Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books, October 30, 2015

DON"T FORGET OUR NEXT SPECIAL TOPICS FFB: HOLIDAY -THEMED FORGOTTEN BOOKS NOV 21. Strictly optional though.

FIVE THOUSAND MILES UNDERGROUND; OR, THE MYSTERY AT THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH, "Roy Rockwood" (From the archives, Jerry House)

 
My childhood seemed to occur on the borderlands of political correctness and non-political correctness. Some of the Hardy Boys books I read were of the original, non-PC variety; others (many times the same title) were ones rewritten for a kinder, gentler generation. Most of the non-PC books I read as a boy dealt negatively with racial and ethnic stereotypes, including this week's selection. So please forgive me. Hey, I was a pretty naive kid growing up on a farm; what the hell did I know?

Only five pa
ragraphs into the story, we hear Washington White for the first time: "Yas sir, Perfessor, I'se goin' t' saggasiate my bodily presence in yo' contiguous proximity an' attend t' yo' immediate comglomerated prescriptions at th' predestined period. Yas, sir!" Two paragraphs later, we learn that Washington (surprise! surprise!) is a negro; his race being the opposite of his last name. (How I managed to grow up without believing all Blacks were loyal, uneducated, cowardly companions is completely beyond me.)

Five Thousand Miles Underground was the third of eight books in the Stratemeyer syndicate's Great Marvel Series, this one written by Howard R. Garis (who also wrote many of the early Tom Swift books). The adventure features a motley crew consisting of ace inventor Mr. (sometimes called Professor) Henderson, plucky teenage orphans Jack Darrow and Mark Sampson, old hunter Andy Sudds, ex-farmers-now-assistants Tom Smith and Bill Jones (doomed forever, I fear, to remain in the backgrounsd) and the aforementioned Stepin Fe...I mean, Washington White.

In the second book in the series, this crew had discovered a hole in the earth (don't ask). Now Henderson has created a flyin
g boat, The Flying Mermaid, to explore the mysterious hole. So off they go, having amazing adventures every chapter. After being attacked by a maddened whale and surviving a cyclone, they come across a burning ship and managed to rescue fourteen men. Thirteen of the men, alas, are ne'er-do-wells who mutiny and take over the flying boat. Jack and Mark, being clever, pluckish lads, outsmart the mutineers and trick them into jumping overboard (don't ask). Soon they find the hole in the earth and begin their descent. (In the book's illustration, the flying part of the flying boat has a distinctly phallic look; if this was some sort of symbolism, it went way over my ten-yearhold head.) During the descent, they lose consciousness.

When our heroes awaken, we discover that they have descended five thousand miles and have landed on an world floating inside earth--complete with
sun and seven moons (one central moon and six revolving around it -- don't ask). We also discover that Jack is accident-prone; he immediately gets gobbled by a giant man-eating plant. OK, so they rescue him, and a few chapers later he (I think; I skimmed this part) gets captured by the half-vegetable/half animal snake-tree and gets rescued again. The water in this world runs thick as molasses, and the sky seems to change color often. We meet giant insects, dangerous walking fish and weird animals that seemed cobbled together from every beast the author could think of.
You can't have an underground world without an underground civilization. This one is inhabited by giant, mis-shapen men with the soft consistency of snow (don't ask). Hankos, their king, speaks an odd mixture of ancient Latin and Greek (don't ask) and (I gather) is the only one to do so (don't ask). Hankos, being scientifically-minded, had somehow managed to up to the earth's surface, where he shrank to the size of a normal human being (don't ask), and, finding himself just a short distance from Mr./Professor Henderson's island. Did I mention that Henderson had an island? It turns out that Hankos managed to sneak aboard The Flying Mermaid and had been hidden there all along through the many adventures (don't ask). By the way, Hankos grew to his normal giant-size when he got back to the centre (note the British spelling) of the earth. Thankful that they brought him home, Hankos took the crew to the Temple of the Treasure at the top of an underground mountain (don't ask), and let them have at it. Suddenly an earthquake (skyquake? don't ask) closed the mysterious hole in the earth. We our heroes trapped? Well, no. Turns out there was another mysterious hole in the earth that could be reached by a (five thousand mile? don't ask) geyser.

Anyway, everyone gets home safely and the boys decided to use their newly-gained wealth to get an education. One hopes it was in plot development and physical science.

As a ten-year old, I ate this stuff up. (Back then, WTF was not in my vocabulary.) Even
today, I think it's pretty cool.

[Five Th
ousand Miles Underground was published by Cupples & Leon in 1908. The other seven books in the Great Marvel Series were Through the Air to the North Pole, Under the Ocean to the South Pole, Through Space to Mars, Lost on the Moon, On a Torn-Away World, The City Beyond the Clouds, and By Spaceship to Saturn.]

Sergio Angelini, TRICKS, Ed McBain
Yvette Banek, DEATH OF AN AIRMAN, Christopher St. John  Sprigg
Les Blatt, THE HOUSE THAT KILLS, Vindry
Brian Busby, THE WINE OF LIFE, Arthur Stringer
Bill Crider, THIS GUN FOR GLORIA, Bernard Mara (Brian Moore)
Scott Cupp, EARTHBOUND, Richard Matheson
Martin Edwards, THE RED REDMAYNES, Eden Philpots
Ed Gorman, APPOINTMENT IN SAMARA and BUTTERFIELD EIGHT, John O'Hara
Rick Horton, THE COUNT'S MILLIONS, Emile Gaboriau
Jerry House, RAPTURE, Thomas Tessler
Nick Jones, DONALD MACKENZIE 
George Kelley, Three Versions of Hitchcock's WITCHES BREW
Margot Kinberg, LONG WAY HOME, Eva Dolan
B.V. Lawson, THE AIR THAT KILLS, Margaret Millar
Evan Lewis, VARNEY THE VAMPIRE or THE FEAST OF BLOOD
Steve Lewis, MORTAL TERM, John Penn 
Todd Mason, THE ANTHOLOGIES OF BETTY M. OWEN
Neer, THE FACE IN THE NIGHT, Edgar Wallace 
Paust, Mathew, DAUGHTER OF TIME, Josephine Tey
Reactions to Reading, LITTLE BLACK LIES, Sharon Bolton
James Reasoner, FRANKENSTEIN LIVES AGAIN, Donald Glut
Richard Robinson, TOP TEN, Alan Moore
Kerrie Smith, BALLAD OF A DEAD NOBODY, Liza Cody 
Kevin Tipple, TEXAS NOIR. Vol 1, Milton T. Burton
TomCat, DEATH COMES TO CAMBERS, E. R Punshon; BLEEDING HOOKS, Harriet Rutland
TracyK, DEAD IN THE MORNING, Margaret Yorke 
Westlake Review, BROTHERS, KEEPERS

10 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I read a very few of these, which were all that were available in my home town library. I'd have devoured them all if I'd had them around.

Deb said...

I strongly recommend Leslie Garis's memoir, THE HOUSE OF HAPPY ENDINGS, about growing up as the grandchild of the writers responsible for the Bobbsey Twins, Uncle Wiggly, and (as Jerry's review points out) some of the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift books. She loved their house in her childhood, but as she got older, cracks began to appear.

Mathew Paust said...

Evidently mine slipped thru the cracks for the list. Here's the link for anyone interested in my take on The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey.

Mathew Paust said...

Thanks, Patti!

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Thanks for including me in the roundup Patti, which seems to grow every week!

Todd Mason said...

And, indeed, dealing with my own growing pains among other matters, is my FFB, embedded with other other roundelays!

Combo: FFB: The anthologies of Betty M. Owen; October's Underappreciated Music; Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the much-delayed links (still in progress)


Thanks as always, Patti!

Todd Mason said...

Patti, after seeing your comment on George's blog...you really must read CONJURE WIFE by Fritz Leiber. The film isn't quite up to it, among other reasons for the matter you raise.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My other avid Fritz Leibet fan said the same thing!

Todd Mason said...

The dual volumes, also collecting OUR LADY OF DARKNESS from the other end of his career, are your best bet. It's rathe sad that he was only to write three horror novels, in those and YOU'RE ALL ALONE from the early mid-career, and then there are some fine novellas, and brilliant shorter work.

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks, Patti, for including my post. I always love the variety of great books here!