Saturday, 6 March 2010

Lionel Fanthorpe, Galaxy 666 (1968)

Last Thursday was World Book Day.  I learned of this via the medium of a note from my daughter’s school asking if she could bring in a couple of her favourite books.  (We searched through her shelves and found a soon-to-be-topical-again book about animals searching for Easter eggs, and an old favourite about a bovine heribove with an acute upper respiratory tract infection.)

Later, I decided to enter into the spirit of the day myself, and picked something from the days when sf paperbacks would not only think a suitably blurred picture of something looking suspiciously like The USS Enterprise would do for a cover, but also have a full-colour piece of card stuck in half way through the book advertising cigarettes. (Kent Deluxe in this case, with “the famous micronite filter”.  If you have a taste for quality, you’ll like the taste of Kent, apparently.)

Yes, Galaxy 666 by the legendary and prolifically splendid Lionel Fanthorpe.

Here [p56] is the famous passage regarding the over-all impression of the colour of a bit of rock:

Between their own position and those two hillocks, there was an expanse of flat smooth rock, so flat and smooth that it was difficult to walk on.  There were pink-ish streaks among the rock, and it seemed that some of the chromatic tint from the atmosphere owed its origin to these.  There were a number of white veins in the rock, which bore some kind of resemblance to marble, but the majority of it was grey.  It gave an over-all impression of greyness streaked with pink and white, rather than an over-all impression of whiteness tinged with grey and pink, or an over-all impression of pink streaked with grey and white.

Greyness was the dominant background shade; neither black nor white, but something midway between the two.  It was a light rather than a dark grey, yet it could never have been so light that it might have been mistaken for an off white...

Later [pp 132-133] a character delivers a lengthy speech about cosmology, only part of which goes:

The whole universe is order; it’s a gestalt; it’s a pattern.  This galaxy is non-gestalt, an anti pattern.  This universe is the back of the tapestry, the discord in the music, the vortex of chaos at the bottom of the plug hole which allows the bath water to run peacefully away in an orderly fashion.  Without this the bath water would not be able to run...

After his lecture, the speaker, brilliantly, sums up with:

Do I make myself clear?

(Nicely, one of the other characters volunteers: “I think so.”)

Then there’s the enigmatic ending [p138]:

...but the strange enigmatical nexus between Korzaak and Ischklah remained as enigmatical as ever...