A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 34

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

This past week has seen a heatwave descend across the UK with temperatures soaring into the mid thirty degrees celsius every day. It’s been sticky and oppressive which has seriously impacted by ability to sit and read for a number of reasons, today is no different. It may well be early morning but the fan is on, the shirt is off and I’m struggling to do anything but sit and try not to perspire too much! And so I thought I’d do something a little different this Sunday due to my lack of desire to curl up with my usual cuppa and Badger book for company.

Some months ago now, I started to include a photograph the rear of each book I was reading so that you could see the typography, recycled pieces of front cover artwork and most importantly read the blurb for yourselves. But what of the other books that didn’t receive this treatment I hear you cry! Well, fear not my friends as this week’s post collects together a half dozen of the best examples of such back covers for your perusal. I hope this goes some way to making up for missing out on all the previous books.

And so, no reading for the unsubscriber again today as my hands are far too sweaty to contemplate picking up one of my fragile and beloved vintage paperbacks but hopefully the following photos should provide an ample substitute. Enjoy, and try to keep yourselves cool out there by whatever means necessary! See you again for more Badger fun and frolics next weekend.

Alien by John E. Muller
(Serial Number SF61)
This version was published in 1961 by Badger Books
The front cover artist is uncredited

Alien Back

Lightening World by Trebor Thorpe
(Serial Number SF38)
This version was published in 1960 by Badger Books
The front cover artist is Ed Emshwiller

Lightning World Back

Power Sphere by Leo Brett
This version was published in 1963 by Badger Books
The front cover artist is H. Fox

Power Sphere Back

Phenomena X by John E. Muller
(Serial Number SF116)
This version was published in 1966 by Badger Books
The front cover artist is uncredited

Phenomena X Back

Reactor XK9 by John E. Muller
(Serial Number SF96)
This version was published in 1963 by Badger Books
The front cover artist is H. Fox

Reactor XK9 Back

Formula 29X by Pel Torro
(Serial Number SF87)
This version was published in 1963 by Badger Books
The front cover artist is uncredited

Formula 29X Back

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 33

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

Ah, another lazy Sunday rolls around leaving me with nothing whatsoever to do but to wander over to the bookcases and select a Badger title from the shelves before retiring to my favourite spot on the sofa. No worries or interruptions for the next few hours, just sheer pulpy sci-fi bliss. This week’s novel has been on my radar for a long time because of the rather striking cover but we’ll get to that in a minute. It’s by Lionel Roberts, the sole pen-name of our dear old Reverend Fanthorpe himself. And so to our ubiquitous tagline;

How would it end this strange forever, they were prisoners of time.

Then there’s that cover image, a naked man (intimacies blushingly concealed to spare any embarrassments, well the book was published in 1959!) standing inside a contraption which the back cover blurb tells us is a time vortex transporter as he looks off toward a bustling future metropolis. And what a contraption it is too – all curved perspex and shiny steel. The bottom half kind of reminds me of a 1960s lava lamp!

I’ve waited long enough to delve into this intriguing title and so now’s my chance to find out exactly what does happen to our protagonist Mike Grafton as he flees from the evil security forces of Rajak the Magnificent! Join me again next Sunday for another helping of Badger goodness and as ever, leave me a comment if you feel inclined to do so.

Time-Echo by Lionel Roberts
(Serial Number SF23)
This version was published in 1959 by Badger Books
The cover artist is Eddie Jones

Badger - Roberts, Time-Echo

Time-Echo (Back)

Bastards Of The Absolute by Adam S. Cantwell Via Egaeus Press

I last wrote about Egaeus Press back in May last year when I mentioned two of their fine tomes as part of an article about new books and strange tales (here). I was excited to receive an email a couple of months ago stating that they were about to publish several more titles and one in particular caught my eye, Adam S. Cantwell’s collection of short stories & novellas titled Bastards Of The Absolute. I duly put in my pre-order and waited for the book to arrive upon publication which happily was last month.

I’ve waited until now to write about this fine collection as I’ve just started reading it and have found the first few stories to be works of total brilliance in their dark, surreal and unsettlingly odd way. I knew nothing about the author and his work except from the blurb on the Egaeaus website which reads as follows;

“The stories in Adam Cantwell’s Bastards of the Absolute are richly imagined mysteries. They could be fairly equated with the works of Kafka or Borges if their prose were not so luxuriant and surprising at every turn.”

A quote from literary cult figure Thomas Ligotti no less!

The introduction by George Berguño also contains this passage;

“I predict that Adam S. Cantwell’s Bastards of the Absolute is destined to survive the passage of time. I predict also that the book that you, dear reader, are holding in your hands will join the ranks of the classics of strange fiction. Moreover, there are stories in this collection — stories such as ‘Face in the Wall’ and ‘Moon Paths of the Departed’ — which are masterpieces of the genre; stories that are destined to be reprinted time and again.”

Both very strongly worded pieces of praise for this collection of stories and its writer then.

And now to the book itself, it is a beautiful lithographically printed, 256 page sewn hardback with a stunning embossed wraparound cover and printed endpapers which are both by Eduard Wiiralt.

Bastards Of The Absolute Cover

Bastards Of The Absolute Endpaper

There are also a number of fascinatingly twisted black and white illustrations throughout by Charles Schneider, one of which is included as a postcard with initial copies.

Bastards Card

Bastards Illo1Bastards Illo2The artwork is absolutely sumptuous and I couldn’t help but feel that this just had to be an outstanding read because it looked so very good. I have not been proved wrong as yet. Egaeus Press are definitely one to watch as their output so far has been of such a high standard that it’s hard to see them succumbing to such vulgar things as the whims of market forces or seeing their quality control slipping any time in the future. Head over to their ‘morbid and fantastical’ website (here) to order a copy of this truly outstanding book but be quick as it is limited to only 250 copies.

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 32

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

I’m a little later than usual with this week’s Badger book due to an outbreak of flu-like symptoms this past few days and so a sleep-in was the order of the day this morning. Now I’m up, showered, breakfasted and ready to settle down with my cuppa and this week’s title. I’ve chosen to read The Man From Beyond by John E. Muller who, as you’ll no doubt be aware before I even tell you is the writing trio of R. L. Fanthorpe, John S. Glasby and A. A. Glynn. Let’s have a look at that all important tagline first shall we;

Dare humanity accept the strange teachings of the man from beyond

Hmm… dare we indeed. A great, although sadly uncredited cover on this tome depicting yet another one of Badger’s beloved disembodied heads – this time the noggin in question is bald, green and appears highly perturbed by the bright red rocketship blasting off to his left. I love the range of emotions these heads seem to portray, from the slightly concerned to the seriously vexed – Badger has all bases covered.

Time to spend my lazy Sunday amongst the pages of this title now, tea and tissues to hand. I’ll be back at the same time next week with another selection from my Badger archive so please do join me and as ever, feel free to leave me a comment.

The Man From Beyond by John E. Muller
(Serial Number SF111)
This version was published in 1965 by Badger Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Badger - Muller, The Man From Beyond

Muller, The Man From Beyond (Back)

From The Library Of The Unsubscriber No.12, Rise Of The Machines

When will we ever learn? We build the most sophisticated machines and supercomputers to do our bidding but the bloody things just go on to malfunction with disastrous consequences, rise up against us or even plot to kill their human creators! Do we honestly need a toaster with a microchip inside or a vacuum cleaner that completes its chores without human intervention? But this dear friends is the future where everything possible is mechanised and computerised to within an inch of its very nuts and bolts. It’s completely inescapable I tell you.

Whilst you consider the serious social and political implications of such a future, browse the following five books which all feature machines of one kind or another on their covers. They may offer you a clue to the origin of all this madness and therefore prevent any mechanical misdemeanours from occurring. I hope that for all our sakes they do…

I, The Machine by Paul W. Fairman
1968 – Lancer Books
Cover art by Hoot Von Zitzewitz

Fairman I, The Machine

The Very Slow Time Machine by Ian Watson
1979 – Ace Books
Cover art by Paul Alexander

Watson The Very Slow Time Machine

Recalled To Life by Robert Silverberg
1967 – Lancer Focus
Cover artist uncredited

Silverberg Recalled To Life

The Brain Machine by George O. Smith
1968 – Lancer Books
Cover art by Frank Kelly Freas

Smith The Brain Machine

Master Of Life And Death by Robert Silverberg
1979 – Panther Granada
Cover art by Tony Roberts

Silverberg Master Of Life And Death

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 31

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

Another Sunday has finally arrived and so I’ve made myself that all important steaming hot cup of tea (splash of milk, no sugar, optional biscuit on the side) and settled in to read yet another rollicking tale bursting with improbable plot lines so beloved of Badger books in the 1960s. This week’s pick comes from the typewriter of Leo Brett, otherwise known as the duo of R. L. Fanthorpe and Harry O. Mansfield.

These books just wouldn’t be the same without a cover tagline and here’s what this one reads like;

It was the biggest discovery since the Bomb, and far more dangerous.

The cover is brilliant as always – a pair of distinctly feminine hands delicately holds a madly flaming test tube aloft as a bald headed scientist, mouth agape and brow furrowed holds out his hand in horror at the prospect of explosive dangers occurring. The back cover blurb states that the contents of the tube could destroy galaxies, not something to be idly pissing about in a laboratory with then!

I can never resist the lure of a Badger cover, its sensationalist tagline and back cover blurb which I always seem to read in a stern news reader type voice. This one is no exception and so you’ll have to excuse me whilst I dig in. I’ll be here again next Sunday with another selection from my Badger shelf so be sure to join me then.

The Alien Ones by Leo Brett
(Serial Number SF94)
This version was published in 1963 by Badger Books
The cover artist is H. Fox

Badger - Brett, The Alien Ones

Brett, The Alien Ones (Back)

Raymond Queneau’s Écritures Via Secret Books

Some weeks ago I received a large letter envelope through the post bearing the stamp of the good Mr Lestaret and so put it to one side so I could give it my full attention later in the day. During the afternoon, I sat down to open the envelope carefully and found inside a protective card bearing the stamp ‘Secret Books’ and a small orange chapbook titled ‘Raymond Queneau – Écritures.

Ecritures Cover

I must confess to knowing absolutely nothing about Raymond Queneau but helpfully, a brief summary of his life and work was printed on the inside cover as follows;

English-speakers have described Raymond Queneau as the James Joyce of Frence Literature. He achieved renown as a writer of novels, poet essayist and founder of the OuLiPo (Workshop For Potential Literature) with a mathematician friend.Raymond was also in charge of an encyclopaedia, worked as an editor and translator, and argued that written French should be pushed towards how French is actually spoken in daily life.

These handwritten pages, originally recorded in a notebook, could be described by the contemporary terms asemic writing or écriture asémique, and expose yet another facet of this ingenious writer.

The book itself is beautifully handcrafted by Lestaret (as always) and contains pages of tiny pictograms, lines of flowing asemic text and other wild outpourings of ink. It’s a fascinating document of a writer whom I suspect is very little known in this country by most people. As a bonus of sorts, the penultimate page is a fantastic simulated collaboration between Tim Gaze and Queneau whilst the final page contains a beautifully rendered portrait of the writer by Lestaret. I’d recommend this superb little artefact to anyone with even a passing interest in asemic writing or experimental artforms.

Secret Books is the work of asemic guru Tim Gaze from Australia and Christopher Skinner, better known to readers as Lestaret. They have a website (here) which gives a fascinating insight into the book and its production as well as a link to Big Cartel where copies can be purchased for the sum of £5. (Direct link here) It is an edition of 100 however so make sure you order a copy quickly to avoid disappointment.

secret-books-logo

Here are a few fragments of the pages to tempt you even further;

Ecritures2

Ecritures3

Ecritures1

Queneau Portrait

Note: My copy of Écritures (number 50) remains intact, the above illustrations are all simulated. Playing with matches whilst reading a book is not endorsed by the unsubscriber or his affiliates.