Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word bamboo.
Oh dear, this doesn’t look very cheerful…
It’s alright, it’s only a book – books can’t hurt you… can they?
Yes dear reader, it’s another 1960s British pulp science fiction novel, a Badger Book from my modest collection. This one is by John E. Muller, one of the many many pseudonyms of Robert Lionel Fanthorpe MBIS who wrote nearly all of the Badger sci-fi and supernatural stories. (RLF)
As usual, we will flip the book over and see what the blurb on the back can tell us:
‘Carl was strapped in and waiting for blast off when the first bombs fell. The lead lined capsule saved his body, but doubt was splitting his mind. He had been arrested for daring to say that he believed in the honesty and integrity of the West. But what if the West had started the war?
Finally, after incredible hardships and dangers, Carl Kovac found the answer. Neither East nor West had launched the atomic missiles… they had come from space! Now alien invaders and strange mutants stalked the earth…’
Sounds great doesn’t it? Now let’s turn the book back over and have a good look at the front. Ah, another marvellous painting from Henry Fox, the usual Badger cover artist, I love his work! What more could you want? We have a very fireworky looking atomic blast and its accompanying mushroom cloud; Saturn hanging large and bright in the starry sky, looking on and possibly gloating at earth’s fate; some very nice shaky blast-damaged bouncing lettering for the title; and here is our Carl, lit with yellow and blue light, his rigid unbelieving fingers shaking in anguish, his head thrown back in horror at the ghastly events unfolding. (Ghastly events nearly always unfold, they rarely just happen.) Carl has the look of that old flamenco singer, Manitas de Plata, about him – I can almost hear the strident twanging guitar and the clacking castanets…
Shall we crack open up these dry crumbling pages, and find one or two items of text, to give us a feel of the writing style?
‘… the door bell was ringing quietly.
“I’ll go,” said Carl. He opened the door to admit Vladimir Pushkin. Pushkin was short and fat, and even in the Muscovite cold he sweated profusely. His eyes protruded from his head like two ping-pong balls that had been dropped into a vat of warm butter…’
‘It gestured towards him, and he knew IT had seen him! A pair of red-green flecked eyes flashed at him out of the darkness below the tip of a conical skull. The moon rose suddenly, frighteningly, and he saw that the body was covered in some kind of shiny black, scaly matter, like a fish, or a wet reptile. The arms, when he saw them, were all wrong – then he realised why they were all wrong – there were too many of them…’
‘The dog pack and the rat pack had met in the most frightful holocaust of teeth and claws; screams and shrill squeaks, and shrieks, snarls, yells and growls. It was like the devil’s own symphony played on the instruments of hell…’