For some of us, it's only a matter of time spent within the confines of intellectual pursuits, such as classic and new wave science fiction, before rivulets of grey matter slowly leak from our ears. I'm of that ilk, and therefore after reading Bester's Stars My Destination followed by the horse-crushing sized World Treasury of Science Fiction I decided it was enough for now. So when my father brought over piles of old books I read years ago for the sole purpose of transferring crap from his attic to my attic, I went through and selected an old, pulp horror thriller called Slime.
John Halkin is of the natural-horror school of writing. Slime comes to us from the UK, so the text is laced with word uses that some might not be familiar with, but being I have this habit of hanging out online with crusty Brits and Scots and have UK writers of my own for Legends, I barely noticed. But just remember - a torch is a flashlight, a loo is the bathroom, a lift is an elevator, a lorry is a truck - etc. ad nauseum. Frankly, in the context of the writing, if you can't figure out what everything is from the usage alone, then go find that old copy of See Spot Run and start from scratch.
By now we've seen tons of horrors based on the natural world. Snakes (just wait until I review Venom, another nat-horror-cheezeball in my pile), bugs, sharks, bats, birds, tigers and lions and bears (oh my!). Hell, one of the top rated B-movie horror flicks of all time, Them, was nothing more than a bunch of ants on a whopping bout of steroids. This time, the great extinction of the human race flows in on the waves from the sea, barreling into the coast riding the tides and plopping their pink, luminescent, flesh eating bodies on relentless hordes of holiday goers along the coast of Britain. I speak of jellyfish. They float up, slobber all over one another, leave glowing green slime trails everywhere and just kind of flop on people and go to town on the munch bus.
Now I'm sorry, this review is already reading to be juvenile and boorish, but I can't help it. It's the book. Jellyfish. Let me say it again. Jellyfish. Spooky, innit? But mind you, this is not your ordinary Portugese Man-O-War. These guys are a cut above the rest. I wouldn't have made it through if these disks of slime batted an eye at you and asked for a kiss, but they do stay true to the biology of the creatures. The only thing I can find redeeming in Slime is that at least it remains well within the realm of possibility. But they are a bit of, shall we say, a hardier breed. Their paralyzing and painful poison is, first off, quite a bit more than your normal everyday floating blob o' fun. Matter of fact, a single tentacular sting can incapacitate most people (with the exception of Our Heroes, who are pretty much clear from the beginning). And then they secrete, of course, their acidic digestive juices and just dissolve you. Pretty much that's it.
There are, however, three other key points that make these creatures the Super Jellyfish From Hell. First off, there's way more of them than there are of us. It got to the point where the RAF and Army had to be called in to deal with the miles upon miles of coastline that they've sloughed up on. Secondly, they have a hive style group intelligence. They know you're behind that particular door. And they'll mass against it - which brings us to the last point. They can move on land. No they don't bounce around like Flubber or fly about or anything - they kind of ripple and flop. And it is this point that I found silliest of all. They FLOP at you. They don't come after you, they kind of ooze in your general direction. Which brings us to the big downfall of this book (besides the juvenile prose, predictable storyline and ho hum plots - oh, and the sex scenes were terrible).
Now if you're in the water, that's one thing. But on land they were just as dangerous, according to Halkin, because they could ooze at you. Now oozing's pretty damn nasty if you ask me - but dangerous? They're on the ground, they're pretty much mounds of incapable muscle. So walk over them. Put on a big pair of nice boots and just walk. But it seems that in Halkin's world, EVERYONE is a clutz. London people are falling down, my fair readers, and when they do of course they get devoured like so much brisket. But I guess if you didn't have people falling over, it wouldn't be much of a horror book would it? Unfortunately, klutzes and jellyfish don't make much of a horror either.
And for a novel from England, it's not very genuine. Not a single person that I could remember got told to bugger off.
"Slime" by John Halkin
From Lorevan Publishing, Inc.
Copyright © 1984 by John Halkin