Archive for January 15, 2023

Not the Sunday Intertitle!

Posted in literature with tags , , on January 15, 2023 by dcairns

I may have to phone the doctor tomorrow as this cold isn’t going away as fast as I’d like. Fiona still has a cough from before Christmas — antibiotics may be indicated.

Not feeling like watching a silent feature today OR using my ingenuity to find an intertitle in a talkie, so I think I’ll just provide another book extract. You can actually read the first ten chapters, it seems, of my new novel, Is Your Journey to the Centre of the Earth Really Necessary?, on Amazon. Well, there are 97 chapters, so it’s not that much. Certainly enough for the curious reader to ascertain whether this is the sort of muck she wants to spend her time on.

The novel begins thusly:

Chapter One: Some of Our Witchcraft Is Missing

The Narrative of Whitsuntide

Mad scientists? Yes, I’ve known a few. As with artists, a measure of eccentricity is to be expected. Creative genius, you know – there’s a fine line separating it from insanity. Those of us who have erased that line are a rarer breed.

But yes, genuine lunatics. One thinks of Professor Fieldish Pucker, whose studies in miniaturisation promised to bring so much of beauty and interest to the world, but who died in poverty, a forgotten man, wedged between the molars of a housecat named Chips.

Then there was Baxtable Stagg, a pungently hebephrenic autodidact whose many flying machines, original, graceful and profoundly hazardous, endeared him to the whole scientific community as long as they didn’t have to stand too close. Never a man to do things the easy way, old Baxtable eschewed wings, propellers and rocketry and crafted wonderfully elegant machines that attempted to achieve the miracle of flight by means of fatty deposits, sculpture, aromas, pantomimic gestures and glossolalia. Work? Of course they didn’t work. But they had a flare and a poetry about them which I find lacking in all your de Havilland Moths and Stinson AT-19 Reliants. And does Jiro Horikoshi have a crater named after him?

Havelock Sprank, there was a man! Paranoids design the best weapons, I find. After all, living in terror of attack from friends, family, and total strangers, they’re highly incentivised to do so. A Sprank killing machine surpassed all others in its cruelty, its destructiveness, its sheer joie de tuer. He designed hundreds of them during the wars, for both sides, and never got a single prototype built, so appalling were the very concepts involved. Finally shot himself with an ordinary Mauser, I heard, which has a terrible pathos to it, when you consider the fantastic engines of destruction of which he dreamed.

Then of course you have the Old Man, my old man that is, with his endless stream of mutants, travestying the human form and reaching ever for more shocking hybrids of man and animal, man and plant, man and mineral. I grew up surrounded by these unfortunate creations, with sterile satyrs frotting in the meadows near our house in Bolventor, and directionless birdmen dashing themselves against the windows. A wonder it didn’t put me off the whole business of scientific enquiry.

But no, something about Man’s eternal quest for truth gripped me, and I began, at an early age, to explore my own particular field, the branch of science that encompasses and corrupts all others, black science, or as it is sometimes known, perverted science.

This is, in a roundabout way, explains how I came to be lurking about a dingy backstreet in Portsmouth on a wet Saturday night in January 1942, trying to break and enter a witch’s house in the company of a nervous Scots-Italian linguist called McWheattie and a small troop of Lancers assigned to us for the occasion. It was freezing and wet and I couldn’t wait to get inside, but unfortunately inside was a witch.

I notice that I’ve stolen the first joke, in the first paragraph, from Oscar Levant. Oh, I’ve rephrased it, but it’s unquestionably the same joke. That’s a bit embarrassing. Oh, and I’ve just spotted a typo. Corrected it in the Kindle edition, but those who bought the thing yesterday will find the word “explains” missing in the last paragraph, and those who bought the paperback also. I *think* I can fix it for future paperbacks but with my head stuffed full of straw, as it is at present, I might not date to attempt it.

The book has no pictures but it does have conversations. The above image is a vintage illo by the great Virgil Finlay, to which I have affixed a caption in a pseudo Glenn Baxter style. Just for you!

The UK paperback is here, by the way.

The US paperback is here.

Let me know if the links don’t work for you.

Buy them before I fix the typo and you’ll have a rarity you can use to test the credentials of phony book dealers!

Argh. Hang on. Just checked the PDF of the paperback and there’s no typo. As you were. Weird. This is why self-publishing a book without a fully functioning brain may be ill-advised.