Meteor House Press announces a wonderfully strange, wild new novel and and a contest! And even offers a free excerpt below!
The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange
The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange
The exploits of an apeman test pilot
By Rhys Hughes
The world has never seen an aviator quite like Stringent Strange. Half man, half ape, half badly added fraction, he can fly anything with wings and many things without. Under the mentorship of the unorthodox genius Professor Tobias Crinkle, our hairy hero soon gets much more than he bargains for when he finds himself up against a fiendish Nazi plot to invade and conquer America before the war has even begun!
Fortunately there exists an invention that can help him fight back against the warlike scoundrels, but the consequences of using it will propel him into even greater peril, into an alternative future where the themes and tropes of early magazine science fiction are menacingly real and coexist in perfect disharmony! Into a bracing reality where the only weapons he can rely on are the three special abnormalities he was born with…
Come and join Stringent Strange in a stupendous, mysterious, inventive adventure set in a far-flung time When Pulps Collide!
In addition to buying the book, which will be a signed limited edition, customers can order a “deleted scene” which Rhys will write specifically for them. It will not appear in the book but will printed out from the “manuscript” and mailed with the book. In this (short) scene the reader will be killed by the author of their choice in the arena as they battle as gladiators. Here is an example: http://meteorhousepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/deleted1.pdf
Anyone who orders a deleted scene before the end of November (Two days left!), will be Tuckerized as a character in “The Further Fangs of Suet Pudding.”
Go on a wild ride and learn all about THE ABNORMALITIES OF STRINGENT STRANGE! Start with the excerpt below!
The Abnormalities of Stringent Strange
THE PLANE TRUTH
Sunlight flashed on the wings of the single-engine Northrop Gamma as it banked around the small cumulus that was the only cloud in the sky. The monoplane performed a final barrel roll before coming in to land and the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 14-cylinder radial engine droned comfortably as the pilot adjusted the fuel/air mix. The overinflated wheels bounced once on the hot tarmac and the propeller clattered to a standstill. Then the pilot emerged and rubbed his gloved hands.
“She’s a beauty, no doubt about it, doc. Handles like a French whore. I mean that the frills serve a purpose…”
“I comprehend the allusion,” sighed Crinkle.
“Another winner, in my opinion.”
The pilot removed his goggles and grinned. Stringent Strange was tall and muscular with a manly chin and the clear blue eyes of a hero. He was exactly the sort of fellow that girls should go wild over, but in fact he had to spend an unhealthy percentage of his test pilot’s salary on prostitutes. It was his body that was the cause of this discrepancy. It was hirsute beyond belief, the torso of a gorilla balanced on the legs of a giant lemur; and the hairs were malodorous in the extreme.
“My worst fear has been confirmed,” continued Professor Crinkle, as he rubbed his bleary eyes, “but there’s nothing we can do about it. Jack is the winner and that’s a plain fact.”
“Knowing when to quit is a useful talent, doc!”
“Yes, I suppose so, dear boy.”
Stringent began walking back to the control tower. He was in a good mood but he tried to hide his exuberance for the sake of his mentor, who trailed behind him with pouting lips. When a man’s dreams are shattered in front of him, it’s poor taste to whistle and skip. Tobias Crinkle, Ph.D., had devoted almost twenty-five years to the cutting edge of the aviation industry but dedication isn’t enough on its own. Genius counts for more and his main rival had plenty of that.
His main rival had a name. Jack Northrop.
Although Stringent felt empathy for Crinkle, his recent flight brimmed him with an almost sexual joy and he strode ahead rapidly, not caring to be brought down by the glum expression and nihilistic mutterings of the disappointed professor; but at the entrance to the control tower he turned for a last glance of the gleaming Northrop Gamma, its aerodynamic spats giving the airplane a curiously anthropomorphic appearance, like a jazz musician performing a primal dance.
Stringent’s psychology wasn’t quite that of a normal man and he often saw resemblances that no one else could perceive, or would even want to, but on this occasion he could be forgiven his conceit, for the machine did actually have the semblance of a speakeasy reveler. Three steps at a time he climbed the spiral stairway to the control room and grinned at the man who sat on a leather chair in front of a transmitter. This man had been in constant radio contact during the flight.
“A beautiful plane, Mr. Northrop,” Stringent said.
The seated man nodded once. “I’m glad you like it. I do feel bad about Tobias, but it’s a cutthroat business.”
“That’s true. We appreciate the situation.”
“Well, Jack,” cried Professor Crinkle as he emerged into the room. “It only remains for me to throw in the towel and admit I’m beaten. Stringent here says your new Gamma is something really special and I know better than to ever distrust his word on anything connected with aviation. So I’m going to quit the business and sell up.”
“That’s a shame,” said Jack. “You’re a good designer.”
The professor smiled wistfully. “Sure, but not a patch on you, and I’m not too proud to acknowledge the obvious. My own rival prototype, the Crinkle Crisp, just isn’t up to scratch. Sure, it’s faster than diarrhea in a Malay Peninsula missionary, but it doesn’t have the maneuverability of your model. Look, I don’t have a towel on me, just a pocket handkerchief, so I ought to throw that in instead.”
He bunched up the square of filthy cloth and hurled it at Jack’s head. It missed and struck the wall behind: a wholly symbolic gesture. The mucus acted like glue and it remained stuck on the wall. Stringent thought about wrenching it off, then decided not to.
Jack Northrop leaned back in his chair until the leather creaked and he made a pyramid with his fingertips. “Listen, Tobias, my new Gamma is a superb small cargo plane and does everything it should to make it the best of its kind in that category, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon all your ongoing projects. I’m extremely interested in some of your proposed innovations. The Flying Tail, for example. An aircraft without fuselage or wings, cutting drag to the minimum!”
Professor Crinkle shook his head. “I suspect you’re just flattering me, Jack. Agreed, my Flying Tail is a pretty neat idea, but the tests I’ve run on miniature models prove that it’s very unstable. And you’ve got your own low drag project, the Flying Wing.”
Jack licked his lips and lowered his voice.
“Yes, that’s a particular favorite of mine. But I’m going to come clean with the pair of you. There’s something even more special in the works. A stratospheric cruiser with a highly experimental propulsion system that’ll generate vast amounts of free power if it works properly. Forgive me if I don’t say much more at this stage.”
“You never cease to amaze me, Jack,” said Crinkle.
The leather creaked again as the occupant of the chair stood up. “Time is passing rapidly and I have an engagement in Los Angeles this evening, so I should make my farewells now.”
Stringent nodded. “Thanks for inviting us over, Mr. Northrop, and for letting me fly your Gamma.” He turned to the professor. “I know you are sore disappointed, doc, but at least you’ve been saved pumping more cash into that ridiculous Crinkle Crisp.”
“Yes, that was a rather large favor, dear boy.”
“Think nothing of it,” said Jack.
“Keep us updated about your triumphs, will you?” asked Crinkle. His reddening eyes blinked rapidly.
“Of course I will, Tobias. Maybe I’ll see you again before 1932 is out, and if you decide to let Stringent go, there’ll always be a job for him here. Have a safe journey back to…?”
“Tallahassee. That’s where we’re based.”
Jack’s eyebrows shot up. “In Florida? But I always believed you had headquarters somewhere in Nevada.”
“We did. Then a freak sandstorm destroyed all our hangars. We had no choice but to relocate and now we’re on the far side of the continent. Rent is lower and the climate isn’t so harsh, plus I prefer the food and the local Seminole workers are reliable.”
“And I enjoy swamp whores,” added Stringent.
There was an awkward pause.
“Ahem… Yes, well, many factors contribute to the desirability of the Florida Panhandle as a suitable location for our operations, not that there will be any further products rolling off my production line. My intention is to cancel all Crinkle Industry programs. I’ve had it with aviation, Jack. I can’t even face getting in a plane to return home. I think I’ll take a train instead. Is that fine by you, Stringy?”
Stringent nodded dubiously. “I guess so.”
Jack Northrop pulled on his coat and perched a hat on his head. “If I’d known you had to come so far, I wouldn’t have invited you over just for a few hours and a solitary test flight. Damn it, Florida’s two thousand miles distant and by locomotive it’s a monstrous and vaporous journey. And I’m not referring to California when I honestly point out that you don’t look in any fit state to go back right now.”
“I amrather tired,” admitted the professor.
Jack puffed out his cheeks. “In that case, why not spend the night here on the airfield? There’s a cabin on the edge of the runway with a bunk bed and a kitchen and other facilities. I had it built so I could sometimes work late without having to go home.”