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October/November 2004
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March of the Robots, by "Leo Brett" (1961)

FROM 1954 to 1965, Lionel Fanthorpe produced almost the entire SF/supernatural list of the sleazy British imprint Badger Books—in his spare time. His output under many pseudonyms ran to well over two hundred novels and collections. At this pace, padding became a way of life. Alien races in Forbidden Planet (1961) can teleport in different ways about a sixty-four-planet battleground…cueing a voluminous, barely disguised exposition of chess. Galaxy 666 (1963) devotes pages to nuances of landscape color:

It gave an overall impression of greyness streaked with pink and white, rather than an over-all impression of whiteness tinged with grey and pink, or an overall impression of pink streaked with grey and white.

A favorite for reading aloud is March of the Robots, especially when the eponymous invaders land:

Terrifying things, steel things; metal things; things with cylindrical bodies and multitudinous jointed limbs. Things without flesh and blood. Things that were made of metal and plastic and transistors and valves and relays, and wires. Metal things. Metal things that could think. Thinking metal things. Terrifying in their strangeness, in their peculiar metal efficiency. Things the like of which had never been seen on the earth before. Things that were sliding back panels…Robots! Robots were marching…
Listeners find themselves chanting along to the inexorable rhythms:
The city slept. Men slept. Women slept. Children slept. Dogs and cats slept.
In 2002 the author, now the Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, celebrated fifty years in print. The best or worst of his Badger excesses are collected in Down the Badger Hole (1995) ed. Debbie Cross.

—David Langford

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