Dulltown, Europe: Today’s weather will feature spectacular golden down-draughts with rosy-cheeked angels peeping over the fleecy cloud tops.
Yes, it’s another British early 1960s pulp science fiction novel, a Badger Book from my small collection. This one is by Pel Torro, one of the many pseudonyms of the Reverend Robert Lionel Fanthorpe MBIS who wrote nearly all of the Badger SF output. Actually, he was on the TV last night in a ‘documentary’ discussing the theory that the Nazis were building flying saucers at the end of World War II. Oh, it’s great that he is still out there doing his stuff! (R.L.F.)
Shall we have a peep at the blurb on the back cover to see what lies in store for us dear reader?
‘Anzar was known as a crazy eccentric scientist. Nobody paid much attention to his weird pseudo-scientific experiments…
Maybe Anzar wasn’t crazy? What strange power did his yellow mist possess? What became of the men who got caught in it? As Cameron blacked out he wondered if there was flesh and blood behind the metal… Above all, what mystery lay locked in the great steel cylinder?…’
Shall we now flip the book back over and examine the front cover? Often with Badger Book covers the scene depicted on the front bears little relation to the story inside, but on this occasion it does seem at least to tally with what is written on the back, but then, the cover artist was probably sent a copy of the blurb (which might have been written well before the actual novel) in the post.
So, that must be our hero Cameron flopping about in Anzar’s yellow mist, and to the right, that must be the mysterious steel cylinder, and the question of ‘flesh and blood behind the metal’ must refer to this chap desperately trying to grab our attention on the left.
Oh… see how he seems to be leaning forward slightly, he does look a bit uncomfortable doesn’t he? – I think the reason might be those very tight little shorts that he is wearing – poor chap, he has no chance of adjusting them with those nippy things on the ends of his arms. I’ll bet he’s thinking, ‘Damn, they spent all their time and money making my stylish helmet, the ribbing on my tunic, my pointy shoulder fins, and my dial belt, but they gave me these totally useless nippers – I couldn’t even get my corn flakes packet open properly this morning – it was a real faff!… Damn!’
One wonders what our man-in-the-suit/android is about to do to poor Cameron lying there in the soup – I reckon he’s going to click his nippers a few times just for show, and then bend over and tickle his victim under the ribs with them. The nippers look like they were designed for just such a purpose…
Shall we now sample a few items of text from the these crumbling yellowing pages to get a feel of the writing style?
‘For all his gum-chewing and his flamboyant ties, his flashy jackets, his abominable taste in socks, and his blue suede shoes, Heimer Dorkel possessed one the of the finest scientific brains in the Western world…’
‘”Ghosts,” he whispered, “ghosts in the church! Green shining ghosts – down in the crypt… and on top of that, an awful humming sound, and a feeling as if the place was electrified, please could you help me back to the vicarage?”… His breath was coming in short pants. The pupils of his eyes were dilating, his hair was dishevelled, his robes awry. It was obvious to the constable that something remarkable had happened…’
‘The thing on the other side of the cylinder which now faced Don Cameron was as weird and bizarre as anything that ever came from the imagination of a science fiction writer… The thing looked vaguely like a cross between a deformed octopus and a sea anemone. It was covered in tentacles and taste buds; with waving pseudo-pods, and twisting writhing limbs… Something which seemed to emit an aura of intangible evil…’