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The Smell of Telescopes

by Rhys Hughes

Rhys Hughes regards this as his favorite book, and with good reason.  It is one of the funniest and most intelligent books from the lighter side of macabre writing I have ever seen.  It clamors with a cast of pirates, floppy-wristed Welsh bards, explorers and inventors, imps, squonks, moving public houses, M R Jamesian revenants, M R Jamesian punctuation, blueberry pies, trousers, noses, clocks, carrots . . . I can't list them all here, there isn’t room.

Like all the best books, this quirky and surreal collection is hard to classify, but it lies in that region where the macabre and eerie worlds of classic horror and fantasy become a basis for something else – for a dark and original sense of humour filled with unexpected cross-references, homages, satires and black comedy.  What makes this collection remarkable is not just the delightfully murky and skewed tales themselves, but the complex and ingenious way they all lock together and interrelate.  I was going to say ‘tessellate’ but if this is a tessellation then it is filled with impossible-sided polygons, non-Euclidean three-dimensional geometry, unexpurgated curves and cracks from which blueberry-scented steam emerges with a screaming hiss.

But what is without doubt is that ‘The Smell of Telescopes’ is a magnificent book and a cornerstone of the rather oddly shaped corner of literature that it occupies.  Since the first edition went out of print, the unavailability of this book has been a great crime of literature.  And Eibonvale Press is, as always, dedicated to the righting of the world’s more substantial wrongs. 



  1. The Banker of Ingolstadt
  2. Ten Grim Bottles
  3. Spermaceti Whiskers
  4. The Blue Dwarf
  5. The Purloined Liver
  6. The Squonk Laughed
  7. Telegram Ma'am
  8. Depressurised Ghost Story
  9. Thanatology Spleen
  10. The Tell-Tale Nose
  11. A Girl Like a Doric Column
  12. The Orange Goat
  13. Nothing More Common
  14. Muscovado Lashes
  15. A Person Not in the Story
  16. Bridge Over Troubled Blood
  17. Burke and Rabbit
  18. The Yellow Imp
  19. Lanolin Brows
  20. The Haunted Womb
  21. Mister Humphrey's Clock's Inheritance
  22. There was a Ghoul Dwelt by a Mosque
  23. The Purple Pastor
  24. The Hush of Falling Houses
  25. The Sickness of Satan
  26. Omophagia Ankles


RHYS HUGHES is one of the most prolific and successful authors in Wales, although his work has rarely been available in his own country. His earliest publications were chess problems and mathematical puzzles for newspapers. His first short story was published in 1992 and since then he has embarked on a project that involves writing exactly one thousand linked 'items' of fiction, including novels, to form a gigantic story cycle. Many of these individual items have appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies around the world. His books include Worming the Harpy, Nowhere Near Milk Wood, Journeys Beyond Advice, The Postmodern Mariner and The Less Lonely Planet. His work is currently being translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian and Greek.


The Smell of Telescopes is available in the following formats:

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Postage is free worldwide for orders of £20 and over.
Click here for some examples of the interior art.



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