Post by benedictjjones on Nov 19, 2008 15:29:44 GMT
"When Steadman agreed to investigate the disappearance of a young mossad agent, he had no idea he would be drawn into a malevolent conspiracy of neo-nazi cultists bent on unleashing an age-old unholy power on an unsuspecting world-power rising out of a demonic relic from man's dark primal past to threaten humanity with horror beyond any nightmare..."
took me a while to find this one but i picked it up in a little second hand bookshop opposite south harrow tube in a small 'market'. worth the wait and i did enjoy it but several bits grated with me. 1-the 'remote controlled tank' - no! not scary and didn't work for me. it was almost as though it had been tossed intot he narrative for no real reason. 2-steadman and the haemaphrodite. when he thinks that having it off with her/he would be the worst thing ever and destroy him utterly. hmmmm i'm sure there are worse tortures etc that could be visited on him (he's obviously never read a lot of the books on here!!!) BUT it does have an undead nazi leader, the spear of destiny, an international conspiracy and herberts usual love interest. verdict - ABOVE PAR
Not my favourite of his by any means - his heroes were already getting too samey for my liking - but the scene early on where Steadman is removing the nails from the crucified girl has stayed with me in much the same way as the nastier vignettes in The Fog and The Rats.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Post by benedictjjones on Nov 20, 2008 0:44:13 GMT
^lovely cover! i have the much later mass mass market reprint that theyre still using today. agreed regarding the sameyness of his 'leading men', i think i put a note about that in the thread about 'the dark'. that's probably why '48 is one of his better books as the 'hero' is a bit more unhinged than his usual super men.
edit-oh and i really do need to get myself a scanner
Post by thecoffinflies on Nov 27, 2008 0:29:35 GMT
Oh, the Spear...salad days... I read this when I was eleven! and even including Himmler at the end and the most protracted sex scene I'd ever read, it was, yep, that crucifixion that made the biggest impression on my young mind.
This sentence haunted me most: "But he wondered why her tongue had been cut out."
Post by franklinmarsh on Apr 18, 2012 12:27:49 GMT
“One must not underestimate the commercial attraction of the rubbish which I have attempted to describe. The book is written with much inventiveness and a racy flow of language and incident and the numerous scenes of violence exercise a strong appeal to certain readers. The Defendants novels have enjoyed great financial success. Mr Herbert does not think of himself as a serious writer.”
Hats off to Justice Brightman, quoted from the Ravenscroft vs Herbert (1980) court case in which Trevor Ravenscroft took The Herb to court over plagiarism, copying and other silliness. Trev had churned out a book called The Spear Of Destiny, about the spear that pierced the side of Christ producing blood and water, and been passed down from megalomaniac to megalomaniac throughout history, as a kind of accessory to plans for world domination. Shame the enterprising publicity wallahs at NEL didn’t use that quote on The Spear.
Herbert had apparently appropriated some of Ravenscroft’s tome for his fifth book, a boffo potboiler concerning neo-Nazis attempting another bash at the thousand year Reich via British right wing politics.(I’ve just read a 90s umpteenth reprint and am fairly sure that it credited TR – must check this. I’ve read TSOD and it’s quite entertaining, if credibility straining, and I still think it’s most important contribution to anything was to provide Kirk Brandon with a third band name. “In your discos…in your little towns… we will be comin’….read the book by Trevor Ravenscroft….”)
As someone who’s adolescence reached its peak in the late 1970s/early 1980s and attended a few football matches and punk rock concerts*, it’s quite startling how true this rings. You’d think after WWII and all the Commando/Victor/Valiant comics and wartime heroism books/films (such as Where Eagles Dare etc) that the spectre of Nazism would forever be banished , but it’s quite remarkable how the breakdown of social mores (bloody hippies!), the race/immigration problems and some dubious popular culture signposts (Visconti’s The Damned, Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (in which Dirk wore white sox) and even Bob Fosse’s Cabaret) could make Nazism positively glamorous. Heck, the odd looking bunch could even be funny via Monty Python’s Flying Circus imagining Mr Hilter, Ron Vibbentrop and Heinrich Bimmler stuck in a Somerset guest house, planning a new start via the North Minehead by-election.
The rise of the National Front to Britain’s fourth most popular political party before the exposure of their leadership as out-and-out Nazis, and the appropriation of a watered-down version of some of their less extreme policies by Maggie Thatcher’s desperate for election Conservatives bears out what was happening in Herbert’s novel. Of course there was a raft of neo-Nazi thrillers at this time. Previously, Adam Hall’s Quiller had faced fascists on the rise in The Quiller memorandum, and Vault regular the revitalised Nick Carter’s nemesis Judas was from the swastika brigade.
The Spear faced stiff contemporary competition from such greats as William Goldman’s Marathon Man and Ira Levin’s delirious The Boys From Brazil – 94 cloned liddle Hitlers! Neo-Nazis, ex-Nazis, former Nazis and unrepentant Nazis were charging around the world trying to make sure that the events that shaped Schickelgruber’s life were replicated in the environments of their duplicates. If you’ve seen the fillum, you surely can’t forget the British mini-Adolf – answering the door in his school blazer (insert joke here) and quipping “We are not receiving today, you arse.” Comedy gold! Even Robert Ludlum provided a labyrinthine The Holcroft Covenant – an almost plausible bankrolling of the Fourth Reich. Re Benedict’s comments on the ‘radio-controlled’ tank’ SPOILER – I think that later in the book it’s hinted that the Chieftain was being driven by the spirit of the resurrected Reichsfuhrer himself. Which is plainly ridiculous, but adds another layer.
Having led a sheltered life, I found the hermaphroditic Kristina extremely disturbing as a yout’, but rather like Herbert’s weaving of Wagner’s Parsifal into the story.
The use of Himmler, rather than Hitler, differentiates the story from its peers slightly, but overall the book is really more of a thriller with vaguely occult and horror overtones than an out and out horror story. No bad thing.
*For an outrageous take on this era - see Guy N Smith's Sabat 2 : The Blood Merchants - NEL deliria from 1982.
You’d think after WWII and all the Commando/Victor/Valiant comics and wartime heroism books/films (such as Where Eagles Dare etc) that the spectre of Nazism would forever be banished , but it’s quite remarkable how the breakdown of social mores (bloody hippies!), the race/immigration problems and some dubious popular culture signposts (Visconti’s The Damned, Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (in which Dirk wore white sox) and even Bob Fosse’s Cabaret) could make Nazism positively glamorous.
Sometimes I think that the transformation of the Nazis into ridiculous carricature villians in anglo-american pop-culture has been a gift to all those Nazi psychos currently spreading like cancer. Hard to take them seriously.
You forgot Star Trek: Voyager, Indiana Jones, CSI, Dr.Who, not to mention tons of comics from Captain America to the Invaders.
Still, I liked the novel. Back then I could read a Herbert in no time at all, today I still haven´t finished Crickley Hall.
Brilliant post, Franklin (hello - where you bin?). That really does sum up what it was like to be in your teens at that time, and the way that fascism was creeping back in (some might say that aspects of it have succeeded). And Spear Of Destiny - being awkward, I always liked Theatre of Hate a bit better, but have very fond memories of a Hammersmith Clarendon gig with Spear headlining, Blood & Roses on first, with a drum machine and dry ice Sisters Of Mercy sandwiched between B&R and UK Decay...
Anyway, Andy has an interesting point about how nazi soldiers became clowns in US&UK culutre and how that maybe means that the far right were not taken so seriously. I don't know about any of you who are the same age as me, but I grew up with the Victor/Valiant stuff and old movies on TV where George Formby, The Crazy Gang and Will Hay stuffed comedy Hitlers, which were obviously great for morale when made but do have the danger of turning him into a loveable dumb cluck rather than a twisted arsehole (a painful medical condition, I've heard).
It's the difference between satire and broad comedy, and a danger in reducing your enemy to a human and cope-with-able level by laughing at them. Overall, I think the rise of the far right in the UK then was because it wasn't identified with the German National Socialist Party - I remember a lot of propaganda stuff from the NF about their policies being WHY we fought and won the war, etc. which is patently absurd when looked at in detail*. But it did use rhetoric and the war to blind people to the less savoury aspects (er, that'll be 99% of it at least) of their policy. A lot of the middle-aged people who voted NF and had lived through the war as children or adults would have been turned right off if the policy had been identified as Hitlerite. I might be optimistic there, but as there were still lots of 'two world war one world cup' type jokes, tieing the two together would have been instant death for the NF - who managed to get a real toehold, just as the BNP have, by exploiting the recession.
I think it may not have blunted perceptions of the far right, but it did make connecting it with the National Socialists of the 20's, 30's & 40's a sword with two very distinct razored edges.
(* growing up in Tottenham you got to know a lot about this, as there was a lot of tension and the NF had a power base in the district (as Moseley's men had in the 1930's) - it was in Tottenham that the NF 'martyr' Albert Marriner had his heart attack when an NF meting was attacked. There was a lot to absorb living there at 16/17)
, I think the rise of the far right in the UK then was because it wasn't identified with the German National Socialist Party
As far as my understanding - and second-hand knowledge - goes, they are in its core absolutly different animals. The roots are different.
The rise of the far right in Germany in the 20s was a direct product of the lost war. Disgruntled veterans and lots of middle and upper class people which despised the idea of democracy and hated the communists with a passion. Hitler and his band of sociopaths didn´t exist in a vacuum; he had important support in parts of the upper-class like the right-wing press-tzar Hugenberg and others like him which wanted to destroy the young democracy. These guys were no Nazis in the actual sense, they just wanted to use them for their own purposes. Tlak about shortsigthedness.
I don´t know much about Moseley, just watched the odd docu, but I guess the idea of facism with its seemingly order in chaotic times was attractive to a lot of people in foreign lands just like the idea of stalinist comunismn was. It is my impression that in the UK the already crumbling empire did a lot to destabilise morale. Not to mention the economic woes of the time.
Still one has to see that a lot of the more delusional aspects of the german brand of nazismn, all this occult nonsense - which never was for the majority of that society - , has risen from the underground into mass-culture. Which is baffling.
It is odd to think that if you knew nothing about WWII and the decade before, pop culture would have you believe that the Nazis had everyone acting like they were in a Dennis Wheatley novel, whereas in truth the occult stuff was virtually unknown outside the heirarchy. I blame Indiana Jones myself... well, and a goodfew others...
Although the rise of the NF's popularity came from immigration rather communism, it has more in common than you might think. The NF played on the idea of an invasion from outside that would erode the working people's lifestyle and democracy, when in fact their core policy was about elitism and a state that would erode freedoms. Thatcher took parts of this, making it hard for workers to strike legitimately and espousing the individual above society (she famously said 'there is no such thing as society'), the subtext being of course that the individual has to have power and money to rise and this encourages and reinforces elitism. The window dressing was different, and the fact that they came from different eras and cultures encourages this, but in essence National Socialism and the National Front were working to very similar agendas. There was a lot of Nazi festish in the NF (and indeed in the BNP), but this was played down as it was too soon after WWII and all the pop culture discussed earlier to bring this into play. I know more than I'd like to about the NF and BNP, which is a bit of 'know your enemy', as with many anarchists I know. They loved the Third Reich, they just had to play it down in the media and PR - which of course means it gets forgotten as most docmentary and history tends to source the mainstream media more than the hidden literature of the movement itself.
Which is why your assumption is correct based on what generally gets spouted about the period!
And let's not forget just how big the NF were back then. In parliamentary terms they were never going to get anywhere as a lot of their core support were dedicated non-voters. However, they did alarming well percentage wise, particuarly in local council elections (which the BNP have also concentrated on) by picking up on very localised concerns that could mask the bigger agenda.
I get what you're saying about the upper class and press barons in the thirties - there were private armies being assembled with a view to a coup if Labour got in again in '79 (though how realistic these armies were in practise is debateable), and if Thatcher hadn't co-opted some of the more acceptable pieces of the NF agenda for her brand of Conservatism and dragged the party further right, I do wonder if Murdoch, Beaverbrook (who had previous with Hitler, of course) and other press mavens may not have tentatively extended support to the NF.
I was watching a documentary on the 70's on the BBC this week and the irony struck me that in finally striking for pay rises they should have struck for five years before,the miners and Arthur Scargill in particular by bringing Heath to his knees (and not Labour's Wilson as it might have been) and more or less losing him the '74 general election, they actually paved the way for Thatcher and the right... and their own demise. Which they didn't deserve. But timing is everything, I suppose.
Sorry, got off the point there, but in a sense that climate was part of what fed into the NF being prevalent in the late seventies.
Ah, but that Colonel Klink, eh? And that Mr Bimmler... Have I atoned for getting serious yet? Will Dem ever forgive me!
Post by franklinmarsh on Apr 19, 2012 15:03:15 GMT
Also interesting was the popularity of the Sven Hassel novels. As a switch on stiff upper lipped Brit officers and cheery chirpy Cockernee/Scots/Welsh/Northern Tommies going to their deaths, here were German troops who swore and had sex as well as committing despicable (and exciting) acts of violence (in the context of war), and who didn’t necessarily agree with their leaders (with the exception of rabid party followers such as Julius Heide). Us schoolkids sympathised with them (unthinkable before).
I can remember being quite surprised at a documentary (World In Action?) that showed footage of NF leader John Tyndall in a fascist uniform, and which included secret filming at a meeting where he adopted a Hitlerian mode of speech. The far right’s acquisition of the Union Jack was another sore point as far as many were concerned when they found out just where these would be despots were coming from.
The huge skinhead revival, ironically on the back of the two-tone ska explosion – developed to foster racial tolerance and understanding- helped provide foot soldiers, and the riots in Lewisham and Southall during 1977-79 got the Anti-Nazi League and Rock against Racism onto the agenda.
McLaren and Westwood’s somewhat misguided DESTROY t-shirt didn’t help matters, but the swastika during the early days of punk was as shocking as green hair and bondage trousers. When young men started wearing it in earnest as well as marching with Union Jacks, and losers like Skrewdriver (who pre-empted two-tone with their skin fashion but woefully misjudged what was to come) adopted an all out Nazi viewpoint, something was going to give.
On a Saturday night in July 1981 I went to see Stiff Little Fingers at Bracknell Sports Centre. One of the Windsor punks turned up and said to me gleefully “Guess where the 4-Skins are playing tonight? Southall!” I forgot about this until the next day when I saw my mum who said reprovingly “I hope you weren’t at that gig where there was all that trouble.” What could she mean? The fact that the local community had risen up against what they saw as an invading force (unlike the previous riot) perhaps proved that the tide had turned.
Pulps - don't forget MI5's plot against Harold Wilson, and that one of those fairly secret armies was being set up by Reggie Perrin's brother-in-law.....