The first novel by Walter Moers about the fictional continent of Zamonia, covering the live and travelings of Bluebear, a blue bear, a character in a series of children's stories written by Moers.The book covers the first 13½ lives of Bluebear.After starting his life by being rescued from falling into an enormous whirlpool by 4-inch-tall pirates, Bluebear travels the lands of Zamonia in search of fortune, and a place to call home. In his journeys he learns much from a multibrained genius professor, travels the Demererra Dessert, falls into a dimensional hiatus, matches wits with a superintelligent lump of rock performs on a dream organ in a giant head, meets the multitudinous races of Atlantis, helps deliver many a Deus ex Machina via sentient pterodactyl, and encounters many other weird, marvellous and wonderful (but mostly weird) threats, challenges friends and enemies.This is a sweet, nicely illustrated and inventive picaresque story, which meanders quite a bit in the telling of the story, and focuses on the oddities of the world.
Hollywood Mirage: Happens to Bluebear in the Sweet Desert several times before he actually catches one.
Instant Expert: Professor Nightinggale's way of educating people turns out to revolve largely around "bacteriological transmission of knowledge", which basically means that his knowledge is contagious. Students attending his lectures become Instant Experts on whatever he was lecturing on at the time, even discovering that they know details that he didn't even mention in the lecture itself.
Just in Time: Roving Reptilian Rescuers make a point of saving people from danger, but only at the last possible moment. It just encourages people to be careless otherwise.
Lucky Translation: The arc words in the second half "Knowledge is Night" work a bit better in German ("Wissen ist Nacht" which is very similar to the proverb "Wissen ist Macht" or in English "Knowledge is power"), but since "power" and "might" are almost synonyms, this works reasonably well.
Mix-and-Match Critters: Many of the Zamonian inhabitants consist of this, such as the Wolpertings (bipedal dogs with deer antlers), Bluddums (shaggy bears from the waist up, skinny humans from the waist down) and Shark Grubs (Exactly What It Says on the Tin). Also, Atlantis' underground is infested with a combination of cockroaches, rats and vampires.
The Musical: Yes, there is one, a stage musical which uses a surreal mix of live actors, puppets and CGI images projected onto a screen in the background. While a lot of characters and plot points from the book are dropped or changed, most of the important parts remain.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Professor Dr. Abdullah Nightingale. He even created some new scientific fields, in which he is also the leading expert.
Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires in Atlantis take several forms, including ones that live off halitosis or noise. Some of them are quite cute.
Patchwork Map: Zamonia has everything, mile-high mountains, giant deserts, jungles and big forests.
Portal Network: A rare example of a natural network. Dimension Portals are just an other weird phenomenon in this weird world.
Punny Name: Bluebear meets with a pterodactyl-like creature who rescues people from danger at the last moment; his name is Deus X. Machina.
Quicksand Sucks: Intelligent Quicksand. The entire thing is also played with in a throwaway line in the first life, where the Minipirates mix quicksand in the soap when swabbing the deck, to avoid the deck becoming slippery.