Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected colours are: paragon purple, meaty mauve, tangerine tangerine, blood blue, ostrich ochre, and blockhead burgundy.
(I once saw, chalked on a wall somewhere, Be Alert – Britain needs Lerts! I thought it rather good at the time – I liked the word-play… But back to this morning’s post…)
Alert!… Yes, you see here dear reader, the cover of a British pulp science fiction novel from the mid 1960s, a Badger Book – I have a modest collection of these things on my bookshelf; these Badger novels (and short story collections) are almost all written by one person – R L Fanthorpe, occasionally under his own name, but generally under many colourful pen names. (RLF) Here he is in the guise of the mysterious and non-existent Karl Zeigfreid.
Shall we have a glance at what the blurb on the back cover can tell us?
Ken Andrews was a research worker in electronics. He had a sensitive mind and a vivid imagination. When he had a strange experience with the radar screen his chief said he had been overworking. His doctor explained it as hallucination, but the so-called delusion persisted. If Ken Andrews was sane, his world was in danger…
Let’s turn the book back over and admire this rather nice cover painting; though unsigned it is almost certainly the work of Henry Fox the usual Badger Books cover artist. Oops! Look, it is signed after all – you can just make out ‘Fox’ with the characteristic flourish down in the left hand corner.
Right then, the front cover, here we go. The big green chap with the piercing red eyes – is this the alien chap who’s been texting and chatting up Ken on the radar, or is this face a representation of Ken’s mental state? Me, I’d never trust anyone who shows only their bottom teeth when they smile!
Nice sky, isn’t it? A lovely day, round about tea time I think, but turning reluctantly towards a raging blood-red sunset. What a nice little scene at the bottom of the painting featuring the two soldiers with their rifles and wearing WWII steel helmets. Hey, and dig those crazy pointy radar antenna!… One of the soldiers is saying, ‘Look Bob, let’s just pretend we haven’t noticed the big green fella – just walk on ahead, step over this barbed wire, climb up here, and we’ll soon be out of this bloody book cover…’
How about a few items of text picked at random to give us a feel of the writing style?
Ken Andrews was a tall, sparse, rather wild-looking individual. He had dark flashing eyes, a mop of almost completely unruly dark hair, which hung first to the left and then to the right, like a floating voter unable to make up his mind which party to support…
Outside, the great bowl-shaped radar device moved like the stiff neck of some Brobdingnagian who had been sitting in a gargantuan draught for too long…
This was beyond even his wildest dreams. He told himself that this was the sort of thing that only happened in science fiction novels. This was something that had no right to happen, this was something beyond the bounds of reason, beyond the bounds of common sense. But then Andrews himself was a man who was far beyond the bounds of reason, far beyond the bounds of common sense!…
“… let’s get out of these white coats for a start.”
“But I’m only wearing shirt and trousers underneath!”
“Blast, yes, so am I,” said Sheldon, “What the hell are we going to do about that?”
“There’s always a way of darkening a white coat…” said Andrews.
“And what’s that?” inquired Sheldon.
“There’s a ploughed field over there, let’s go and roll in it!”
They went and rolled in the soft brown earth.