Friedrich Boettcher, alias Fredy Neptune, the Australian sailor of German immigrant background, witnesses the Turkish atrocities against the Armenians during the First World War. The shock of his life comes when he sees a group of women being burned alive. He realises that he has lost his sensation. but instead has gained an immense physical strength. Fredy tries to return to Australia, but is blamed for his German background, and so there is hardly any place left for him to return home. And thus Fredy is thrown into the cold water of history and fights to keep his head above it. Circumstance takes him to America, where he makes a living as a hobo and takes on small acting roles in Hollywood films, and to Germany. He moves in a variety of circles, is seen with the homeless as well as with the social elite, is celebrated as a German hero only to be forgotten again. As a witness to the horrors of the two world wars in the twentieth century, Fredy tries (without success) to withdraw in order to lead as simple a life as possible. But only in the end is he allowed to regain his feeling as a human being. With Fredy Neptune, the 'Odysseus from the Outback', literature has been given an unforgettable new hero who, in picaresque tradition, establishes himself between Frankenstein and Superman, between Don Quixote and the Flying Dutchman.