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My Review of The Whispering Gorilla, by Wilcox and Reed

8 Dec

December 8, 2018

The Whispering Gorilla by Don Wilcox & Return of the Whispering Gorilla by David Reed.

Wow, where to begin?

First, if you have not checked them out, look at the other titles published by Armchair Fiction. They publish a huge number of stories from the pulp era.

As for this book, it may be the best story of a gorilla with the transplanted brain of a man fighting Nazis that I have ever read. On the other hand it is also the worst. (I’ve only read one, of course.)

And that really does sum up this book. The first story is short, about 79 pages, but it is a fast read and deceptive. It reaches 79 pages only because it is printed in a larger font than the longer second story. However, it is the better of the two. It is written in a simple and straightforward style but it is surprisingly realistic. Although the Whispering Gorilla talks like a man and dresses and acts like a man, he is still in the body of a gorilla. A sillier story (and yes, I know how silly this already sounds) would have him simply accepted as a talking gorilla. But that never happens in this book. Everyone suspects he is a very eccentric man in a gorilla suit to hide his identity. Not for a second does anyone think he is a real gorilla. As for the plot, the gorilla continues his previous human life as a crusading journalist (whom everyone thinks is a man in a gorilla suit, for some reason) and brings down a ring of war profiteers, before apparently dying at the hands of the police. Ridiculous as it sounds, it is a fun tale.

The second, longer story, is written by another, arguably better, author. I say “arguably” because while the writing is more complex and sophisticated than in the first, the plot is ridiculously laughable. The Whispering Gorilla did not die at the end of the first book but was secretly transported back to Africa to recover at the home of the scientist who created him. The problem is that he is slowly losing his humanity, while also becoming leader of all the jungle apes. Well, if it stopped there, this could be a somewhat interesting variation on Tarzan. Problem is the author didn’t stop there. The Whispering Gorilla is not the main character in this story. Neither is the scientist, who had a large part in the first book. Here, the scientist is bed-ridden and does little at all. The main plot is about a group of Nazis who plan to train gorillas to command submarines to sink allied destroyers. In the jungle!

I’ll let that sink in. A group of Nazis who plan to train the gorillas to command submarines to sink allied destroyers.

To that end, they build silly gorilla-sized ships and submarines on wheels and ride them around the jungle like oversized tricycles to teach the gorillas maneuvers that will destroy the enemy ships. This takes only a couple of days, believe it or not,  and the head Nazi is ready to put his plan into action. To say it doesn’t work is really not necessary, is it? The rest of the plot is about resistance fighters and a beautiful girl, with whom the gorilla -of course- falls in love.

This was certainly one of the stranger books I’ve read. I really enjoyed the first story. It was a great example of 40’s pulp fiction. The second story had delusions of grandeur and never lived up to the fun of the first. I’m glad I read it and I’ll probably reread the first story again, but not the second.


Gilligan’s Island Sinks

23 Feb

February 23, 2018

Reposting a personal favorite.

As reported by the Associated Press, May 5th 1981.

 

Originally published May 26, 2015

Here’s a news story you may have missed:

Howell fortune

Here’s the text:

VOLCANO ERUPTS, SINKS GILLIGAN’S ISLAND
Thurston Howell III Fortune Feared Lost

AP News Service May 5th, 1981

A volcanic eruption which sunk a small South Pacific island may also have sunk the fortunes of one of America’s most celebrated millionaires.

After weeks of oceanic tremors, scientists confirm that a volcano erupted on the island of Palu Makalu, popularly known as “Gilligan’s Island” since the discovery and rescue of the survivors of the S.S. Minnow shipwreck in 1978. The island is now submerged in the depths off the continental shelf.

Among the survivors was eccentric millionaire Thurston Howell III, who made his fortune in the stock market in the post-war era. He later founded Howell Industries, which produced everything from ticker-tape to typewriter ribbons. Although profits had been declining in later years, due to the changing of technology, he recently doubled his assets after winning a bet on the Harlem Globetrotters to beat their robotic duplicates, in a match played at his resort on the island.

A spokesman for Mr. Howell released the following statement:

“The rumors of the loss of the Howell fortune are greatly exaggerated. When the island sank, it took with it 55 trunks of cash and bonds, which Thurston Howell III buried on the island to keep it safely away from the constant misadventures of Gilligan. However, Mr. Howell has invested heavily in new technologies, and we are confident that his acquisition of controlling interest in Betamax tape and 8-track cartridge corporations will position Howell Industries for future success in the 80’s and beyond.”

The other castaways, reacting to the loss of their island home of 14 years, universally blamed Gilligan for causing the eruption with one of his silly blunders.

In a related story, scientists say the Palu Makalu tribe of native headhunters may now be extinct.

 

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