Huge, Grinning, and Horrible…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s random dictionary words are: subpanation, subterposition, succedaneum, subtrist, substyle, and dilly-bag.
Please try to slip all of these words into your conversation today. Marks will be awarded for diction and clever usage.

DSCN2494Welcome again dear reader, to the wonderful world of Badger Books!
These British Badger science fiction and supernatural series of books date from the early to late 1960s and are more or less all written by one chap – Robert Lionel Fanthorpe MBIS. Here he is writing under the name John E. Muller, one of his many many pen names.
As usual let us start our examination by seeing what the back cover has to tell us:
Oh dear, it doesn’t say anything about the story, it just rambles on in general about the nature of the cosmos:
An atom is a miniature solar system in some respects. The clustering molecules resemble galaxies, colloids are, perhaps, tiny models of the whole creation. Man stands midway between the unbelievably small and the unbelievably huge…
…how will human culture compete with non-human culture? Which will survive? ‘Orbit One’ is the story of such an interaction.
I suspect the proposed book was first given a cool title (‘Orbit One’ was pretty cool in the 1960s), the artwork was painted, the  blurb was written, and the story was later cobbled together, sorry Mr Muller, carefully crafted, to fit these guidelines.
Oh, but what about this fine cover painting by the wonderful Badger cover designer ‘Fox’?
I think it is one of his best – I love the classy black background and choice of colour – it shines like burnished gold in the stygian night – mm, delicious… I could eat it with a metaphorical spoon!…
But who is this lovely ‘girl’ being threatened from all sides? I’ll quickly flick through the pages and find out her name… Well, so far I have only found ‘Big Dan’ Jeffreys and someone going under the marvelous name of Fletcher Starbuck… oh, and Glen Bridger… No, sorry I don’t seem to be able to find any female characters – I expect the ‘girl’ was put on the cover to boost sales – it just wouldn’t have been as eye-catching if it was ‘Big Dan’ being startled by the rockets and the creepy blue hands…
I see that there are three blue hands of power, two left ones and a right. Do they all belong to a spectacular alien beast, or are there a couple of humanoids from the planet Azure standing on the right, off camera, doing the spooky probing and grasping? I don’t think that they are just wearing blue rubber gloves though, you can see the knuckle wrinkles and fingernails too. I do like the shower of radiating orange sparks that accompany the evil hands – orange and blue always go nicely together.
Now, the rockets: Very nice rockets, very 1960s! I expect that they are really quite large and distant, but Fox makes the lower one look like it is sneaking up behind our heroine and threatening to get tangled in her hair – we all know how unpleasant and annoying it can be to have a stray rocket landing in your hair!
Our girl’s face is beautifully done. Oh, those ruby lips, the fear in the eyes, dig those crazy expressive eyebrows! Good old Fox – I love him…
Come on, let’s peek inside these crumbling pages and find some samples of sparkling text:
Earle Walcott edged away from the fissure, stood up and brushed himself down. “Rather frightening,” he said. “Yet I feel a strange fascination towards precipii – I don’t know if that’s the correct plural, or whether one should say ‘precipices’.
“It doesn’t matter what you say, they’re still strange magnetic places.” answered the police officer…
Bridger’s voice came up like an erupting volcano, came up like a boom of a gigantic bullfrog. It sounded like coal being shot out onto a corrugated iron roof…
Dan Jeffreys paused and looked… Gears and wheels, levers and plough shares; they cracked and clanked behind him and took his mind away from the grey-black mound. It was as though some strange underground troll of enormous size was pushing its umbrella up from under the earth and was itself was going to emerge from under it, huge, grinning, horrible – the product of radio-genetic mutation.

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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