A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 1

Rev Fanshawe Portrait

Sunday in the unsubscriber household is indeed a glorious day of rest for me. A day of quiet reflection of the week gone past and thoughts of the possibilities to come during the next seven days. I’m in no way a religious man but on Sundays in particular I always try and find a little time to spend musing over the good Reverend and his companion’s works for they bring me succour my friends. They deliver to me hope in despair, pleasure in fruitlessness and above all, a little bit of fluff in the sometimes over serious world of science fiction.

For those of you who don’t know of the Harley Davidson riding Rev. R. L. Fanthorpe, he worked for the Badger Books publishing company as a staff writer in the 1950s & 60s and produced an astonishing number of titles during his fifteen year tenure there under a variety of different pseudonyms. These alternative pen names are brilliant work in themselves, he used Olaf Trent, Othello Baron, Elton T. Neef, René Rolant, Deutero Spartacus, Bron Fane and Oben Leterth amongst many others. He also worked with other staff writers on collaborative efforts which would have their own set of bizarre pseudonyms. His bibliography is a vast and hugely daunting prospect to navigate due to this fact. As an example of his almost superhuman prodigiousness, he penned a total of eighty nine books over a three year period whilst working at Badger – that’s an entire novel completed every twelve days!

So today’s book is one that started off my Badger/Fanthorpe obsession – Hand Of Doom, which was published under Fanthorpe’s own name. Yes it only runs at a slim 158 pages and is never going to be classed as one of the towering philosophical cosmic greats, it’s merely a little slice of guilty pie for me to nibble on when I’m peckish but I’m so glad that I picked it up when I did.

To be honest, it was the title and cover that did it for me after spotting it in the bookshop and the fact that Black Sabbath’s second LP, 1970’s Paranoid also had a track called Hand Of Doom on it. If it was good enough for the mighty Sabbath, it was surely going to be good enough for me… and so it was.

Hand Of Doom by R. L. Fanthorpe
This version was published in 1960 by Badger Books
The cover artist is Ed Emshwiller (thanks to Bernie for her invaluable help on this one.)

Fanthorpe Hand Of Doom


9 thoughts on “A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 1

  1. Bernie 19/10/2014 / 11:01 am

    Don’t you know you’re not supposed to actually READ Badger Books, they’re just there to collect the whole series Lol!! (shouldn’t laugh, I actually did it! – well most of them anyway, I don’t think this was among them. What number is it, when I have a fortnight to spare I can look it up)

    Anyway, bit of a story here, I thought I recognised that cover, Slavers from Space by John Brunner (aka Into the Slave Nebula), other half of an Ace Double with PKD’s Dr Futurity. I just happen to have it on my bookshelf ‘cos years ago I collected all PKD’s p/b 1sts (couldn’t afford h/bs and in any case most 1sts by PKD are actually in p/b). So, get it off the shelf, STILL not credited (grrrr – but unusual for Ace in those days) so I went for a wander around the internet, and found this page


    Long story short, a) I’ve bookmarked the page for later perusal, and b) it seems the artist is Emsh (Ed Emshwiller)


    • unsubscriber 19/10/2014 / 11:11 am

      I laughed at your comment about not being printed to actually read, they are pure fluff. I heard a great tale where the Art Dept at Badger would mock up a cover, title and all then this would be given to a staff writer to bang out a story to fit. Sounds plausible enough to me. I had a quick scan through your link which I’ll read fully later on, I much preferred the first draft of Hand Of Blood which actually is a blood filled hand. Can’t get a more literal title than that! Impressed by your Badger collection Bernie, would love to collect more but they always seem to sell high these days. More fodder for this blog of yours perhaps… I have a few more Badgers to come in this mini series so keep your eyes peeled. Hope you’re well, will write soon I promise xx


  2. Bernie 19/10/2014 / 12:15 pm

    I’m afraid the Badger collection is long gone, every last one sold on eBay about 8 years ago when I was trying to empty the house in readiness for moving onto our narrowboat. Most went for fairly reasonable prices for both buyer and seller, but I did have 1 that went for over £60!!!.

    John Spencer was horrendous to work for, I should imagine. There was a specified word count which had to be adhered to, which was the reason for the thesaurus-like writing in many of the books, and then the rushed “wrap up” because there was an equally tight deadline to be made. Fanthorpe often ran out of time and word-count before he ran out of plot 🙂 Apparently he used to dictate his words on a tape recorder and then his wife and other family members would be typing it up at the very last minute.

    Liked by 1 person

    • unsubscriber 19/10/2014 / 12:59 pm

      It’s a shame your collection has gone, you must be gutted and I really do feel for you. The Badgers do seem to command extremely high prices these days but £60! That’s quite a sum for a book in anyone’s currency.

      You obviously know far more about this area than I do, makes me feel like a bit of an amateur considering I’m the one writing the blog. Thanks for the fascinating insights as ever Bernie, you surely are a fountain of knowledge in these areas and I’m glad to call you a friend. Take care xx


  3. Bernie 19/10/2014 / 2:34 pm

    Not too gutted as it was in a good cause! The Ace Doubles were a wrench as well, not to mention loads of 50s and 60s stuff that went quickly early on. The £60 was due to just 2 people in hot competition. I actually wrote to them both as I was quite concerned, and they both said the same thing, there’s was a long-term but pleasant and friendly rivalry and they were happy to continue the duel until one gave up 🙂

    Fountain of knowledge, thanks for the compliment, but you flatter me. It’s horses for courses isn’t it, part of it is experience and memory, and part is knowing where to look, I’m a lot more knowledgeable since the internet arrived! My range is really quite narrow, and I wouldn’t know where to start with, for instance, music, about which I’m in awe of YOU!!


    • unsubscriber 19/10/2014 / 5:36 pm

      It doesn’t matter where the water flows from, it’s still a fountain! Just thinking about selling all those lovely Badgers and Ace Doubles makes me want to cry… you must have been very brave Bernie that’s all I can say.

      As for music, I’m even more obsessed than books – a mighty feat I know. I used to write a music only blog a year or two ago which inexplicably started getting many thousands of hits each week. Strange because of the kind of music I was reviewing. It became too much after I got an offer of a job for a big online music mag who wanted to take over control and ‘develop’ my ‘brand’. I stopped after that and now I bloody well write what I want thank you Mr Businessman! Not as many hits but much more fun and with better friends xx


  4. Bernie 19/10/2014 / 3:29 pm

    Me again, I’ve just made a discovery and I’m so excited!! It seems Emsh ALWAYS hid his signature in his paintings, and I’ve found it on this cover. On the manacle, the oblong piece of metal holding the staple to which the chain is fixed, near the top, just above the staple, you can just make out “EMSH”. Hell’s teeth how easily pleased am I? you’d think I’d split the atom 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • unsubscriber 19/10/2014 / 5:38 pm

      By jingo you’re right – I see it as clear as day now! Well sleuthed that woman xx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s