Science fiction fandom seldom agrees on anything, but if there’s one thing that unites them it’s that the worst novel ever written is Galaxy 666 by Pel Torro (the pseudonym used by Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe).
Although mostly lost to the annals of time, we’ve talked about this historical gem before. What is it about this book that makes it so memorable?
For starters, check out this stellar prose (and by “stellar” I mean “laughable”):
There were pinkish streaks among the rock, and it seemed that some of the chromatic tint from the atmosphere owed its origin to these. There were a number of white veins in the rock, which bore some kind of resemblance to marble, but the majority of it was grey. It gave an over-all impression of greyness streaked with pink and white, rather than an over-all impression of whiteness tinged with grey and pink, or an over-all impression of pink streaked with grey and white.
Greyness was the dominant background shade; neither black nor white, but something midway between the two. It was a light rather than a dark grey, yet could never have been so light that it might be mistaken for an off white.
The things were odd, weird, grotesque. There was something horribly uncustomary and unwonted about them. There were completely unfamiliar. Their appearance was outlandish and extraordinary. There was something quite phenomenal about them. They were supernormal; they were unparalleled; they were unexampled. The shape of the aliens was singular in every sense. They were curious, odd, queer, peculiar and fantastic, and yet when every adjective had been used on them, when every preternatural epithet had been applied to their aberrant and freakish appearance, when everything that could be said about such eccentric, exceptional, anomalous creatures had been said, they still remained indescribable in any concrete terms.
Ok, sure…the book is a product of its time (1963), written in an era of high-speed pulp-science fiction production. But who really cares when it’s stuffed full of gold like that?
What’s even more surprising than the book’s original publication is that it was reprinted several times. One of those reprints sported the Star Trek Enterprise ripoff cover you see in the middle image above.
Is this book so bad that’s it’s worth paying or that $40 for a copy? I wouldn’t pay that much even if they were someone else’s dollars. (I did luck out and find it used for about $2 — hilarity ensued.)
Thankfully, The wonder that is Galaxy 666 is not yet destined to be forgotten. Not only has Gateway converted this to eBook late last year, but there will now be a podcast based on it.
The Galaxy 666 Podcast is set to premier on iTunes, Tumblr and WordPress Halloween night 2014. I can think of nothing more scary. And I can’t wait.