I picked up a couple of books at ReaderCon over the weekend. Although I learned quite a few things at the Con itself, I stumbled across a couple of interesting things I was unaware of in the books:
1.) The first person to be given the assignment of designing the Daleks for the Dr. Who TV show was future director Ridley Scott. Probably fortunately, any design work he did was not used, and the assignment was given to someone else (who I never hear of before.
One reason for the Dalek’s odd design, with the forward thrust of that lower section, was because the designed took pity on the poor stuntmen who would be occupying those suits, possibly for hors at a time, and built them around what were basically tricycles, which let the guy in the suit sit down.
They were originally going to give them grippy things as “hands”, but the show was on a tight schedule and a budget, so they really did end up using toilet plungers for one “hand”. They attached magnets to it, too, so they could pick things up.
2.) In Karl Edward Wagner’s introduction to the Conan collection Red Nails from 1977, he points out that Howard managed to slip a sexual reference past editor Farnsworth Wright. I’m always amazed by the ability pulp writers had to do this (the classic example being a reference to a “ball bearing mousetrap” in one story that is revealed to be a tomcat elsewhere), but I’d read all the Conan stories, and missed this one.
In Shadows in Zamboula (originally titled Man-Eaters of Zamboula) there’s a character named Baal-Pteor. Actually, that turnms out to be a nickname. As the story says:
That seems slightly obscure, but not suggestive, until you connect it with what Howard had written about the deity Pteor in the story Jewels of Gwalhur:
Pteor is a male god of fertility, so we can easily discern what his “exaggerated attributes reflecting the grossness of his cult” must be (and which Howard couldn’t have spelled out more explicitly even if he’d wanted to in 1930s pulps). “Baal-Pteor” is clearly “God Pteor”, as the history-savvy Howard would have known. He’d also have known that “temple wenches” were ritual prostitutes (although, again, he couldn’t have said so in the 1930s). if the temple prostitutes know that “Baal-Pteor” is a good nickname for the guy, it’s not hard to work out why, once you’ve got all the pieces set before you.
(Gwahlur was written before Zamboula, and appeared in print earlier – May 1935 vs November 1935)
The character Baal-Pteor is described as “brown,” and as a huge guy. His significant attribute fits with the racial stereotype of the time. But he’s really big everywhere, so it’s not surprising in any case. But I had never picked up on the implication before.