It’s quick and convenient to buy old books online, but it’s not always the best, or even the most enjoyable way. Here’s five good reasons to make a plan, look away from the screen, (that's right, the one you are looking at right now!) go out, and look for yourself.
Tales of Known Space is another book I’ve had for a long time, and I most likely bought it in 1975 when I’d first started work aged sixteen and had a bit of money to spend.
That means I probably bought it from W.H. Smith in Buckingham, (still there) or Weatherhead’s book shop (now long gone) in Aylesbury. These were the two nearest biggish towns to me then. I found all sorts of new and used gems in Weatherheads, which had tall, packed shelves and piles of books on the floor.
I think this is one of the first of many books I bought written by Larry Niven, and his novel Ringworld was another. (See below)
From the back cover of this paperback:
“Marvel at Drain Pig’s triumphs over piggest adversity! Shed tears at the revelation of his poignant porcine past! And revel in the virtuoso performance of Dan Pearce, a welcome new cartooning talent. The strange, subterranean world of Drain Pig is like nothing you’ve seen before… but it’ll leave you squealing for more.”
And it’ll leave you gasping at the complete lack of shame of the swine who wrote the back cover blurb for Dan Pearce’s Drain Pig and the Glow Boys in “Critical Mess”!
All Drain Pig wanted to do was to find his Mum, but he is arrested and fitted up, then sentenced to five years in jail. It’s not long before he is transferred with other prisoners, to work at a dangerously leaky atomic power station at Sizemould on the coast.
This is a nicely drawn comic strip, and it’s a shame that it seems to be the only book about Drain Pig ever made; I would have liked to have seen more adventures of the pipe dwelling Pig.
Dan Pearce has published another comic book, this time about Oscar Wilde. It’s called Oscar, The Second Coming and was published in the middle of 2017.
Even minor characters in Critical Mess are well rounded and believable and there are plenty of details to look out for in the drawings. It’s a book that rewards careful reading.
I couldn’t find much information online, but I think that only 3,000 copies were printed. After 35 years I can’t remember or even imagine how I managed to get hold of my copy, but I’m sure I bought it new.
Critical Mess was published in 1983 and is quite critical of the political climate of the time. There’s greed and corruption, (isn’t there always!) and the power station is of course making weapons grade plutonium. But this is all part of the story.
If you can track down a copy, it’s well worth it.
Drain Pig and the Glow Boys in “Critical Mess” By Dan Pearce
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This photo doesn't have anything to do with this post, but I took it and I just fancied showing it to you. It's at Rocky Valley in Cornwall. There's no writing involved, but there are markings on a flat surface. It's communication.