Monday, August 08, 2005

Flash Gordon

Oh yes, yesterday I spent a couple hours reading the sixth Flash Gordon adventure, The War of the Cybernauts:

Just check out those Cybernauts. They are like bubblegum machines crossed with weather vanes. And the alien lady-General (who looks just like a sexy Earth lady), has some lovely boots.

Of course, it all makes sense when you read the back of the book (click to make it bigger), now doesn't it:

Flash Gordon was, of course, a comic book and film serial in the 1930s (see some awesome pictures of the cast here or just do an image search of Flash Gordon and soak it all in), and was later novelized into books such as this one, which came out at the surprisingly late date of 1975.

A brief plot synopsis: Flash and Dr. Zarkov are sent into space to explore a strange UFO that has sucked in 12 "super-sophisticated space-probe satellites" (or SSSS's for short). Naturally, the UFO sucks their space ship in too. They then discover that the object is a gypsy planet that floats from solar system to solar system on which two groups of very human-like aliens live. They have been fighting a war against each other for tens of thousands of years -- generations ago they invented cybernauts to do all of the fighting, and those cybernauts have created a second generation of robots to help them do their work. The men do nothing but program the cybernauts and invent new things, and the women have taken over as the military and political leaders. Also the women are all real sexy. Just see what happens when General Ild sees Flash for the first time:

"There was something lacking in the men of Ildhaven. In the ancient books she had read exciting stories of duels, and jousting tourneys, and fights -- man-to-man combats -- that stirred her blood. That was before the development of the cybernauts. Now the men were hairless and endowed with large brains and small muscles... It was no wonder the women had revolted over a hundred years ago and taken over the reins of the war machines... It was said that in ancient times the men had been the warriors, and the women the householders. But with the invention of the cybbies, the mechanical servants, that had all changed. The men, whose earlier physiques had been rugged for fighting, hunting, and building, had deteriorated when they became masters and programmers of powered servants. The women, then, freed of all household chores, had slowly moved into the vacuum left by the men as they pursued mathematics and engineering and technology..."

[Kind of makes you want to step back from the computer and lift some weights or something, doesn't it...]

So, naturally, she thinks Flash Gordon, being the manly-man that he is, is pretty hot stuff. She tries to seduce him, but Flash wants to remain faithful to his fiance back on Earth. This makes the General mad, and she sends Flash and Zarkov on a suicide mission to destroy the War Computer of the enemy. How will it turn out? Will Flash and Zarkov survive? And how will they ever return to Earth?

I had fun reading this book -- its got some pretty wild explorations of gender rolls, plus robots and lots of strange abbreviations (SSSS's!). Its also got a neat twist at the end where what one thinks will be the moral of the story, doesn't quite work out that way.

I give it five thumbs up.


Dr. Mystery said...

Mmmm. I love a delicious gender roll, especially when it's filled with jelly.

kristykay said...

Whoops, obviously I meant role up there, but I won't edit it or else Dr. Mystery's comment will be all out of context. And Dr. Mystery HATES to be out of context...

archivaria said...

i like the photo on the back cover. not only is one woman peeking around at his package (or so the drawing would have us believe, but it's probably a logistically flawed position), but she is also on the floor, ready for some action. oh yeah. however, he is in some diaphanous space garb that does not allow him to be sexy. plus, the belt makes it look like he's holding in his stomach.