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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.


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Global Warming Of The Brain

29 Sep

September 29, 2018

I had a conversation with a coworker today.

COWORKER: Wow! Did you see all that rain this morning?
ME: Uh huh.

You may already notice that I am not holding up my end of the conversation. That’s because I was clearly and obviously writing a report when this inspiring talk began.

COWORKER: I couldn’t believe it. It was coming down like cats and dogs.
ME: Yeah, it was bad.

I said that without looking up as I continued to type. I hoped she would get the hint.

COWORKER: I wonder if it is raining in North Carolina.

This gave me pause. Was she about to hop on a flight to Raleigh? I slowed my typing just a bit, looked up, and said-

ME: North Carolina?
COWORKER: You know, where they had the hurricane. Can you imagine if it rained after a hurricane. They had enough rain to last!
ME: Oh. (Back to typing.)
COWORKER: I bet it was supposed to be sunny today.
ME: Huh?
COWORKER: You know. The original plan.

No, I did not know. I am not privy to whatever plans she was speaking of. Were they classified? Were they plans made by God? Who was it that had made plans for it to be sunny today? Does Mother Nature have a file I don’t know about? And am I in it?

ME: Whose original plan?
COWORKER: Nature. Or God. Whichever one is in charge of the weather. I bet when the season began and they mapped out the weather this was supposed to be sunny. We had a lot of rain recently so I’m sure this was a going to be a sunny day.

To save us both a little time, let me explain what it took me precious minutes and even more precious brain cells to get out of her. You see, at the beginning of every season (Winter, Summer, Fall, Spring, and Autumn, in that order according to her) the weather forces are mapped out by Nature and/or God (I never pinned her down on that) for the next few months. The temperature each day is planned. Weathermen figured it all out. That’s why the Farmer’s Almanac can tell you years in advance when to plant crops. And, she said conspiratorially, there’s big money in being a weatherman.

I can get behind the idea of a Mother Nature like this.

Well, I’m an educated man. At one point I was on the track to a career in science. (That’s true. No sarcasm here.) I understand what drives weather patterns and I can tell you, unequivocally, that Mother Nature does not sit down and over tea and scones with God write out in her little black book the temperature and humidity for every day of the year.

But to her point, if today was originally penciled in by the Theoi Meteoroi to be a sunny day, why was it raining?

COWORKER: Global warming. It ruins every nice day. This was going to be a sunny day but someone gave it a shot of global warming and all the plans went to pot.

Ah. I see. But what I said was-

ME: I don’t think it works that way.
COWORKER: Sure it does. Why do you think they had that hurricane last week? Global warming keeps creating these hurricanes and pretty soon there will be nothing left on Earth except all these hurricanes we keep having and volcanoes.

Say what you want about global warming, it isn’t germane to this blog, but global warming has been blamed for making stronger hurricanes, not creating them. By a total coincidence, I came across an article just the day before which stated just that, and I brought it up online (saving my report because I never was going to go back and finish it at this rate) and showed her.

COWORKER: I don’t have time to read that.

Yes, just like I didn’t have time for this conversation.

So to recap, fairies put nuts in chocolate bars and nice weather is all mapped out in advance by Mother Earth but we get rain because “someone” injects global warming into the atmosphere without warning.

You learn something new every day.

 

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