Thursday, June 7, 2012

Weenie Man Away!

When you’re reading a book called “The Radio Planet” and it features on the cover a Buck Rogers-type guy shielding a buxom woman in a skin-tight outfit from a pair of giant menacing ants, you know a guy wrote it.

But as you read further, you get these little tells that take you beyond the machismo of the cover and into the reality that, yeah, a guy really did write this.

Take this passage:
The ant-man assented. It seemed logical. And yet I wonder if this logic would not have done credit to Jud the Excuse-Maker. I wonder if Cabot was not subconsciously influenced by a scientific desire to complete his radio set in this land of people who used only wood and flint. I wonder.
I don’t wonder. A guy wrote this. Here we have Myles Cabot, radio engineer, Big McLargeHuge disciple, radio engineer, husband to a queen with antennae growing out of her head and, above all, radio engineer, presented with exactly what he needs to flee a battle-torn land to ruse to the aid of queen and young son in another battle-torn land without having to go through the trouble of building a radio set from raw elements preferring (subconsciously!) to putter around in the brush, waving swords at the baddies, fending off the attractions of two furry maidens, in order to build a radio set out of nothing but rocks and trees.

Here’s another bit:
He hated to leave her, a smile on her face and a tear in his eye. He hated to deceive Quivven, who had been a good little pal, in spite of her occasional flare-ups of temper. He looked back and waved to her where she stood like a golden statue upon the city wall; it would be his last glimpse of a true friend. Then he set his face resolutely to the eastward.

Not only did he feel a pang at leaving Quivven, but he felt even more of a pang at leaving his radio-set half-finished. The scientist always predominated his makeup; and besides, like the good workman that he was, he hated an unfinished job.
He almost had it there. Until his mind drifted back to his radio-set. What a weenie.

But we see here the genesis for Douglas Adams’ turning Arthur Dent into the only thing Arthur Dent could be: a sandwish-maker. For Arthur Dent, just like I, have no technological skill with which to make a radio or computer or, for that matter, a device much simpler such as a bicycle. Maybe I could manage a cart; I’ve read enough BC comic books that I could probably make a wheel. But the tools to make the wheel. No, I’m stuck. I can’t even get to the Stone Age on my own.

All this speculation is fun. I’m enjoying this book, even if only for the weepy female characters who, thusfar, have served to fall in love with the hero, get all weepy and have to be carried about, get dirty and fuss about having to clean up, get mad, slap faces, get captured and rescued and then admonished, admonished! not to get captured again. The only thing missing is the crinoline dresses. All so some guy can tinker about, building a radio when a perfectly-serviceable radio – and plane – awaits in the underbrush, ready to be flown by said ant-man to the rescue of Cabot’s queen.

No matter. He’d probably get lost on the way and refuse to stop for directions.

And, yeah, the hidden plane got swiped. So it’s back to the RADIO SET! Whee!

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