Unnatural Selection - NOT by Dennis Wheatley!

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Jim
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Unnatural Selection - NOT by Dennis Wheatley!

Post by Jim » Mon 29 Dec, 2008 00:53:55

During one of my trawls on eBay for DW material, I saw a listing for a title Unnatural Selection, purporting to be by Dennis Wheatley. It was unfamiliar, but I remembered an obituary a while back, which claimed the deceased author had written some additional novels under the Wheatley name, and wondered if this was one of them, finally seeing print.

The synopsis from the back of the book begins:
"In every village, town and city, in every country throughout the world people are dying for no apparent reason: fine one second, dead the next, young and old, rich and poor and the numbers are accelerating by the hour. The popular dailies call it 'The Blight' but what is 'The Blight' and can it be stopped?"

We know that the real DW already did the "end of the world," but I thought this might be a contemporary take on the concept. Well, I read these 300 pages so you won't have to, and I can assure you that no professional wrote this novel. AuthorHouse, which issued the book, is a self-publisher (i.e., vanity press). It seems to be merely a horrible coincidence that its author's name is also Dennis Wheatley.

Every mistake of the rookie novelist is here. Almost all the deaths take place off-stage. We never see anything happen, we're just told about it. Consequently, there's little or no suspense. The narration slips in and out of first person for no better reason than carelessness. The heroine spends four and a half pages detailing a nightmare--on the next page, she says she can't remember anything about the dream.

The text is riddled with misprints, as you would expect from something that was undoubtedly typeset directly from the author's floppy disc, without the badly-needed intervention of an editor: "stationery" for "stationary"; "marshall" for "martial"; "your" for "you're". The author forgets his narrator is an American, and so includes expressions like "ploughed" and "car park," which are not U.S. standard usage.

Here's one particularly horrendous piece of writing: "It would have been nice to think that my milky-eyed nemesis couldn't fling his lightening bolts at the US as easily as he could at Geneva, after all isn't Geneva and Mt Olympus both in Europe and we were six thousand miles away?" Now, DW himself admitted he was not one of the language's great stylists, but he could write a simple sentence. He also would have found a better cause for "The Blight" than the pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo that's used here. (It doesn't make sense, and it doesn't make sense that no-one caught it earlier...)

I could go on and on, but why? Thankfully, this writer's threatened second novel has never materialized.

I wouldn't even donate this travesty to the library, but have pitched it into the recycling bin. Maybe next time, the paper will be better used...
Last edited by Jim on Mon 5 Jul, 2010 14:32:26, edited 1 time in total.

Charles
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Post by Charles » Mon 29 Dec, 2008 12:03:42

Dear Jim

Many thanks for the timely warning - next time I see it on eBay I certainly WON'T be tempted to buy a copy !!!

All best - and thanks for ploughing through it to save us all from having to do so.

The Aspirin is in the post ....

All best !
Charles

Nick
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Post by Nick » Mon 29 Dec, 2008 23:11:03

Are there any Wheatley pastishes?

Jim
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Post by Jim » Tue 30 Dec, 2008 02:56:37

Nick wrote: Are there any Wheatley pastishes?
Not that I know. There are certainly hints, in the novels we have, of other stories that might have been told about the characters. In Dangerous Inheritance, the Duc gets the property in Ceylon from a cousin whose life he saved 40 years before. Surely, his adventures during the Russian Revolution could well have become a novel.

Maybe Chorion have some ideas....

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