Showerings of sparks and jagged jets…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word ‘Molybdenum’.

DSCN3439Here we are! Another 1960s British pulp science fiction novel, a ‘Badger book’ from my dusty bookshelf – ‘Hyper Space’ – ‘The discovery of an electrical gateway to the hitherto unknown 4th dimension’ by R L Fanthorpe MBIF. Actually that should be ‘MBIS’ – Member of the British Interplanetary Society – the person who designed the cover obviously misread the scrap of paper sent by the publishers…
Shall we turn the book over and see what tempting prose there might be on its back cover?
‘”Elpowa” industries, the mammoth electro-engineering combine controlling half the galaxy, discovered the “Threshold” – a scientific gateway to the fourth dimension…
Was it the spacemen who were trying to sabotage the “Elpowa” process? Who were the “Others” with their weird super-human powers? Where did they come from, and what did they want?…
One of the most outstanding Science Fiction novels of the year, another of Schoolmaster/Author R. Lionel Fanthorpe’s super thrillers. It must not be missed!…’
‘Elpowa’ – that’s a very nice made up word! – it sounds like an unpleasant cross between Enron and Npower. Now, what about this cover painting?… I don’t think it’s by the usual Badger cover painter the great Henry Fox – it just doesn’t have his ‘class’ – I do like the ‘Hyper Space’ lettering though!
So, who is this in the green protective suit, pondering whether or not to pour the dangerous bubbling isotope from the tong-held test tube into his flip-top beaker – even under that helmet he still manages to look puzzled doesn’t he? I’ve just had a peep inside the book, and I think this person might be Max Dane, who appears and is described on the first page. Shall we leave Max for a moment and have a look around us? There’s a lot of coloured smoke and steam billowing, plenty of steel girders and stanchions, pressure vessels, a bridge, a plastic model of a molecule, and a couple of interconnected glass flasks… Oh, and a red-nosed rocket… No wonder Max looks worried… So, the way it looks to me, is that the scientists of the Elpowa corporation are creating a ‘Threshold’ to the 4th dimension by mixing dangerous chemicals in little cups in an old steelworks… Quite dramatic though!… ‘Hey, Max, be careful with that stuff, I can see your hands shaking from here!…’
Shall I dive into these brown crumbling pages and select some items of text to give us a flavour of the writing dear reader?
‘Max Dane was a tall, rugged, broad-shouldered individual, with a pleasantly ugly face. It was a face that had seen much of life – and an adventurous life at that – on most of the planets in the galaxy…
He looked up through the transparent steel-hard, plastic roof of the elevator car, to a night sky far above the towering Elpowa building. About five thousand feet above him, perpetual showerings of sparks and jagged jets of flame showed where the enemy missiles were being deflected from the enormous force field surrounding the planet…’
‘Was the giant playing for time? What tricks had he, up his almost unlimited sleeve?…
“Keep talking Vashtar. I’m listening carefully. What’s your angle now?”
“I haven’t got an angle any more,” answered Vashtar. Was that a ring on sincerity in the giant’s voice? wondered Max. That flatness. That lassitude of soul, which seemed to have beset the great executive?
“I haven’t got an angle any more Max,” he repeated…’
‘Aurora occupied one of the staff flats in the Elpowa building itself. Max usually slept with the security men in the basement…’


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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