Monday, 15 June 2009

Expedition Venus by Hugh Walters

Review #5 looking back at the old and largely forgotten science-fiction series Chris Godfrey of UNEXA.

After thoroughly exploring the moon, Chris wisely decided it was time to investigate further afield. By now he had a full team behind him of no-longer slimy Soviet Serge Smyslov, resourceful American Morrison Kant, and top-notch engineer despite being very young Tony Hale. The first planet to get conquered by the team was Venus in Expedition Venus (1962). This was my favourite book of the series.

An unmanned probe descends into the lush jungles of Venus (I know) and brings back samples of Venus plant life. Unfortunately that plant life has read too many science fiction novels and immediately breaks out of its capsule and starts growing at an exponential rate.

Within hours a town is coated with Venusian grey slime, within days a country, and within a week a continent. The world seems doomed. This is all very tragic, but when the pesky blighter has rampaged across Europe, destroyed France, and is poised to grey up the White Cliffs of Dover, the Brits decide it's time to spring into action.

Chris along with his mates Morrison, Serge and Tony are tasked with toddling off to Venus and finding an antidote. You see Venus isn't covered in slime so clearly there must be a slime scoffer over there that keeps it in check. They go to Venus, find the antidote, and just as the slime is about to do the worst thing imaginable and make London go grey they hurtle back to earth.

Unfortunately, due to a bit of a cock-up on the navigating front, they've already used up all their retro-rocket fuel darting in and out of Venus's atmosphere and they can't slow down. They can do nothing but whizz past the distinctly grey earth. Luckily, Chris comes up with a cunning plan.

He chucks a bottle of slime killer out the window as he surges past the earth. The bottle hurtles earthward being slowed only by some hankies tied together as a parachute. A helicopter is sent out to intercept it and to make sure it doesn't smash to the ground and be lost in the slime. Luckily a pilot with a big net snags it just before it's about to fall into the slime whereupon scientists take the bottle back to a laboratory, open it up, and sprinkle the slime-scoffer over the slime, thus destroying it. You might have guessed that that plot development irritated me!

The world though is saved and after some improbable manoeuvres in space Chris gets the spaceship back home to receive a hero's welcome.

Next week Chris battles the Martians.

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