StyxThe Pursuit of the Houseboat by John Kendrick Bangs

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsAt 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 the pirates and the women trying to outwit each other.

The Pursuit of the Houseboat is more fun than A House-boat on the Styx — it doesn’t feel quite so much like a series of history lessons. There is still some slightly clunky humor that depends on understanding the historical allusions (e.g., Delilah is asked to fetch her scissors so she can cut the rope holding the anchor, and Queen Elizabeth tries to be discreet about her relationship to Sir Walter Raleigh), but The Pursuit of the Houseboat actually has an entertaining plot as Captain Kidd and his crew try to deal with the women. The more ancient men (those from earlier times, I mean) think this will be rather easy to do, but the modern men scoff and explain that women are different than they used to be and are not going to let themselves get pushed around by pirates. (This was written in 1897 — good for you, Mr. Bangs — I wish you were writing paranormal romance novels today!) Sure enough, the ladies of Hades (sorry, I couldn’t resist) are up to the task!

A House-Boat on the Styx and The Pursuit of the Houseboat are available on Kindle in the Halcyon Classics edition, which contains 48 works by John Kendrick Bangs for (at this writing) only $1.99. Both books are rather short and easily read in an afternoon.

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 reviews John Kendrick Bangs review 1. A Houseboat on the Styx 2. The Pursuit of the Houseboat 3. Mr. Munchausen


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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