Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scary Books – The Frankenstein Wheel by Paul W. Fairman

Paul W. Fairman has been gone since 1977 and I wonder how many are left that remember him as Ivar Jorgensen, his primary pseudonym. He also wrote the classic juvenile The Runaway Robot for Lester Del Rey who is credited on the cover. Fairman was a hell of a good writer and I have encountered his stories here and there as a pulp fan. The Frankenstein Wheel appeared in 1972 and was the first in a series. Each subsequent book usually had a different author and the subsequent stories have nothing to do with Frankenstein’s monster. The Frankenstein Wheel was followed by The Night of the Wolf by Frank Belknap Long, The Curse of Quintana Roo by Matt Gardner, Seven Tickets to Hell by Robert Moore Williams, The Hospital Horror by Otto Oscar Binder, The Marrow Eaters by Harris Morris and Dragon’s Teeth by Keith Miles. These are all fun books to read but The Frankenstein Wheel was the best. In fact, I consider it an unheralded classic of paperback pulp fiction. The cover by Gray Morrow is the only cover in the series featuring Frankenstein’s monster and Morrow obviously used a still of Lon Chaney in Ghost of Frankenstein as a model. The Frankenstein Wheel is a direct sequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The monster, having survived the ice flow, is back and once again seeking a mate. By learning science after reading Dr. Frankenstein’s notes he hopes to create a perfect mate from the bodies of dead women. The title refers to the Karmic understanding or oneness with the universe experienced by the monster after his emergence from the ice-flow. Don’t forget, this is the swingin’ 70s now. The pacing is much faster than Shelley’s original because Fairman was after all a pulp writer, and that’s why this book is such a blast. I’ve always enjoyed this book and highly recommend it for fans of both pulp fiction and Mary Shelley’s original novel.

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