What follows is an exclusive extract from the introduction to Henry Higgins’ forthcoming biography of Elroy Hubble. This book will be published by Possum Press on 1st December 2012 and will be available to buy from all good remainder bins from 2nd December 2012.
|The biography that claims to answer questions about the mysterious Mr Hubble|
Attempting a biography of such a controversial figure as Elroy Hubble presents the writer with two major problems. First and foremost is the fact that virtually nothing is known about this mysterious man, apart from what can be gleaned from the plethora of awful science novels he wrote during the 1970s. Secondly, the complete absence of any photographic evidence leads one to wonder whether he actually existed at all.
Hubble came to prominence when his book Diuretics (1978) became something of a phenomenon in New Zealand, selling well over three hundred copies in one year alone. In the book he claimed that during an intense period of intoxication he had been contacted by Gouda, Emperor of Hothratherer, who had told him that humans were originally descended from a race of Cheese-Men with urinary tract infections that were now living inside the volcano on the island of Krakatoa.
The now classic1969 Hollywood blockbuster Krakatoa: East of Java, however, makes no mention of Cheese-Men from Hothratherer, but I suspect this was probably due to the fact that Krakatoa is actually west of Java. According to my sources within the film industry one of the minor characters in the original screenplay was supposed to be suffering from a urinary tract infection, but all those scenes were left on the cutting room floor thanks to the poor performance of the actor cast in the role, who was himself suffering from a urinary tract infection and was in constant pain during filming.
|The poster for the 1969 blockbuster 'Krakatoa East of Java'|
Was that pure coincidence or divine prophecy? You decide.
Hubble’s first science fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Leerdammer, appeared in 1971. This was followed in subsequent years by The Mozzarella in Gouda’s Eye (1972). A Fall Of Mantasio Dust (1973), I, Ricotta (1974), Do Androids Dream of Electric Spenwood (1975), A Clockwork Oaxaca (1976) and Romanoworld (1977). He also wrote countless short stories for New Zealand’s premier sci-fi monthly Possum Science Fiction, and it was in May 1980, two years after the publication of Diuretics, that this magazine featured the first of the stories that would influence the confused thinking of many people for years to come – Cheese-Men From The Moon.
In Cheese-Men From The Moon the earth is invaded by alien beings, whose skin is much like the rubbery texture of Edam. Possessing cheese-technology far superior to our own, their first act of aggression is to coat the White House in an alien cream cheese, thus suffocating everyone inside. With the protectors of democracy gone, the aliens are then free to rampage through the world firing their hot cheese ray guns at anything that moves. Pretty soon they have conquered every nation on the planet, even Australia, and they use mankind as slaves to tend the cheese orchards they have planted throughout the world. All seems lost, until a plucky Kiwi bio-cheese-chemist from South Island called Reginald Molehusband is contacted by Gouda, Emperor of the planet Hothratherer, who instructs him through unexplained telepathic means to introduce a new strain of mould into one of the blue cheese orchards outside Orangatanga. This piece of divine advice kills all the aliens around the world in one stroke by making their heads explode and Reginald Molehusband becomes president of the world.
|The controversial May 1980 issue of Possum Science Fiction|
Cheese-Men From The Moon was a disappointing story for many reasons; the fact that it made no scientific sense whatsoever was a contributing factor to that disappointment, but the thing that made most readers either throw it into the bin or publicly burn it was that it was not sufficiently explained until the very end that the aliens were linked by a single consciousness, thus making the feeble attempt at a twist ending both ridiculous and barely credible.
Letters from irate readers flooded into the magazine’s headquarters in Wellington, asking for their money back; some even called for Hubble’s immediate arrest and execution for crimes against literature.
The Crimes Against Literature Act is a little known and short lived piece of New Zealand legislation that was introduced in 1975 to prevent the American author Sidney Sheldon from ever entering the country. The law was successfully repealed in 1985 after solicitors acting on behalf of the International Guild of Writers and Artists claimed that in order to win any literary prize a book had to be both pretentious and unreadable, therefore qualifying it to fall under the Crimes Against Literature Act. More recently, however, the New Zealand government has been considering the reintroduction of the act following the publication of the Fifty Shades Trilogy.
Hubble himself was never charged under the act as the authorities were unable to find him, and when the police questioned his agent concerning his whereabouts they were informed that Elroy Hubble was a pseudonym and that he had never actually seen him. Thinking that a pseudonym was a small nocturnal woodland creature the authorities quickly gave up their search.
Demonstrators took to the streets with placards that read: BRING BACK HANGING FOR HUBBLE! and DEATH TO HUBBLE! One demonstrator was reported to have said that he would have burnt Hubble’s effigy if only he’d known what he looked like.
Enraged members of Orangatanga’s Hard-Science Fiction Fan Club clashed on the streets with members of Nikkinakkinori’s Space Opera Fan Club each claiming that the genre of science fiction represented in Cheese-Men From The Moon belonged to the other. Riot Police were called in to calm the situation down and they almost had everything under control when members of Wongawonga’s Fantasy Fiction Fan Club arrived in buses and were turned on by the other two groups. “It was like a scene from West Side Story,” said one observer, “only without the music, songs and interesting characters.”
While all this was happening on North Island, over on South Island it was a very different story.
The South Islanders took in every word of Hubble’s nonsensical story and one man in particular, Gervaise Bridlington-Harvey (known to his friends as GBH) took the events Hubble described so seriously that he formed his own religion, Goudaism, and church that went with it, the now infamous Late Afternoon Goudalistic Church of the Seven Hard Cheeses.
Membership of this new religious movement began slowly, with a few Goudis, as they called themselves, spreading the gospel according to Hubble throughout the towns of South Island, but more people joined the Goudis after the publication in 1981 of Hubble’s eighth novel Cheese-Stealers From Hothratherer.
|The book that built a church|
In this book, his first in four years, a group of disgruntled rebel Hothrathererens arrive on earth to steal all the cheese, but are foiled when Gouda, Emperor of Hothratherer contacts a plucky bio-cheese-chemist from South Island called Ronnie Badgerwife via an unexplained mind-control device, informing him that he should build a cheese ray that fires liquid Rocquefort. Ronnie does as he is told and fires the liquid cheese at the Hothrathereren spaceship, whereupon the rebels’ heads explode and they crash land directly on top of the White House, completely destroying it and incinerating everyone inside. With all the leaders of the democratic world dead, Ronnie Badgerwife is elected the president of the New World order, where he forms a new religion based on the teachings of Gouda, and everyone has to pray twice a day wrapped in sheets of tin foil.
Not wanting a repeat of the ugly scenes that followed the publication of the short story Cheese-Men From The Moon, the three science-fiction fan groups of North Island patched up their differences and a legally binding agreement was drafted up by lawyers stating that they would all boycott the release of Cheese-Stealers From Hothratherer. As a result of their actions the book sold no copies at all on North Island.
On South Island, however, the fact that Cheese-Stealers From Hothratherer was virtually a much longer rehash of Cheese-Men From The Moon went unnoticed and converts to Goudaism began to increase.
In a recent interview, GBH claimed that he had been called to the summit of Aoraki, where he received, from Gouda himself, the foundations of Goudaism in the form of the Five Wedges of Hothratherer, which all converts to the religion must strictly adhere to. The Five Wedges of Hothratherer are:
1. No one other than Gouda, Emperor of Hothratherer is worthy of your worship.2. You must pray each morning and evening to Gouda, Emperor of Hothratherer, wrapped in the sacred foil of tin.3. You must respect the leader of the Late Afternoon Goudalistic Church of the Seven Hard Cheeses.4. You must give generously at every opportunity to the Late Afternoon Goudalistic Church of the Seven Hard Cheeses.5. You must not give evidence against anyone associated with Goudaism.
No one, apart from GBH, was allowed to look at the Five Wedges of Hothratherer , because it was claimed (by GBH, of course) that if anyone even caught a glimpse of them they would burst into flames and burn for eternity in the Fire-Pits of Thuth.
GBH also claimed in another interview to have invented the game Trivial Pursuit.
After the publication of Cheese-Stealers From Hothratherer all traces of the already elusive Elroy Hubble disappeared completely and he has not been heard of since.
What happened to him? Where did he go and, more importantly, who is he?
I intend to answer all those questions within the pages of this book.
STOP PRESS: Henry Higgins' book Elroy Hubble: Foil and Trouble was withdrawn from publication today after the author was found drowned in a vat of chicken stock. A spokesman for the Late Afternoon Goudalistic Church of the Seven Hard Cheeses refused to comment. Police suspect foul play.