Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: buxom, ringent, sarcous, laeotropic, entophytic, riparian, and stodgy.
Gosh! I seem to have been featuring these early 1960s science fiction and supernatural novels and collections of stories, published by Badger Books, on these pages for a long time, and yes dear reader, I’m afraid that I am moving towards the end of this series of posts. (sigh…)
I glance up to the window-sill behind my computer and see the yellow spines of just five or six remaining there, ones that have cover paintings that are, well, just about interesting enough for me to feature. If you are interested in seeing some of my earlier posts on this subject you could just type Badger Books into the search box at the top of the page.
But today, here, I feature Supernatural Stories No. 37:
It’s strange, it’s weird, and yes, it’s eerie…
This is a collection of five stories, four of which are by Robert Lionel Fanthorpe MBIS (Member of the British Interplanetary Society) under various pseudonyms; actually the fifth is by someone called Noel Bartram; he is probably Fanthorpe too – that sounds just the sort of name RLF would come up with. Fanthorpe wrote almost all of the Badger sci-fi and supernatural stories.
Shall we see what the blurb on the back has to tell us?:
The ancient myths are part legend part truth. So is the modern ghost story. For there is no smoke without fire. Man is strangely susceptible to unknown presences and secret hidden powers…
Perhaps, after all, man is only a pawn in a great cosmic game played by spirits as great as the universe.
Excellent, that sets the mood nicely!
Let us now move to the lovely front cover. The usual cover artist for Badger Books was Henry Fox, but I’m not sure if this one is by him; the paintwork is a little bit more slapdash than his – it is very nice though. I do like that yellow light in the sky behind the chap wading (for some reason) through that forest pond in the middle of the night. I think he has just spotted the other chap behind the tree, and is probably saying:
‘Oh, hello George, I was wondering where you had got to, you just wandered off during dinner, you missed a super sponge pudding with nice…’
‘Oh, your hand looks a bit funny, and what have you done to your thumb? I’ll bet you have a hell of a job buttoning your shirt up…’
‘Actually my hand has gone a bit strange too – look, I have to hold it like this…’
Anyway, shall we dip into these crumbling yellowed pages and see if we can find some nice examples of the writing style?
‘The man was thirty-ish, tall and broad shouldered. Curling dark hair, and dark flashing eyes, that could on occasion freeze into steely chips, glowing like gun barrels…’
‘Val Stearman and his wife La Noir were not the idle rich they appeared to be. Beneath that svelt exterior, Val was as tough as steel, and beneath the forty-guinea tailoring of his holiday suit, rippled muscles which could bend a two inch iron bar… There was depth in his eyes that matched the depth in the woman’s face. It was depth that told of adventure, adventure that had at times been grim and gory…’
“What can I do for yer?” he asked. He had a deep throaty voice that rumbled up from somewhere well below his stomach…
Val took to him at once – he was a ‘character’. A character with a capital ‘C’. A character of the type which was becoming all too rare. He was more like the novelist’s conception of the ‘local yokel’ than any yokel ever had the right to be…’
‘Val Stearman’s miracle gun, as he and La Noir had dubbed it, had got them out of an extremely tight corner. Bullets from that gun had settled ghouls and werewolves, bullets from that gun had ended the lives of vampires and zombies, and every kind of hideous creeping crawling horror which assailed the dark watches of the night…’