Saturday, April 16, 2016

THE COMING OF THE RATS! THE NOVEL THAT STARTED AS A STORY IN A MEN'S MAG


George Henry Smith (October 27, 1922, Vicksburg, MS - May 22, 1996) was an American author of over 100 novels in the fantasy, science-fiction (ex. 1976, The Year of Terror) and, under a number of pseudonyms, adult soft-core erotica genres. He wrote books for legendary adult paperback imprints such as Beacon, Boudoir, Midwood and Monarch, with titles like, Baroness of Blood, Scourge of the Blood Cult, Satan's Daughter, Love CultSorority Sluts, and Lesbian Triangle.

Smith's most well-known work (and most assuredly only for its title) is probably his post-apocalyptic novel, The Coming of the Rats. It was first sold for 50 cents in 1961 by Pike Books, Van Nuys, CA (#206).

Or was it?

Anyone that has over 100 books published can be considered prolific. George H. Smith certainly was that. Despite his attempts at writing legit science-fiction and fantasy novels, he is best remembered for his soft-core "bra rippers". His book, The Coming of the Rats, was a hybrid of both. Indeed, it has the distinction of being a book that was originally published as a science-fiction novel and then was re-released as an adult novel with the science-fiction elements stripped away (as it were) and leaving the titillating sexy parts intact for a novel that was, just a year later, re-packaged as an adult novel and published as Virgin Mistress (Pike Books, Van Nuys, CA 1962 #802).

One of the most prolific themes in the men's adventure magazines of the 1950s was "man against killer beast". There were dozens of issues depicting covers that promised harrowing conflicts with all manner of creature, hungry for blood and human flesh. The most famous story to arise from that era was a tale from the September 1956 issue of MAN'S LIFE with the improbable title of "Weasels Ripped My Flesh". In fact, the title was so preposterous that a decade later, a musician with a twisted sense of humor named Frank Zappa used it for the title of one of his albums.

The theme continued, and even found its way into the newly-burgeoning industry of soft core men's magazines. In the November 1959 issue of ADAM (Vol. 3 No. 11) appeared the story, "The Coming of the Rats" by George H. Smith. Accompanied by a terrifying illustration of a man and woman began attacked by ravaging rodents, it blazed its way through a half dozen pages of cheap pulp fiction. It is poorly written, it is sleazy, and, yes, it's pretty crappy. But if you are looking for a few minutes of harrowing horror, then "The Coming of the Rats" is perfect fare. Granted, not much fiction that appeared in men's magazines outside of PLAYBOY was very good anyway, but the story seemed to be near and dear enough to the author to expand it into novel length, where it was published a couple of years later. The very next year, the publisher Pike Books in Van Nuys, CA, re-packaged it as a straight sex book. To be sure, rarely has a low-brow story such as this garnered so much traction.

In any event, here is George H. Smith's "The Coming of the Rats", in all its glory as it appeared in ADAM. I have seen the book mentioned as being rare, but it is available from numerous second-hand booksellers on the 'net. However, after reading just of few pages in its shortened form, and thinking about getting through an entire novel, has given me pause. For now, I'm satisfied to at least have found this hidden horror gem and enjoyed a few minutes of men's pulp horror. Now you can, too.









The cover of the 1961 Pike Books first edition.


The Coming of the Rats was re-edited into this title.

The British edition.

The German edition.

One of Smith's soft core novels under a pseudonym.

A "straight" sci-fi novel.

Smith even wrote political books.


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