Saturday, August 22, 2015

The In-World

The In-World
by Lionel & Patricia Fanthorpe as Lionel Roberts
1960? Badger Books

I ignored the warnings at my own peril.  Lionel Fanthorpe is the coolest guy to be the most horrible writer there ever was.

I've seen writers described as Pantsers (just writing by the seat of their pants) or Plotters (developing a detailed outline and gradually adding detail and dialogue until they have a book).  Fanthorpe is so much of a Pantser that he doesn't know what to write until the book is already over.

The first 10% of the book establishes rural England as our setting.  At this point he decides it's really future year 1980 rural England, which is exactly like 1960 rural England.  Then he goes on and on about pre-modern UFO phenomena - Charles Fort, airship sightings, blah blah blah.  This is because UFOs are attacking!

Not attacking rural England, mind you, we don't go back there again.  They attack Holland or something (I'm not going back to check, you can't make me), and they are immune to missile attacks and planes.  Maybe we can use our space rockets, because we have those now in 1980.

A journalist that might have been mentioned in the rural England stuff is aboard a rocket ship that rams into the UFO.  The journo space walks into the other ship and shoots a couple of aliens with a pistol.  The aliens are very briefly described as half-toad, half-chair, which would be interesting, so let's not spoil it by going into any detail.

The journo hides in the ship, which flies down to a hole in Antarctica to an underground cavern.  The aliens didn't come from Mars or Venus, so they must have come from the hollow earth.  Journo walks through a tunnel or something, falls asleep, and is awakened by a bearded man.

Beardy belongs to an offshoot of the human race that lives underground and uses magic instead of technology.  They are the Yeti and Bigfoot and fairies, too.  Don't know what the guy looks like aside from the "Beaver" on his face, which I'm guessing meant something different in the 60s.

The aliens are aliens after all.  The come from outer space to visit the underground people every 100 years and for some reason they're being mean now.  Beardy uses magic to teleport Journo onto their ship.  Journo shoots one of them, and he saved the world, hurray!

But it's so, so much worse than this.  Fanthorpe's writing style was to dictate his story while hiding under a blanket to block off the outside world.  He clearly had no idea what he was writing about for a good chunk of the story, and instead of fleshing out a bare bones outline, he LITERALLY REPEATED EVERY SENTENCE THREE TIMES WITH SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT WORDS.

We've got spaceships, frog chair aliens, underground labyrinths, and a splinter race of humanity - and I have no idea what any of them look like.  Want to fill out page length, Fanthorpe?  How about you tell me what a frog chair alien looks like?  Or have some characters.  Maybe have them talk to each other.  Or have them do stuff.  It took a good 80% of the story to have anything resembling a scene.

Honestly, I think it takes a lot of effort to write this badly.  This is sci fi pulp, just throw in more monsters and spaceships and cities being blown up.  Takes a lot less effort than figuring out three ways of typing the same sentence.  It would sure take less effort to read.

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