A welter of greyness…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s architectural term is Extrados – the outer curved face of an arch or a vault. I noticed yesterday that I had a little bit of mould growing on my extrados – I must remember to scrape it off before it spreads.
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DSCN4411Good god!… What’s all this?… What a busy book cover!…
Yes, it’s time to reach up to the bookshelf and pull out another yellowed and crumbling volume from my modest collection of early 1960s British pulp science fiction and fantasy, a Badger Book for us to have a sniff and a look at. As you see, this one was written by John E. Muller, one of the many many pen names of R. L. Fanthorpe who wrote (one every couple of weeks apparently) nearly all of the Badger science fiction and supernatural stories.
Shall we turn the book over and see what the blurb on the back cover has to tell us?
Darryl Whitesmith was engaged upon a new line of research at the Horological Central Institute… It began as a simple experiment that concerned space-time, relativity, and the four dimensional continuum… Whitesmith’s first indication that something was wrong was when the clock on the wall raced backwards in a blur of speed too fast to follow. The laboratory faded, day and night blended in a welter of greyness…
Gosh, I’m on the edge of seat already!
Now let us examine this marvellous cover painting, which though unsigned is almost certainly by the master of the Badger cover, Henry Fox; his style is unmistakable.
Right then, I reckon that the chap in the suit, with the worried look on his face, twiddling knobs and pressing buttons on his console, inside a wobbling glass flask, must be our hero Darryl W. Oh, I see that the flask has little antennae sticking out of it – it looks a bit like the Russian Sputnik 1 from 1957. Hm…
What do you make of those two dinosaurs lumbering along in the lower half of the painting? I suppose they are supposed to be fighting, but neither of them seem very enthusiastic about it. It looks more like they are just passing each other in the street.
‘Hello Bob, just coming home from the night shift?’
‘Yeah, it’s all go at the moment – I’m exhausted… I’ll see you later Jim!’
‘Right ho…’
The Badger Books badger to the left looks a bit weary too…
Isn’t the cloudy blue sky nicely done though? Oh, and I do like the red and orange Jurassic tufts of grass…
Come on, let’s dip in and see if we can find some samples of the writing that will give us a better feel of the novel:
Large, outstanding ears do not necessarily mean that a man is musical. Darryl Whitesmith, for example possessed large, outstanding ears, and Darryl Whitesmith could not play a note. He could not sing a note. He was, as near as matters, tone deaf, but it was probably an instilled tone deafness. He had no interest in music…’
And:
The great leathery wings flapped and slewed in the air. The evil eyes gleamed and glittered like two jewels from the devil’s crown in the nethermost depths of hell. Its beak opened and shut like the clashing of two great sheets of corrugated iron. It was a horrible sound…
And:
He dare not leave his seat on the tractor-like arrangement, in case he plunged off the machine and landed in the time track of the red hot earth. He would have stood a better chance in a blast furnace than if he had jumped off that machine into the boiling rocks…
And:
He felt like a tiny microbe caught on the moving part of a zip fastener, being raced up and down the back of time’s great gown.

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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6 Responses to A welter of greyness…

  1. Oh to have a book like that – nobody writes this way anymore! 🙂

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