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Caribbean Crisis And The Cold War

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  • Caribbean Crisis And The Cold War

    I'm currently reading Caribbean Crisis (about half way through it) and it's clear there's a schizophrenic nature to the tale due to the rewrites that went on. One minute Sexton Blake is ambivalent about who should govern the small Caribbean island and the next it comes on all heavy with an anti Communist slant. The first couple of chapters are quite atmospheric and the next few are more standard detective-novel-style fiction. Still, an interesting curio. For those who don't have have the Sexton Blake Library original, it's available online (with a few typos) here:

    http://www.eclipse.co.uk/sweetdespis...ck/crisis.html
    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

  • #2
    The anti-communism was added by Bill Howard Baker, who was at that time a card-carrying member of Mosley's Fascists (renamed BUM -- the
    British Union Movement -- later renamed UM...). Union by that time meant Union with Europe in a vision of a united Europe not dissimilar to the fascist pre-war dream... That's why people of the left were suspicious of the idea at first. I washed my hands of it and I don't really claim the novel as my own, though it turns up in the bibliographies.
    I honestly think it was a better book before Bill got his hands on it.
    The 'locked bathysphere' idea, incidentally, was Jim Cawthorn's. I wrote the original. Bill reacted strongly to the pro-Castro slant of the story (which was what it was really all about). At that time many more of us were pro-Castro than we became later, when his dictatorial methods began to manifest themselves. Anyone who remembers pre-Castro Cuba will recall that even at the time most Americans were FOR Castro, because the Batista regime was known to be utterly corrupt. It can be hoped that after Castro we'll get a more moderate government which will be able to repair some of the damage he did (though keeping the good things he introduced, such as universal health care and education). I suspect that Castro would long ago have reached accomodation with the US if US politicians hadn't been so worried about the emigre vote, which tends to look back on the Batista years as a golden age (which it was, of course, for some of them).

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
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    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
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    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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    • #3
      By coincidence Mike I came across a letter of yours that appeared in Paperbacks, Pulps and Comics that shed a bit of light on the working practices of Bill Baker, including rejecting the original manuscripts of some of the Sexton Blakes and paying half the agreed fee or something. The letters page also included a short extract from a letter I wrote to PP&C, probably the only time my name will appear in print in the vicinity of yours!
      'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

      Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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      • #4
        Yes, Bill's habits of paying half and then paying himself the other half have been discussed elsewhere! But I discovered that Fleetway was full of people running scams -- frequently paying themselves for work which had never been written or was reprinted work which had already been paid for. I remember discovering this and going to Bill Baker to tell him about it. He told me to keep quiet, that it was none of my business. I was baffled -- until it dawned on me that they were ALL doing it. A couple of people left because of their disgust with the corruption. Ultimately, that's what initiated my own departure. Terrible thing to learn of Corruption Scandal in Battler Britton... Poor Buck Jones must have been rolling in his ashy grave. KNOCKOUT A KNOCK-OFF CLAIMS WHISTLE BLOWER!!

        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Steeplechaser
          I suspect that Castro would long ago have reached accomodation with the US if US politicians hadn't been so worried about the emigre vote, which tends to look back on the Batista years as a golden age (which it was, of course, for some of them).
          Right from the start, I reckon. There's an old Penguin called "Cuba; An American Tragedy" which shows how Cuba was pushed into the arms of the Soviets by the USA. Castro wasn't even a Communist when the revolution took place! It begs the question, though, could a more 'moderate' government preserve the education / health service etc? If I was poor in Latin America, I know where I'd rather live...
          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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          • #6
            Having now finished Caribbean Crisis, I wonder how the original played out, since the published version deals with Communist infiltration of the rebels. The crude anti communism and melodramatic language toward the end pretty much ruins the book. Mike, I think you are being overly modest with your comments on the original, it couldn't been any worse than the published version surely? It would be nice to be able to read the original and compare them.

            How much input (including actual writing) did Jim Cawthorn have on Caribbean Crisis? He teamed with you again as 'co-author' on The Distant Suns and notes in The Tanelorn Archives book (based on Bill Butler's papers) seem to indicate that you only wrote about a quarter of that one if the information is correct.
            'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

            Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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            • #7
              The message was entirely reversed, of course. Sadly, I don't have a manuscript of the original.
              Jim and I collaborated or worked together from my fanzine period onwards. He's one of my oldest friends. As with our movie The Land That Time Forgot Jim did the breakdown and I wrote the book. As I recall Jim did an outline for the 'locked bathysphere' storyline but the politics (original) were mine. I know Bill Baker thought that the depth the sphere went to sounded too low and increased them tenfold. If he left that in (and I don't have the book handy) it makes the whole thing ridiculous, of course. Frankly, I haven't read the book thoroughly because it was so cut about that I really couldn't be bothered. At the time it depressed me. I'm not much given to reading over any of my stuff, once it's gone to press. I just did an introduction for a book which was pretty thoroughly slashed to pieces, with its arguments lost, certain stuff inserted and so on. I'm always astonished by the arrogance of people who do this sort of thing, given the care with which I edited NW.
              The lack of respect is breathtaking. But once it's happened I disown the piece and move on.

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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