As I reported recently, these books recently reappeared in my house, to the delight of at least one resident. (myself.)
These stories are not for the literal-minded. They are kooky beyond all get-out and all the better for it.
“The Home-Made Dragon” a book of Incrediblania stories is perfectly illustrated by Fritz Wegner
The Incrediblania stories are re-takes on your typical king/queen/court officials/dragon tales, which take a particular delight in skewering the human condition, everyday banalities and, perhaps most of all, the trappings of governance. Likewise with the Professor books, except there we have robots, minor dignitaries and wacky inventions instead of kings and queens.
Here’s an excerpt from the story: “The Imperial Tea Set.”
Context: The King and Queen have been given a magnificent new, handmade tea set bearing their likenesses.
“It was a lovely picture and exactly like him [the king], but, oh dear, alas, alack-a-day, that such things should come to pass! — it showed him with his beautiful, long, curly moustache that he had shaved off yesterday to please the Queen.
‘Goodness!’ cried the Queen, realizing in a flash what an awfully complicated imperial sort of national muddle she had made of everything by persuading the king to shave his moustache off.”
Here’s just a little example of Hunter’s subtle hyperbole at work:
When Professor Branestawm runs afoul of a traffic warden, the warden makes a note in a “fierce notebook.” What a difference from making a fierce note in a notebook. In Hunter’s world the notebook itself is fierce.
Thes stories quite remind me of Lem’s Cyberiad, Fables for the Cybernetic Age, which is of course one of my all-time top books. In Lem’s case, the king and queens and robots and inventions are all mushed together