Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Mind From Outer Space

This type of book is frequently distinguished by its cover art - but in this case, the art is somewhat blah: no mostly naked women, disembodied brains, or even saucer people. The author's name, though, really does distinguish this one. Eando Binder is in fact a nom de plume - who would have guessed? Otto and Earl Andrew Binder wrote as a team, and chose Eando as a combination of their names. It's unfortunate that their writing proved to be as scattered and nonsensical as their choice of a pseudonym.

The Mind From Outer Space is truly a marvel, in its own way, but its great weakness might be described as a certain lack of anything that might, under other circumstances, have made a good sci-fi. You know that frustrating it-almost-worked phenomenon? Well, The Mind From Outer Space doesn't cause it. And yet, it has everything: astrally projected sea serpents, the lost continent of Atlantis, a yeti, a possessed motorcycle - and a flying saucer. This last is, when our hero Thule Hillory discovers it, lying crashed in a bush right off the main road, where it has apparently been for 35,000 years. Only, you know, no one noticed it when they were building the road.

Another plot weakness, although it might be fruitless to attempt to enumerate more than a few, is that the main disembodied-mind alien villain travels billions of light years across the galaxy to find something which has been hidden on Earth, and then finds Earth - and then, once here, is unable to find Mount Everest. Despite, I must add, being psychic, and in the same room with three or four people who all know where Mount Everest is. I am also forced to the assumption, based on the villain's lack of geographical knowledge, that his ancient planet did not have reference books, or Wikipedia.

In order to properly convey the wonder of The Mind From Outer Space, allow me to provide a few samples of Eando's writing style. This is near the beginning of the book.

"I've got something to tell all of you," said Hillory, drawing himself up and facing the small group. "The android didn't suddenly turn killer. Something entered him - animated him."

At their surprised murmurs, Hillory went on to tell how the saucer skeleton and motorcycle had both menaced himself and Merry.

From this brief excerpt, it's pretty easy to extrapolate the entire first third of the book. Moving on, the intrepid Hillory meets the disembodied alien who had inhabited the dead saucer person and the motorcycle and the android, in turn - he cleverly traps him, actually, beneath a psi-net. No, it's not explained any more fully than that.

A moment later, the unspoken but perfectly clear thought-words came. "Quite clever, earthling, this trap. I underestimated you. I did not think your kind" - he said it as if speaking of lowly worms - "capable of such psi refinements."

"You can skip the lordly attitude," snapped back Hillory. "Now, just who are you? And I might remind you that if you don't care to answer my questions, I'll just drop the net lower so that it collapses in on itself and leaves no space for you . . ."

"No need for childish threats," came back scornfully, yet a bit fearfully. "Why should I not answer you? I am Jorzz!"

The name had been given pompously, flourishingly.

To recap: Jorzz announced himself scornfully, fearfully, pompously, and flourishingly. (To anyone who can manage to say something in all of those adverbial states simultaneously, I will send a box of chocolates.) Now, not to give too much away, but Jorzz somehow escapes the fiendishly clever psi wire bag trap thingy in which Hillory had imprisoned him, and escapes - to attack once again, this time as a yeti on the top of Mount Everest. In case anyone's wondering, Jorzz finally finds Mount Everest by following Hillory there. Score one for Jorzz!

Hillory and his companions find a strange black cube on the mountain, and then dive for another one in the ocean. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned that they are being assisted in this search by a supercomputer named Brains, who scans the locations of the black cubes from a metal "scroll" found in the saucer. I will not sport with your intelligence or patience by transcribing any of those passages here. Be that as it may, Jorzz, this time in the guise of a half-astrally projected sea serpent, is defeated again - with the second cube almost in his semi-ghostly jaws.

The third and fourth cubes - thankfully, there are no more - are found in a cave in Africa and in space, respectively. Things seem to be proceeding according to plan. However, at the last moment, Jorzz takes over an indestructible android and hypnotizes all of Hillory's scientific colleagues, including the charming girl-technician, Merry - and it appears that this final plot twist has undone our heroes.

Not so. I'm sure the suspense is killing anyone who's stayed awake through this recap of Hillory's terrifying adventures, and so: spoiler alert. The end of the story comes when Jorzz, whose name I think might be one of the best in sci-fi ever, is thwarted in his plans to reconstruct his alien planet and take over the galaxy. Is he, you may ask, thwarted by Hillory's ingenious use of science? By some sort of deus ex machina, or perhaps, under these circumstances, a deus ex saucer? No.

Jorzz meets his end when, in attempting to use a time-shaker pistol (don't ask) of his own design and construction, he shoots himself. He was, it transpires, holding the device . . . backwards. Conveniently, the time-shaker pistol was the only weapon capable of destructing the indestructible robot, and thus the human race is saved from what actually sounded like a pretty mellow and generally bearable fate.

While it's entirely irrelevant to the (quote unquote) plot of The Mind From Outer Space, there's one more excerpt worth including here, if for no other reason than to give any environmentalist blog readers an immediate coronary.

Hillory and his companions go to the Amazon jungle, at one point, on a wild goose chase - they have been (temporarily) misled by the fiendish Jorzz. Hillory is moved to comment on the geographical region, as they approach in their psi-bubble (again, don't ask).

"Brazil has done a good job of clearing some of the jungleland and converting it into cattle ranges," commented Hillory. "But much of it is unreclaimed. It's still the wildest patch of tropical jungle on earth."

And there you have it. Let's hear it for Eando Binder, Jorzz, and
The Mind From Outer Space: one star for quality, five stars for awesomeness.

1 comment:

  1. I note that Jorzz said “No need for childish threats” scornfully and fearfully, and then delivered his name pompously, flourishingly. That is not quite the same thing as being scornful, fearful, pompous, and flourishing simultaneously.

    As to the offer of a box of chocolates to anyone who can express him- or herself in all these ways simultaneously, what sort of proof would you accept, and how much chocolate is actually on offer?