Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts

Science-Fictiony Writing in "Beyond the Sealed World" (1965)

Select prose from Beyond the Sealed World (1965) by Rena Vale

"Daly 1444 moved cautiously on his sponge pallet."

"Was he not pledged to mate with Calinda 1066, the most desirable and influential female in all the world of Science?"

"One of them drew a nozzle from his belt and played a paralyzing ray over the girl's twitching form."

"'I come now to the name of Daly 1444, the promising young scientist who has given Civilization the delightful Fragarian flavor, formerly known as Strawberries and Cream.'"

"'The banishment spool!' Claude whispered in surprise."

"His organs had rebelled against what was called rabbit stew, but he had been able to ingest some quail broth."

"He had not considered it beneath the dignity of an official of the Useless Center to visit a public Recreation Hall and to exchange signals with the first receptive female of sturdy hips and oversized mammary glands who entered."

"He began to dress, noting that the organ of which he was unduly proud had become engorged. He whistled air through wide-spaced teeth. Did he dare?"

"'Brugo make big feast for buzzards with Corn People.'"

"'That shall be the name of this tasty fat grain.'"

"'Jerome excited an endocrine indicator and rather than betray us, he threw himself in an induction oven.'"

"'Your current is deranged, Daly.'"

"'Paralyze the pariahs with your nozzle.'"

"'I am your love, Prince Daly! she shrilled. 'You promised my father you would marry with me, and I gave myself to you when you squeezed my naked teats!"

"As if to emphasize his statement the sirens of zero blasted, their goose-like whonks echoing through the center, adding a note of doom."

Rena Vale (1898–1983) was a writer who was a scriptwriter for Universal Studios in Hollywood from 1926 to 1930 and in the 1930s was an investigator for a U.S. House of Representatives committee that later became the House Committee on Un-American Activities. (wiki)

I Have Questions for Godzilla

1. What's in it for Godzilla?

2. Did the filmmakers forget that killing Bryan Cranston so early in the movie would leave a sucking void on the human investment front? 

3. Wouldn't it be easier to go AROUND Las Vegas?

4. How did Ford Brody find his son at the end?

5. Dr. Ishiro Serizawa is a specialist in what, exactly?

6. Is Godzilla such an "alpha predator" that he doesn't even need to eat what he kills?  

7. Is Godzilla just a homicidal asshole?

8. Was there another cut with Ford Brody having to decide between snipping the red or blue wire?

9. When the MUTO surprise attacks the train carrying the nuke, how did the military lose track of where that MUTO was? 

10. Why should I be rooting for the Brody family over the MUTO family?

11. Can Sally Hawkins sue? 

12. There are two MUTO pods at the beginning, but the female MUTO lays a billion eggs in that trench, so what's up with the MUTO reproductive cycle?

13. Again, does Godzilla simply kill for sport?

14. All in all, would this attack make the real estate values in San Francisco go up or down?

15. Wouldn't the task of opening Bryan Cranston's 1999 floppy drives be even more daunting than nuking a MUTO?

16. Why, exactly, are all the reptoids heading to San Francisco with a flower in their scales?

17.  Was the Japanese boy sidekick a clever red herring or just shitty writing?

18. Where the hell was Godzilla when all those monsters were sneaking through the cracks in Pacific Rim?

19. Where the hell was Godzilla when all those aliens were blowing up Hawaii in Battleship?

20. Where the hell was Godzilla when they were shooting Grace of Monaco? 

The Long, Loud Silence (1952)

Wilson Tucker
Dell #791

The mile-high stack of battered paperbacks in the closet yields another gem.

The Long Loud Silence first appeared in hardback in 1952 featuring the tastefully modern cover to the left (where its status as "a science fiction novel" is rather elegantly printed along the fore edge).  The version that attracted my eye, of course, is the more garish Dell paperback of 1954 to the bottom right, featuring what appears to be a man and woman on the run from some type of alien with a ray gun!

Actually, the book is a post-apocalyptic road tale, and much better written than most.  Russell Gary, a corporal in the army, wakes up in a hotel room after a three-day bender to discover the town around him has been mysteriously deserted.  With no news on the radio, he realizes the nation has been attacked and sets out to rejoin his army unit.  On his way he gradually finds a few more people alive and begins to piece together what happened.  An enemy--it's unclear who--has pretty much destroyed all life east of the Mississippi.  The big cities have been hit by dozens of A-bombs, while those in the countryside have been wiped out by weapons distributing the bubonic plague.  Gary reasons that he and the few survivors are somehow immune to the plague.

When he gets to the Mississippi, he finds the western half of the U.S. has quarantined everyone on the other side of the river.  Most of the bridges have been blown up by the army, and anyone trying to cross the remaining spans is shot on sight.  From here, the book follows Gary as he wanders around the eastern U.S. waiting for the quarantine to be lifted.  A week becomes a month, one month becomes a year, and so on.  Like most stories in this mode, Gary meets up with different folks on his journey, and then after a few days or weeks, returns to his itinerant travels to nowhere.

What is particularly elegant about this story, however, is Gary's gradual recognition that the western half of the country is rebuilding and getting back to some semblance of normality.  Staying at a farmhouse one winter and watching guard at night for the family, he notices that radio stations are beginning to come back on the air from the west.  He listens to them all night, desperate to reconnect with civilization, but eventually realizing that the government is pretending no one is alive east of the Mississippi--he and his fellow refugees have been written off.  Those who did survive will be left to slowly starve to death and descend into cutthroat anarchy.

I won't go into too many details as this one is actually worth not spoiling--especially the last third.  And the ending!  If you're dying to know more about the plot, check here, and you'll see a classic example of a pop author being reigned in by his publisher, in this case probably for the better.

Satyr Trek (1970)

Ray Kainen
Olympia  Press
Spoiler Alert: Medium

It's a kind of pun.  Get it?  At least I think it's a pun, or a sound alike, or something like that.  Star Trek, Satyr Trek.  I guess it's an anagram of a pun--a 'Y' inserted into "Star" and then rearranged as "Satyr," which was a type of horny ancient goat-man who played the flute.

From that odd late-60s/early 70s genre of sci-fi sleaze that gave us Barbarella (1968) and Wham, Bam, Thank you Spaceman (1975), Satyr Trek is the story of Raunch Gaffer, a married man who innocently fills out a sex questionnaire only to find himself transported into a variety of science-fictiony sex scenarios.  How this happens, exactly, is unclear.  Somehow,  after he mails in the questionnaire, it gets caught in a techno-argument between two gendered computers.  Rather than arrive at the scam artist who advertised the sex survey in a cheap magazine, Gaffer's form ends up at the "Earth Data Control Center," which we are told "had been able to transcend time and space for a long time." And that's just what happens.  Raunch is magically transported to his first adventure.  

I won't try your patience with a detailed description of each stop on Raunch's tour of the sexual universe--for that you can track down this gem for yourself.  Below, however, is a brief chapter by chapter outline--and I will warn you, like a bad acid trip, it just gets weirder and weirder.

1. Raunch's first adventure involves weightless sex in an anti-gravity coliseum.  Turns out he's "auditioning" for a big alien variety sex show broadcast nightly on alien television.  He's pretty bad at it, though, and is summarily fired. 

2.  No worries, because next he's a passenger on some kind of sex-tourist spaceship heading to Jupiter.  There he is to encounter a recently discovered though improbably named alien race known as the "Cocksuckers."  Each human--male and female--is allowed one trip to this space sex zone (otherwise they might become addicted and go insane). Somehow the "cocksuckers," which are rather formless blob-like people, invade the ship, take over the person's mind, and then make them relive perfectly realized versions of their most cherished sexual memories.

3. In his third adventure, Raunch practices underwater sex with some form of alien mermaid.  Really just a rehash of the "anti-gravity" fantasy.

4. Next Raunch wakes up and finds himself captive in a zoo run by hideous aliens, in this case giant preying mantis creatures.  As so often happens when humans appear in zoos, the aliens want him to demonstrate procreation with a female of the species. He does so.

5. Chapter five, in which the author demonstrates his sense of humor by naming a planet "Dogpatch" and making Raunch the only available male amid a legion of busty Amazons.  (ed. note: please do not attach any special significance to chapter five.  For some reason "blogger" will not allow me to change the print back from red to black.  Thank you).

6. In a particularly long and complicated chapter that, again, was difficult to follow, Raunch arrives on what seems to be a planet of prostitution where he is surgically altered so that he might switch back and forth from male to female according to his customers' whims. 

7. Now things start getting a little freaky as the author betrays his ambition to write science-fiction over smut.  In his seventh adventure, Raunch has contact with the alien overlords who are guiding his trip through the universe.  Then they turn him into a tree so that he might experience the vegetable perspective on life, sex, and death.

8. Here the acid fully kicks in. The alien overlords transform Raunch into a black hole, or he assumes the consciousness of a black hole, or something like that.  In addition to being mind-blowingly cosmic, it also allows Raunch and the aliens to make a cheap joke about the female of the species as akin to a black hole absorbing all the energy of the universe.  And then, according to a process that was simply impossible to follow, Raunch somehow becomes both a black hole and a regular guy sitting in some futuristic waiting room where people are learning to operate a psychic sex simulator device.  This part might be a reference to the "white room" sequence in 2001, but again, I wasn't willing to do the amount of orange sunshine necessary to make sense of it all. 

9.  As astrophysics predicts, Raunch then transforms from a black hole to the singularity--breaking the speed of light and traveling back in time to a primordial planet where the richest "dirty old men" in the universe go to procure the ultimate sex dolls, perfectly adapted sex nymphs apparently grown like flowers out of the soil. 

10.  Raunch then finds himself alone in a void (or still as a black hole, I'm not sure).  He perceives himself returning to a giant cosmic womb which is in the process of collapsing (or he is collapsing into the void, I'm not sure).  It is the end of the universe!  Actually, this part is worth quoting, just because it is so insanely inspired:

A cunt of unimaginable construction, out of the very core of the universe itself, suspended in the holocaust of compression that was Raunch.  Perhaps it was a figment of his twisted atoms, but Raunch moved closer and closer, tightening up at every moment, toward the end of that tunnel, the final tunnel, he thought, with what energy he could muster for the task, the final tunnel from which we all came and which we all seek.
           The womb.
          The monobloc.
          The ending.
         And Raunch exploded, in a fractional moment hearing the scream of ecstasy and agony about him
11.  But not really, for Raunch wakes up back in 1969 where he discovers that his wife, Velma, has made a similar trip through space and time (either in another dimension or later in the queue, it's unclear).  Having received an education in the cosmic implications of sexuality, they retire to the marital bed, where we are left to imagine things have been somewhat spiced up. 

The end....or is it????

The Proxima Project (1968)

John Rackham
Ace Books H-91

This appears to be science-fiction aimed at youngish to middle-aged men of the 1960s uncertain about the era's emerging counter-culture.  As we open, Horace McCool has decided to quit his lucrative job in the family's financial business.  Having heard and seen (in stereophonic 3-D) a music performance by the world's hottest pop band, "The Trippers," McCool is completely smitten by the band's enigmatic lead singer, "Yum-Yum."  He is leaving his job so that he might meet Yum-Yum and make her his bride.  We expect that this apparently psychotic act will eventually be explained as a form of techno-hypnosis or space madness, but it turns out just to be lazy exposition--the book needs Horace to go find Yum-Yum, so that's what he does.

McCool is aided in his quest by his faithful secretary, Ms. Horne, whom he tasks with finding as much information as possible about Yum-Yum and her band.  Ms. Horne is happy to do this because she is also a "Trippers" fan and has a thing for their male singer, Jim.  Sneaking backstage at a Trippers concert, McCool cuts to the chase and asks Yum-Yum to marry him without so much as a formal introduction.  The band is amused, but not cruelly so, and Yum-Yum lets him down gently (even after McCool explains to her--the world's most famous pop star--that this whole "music" thing can't last forever).  But McCool will not be dissuaded.  He sends Yum-Yum an expensive broach, which the other band members quickly realize is actually an audio-visual "bug." She politely returns the gift. 

But McCool gets an even better lead.  He learns that the band plans to take a sabbatical at a remote lunar resort.  If he can spend that time with Yum-Yum, he reasons, he is sure he can finally win her over.  With Ms. Horne in tow, McCool makes the journey to the moon and--after a bit of hide-and-seek--ends up in The Trippers' lunar compound.  Here we gradually learn more about the band.  Something is slightly "off" about them.  For one thing, they all appear much younger when off stage, mere children really.  We also learn that they made a group decision at the age of 11 to become the most successful pop stars in the world, and then worked rationally toward that goal until it was achieved.  Soon we are in Children of the Damned territory as we realize the band are actually super-advanced beings (albeit still human) who decided very early in life that the earth could not contain their desires and ambitions.  Incredibly, their decision to become fabulously wealthy as a rock band is in service of another, more astounding goal: they seek to build a spaceship and leave the solar system!

As it so happens, McCool and his secretary have arrived at the fateful moment of the band's final departure for the Centauri system.  But McCool thinks they are bluffing.  There is no way five teenagers could have mastered the science and technology of interstellar space travel.  But the band tells him (and Ms. Horne) that they only have ten minutes to decide--if they don't leave the compound (which is actually the spaceship), they will soon be embarking on a journey that will last at least ten years.  Moreover, the Trippers might even decide not to come back at all!  Partly because of his infatuation with Yum-Yum and partly because he can't admit to himself the kids might actually be telling the truth, McCool (and Ms. Horne) remain on board.  Wouldn't you know it, the kids aren't lying.  Soon they are blasting off for regions unknown!

From here McCool and the kids debate some points of generational philosophy as they make their way across the galaxy.  Gradually McCool begins to realize that Yum-Yum is some type of pre-asexual genius weirdo  child, and his affections turn instead toward the more mature and voluptuous Ms. Horne.  Eventually the space party realizes they will be unable to return to earth, and most likely will die in orbit of Alpha Centauri.  But then, just when all is lost, they are greeted by a flotilla of alien spacecraft.  As it turns out, they have arrived at Centauri just as the locals are holding a festival that seeks out and honors "first spaceships;" that is, this super-advanced race likes to scout out and collect the first spaceships that visit their star system from other worlds.  The aliens honor McCool, Horne, and the band with an elaborate celebration.  To his great embarrassment, McCool telepathically reveals a momentary twinge of lust for his sexy green hostess.  The Trippers, meanwhile, decide to put on a show of their greatest hits, a performance that is a tremendous success.  These Centauri aliens can not get enough of the Trippers happening sounds.

As McCool and Ms. Horne watch the Trippers perform from backstage, wondering if they'll ever get back to earth, they are approached by an "older" alien.  Recognizing that McCool is also the older and more wise of the human party, this alien wants to talk business.  Soon, the two have worked out an interstellar business arrangement.  McCool will trade the music of the Trippers for access to Centaurian technologies that he can market on earth.  The Trippers agree to the scheme as they have no desire to return to earth anyway.  There is only one thing left for McCool to do--marry Ms. Horne. 

 So, in the end, this hybrid of Children of the Damned and Wild in the StreetsMcCool begins as a success in the "straight" world, flirts momentarily with the superficial trappings of youth culture (and their anti-materialist blather), but ends up happily married and with even more money.  Generation gap addressed and solved!

The Deviates (1959)

Raymond Jones
Beacon 242
(first published as The Secret People, Avalon 1956)

The genre, believe it or not, is science-fiction. And the teaser, "One man alone had any woman--every woman--in his power!"?....not a chance.  Not even remotely related to what's going on here.

After the nuclear world war, various genetic mutations are moving through the population. Some are awful, leading to "uglies" that are kept hidden "Boo Radley" style in the family home.  Other mutations are more beneficial, as in having telepathy and extended life span.  All "deviates," however, are considered a menace to human kind, and so a global genetics board decides who does and does not get to reproduce.  But the grand poobah of the genetics board, Robert Wellton, has a secret...he himself is a "deviate"--telepathy, extra-smart, etc. Even though human policy is to expunge any and all "deviates," Wellton believes the "beneficent deviations" (such as himself) should gradually be allowed to interbreed with the "normals" and save the human race (the eugenics program for "normal" humans, we are told, is slowly driving the species toward extinction). 

Most babies are created by matching "normals," with the resulting offspring shipped out to various families.  Rarest of all is the nuclear family as we know it, bio-mom/bio-dad and the bio children all under one roof (they are so rare and envied, in fact, that they must live on guarded compounds to escape the wrath of would-be but thwarted breeders).  Five years earlier, Wellton lost his own wife because she couldn't handle not having a "real" family.

But then, suddenly and unexpectedly, she returns....with a baby...that she says is Wellton's!  Wellton lets her in on his plans, resulting in the  following prose: 

The thing I should have told you is a new race is being born. For thirty five years, I have carried out a program of substituting my own deviate sperm in suitable instances, instead of the normal kind stocked by the Institute.

Wellton's deviant sperm children have been born to mothers around the world.  Each is a telepath who knows Wellton only as the God-like "Father" who comforts them from afar.  At the appropriate age, each of Wellton's progeny is encouraged to escape to a hidden compound somewhere in the wilds of Canada.  Each also has a suicide pill should they ever be taken captive by the world government.

Retiring from his post at the genetics board, Wellton is at last ready to put his plan into effect.  He arrives at the secret compound in Canada and announces that he wants his children to reintegrate into "normal" society, take on important positions of authority, and eventually convince the "normals" that they must accept the beneficent deviates to insure the future of the race.

But there's a problem.  Wellton's first and thus oldest son has a plan of his own.  Unbeknown to "Father," he has had the children working on a space ship.  If the normals want to hunt us down and kill us, he reasons, then screw them...we'll take our chances in space.  But Wellton is determined that not happen.  The deviates still owe a debt to the earth, to the human species, that must be repaid.  There's some more intrigue about Wellton's wife.  And the baby, Timmy, gets bayoneted by the genetic police.  All leading up to the final confrontation of "Father" and first-born deviate sperm baby.

All in all, not bad.  Still seems odd to slap an urban noir cover on a sci-fi title (thus ensuring that crime readers get mad when they actually started reading, while making the book pretty much invisible to  science-fiction readers).

The Burning (1972)

James E. Gunn
Dell 0861

For professorial types, this starts out as the greatest novel ever written.  John Wilson, brilliant sociologist and man of academe, drives to his midwestern campus one night only to see his university in flames.  An angry mob, stirred up by a political movement called the "Lowbrows" and under the direction of an opportunistic U.S. Senator, has decided to put the "eggheads" out of business once and for all.  Wilson feared this day was coming.  Slowly but inexorably, the people had been coming to mistrust intellectuals, especially after the Senator's inflammatory hearings at the House Committee on Un-American Academic Practices.  One by one the colleges begin to burn...

Wow. Sign me up. What a prescient channeling of the Palin/Santorum regime of 2020. It's the future, ripped from today's headlines. No Republican currently running for President will admit to believing in evolution.  Soylent Green is people, people!

Unfortunately, from here the book becomes more a simple "man on the run" story as Wilson must elude the Lowbrows and make it to New Orleans.  Rumor has it that other less stupid countries still value science and learning, albeit in a very restricted and utilitarian way.  As Wilson tries to stay one step ahead of the lowbrow menace, he laments that sociology never achieved the scientific rigor of chemistry, physics, and other hard sciences.  If it had, he thinks, perhaps this could have all been avoided.  

The Burning isn't really a "novel" so much as three long stories involving Wilson's plight, interesting for the historical moment of each installment.  Part I, in which Wilson finds himself a hunted man on the run from mobs and Congressional idiots, dates from 1956--right square in the middle of Cold War anti-intellectualism and fears about mass cultural decay.  Part II, in which a drugged John Wilson finds himself on trial (the Senator takes a page from Hitler's book and blames the eggheads, led by Wilson, for burning down their own university to garner public sympathy), dates from 1969 and the "hippie" assault on university order.  Part III, in which nameless pilgrims who still remember some of the witchcraft of the old days (i.e. science) wander the now feudal, superstitious, and generally stupid remnants of the United States, appeared in 1973.

Sociology returns with a vengeance in this last section as the pilgrim and his pilgrim girlfriend sample a few different civilizations in our stupid future.  They hang out with some farmers, who seem generally mellow.  Then there are the "Neo-Scientists" who live in New Pittsburgh and still have the witchcraft of elevators.  Then New Pittsburgh is burnt to the ground by the Luddites.  The pilgrim learns that New Pittsburgh can only work if it has access to slave labor, whereas the free-ranging warrior/raider life of the Luddites only works with the women enslaved.  In search of wisdom, the pilgrim couple enters an old church where it is said "the truth" resides.  Just when you think Gunn is going to cop out and go all Christian on you, however, a button is pressed and the church turns out to be a spaceship that blasts off into earth orbit.  A voice tells our two agrarian pilgrims that their final test is to figure out how to use all the witchy science stuff in the capsule so as to make it over to a space station orbiting the earth.  They figure it out and are greeted by...John Wilson!

The Day New York Trembled (1967)

Irwin Lewis
Avon Books

Milquetoasted professor is distraught when his friend and colleague from England drops dead while debating the origins of Etruscan civilization.  What looks to be merely another death chalked up to the hard living of university classics professors soon leads Dr. Milquetoast into international intrigue involving a new drug that makes people wholly oblivious to pain.  A Godsend, you say!  No!  Because, as we have seen on many documentaries about kids born without the ability to experience pain, they are in constant danger of dying from a ruptured spleen or a burst appendix since they have no way of knowing--through pain, sweet pain--that anything is wrong.  Whoever controls this formula, the professor learns, could put the entire city into chaos as people unexpectedly drop dead with no warning.  And wouldn't you know it, that's precisely what some evil folks have in mind.

For most of the adventure, Dr. Milquetoast is under the tutelage of the beautiful (but deadly!) Olga, a Natasha-like character who constantly has to save the Professor from various thugs, and whom Dr. Clueless comes to believe might have feelings for him.  But in the end she betrays him, and so the Professor must defeat the anti-pain terrorists with the help of his spunky young student, Ruth Stapleton, who we know is spunky because she is both fearless and constantly blowing wisps of hair off her face with an oh-so-sexy pout.  Together they destroy the formula and smash a mason jar of the drug before it can go into the NYC reservoir.... but Olga escapes.  Does she have the formula elsewhere?  Will there be a sequel?  Only subsequent trips to a garage sale will reveal the answer.

Hidden World (1935)

Stanton A. Coblentz
Airmont Books (1957)

Two more brainiacs stumble down a mineshaft and discover a vast civilization hidden in the middle of the earth.  Separated from his partner as they watch a huge battle unfolding before them in a subterranean cavern, Frank Comstock runs blindly through the various passageways straight into a hectic traffic jam featuring near-sighted white-faced men in little go-carts.  These are the people of Wu, or as Frank calls them, the "chalk-faces."  Captured, Frank is almost put to death until a curious and kindly Wu professor intervenes and takes him home to study and train. 

And then begins the political satire/allegory one expects anytime someone ventures under the earth's crust.  In Wu, we discover, there are three classes: an enfeebled ruling elite who own everything, a "second class" of bureaucrats and administrators, and a mammoth "third class" of impoverished laborers.  Only the "third class" pays taxes.  War with the rival underground nation of Zu is constant, whipped up by such Wu rags as the Screamer and the Blare.  Excesses of material goods are burned (by the impoverished "third class," no less) to create scarcity and maintain high prices.  The reigning philosophy of the land is "thoughtlessness."  As a kicker, the feminine beauty ideal of the Wu is to be as fat and wrinkled as possible, a goal that Wu women spend much time and money in achieving.

Soon Frank has fairly well acclimated to life in Wu.  The prospect of marriage with the particularly fat and wrinkled daughter of the Professor sends him back into escape mode,  however, leading to his falling two miles down a ventilation shaft.  As it so happens, this solves a major ventilation problem for the Wu, and Frank is soon a hero (and promoted to a cushy "second class" job).  In his new job he discovers a long forgotten ventilation wheel/valve, which he soon uses to hold the entire Wu nation hostage by threatening to cut off all their air.  Through this ruse, Frank becomes the supreme leader of the Wu, and in a military campaign against the enemy, discovers his old friend from the surface has advanced to a similar position in Zu.  Together they make a plan to fix the problems of Wu and Zu before heading back to the surface, but both narrowly escape revolutionary mobs upset over the radical changes instituted by the two leaders.  They end where they began: in a Nevada mining town.

Bonus points for historians of TV and other technologies:  at one point, Frank attends a "phonoscope" performance, which involves live 3-D transmissions from the Wu/Zu war front projected on the ceiling of a huge cavern.

Conquest of Earth (1957)

Manly Banister
Airmont Books

Another saga of underground resistance to intergalactic colonization and more evidence that The Turner Diaries is essentially a science-fiction novel.  Here we have a superhuman in training for a secret brotherhood--capable of time stasis and astral projection--who helps rally a dying earth against an invisible race of resource-sucking aliens known as the Trisz.  As it seems truly depressing that more than one person should have to summarize this book, I will defer to a much more detailed account provided here.

More interesting is author Manly Banister himself.  Manly Banister.  At first it seems this would have to be a pseudonym--but it would be such an outrageous pseudonym that I think we have to accept it as his actual name.  Manly Banister.

Apparently Mr. Banister is somewhat of an enigma in sci-fi circles.  One site notes that he started as a devoted fan of the genre in the early 1950s, even publishing his own fanzine, Nekromantikon!  Realizing the line between amateur and professional in 50s pulp was pretty thin, Banister soon became a frequent contributor to the various sci-fi serials of the era.  Conquest of Earth appears to have been his only novel. Oddly enough, however, his biggest selling book is The Craft of Bookbinding, still in print through Dover as of 1994.

The Crack of Doom (1895)

Robert Cromie
Digby, Long and Company

While crossing the Atlantic, the narrator falls in with a strange young man and his beautiful sister.  Invited to join the crackpot's secret society, he is hesitant at first, but decides finally that membership would put him in closer proximity to the young lady.  He is further intrigued when the young woman and her lady friend insist on wearing pants as an expression of their rational, modern thinking.  Though he is embarrassed to be seen with them, even this is not a deal-killer and soon he agrees to join the brother's secret club.

No sooner is he inducted than he learns any revelation of the society's purpose will be punishable by death--a prohibition enforced by the oddball brother's ability to read minds from afar. At first our narrator believes he has stumbled into one of London's reputed "murder clubs" (a la Dickens), but the reality is far worse.  The crackpot brother has found a way to "etherize" matter--late 19th Century lingo for an atomic explosion.  His goal: to vaporize the earth and return it to the ether from which it came.  Why?  Below is the brother's manifesto, a truly great screed of unadulterated nihilism.  Short version--the world must be destroyed because the universe is little more than a ceaseless cycle of meaningless misery.  Read if you dare: 

 "The optimist notion...that Nature is an all-wise designer, in whose work order, system, wisdom, and beauty are prominent, does not fare well when placed under the microscope of scientific research.


"There is no order in Nature. Her armies are but seething mobs of rioters, destroying everything they can lay hands on.


"She has no system, unless it be a reductio ad absurdum, which only blunders on the right way after fruitlessly trying every other conceivable path. She is not wise. She never fills a pail but she spills a hogshead. All her works are not beautiful. She never makes a masterpiece but she smashes a million 'wasters' without a care. The theory of evolution—her gospel—reeks with ruffianism, nature-patented and promoted. The whole scheme of the universe, all material existence as it is popularly known, is founded upon and begotten of a system of everlasting suffering as hideous as the fantastic nightmares of religious maniacs. The Spanish Inquisitors have been regarded as the most unnatural monsters who ever disgraced the history of mankind. Yet the atrocities of the Inquisitors, like the battlefields of Napoleon and other heroes, were not only natural, but they have their prototypes in every cubic inch of stagnant water, or ounce of diseased tissue. And stagnant water is as natural as sterilised water; and diseased tissue is as natural as healthy tissue. Wholesale murder is Nature's first law. She creates only to kill, and applies the rule as remorselessly to the units in a star-drift as to the tadpoles in a horse-pond.

"It seems a far cry from a star-drift to a horse-pond. It is so in distance and magnitude. It is not in the matter of constituents. In ultimate composition they are identical. The great nebula in Andromeda is an aggregation of atoms, and so is the river Thames. The only difference between them is the difference in the arrangement and incidence of these atoms and in the molecular motion of which they are the first but not the final cause. In a pint of Thames water, we know that there is bound up a latent force beside which steam and electricity are powerless in comparison. To release that force it is only necessary to apply the sympathetic key; just as the heated point of a needle will explode a mine of gunpowder and lay a city in ashes. That force is asleep. The atoms which could give it reality are at rest, or, at least, in a condition of quasi-rest. But in the stupendous mass of incandescent gas which constitutes the nebula of Andromeda, every atom is madly seeking rest and finding none; whirling in raging haste, battling with every other atom in its field of motion, impinging upon others and influencing them, being impinged upon and influenced by them. That awful cauldron exemplifies admirably the method of progress stimulated by suffering. It is the embryo of a new Sun and his planets. After many million years of molecular agony, when his season of fission had come, he will rend huge fragments from his mass and hurl them helpless into space, there to grow into his satellites. In their turn they may reproduce themselves in like manner before their true planetary life begins, in which they shall revolve around their parent as solid spheres. Follow them further and learn how beneficent Nature deals with them.

"After the lapse of time-periods which man may calculate in figures, but of which his finite mind cannot form even a true symbolic conception, the outer skin of the planet cools—rests. Internal troubles prevail for longer periods still; and these, in their unsupportable agony, bend and burst the solid strata overlying; vomit fire through their self-made blow-holes, rear mountains from the depths of the sea, then dash them in pieces.

"Time strides on austere.

"The globe still cools. Life appears upon it. Then begins anew the old strife, but under conditions far more dreadful, for though it be founded on atomic consciousness, the central consciousness of the heterogeneous aggregation of atoms becomes immeasurably more sentient and susceptible with every step it takes from homogenesis. This internecine war must continue while any creature great or small shall remain alive upon the world that bore it.

"By slow degrees the mighty milestones in the protoplasmic march are passed. Plants and animals are now busy, murdering and devouring each other—the strong everywhere destroying the weak. New types appear. Old types disappear. Types possessing the greatest capacity for murder progress most rapidly, and those with the least recede and determine. The neolithic man succeeds the palæolithic man, and sharpens the stone axe. Then to increase their power for destruction, men find it better to hunt in packs. Communities appear. Soon each community discovers that its own advantage is furthered by confining its killing, in the main, to the members of neighbouring communities. Nations early make the same discovery. And at last, as with ourselves, there is established a race with conscience enough to know that it is vile, and intelligence enough to know that it is insignificant. But what profits this? In the fulness of its time the race shall die. Man will go down into the pit, and all his thoughts will perish. The uneasy consciousness which, in this obscure corner, has for a brief space broken the silence of the Universe, will be at rest. Matter will know itself no longer. Life and death and love, stronger than death, will be as though they never had been. Nor will anything that is be[90] better or be worse for all that the labour, genius, devotion, and suffering of man have striven through countless generations to effect.

"The roaring loom of Time weaves on. The globe cools out. Life mercifully ceases from upon its surface. The atmosphere and water disappear. It rests. It is dead.

"But for its vicarious service in influencing more youthful planets within its reach, that dead world might as well be loosed at once from its gravitation cable and be turned adrift into space. Its time has not yet come. It will not come until the great central sun of the system to which it belongs has passed laboriously through all his stages of stellar life and died out also. Then when that dead sun, according to the impact theory, blunders across the path of another sun, dead and blind like himself, its time will come. The result of that impact will be a new star nebula, with all its weary history before it; a history of suffering, in which a million years will not be long enough to write a single page.

"Here we have a scientific parallel to the hell of superstition which may account for the instinctive origin of the smoking flax and the fire which shall never be quenched. We know that the atoms of which the human body is built up are atoms of matter. It follows that every atom in every living body will be present in some form at that final impact in which the solar system will be ended in a blazing whirlwind which will melt the earth with its fervent heat. There is not a molecule or cell in any creature alive this day which will not in its ultimate constituents endure the long agony, lasting countless æons of centuries, wherein the solid mass of this great globe will be represented by a rush of incandescent gas, stupendous in itself, but trivial in comparison with the hurricane of flame in which it will be swallowed up and lost.

"And when from that hell a new star emerges, and new planets in their season are born of him, and he and they repeat, as they must repeat, the ceaseless, changeless, remorseless story of the universe, every atom in this earth will take its place, and fill again functions identical with those which it, or its fellow, fills now. Life will reappear, develop, determine, to be renewed again as before. And so on for ever.
"Nature has known no rest. From the beginning—which never was—she has been building up only to tear down again. She has been fabricating pretty toys and trinkets, that cost her many a thousand years to forge, only to break them in pieces for her sport. With infinite painstaking she has manufactured man only to torture him with mean miseries in the embryonic stages of his race, and in his higher development to madden him with intellectual puzzles. Thus it will be unto the end—which never shall be. For there is neither beginning nor end to her unvarying cycles. Whether the secular optimist be successful or unsuccessful in realising his paltry span of terrestrial paradise, whether the pæans he sings about it are prophetic dithyrambs or misleading myths, no Christian man need fear for his own immortality. That is well assured. In some form he will surely be raised from the dead. In some shape he will live again. But, Cui bono?"

The Mystery of the Green Ray (1915)

William Le Queux
Hodder Publications

Before enlisting in the army on the eve of WWI, Raymond travels north to Scotland to bid adieu to his love, Myra. As lovers soon to be parted by warfare often do, Raymond and Myra decide to go fishing for the afternoon. Not only do they decide to fish, but they do so at separate parts of the stream. Suddenly Raymond hears Myra scream. Rushing to her he discovers that she's gone blind from an intense green flash. Later, her faithful Great Dane goes blind as well. All very curious. Raymond enlists the services of a top oculist in Glasgow to cure Myra (and presumably her dog), and before you know it, the two men are knee-deep in an ever stranger mystery. The central part of the story involves a great deal of Sherlock Holmes style sleuthing on the part of the eye doctor. We eventually find that "the green ray" emanates from a cavern beneath a house on a Scottish hillside, rented by an "American" who in fact turns out to be a German spy. Not only does the ray emit a blinding flash of light, it is also a fog-cutting spotlight that serves as a magnifying glass, thus allowing its user to find enemy ships in bad weather and see them close-up. Raymond is almost killed by the villanous German and his physicist lackey, but an old schoolchum saves the day just in time. The eye doctor from Glasgow returns with specially made red glasses that both protect and heal those exposed to the green ray. These are put on the dog as well, and everyone agrees he looks "quite wise."

The Throwbacks (1965)

Roger Sarac
Belmont Red Star

Billed as an encounter with beings displaced from time (they could be from man's distant past..or is it his future?), this is actually more a tale of being trapped in a cabin by marauding bigfoots.

Relative newlyweds clip some weird beast while driving through the mountains of northern California.  Test results from the fur and blood on the wiper come back as "humanoid" of unspecified origin.  The husband, who was writing a piece on the history of the Grizzly bear anyway, decides to take a team back to the area to investigate.  The wife comes along because, well, why wouldn't she? 

Some basic shoe work leads them to the Bradshaw brothers, two young men living alone in a well-appointed cabin in the middle of a nearly inaccessible valley.  While not thrilled to have visitors, they are nevertheless gracious hosts when the research team unexpectedly arrives on their doorstep.  One member of the team is wounded (as a beastie snuck up on him while he was changing a tire and pushed the car on top of him).  So that's a complication.

Things get a bit weird when, at night, the guests are told to stay locked in the cabin with all the shutters closed, and to not open a door or window under any circumstances.  The brothers, meanwhile, each take a loaded shotgun outside to stand guard--although they won't say why.  But even the most lunk-headed reader has to imagine it has something to do with the hairy big foot creature on the cover.

The next day, one of the brothers takes the leader of the research team across the lake to get help for the injured man.  When a storm begins to brew, the brother begins to panic and eventually cracks--revealing the enigma of why he and his brother live as hermits in the middle of nowhere.

But we don't get to learn that secret until later, because we quickly switch back to the cabin for some more "something is lurking outside" action with the other researchers.

So what's the deal with the ape-folk?  Are they from the past?  The future?  Neither, actually.  They are instead the horrible genetic mutant brother and sister of the two normal brothers.  With the death of their parents, the brothers pledged to protect their hairy siblings by remaining secluded with them in the woods.  But ever since Ape-brother was killed (by the Newlyweds' car earlier), Ape-sister has been out-of-control.  And frankly they're sick of it.  Ten years living alone in the woods is beginning to wear on both of them, so older brother makes the call that the time has come to put a bullet in Sasquatch sister and get the hell out of there.

Sis sinks her fangs into one brother's jugular before finally getting shot herself. Months later, in San Francisco, the surviving brother meets up with the team and some final plot points are ironed out.
In a final twist we discover the two "normal" brothers were actually adopted, thereby adding another layer of futility to their 10 years in the forest.  One genetic scientist still thinks there might be some additional mysteries to be answered...back out in the woods.  Me, I was happy to end things here.

Mr. Tomorrow (1974)

Con Sellers
Papillion Books
Originally published as: F.S.C. The Story of a Probable American (1963)

Imagine for a moment, if you can, if you DARE, that Wilhelm Reich, halfway through writing The Mass Psychology of Fascism, decided to take a break and write a quick parody of Ayn Rand writing a sleazy pulp.  If you can keep those various variables and transmutations straight in your mind, then you might have a glimmering of the madness that is Mr. Tomorrow.  And if you ever read Mr. Tomorrow, you might further understand why all conservative men are so gay for Reagen.

Replace muscle-man on the cover here with Hitler and you would have a fairly workable cover for Reich's book as well--the dominating father of the "mother-land" standing in authoritarian dominance over a mass desperate for moral and political order.  Who is this giant of a man, this Mr. Tomorrow?  Well, that's our story.

Way back in 1936 (mark that date well), the great patriarch of the Adams clan decided that the government had become too oppressive and was taking away man's fundamental liberties.  His regressive fantasy solution is one near and dear to the Republican mindset even today--Adams moves his entire family into a well-appointed cave on a mesa somewhere in the American west, stocking it with provisions, "great books," and, of course, lots and lots and tons and tons and piles and piles of sweet, sweet guns.  As the novel opens, many years later, Adams' grandson Jon (the man-meat on the cover) is the last of the line, and he feels a certain stirring in his loins that tells him the time has come to emerge from his lair, go among the populace, and find a woman to quite literally drag back to his cave (a luxurious one, to be sure, but a cave nevertheless).  So off he goes, down into the city.

Meanwhile, we meet the man who will become Jon's mortal enemy:  Tor, a high-ranking "bureaucrat" near the top of the Department of Genetics.  Already a powerful man in the all-intrusive Federal government, Tor has ambitions to go even higher.  In the meantime, he amuses himself by strolling among the citizenry in search of women to rape.  But not just any woman will do.  Tor only wants to rape the daughters and wives of merchants who have refused to participate in the government's 51% ownership plan.  Raping these women not only makes a powerful political point about resisting the government, but Tor finds only these women have the fierce independence to fight back and make the experience satisfying.  And that's the crux of the book's politics.  The government, any government really, that would dare tax you in any way, shape, or form--that would do anything to intrude upon your right to sit on a pile of rifles in your cave--is literally akin to a rapist.

After the rape, by the way, daughter, wife, and father/husband are typically banished to the land of the "Inalis," a horrible realm of poverty and servitude.  "Inali," we later discover in true Star Trek "Yang vs. Komm" form, is short for the "Inalienables," as in those who demand their "inalienable rights." 

But luckily for the meatheaded reader of this crap, there is Jon the meaty man working overtime as a one-man resistance army.  Once in the city, his very presence creates such a crisis that he ends up killing 15 government men in one night with only a bow-and-arrow.  Thus begins a long chase and escape narrative between Jon, still shopping for women, and Tor, who realizes capturing the now notorious mountain man will give him tremendous political advantages in the upcoming elections.

Throughout the rather pedestrian man-on-the-run-from-the-oppressive-state story, author Sellers finds plenty of time for outright Randian/fascist crapola.  Here are a few choice nuggets:

"Some men don't want to be 'equal.' Some men don't want enforced serenity.  We want to work our own way, in our own time, for things we consider important--not because some bureaucrat tells us what to think is important...Any man who takes a share of what I alone have earned is a thief, and the 'laws' that protect him are made by even greater thieves."

"A real man wanted only to be left alone by all authority, to be neither taxed nor pampered.  The only government he should rightly desire is that which protects him, and all men, from force by another man or group of men that would stop him from living his own life."

And so on.

How, you might ask, would such a sensibility handle the requisite sex scenes in a sleaze pulp.  Not very well, it turns out.  In keeping with Reich's "invasion of compulsory sex morality," Jon Adams--though a 25-year-old virgin living alone in the mountains--will not deign to have sex with just any woman (unlike his rapey G-man adversary).  No, Jon is searching for the special "one" woman to be his life-mate.  This leads to rather hilarious episodes in which Jon, irresistible in his man-meatliness to the decadent women of the city, must go to superhuman lengths to resist the urge to copulate.  In one particularly amazing spectacle of sexual restraint, Jon is chained to a wall "King Kong" style, injected with a powerful aphrodisiac, and then veritably molested by two beautiful "pleasure girls."  But he will not yield, God bless him, and true to Kong rips his manacles from the wall and escapes before anything untoward happens!

If you enjoy searching for odd literature, Mr. Tomorrow is precisely the kind of novel you both hope and dread to find.  The hope resides in encountering aesthetics and sensibilities that are strange, incomprehensible, and perhaps even wondrous.  The "dread" is in realizing that the reactionary mind, forever seeing itself as cornered like a wounded wolverine, appears to be a vestigial part of our reptile wiring that we simply cannot shake as a species. 

Despite the suspicious name, "Con Sellers" was in fact a real person--and a real right-winger.  His papers are even available at the University of Southern Mississippi if you want to research his career (and someone should, if they have the stomach for it).  Sellers' career, starting after his stint in the Korean War, ranged from short stories in Men's magazines of the '50s, sleazy pulps of the '60s, and later more mainstream action-books in the '70s and '80s.  And Mr. Tomorrow, apparently,  is not the only book in Sellers' oeuvre that is so profoundly over the top in its naked politics.  Interested readers should check out this excellent account of another title, Red Rape, at Conelrad. 

The Boats of the Glen Carrig (1907)

William Hope Hodgson
Chapman and Hall, Ltd.
(now in public domain)

William Hope Hodgson has the dubious honor of being known primarily as a "major" influence on a "minor" author, in this case H.P. Lovecraft.  Hodgson also delved into the "cosmic horror" typically associated with Lovecraft, most notably in Hodgson's extraordinarily creepy novel of 1908, The House on the Borderland.  The Boats of the Glen Carrig dates from the previous year and remains wholly within the preternatural--but this makes it no less creepy, let me assure you.

The set-up is simple enough.  It's 1757 and the Glen Carrig has hit a rock.  We open with our narrator aboard a lifeboat in search of rescue.  Almost immediately they find an island and begin their way up a creek looking for help.  Hodgson's talent for uncanny narration is apparent from the very beginning--the island is eerily flat, depressingly so, pocked by a few scrubby trees that may or may not be capable of walking around at night and eating people.  They leave quickly, primarily because the vibe is just too overwhelming.  This sets the overall tone for the book: Verne's Mysterious Island as interpreted through a lens of paranoia and depression. 

After the obligatory storm at sea section, we arrive at the heart of the book.  Their boat damaged, the men wash up on a freaky island where they find themselves under instantaneous and escalating attack by the following:

                                   1.  ambulatory toadstools
                                   2.  gigantic "devil fish" (essentially huge octopi)
                                   3.  humongous crabs
                                   4.  the "weed men"

Burning up the island's valley pretty much takes care of the man-eating toadstools, while staying out of the water greatly reduces the odds of being eaten by a devil-fish.  The big crabs are more annoying than dangerous, leaving the "weed men" as the crew's primary adversary.

The weed-men are worthy foes.  Described by Hodgson as giant white leeches with "human-like" faces that leave behind a trail of pungent slime, the "weed men" are on the attack any time the crew stupidly lets the bonfire grow dim.  Like much horror of this era, most of the book centers on the lingering dread of the weed men (although they do mount a few spectacular attacks).  Hodgson has a real talent for the uncanny effect of the indexical marker of horror lurking "somewhere out there."  For example, at one point in the book, the crew has to deploy a large rope down a hillside toward the beach.  Each night, a man has to stand watch and periodically check the tautness of the rope.  If the watchman feels any movement in the rope, he has to sound the general alarm...because it's a sign that the slimy leech creatures are undulating up the line.  I'm still creeped out just thinking about it.

So many uncanny and disgusting things are happening in The Boats of the Glen Carrig that there is little time for "character development."  Which makes the ending all the more surprising.  Throughout the adventure, our narrator works under the supervision of the "Bo'Sun," the large strapping sailor in command of the lifeboat.  Every so often, we get a hint of the narrator's pride in impressing the "Bo'Sun" though an act of skill or bravery.  And at one point, when the narrator is "feeling gloomy," the "Bo'Sun" seeks him out and does what he can to cheer up the young man.  In short, they become the dynamic duo that saves everyone from death.  Toward the end, a girl is introduced into the picture, rather irritatingly and implausibly given all the homoerotic bonding that has preceded her in the story. Once safe and back in civilization (i.e. England), the narrator, we discover, is now married to the young maid he met during his adventure.  But we also learn the following in the final paragraph of the story (spoiler alert, obviously)

Now one further thing there is of which I must tell. Should any, chancing to trespass upon my estate, come upon a man of very mighty proportions, albeit somewhat bent by age, seated comfortably at the door of his little cottage, then shall they know him for my friend the bo'sun; for to this day do he and I fore-gather, and let our talk drift to the desolate places of this earth, pondering upon that which we have seen--the weed-continent, where reigns desolation and the terror of its strange habitants. And, after that, we talk softly of the land where God hath made monsters after the fashion of trees. Then, maybe, my children come about me, and so we change to other matters; for the little ones love not terror.


This novel was originally published in 1907, but has been reprinted in various formats several times since.  I read a kindle version--but be forewarned, some of the many "free" e-text versions cut off the book's secondary title in which we learn the following crucial information:

Being an account of their Adventures in the Strange places of the Earth, after the foundering of the good ship Glen Carrig through striking upon a hidden rock in the unknown seas to the Southward. As told by John Winterstraw, Gent., to his Son James Winterstraw, in the year 1757, and by him committed very properly and legibly to manuscript.

The illustration above is from the story's reprinting in a 1947 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries.  I have used this for the graphic in this piece because, let's face it, it is without a doubt the most awesome.

Space Prison (1958)

Tom Godwin
Pyramid Books

Let's all go to Space Prison, shall we?  The worst reprobates of the universe, crammed together in the Big House on Taljare-8.  A space mess hall where prisoners bang their space trays and space cups on the table to protest the horrible space gruel.  Hiding a space spoon in the cell to start digging a tunnel to the outside. The space-grudges...the space-shanking...the interspecies homoerotic space tension! Beings of all sizes and shapes bound together by the code of intergalactic crime: murder on an outworld colony...robbing a space transport of its rare metals and spices...check-kiting on Rigel 14.  This is going to be a great read...

But alas, Space Prison is only another rip-off perpetrated by the publishing industry of the sixties.  This book was actually published originally as The Survivors, and there are in fact no recognizable prison conventions to be found anywhere.  Here's what wiki has to say about it:

It was published in 1958 by Gnome Press in an edition of 5,000 copies, of which 1,084 were never bound. The novel was published in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960 under the title Space Prison. The novel is an expansion of Godwin’s story ‘Too Soon to Die‘ which first appeared in the magazine Venture.”

What do we get instead of space prison?  Earth is locked in a deadly war with the Gerns.  A transport ship attempts to sneak a colony of earth people to another planet in anticipation of the impending Gern victory.  But the Gerns intercept the ship and quickly divide the humans into two camps: the "Acceptables" (bound for enslavement as research scientists on the Gern home world) and the "Rejects" (summarily herded onto a landing vehicle and then ditched with a few supplies on a god-forsaken planet).  After that, the story is one of survival rather than incarceration, as the Gerns have put the Reject-humans on a planet that has huge extremes in weather and two terrifying adversaries:

1.  the prowlers: wolf-panther badasses that rule the planet and are unwilling to accept the intruding species.

2.  stampedes of blood-thirsty unicorns that can stomp and rip a man to shreds.

Space Prison is a somewhat difficult novel to follow in that each central character dies after about 40 pages, handing the narrative baton to the next ruler of the human colony.  I'm guessing the author was at one time a geology major in college, as much of the story involves search parties looking for iron deposits that might be exploited to build a new spaceship for escape (the logic here was unclear.   The colony can barely survive from year to year foraging for herbs and unicorn meat, so it isn't exactly apparent how they will find the time and resources to construct a space ship).

The ultimate goal, after surviving, is to take the battle back to the Gerns.  Part one of a series, apparently.  I doubt I will read part two, unless of course I am tricked once again.

Apostle From Space (1978)

Gordon Harris
Logos International

Spaceman lands off coast of Florida and seeks refuge in a church, where he is taken in by the local minister.  Meanwhile, having been alerted to the arrival by radar, the government begins searching for the mysterious visitor, hypothesizing that he might actually be a Cuban spy.  Back at the church, the minister names the spaceman "Peter" and begins teaching him English.  The minister is especially excited because he has seen "Peter" the spaceman kneel before the cross in church and pray, thereby suggesting an intergalactic validity to Christianity. 

The government eventually figures out "Peter" is the real deal, and not a Cuban.  Big plans are made for "Peter" to address a joint session of Congress and the United Nations.  In the meantime, he tours our space facilities and rather politely lets us know we are idiots (our rockets, for example, still use "fuel" and "stages" rather than simply converting light into energy).  "Peter" also has some type of courtly love thing going with an earth girl.  We learn that Peter's planet also believes in a "Son of God" who died for the mortal world's sins.  They have no bible, but still hear the voice of God directly.  

At the big United Nations speech, "Peter" tells us his planet is smaller, more advanced, etc.  They only noticed us when we made a trip to the moon, and have sent "Peter" to find out if our intentions for space travel are hostile or peaceful.  We appear peaceful...for now--they'll keep watching.  "Peter" then "dissolves" as he walks down a corridor, apparently transported back to his home world.  He takes a Bible with him as a souvenir. 

The Spawn of the Death Machine (1968)

Ted White
Warner Paperback Library

Man wakes up naked in an all-metal room.  A voice tells him it is time to go out into the world and gather "data."  And so he does.  The first people he encounters live as neolithic hunter-gathers.  He kills their leader and gets a "spouse" named Rifka in the process.  More wandering.  Rifka ditches him for another guy because he won't sleep with her.  More advanced communities discovered.  Lured by prostitute to stay in a small town that needs more residents.  Finds Rifka in jail after she ditched the other guy.  They escape and he at long last impregnates her.  One night he realizes he has the power to breath fire.  They arrive at a huge dome covering the remnants of New York City, which now houses 500 African-American men and 500 African-American women.  It is the only remaining outpost of the technologies and knowledge before the Chaos.  Tests are conducted that determine the man has a metal skeleton.  He remembers he was invented to cull the earth's population.  He is the Death Machine.  He goes back to where he started and the voice tells him to return to the metal room.  But the man says he has a wife and a kid now, so he'll stay outside thank you very much.  The computer says that's probably okay. 

Mindfogger (1973)

Michael Rogers
Dell Books

Niles Spindrift has been a genius at electronics since he was a child.  Now a hippie in the early 1970s, he is constantly on the run from a former employer that feels he is on the verge a major technological breakthrough.  And he is...the Mindfogger!  When activated, the "mindfogger" basically gets everyone around it pleasantly stoned, a power Spindrift tests by shutting down the production line at a battery factory for two weeks (it's an anti-war statement: the batteries go to the military which go to Vietnam).  Like a surprising amount of sci-fi from this era, there seems to be little actual "science" in the story other than the vague notion that electronics might be used to control the brain.  Mostly, Mindfogger is about Spindrift and his old lady trying to live a small desert town while he works on his device, culminating in 30 or so pages that read like Gun Crazy.

At the Earth's Core (1914)

Edgar Rice Burroughs
Bison Books (2000)

Two morons decide to test a giant earth drill without letting anyone know about their plans, so when they accidentally burrow all the way to the center of the earth, no one knows they're missing or bothers to come look for them.  At the earth's core they discover a land called Pellucidar, an inversely spherical world surrounding a stationary sun.  No sooner do they arrive than ape-like creatures capture them for some Tarzan-style tree swinging.  Captured as slaves by a slightly more evolved species of savages, our narrator unwittingly insults a princess and will spend the next 200 pages in an improbable quest to rectify the situation.  Pellucidar is ruled by silent telepathic lizard people who, in the book's strangest interlude, enjoy hypnotizing their humanoid slaves to come in and out of the water so that they can munch on their limbs one at a time.  Our two intrepid explorers become slaves of the lizard people and discover that, like in Jurassic Park, they are all females who long ago dispensed of the male's part in procreation.  This is done through some type of "secret formula" that our narrator vows to steal from the lizard lab, thereby dooming them to extinction and allowing the humanoid primates to realize their "rightful" place in the evolutionary order.  There is a temporary escape from lizard land punctuated by fearsome combat with a variety of giant beasts, including a huge bear and a pterodactyl.  In the most wonderfully insane sequence, the narrator and his friends escape the lizard city by stuffing themselves inside the bodies of 3 slain reptiles and simply walking out unobserved.  The princess is discovered.  Hate turns to love.  Our narrator becomes the first emperor of the humans and leads a giant war against the lizards.  The end?  No, not a chance.  Our narrator realizes he is too stupid to win the war without more knowledge about technology and tactics, so he reverses the drill to go back to the surface for an encyclopedia.  As to the fate of man v. lizard, readers would just have to wait until the next book in the series.