Need name of *real* bad sci-fi author

I’m looking for the name of (and the webpage about) a truly horrible sci-fi author. I’ve been to the page before, but too long ago to still be in my history. I’m pretty sure I learned about this guy here on the SDMB. Here are the salient details:

  1. He produced over 100 books, but he never actually wrote, just dictated them into a tape recorder which was later transcribed by secretaries. He did this in a darkened room with a sheet over his head.
  2. This method produced unintentionally hilarious results, including dramatic shifts in the story, characters dying only to reappear when the author forgot that he had killed them off, atrocious misspellings, etc.
  3. He was paid by his publisher to write books of fixed length. If a book was going too long, he would wrap it up in a couple pages with an out-of-nowhere deux ex machina ending. If it was too short, he would add in filler material, including one story where he described for two pages how the main character brushed her teeth.
  4. One particularly bad line went something like: “It was dark. Black. Pitch black. Blackest darkness. All dark. Black. Dark. Dark.”
  5. I believe he was British, but I’m not 100% sure.

Somehow I remember all this but not his name! Help is much appreciated. Thank you.

That’s hilarious! I’ve no info, but I now want to know who this guy is, so hello e-mail notification!

Sounds like Lionel Fanthorpe.

For your edification, here’s a Fanthorpe link.

From that link:

Yes! Thank you RealityChuck and Cervaise–this is exactly who I was thinking of. Apparently, Fanthorpe wrote several really bad descriptions of darkness. In addition to the one SmackFu posted, here are two more:

Your author sounds a great deal like Kilgore Trout.

I swear to god, I once read a book by Kilgore Trout. It was hilariously awful. The jacket cover said that the author was not** Kurt Vonnegut. (I think the author was Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.. ;))


Sheesh. I saw the name of this thread, and just assumed ISAAC ASIMOV straight off.

Oops. Now I’ve gone and upset the Asimov fans. Listen guys, I was joking. honest! No really! I LIKE pompous gits who can’t write even one page without the word “sardonically” in it. :smiley:

But for the world’s worst poet, go here:

Was this Venus on the Halfshell or did someone else write a book by Kilgore Trout?

For those unfamiliar with it, Venus was written by Philip Jose Farmer. Farmer got permission to use the name, but then Vonnegut got pissed when everyone thought he’d written it. So he denied permission for Farmer to write any more. So I wouldn’t expect anyone else to get permission.

PS Fixed the vB code in the quote.

Funny, because I thought it was L. Ron Hubbard. (And, I’m not kidding.)

And I thought Robert Sawyer. But on second thought, he’s merely mediocre.

Venus on the Half Shell. The actual author was Philip Jose Farmer.

Glad I missed THAT one. Riverworld is still one of my re-read faves occasionally, but I will have to pass on the Venus, methinks…


Vidi Vici Veni!

You’re welcome, Opus1. And as long as we’re “and I thought of”-ing, the name that popped to mind for me was Piers Anthony.

Don’t. It’s INTENTIONALLY awful, and very funny, if you’re familiar with Kilgore Trout as a character in Vonnegut’s work. The back cover has an “author’s photo” of Farmer in a ridiculous fake beard and a civil war hat. At least I think it’s actually Farmer. It could be practically anyone.

While it’s common knowledge that Farmer wrote it, many different versions of how and why are floating about. The one I heard was that the original deal with Vonnegut called for Farmer to enlist a number of other writers to produce “Kilgore Trout” books as well. That appealed to Vonnegut’s sense of humor, imagining all these crappy books coming out under “Kilgore Trout”. When only VotHS appeared, Vonnegut came to regret having given permission.

Actually Venus was pretty good. There were some incredibly funny parts. I never really knew that Farmer had a sense of humor until I read it. Even if you do hate it, it’s such a thin book, it won’t take up more than an afternoon or so to get through it.

Fanthorpe is hilarious.

Farmer also wrote a couple of Ralph von Wau Wau stories by “Trout”'s fictional SF writer Johnathan Swift Somers.

In Venus, Farmer also invents a poet whose poem about the Brownings ends:

To hell with Euclid’s beauty bare-
Liz, get your ass out of that chair!

Except, the “beauty bare” line is from a different poetess- and a typo in the original Galaxy serial (don’t know if it was reprinted in the book) makes it: “To hell with Euclid’s beauty bar”!