A whirling cadenza of pure sound and colour…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s 19th c. Cockney expletive is the popular ‘gorblimey!’ – a condensed form of ‘God blind me!’
Why does the word ‘gorblimey’ conjure up in my mind the grinning face of Dick Van Dyke?… (DVD)

DSCN4410Whoa! What’s going on here?…
Ah, it’s just a 1960s British pulp science fiction novel, another Badger Book from my modest collection. The blue figures, 2/6, top right show the price, it means ‘two shillings and sixpence’, we didn’t go decimal in the UK until the early 1970s. As you see this work is by John E. Muller, otherwise know as Robert Lionel Fanthorpe MBIS, (Member of the British Interplanetary Society) who wrote, under various pseudonyms, nearly all of the Badger SF and ‘supernatural’ stories, he managed one every two weeks apparently…
Shall we have a quick look at the blurb on the back cover to get a hint of the plot dear reader?
…the Age of the Machine. Men use machines. Tomorrow machines may use men. Imagine a world where everything is dependent on automatic machinery. Imagine a world where men have forgotten how to service the machines that serve them. Imagine the chaos, the horror and the conflicts when the machines begin to fail. Are flesh and blood superior to metal and plastic?
With that thought left hanging in the air, let’s turn the book back over and examine the rather impressive cover painting. I’m not sure if this one is by the usual Badger cover artist Henry Fox, I don’t think it is quite his style, but I could be wrong.
I suppose we are seeing here The Infinity Machine itself; that’s a hell of a big pointy thing isn’t it? It looks like rivetted steel; I see it has angled fins too, as if it is keen to have a go at drilling itself into the floor; I’ll bet it makes a hell of a row when it is switched on and whizzing. Now then, what’s that line of black structures going off into the distance – they look suspiciously like the blast furnaces of a steelworks, perhaps copied by the artist from a photo in a magazine? Oh look, I think the chap on the right is about to find out if, after a 1000 years, the controls will still operate.
‘So Tony, should I just push this big lever or not?’
‘Lever? I thought you were sweeping the carpet Bob…’
‘No, it’s a lever, look…’
‘Oh go on then, push it – perhaps it will stop all that fire and destruction going on over there behind us…’
Shall I thumb through these mouldering yellow pages and find one or two examples of J. E. Muller’s writing style?
Young Jerry Malone lay on his back in an extremely comfortable, upholstered bunk…
On the colour screen directly above his head he knew that one touch of his finger would bring any kind of entertainment that he chose. He could have a dramatic production, he could have music, he could have a whirling cadenza of pure sound and colour.
He looked at the wriggling, squawking, struggling thing in the hand of the swamp creature; he was now beginning to think of her as a swamp woman, perhaps even a swamp maiden. He had never seen a female before a close quarters… It made the terrors of the surface somehow worth while.
The girl towed the cooked animal out of the boiling mud. They dismembered it and ate hungrily. It tasted good. There was a freshness about the meat that Jerry Malone had never tasted in his life before. There seemed to be something pleasantly natural about doing things this way…
The robot adjusted something on its thorax. Jerry felt a peculiar tingling sensation in his scalp. He wanted to hold the girl’s hand, and wondered if he did so whether they would both get some kind of violent electric shock by completing a circuit… He restrained the urge…

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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