As with The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor, the strong narrative and compelling composition of Hercules Gone Mad, were it a completed work, would inspire the reader to look to Brindley’s literary forebears in order to draw out the fullest significance of his particular perspective. How better to figure forth that all the advances of civilization have come to naught than in the person of a contemporary maddened Hercules?
It’s not difficult for a writer to produce an easily readable line, what is difficult is to have that line keep faith with emotional context and the psychology of characters in a manner that flows and reproduces the created world from one phrase to the next. – “The gust of mizzled wind attacked with … stinging force.” – A writer needs to be more than a mere producer of readable lines, he must have an artist’s perspective, touch and vision. – “Many of the bombed-out wells continued to flow and burn unabated: their unburnt oil gushing high into the air and then raining back down, flooding the ground and nearby waterways; their toxic smoke and ash dispersing with the wind and blackening out the helpless sky.” – Kurt Brindley once again achieves just these necessary requirements in Hercules Gone Mad. He is a writer who will not leave his reader stranded in a desert of words – the inevitable experience should one or more of these elements be absent.
Ultimately, however, Brindley does appear to be at risk of abandoning his responsibilities in the manner that he chooses to finalize his “saga.” The abrupt truncation of the story line is, one supposes, in step with the “serial” method of publication that goes back to such figures as Dickens, Melville, Henry James and continues to be in some vogue today but out of favour with this particular reviewer who doesn’t appreciate having to hang fire until the indeterminable future sees another instalment. At the very least a reader should expect regular productions of either a week or a month’s separation and not have the burden of retaining story lines in mind for an unconscionable period.
This reviewer will also look askance at the concept of canvassing readers as to what might improve a story or what direction it should take. Might not the writer then settle for what is offered rather than dig deep towards what is meaningfully required? Isn’t this a Hollywood kind of thing where the “test audience” is asked to rate a movie’s different possible endings? In this instance, the solicitation of views concerns the look of the next instalment! And how does democratization affect and devalue the role of the auteur who has shifted responsibilities to those whose proper function is to appreciate what only another can create? This catering form of production, ironically, does disservice to the reader who wants to hear Brindley’s voice and no one else’s. A complete appraisal of Hercules Gone Mad and the success of the author’s strategies must await its completion.