Page Created 10-18-98

    If I were to ask you to guess the Science-Fiction author who produced the most content in the shortest amount of time, who would you guess? Asimov? Heinlein? Piers Anthony? None of those guesses even comes close!

    Robert Lionel Fanthorpe entered into a publishing arrangement with Badger Books of England in the early 50's. Over the next decade and a half he proceeded to churn out book after book under many different pen names. The exact number of books is not known due to the fact that some of the pseudonyms were being used by other writers working for Badger at the same time. It is estimated to be 180+ books. Of these books, eighty nine are known to have been written in a three year period. That works out to be one 158 page book every twelve days.

    To meet his grueling deadlines, Fanthorpe employed an unusual technique. He dictated his masterworks into a reel to reel tape recorder, oftentimes under the cover of a blanket to enhance his concentration. He would then ship those tapes off to a pool of typists for transcription. This created many unique problems. People who die in one chapter reappear a chapter or two later because it was forgotten that they were dead. Odd phrases turn up in the middle of paragraphs due to a misunderstanding by the transcriptionist. With a little work, you can usually puzzle out what was actually said on the tape vs. what the transcriptionist heard. To add to these problems, the word count specification for the novels was very precise. When a phone call came from the transcription pool saying that he only had three pages left to go in the book, desperate deus ex machina devices had to be employed to save our heros in the last few pages left to them. And saving our heroes was important; good always triumphs in a Fanthorpe story!

    Other novels had to be padded to reach the necessary length. Long philosophical discussions and internal dialogs were had by characters during the most trying of times. Alien fleet attacking? All our defenses useless to stop the unearthly menace? Lets talk about the meaning of life! In an important mission briefing? Let's ponder whether the robot going along on the mission has a soul! His use of a thesaurus to barrage the reader with a concept using only minor variations is legendary. The travelogue technique wasted pages on extremely detailed descriptions of the locations in which his stories were set, sometimes going so far as to include the latitude and longitude, so the reader would know exactly where the action takes place. The everyday minutiae of daily life is noted and expounded upon, whether it's getting ready for work, or basic car maintainance. My favorite padding example is the page and a half in Dark Continuum where our heroine brushes her teeth in excruciating detail.

    But despite all these faults, Fanthorpe managed to include his own positive world-view into even the darkest story. Evil may have the upper hand at times, and good men do die, but good always triumphs in the end. He even manages to put forward his own opinions via his characters. In the late 50's and early 60's the idea that the world would be moving towards a non-smoking society seems like a crazy one, but nevertheless in Fanthorpe's future smoking is almost universally abhorred. The characters that smoke are usually evil, or lacking in moral fibre or backbone.

    Badger Books would send Fanthorpe a cover painting, often the more lurid the better (see the Cover Gallery for examples). He would be asked to write a back-cover blurb and suggest several titles for the book to go along with the art. After a title was settled on, he would start writing the novel. A humorous example is The Last Valkyrie. For those of you who don't know, a Valkyrie is a mythological Norse figure who took valiant warriors from the battlefield straight to Valhalla where they would feast and fight forever in paradise. The Last Valkyrie is set mainly in ancient Greece. It concerns Daedelus, his son Icarus and King Minos. Near the end of the book one chapter is devoted to explaining the whole of Norse mythology. It has the feel of a last minute realization of "We need to fill another 20 pages! Oh, and I should bring Valkyries into this somewhere."

    On several occasions the cover art used on a Badger was originally published on another book. The ones we have found so far have come from Ace Science Fiction or Avon books. I have examples of the fourteen instances I am aware of, in the cover gallery. Plus the cover of Doomed World & The Death Note that definitely took its inspiration from the Ace novel and Planet Stories respectively. If you know of any others, please e-mail me! It is unknown if any royalties were payed for this reuse of this art. On most occasions the Badger Book cover used a similar font and word layout as the original published cover.

Doomed World inspired by art from Ace D-103 & D-340 Solar Lottery by P K Dick
The In-World used art from Ace D-199 & G-599 Star Guard by Andre Norton
Lightning World used art from Ace D-345 Voodoo Planet by Andrew North a.k.a. Andre Norton
The Face of X used art from Ace D-237 The Secret Visitors by James White
Exit Humanity used art from Ace D-391 The World Swappers by John Brunner
Juggernaut used art from Ace D-335 Threshold of Eternity by John Brunner
Frozen Planet used art from Ace D-291 Lest We Forget Thee, Earth by Calvin M. Knox a.k.a. Robert Silverberg
The Microscopic Ones used art from Ace D-249 The Cosmic Puppets by P K Dick
Hand of Doom used art from Ace D-421 Slavers of Space by John Brunner
World of the Gods used art from Ace D-381 Secret of the Lost Race by Andre Norton
Last Man on Earth used art from Avon T-360 WE WHO SURVIVED ...The Fifth Ice Age by Sterling Noel
Flame Mass used art from Ace D-455 Best From Fantasy and SF: 4th Series
A Thousand Years On used art from Ace D-274 World Without Men by Charles Eric Maine
The Death Note inspired by art from Planet Stories January 1954 - Vol 6, No. 4
Werewolf At Large used art from Ace D-309 The Island of Dr Moreau by H. G. Wells
Voodoo Hell Drums used art from Avon 623 Beat Not the Bones by Charlotte Jay

    What does Fanthorpe think now about his work and how it is recieved? A excerpt from Down the Badger Hole shows him to be unabashed and unrepentent. I say, "Bully for him!"
        So what does an author do today about the one-every-week, at-the-drop-of-a-hat paperbacks he wrote in his spare time forty-odd years ago? The midnight-oil-burners, the generously padded, paid-on-wordage albatross-space-opera-sagas for which his publisher was inevitably waiting impatiently and waving the threat of no more commissions if this current one wasn't delivered before Tuesday?

    "So you sold a couple of hundred pulp novels and anthologies back in the Fifties and Sixties-and nobody offered you a Nobel Prize or a Hugo. What the hell! Make the most of it! There's no such thing as bad publicity-although some is better than others. You were, after all, the World's most prolific SF and Fantasy writer. Talk about it. Cash in on it." Or as the dying Wyatt Earp was alleged to have told the cub reporter who wanted the real story of the OK Corral: "To hell with the truth, kid. Print the legend!"
© 1995 R. Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe. From the book Down the Badger Hole

    In her book Down the Badger Hole, Debbie Cross has researched, from her collection and others, a wonderful Bibliography. She lists over 20 different pseudonyms used by Fanthorpe during the period he was with Badger Books. In the Supernatural Stories anthology series, the title page would list a different author for each story. With very few exceptions, every one was a pen name for Fanthorpe! Mel Jay - John E. Muller - Trebor Thorpe - Leo Brett - R.L. Fanthorpe - Lionel Roberts - All names for the same man. No wonder many collectors are confused!

    Down the Badger Hole is a wonderful reference book if you are interested in finding out more about Lionel Fanthorpe. Included in the book are many humorous quotes from a wide variety of his works and an all-important bibliograpy including his pseudonyms. Let Debbie know where you saw the information on her book.

Except where noted, this intro is © 1998-1999 Brian Hunt

Thank you for your time, and I hope you have enjoyed this brief look into the World of Lionel Fanthorpe.

Lionel Fanthorpe's Resume


Let me know what you think!   Gumball (

Free counters provided by Andale.