Monday, June 12, 2006

06.21 The Coming of the Rats by George H Smith

The Coming of the Rats (1961) by George H Smith
Paperback, Israel: Priory, n.d., 158pp.

I was given this book by my friend Olman as an addition to my exploration of the post-apocalyptic science fiction genre.

I'm copping the novel's description from the excellent book, Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction by Paul Brians (
(Warning: Spoilers!)

A soft-core pornographic novel written in response to the "missile gap," which it discusses. The war is called the "Blow-Up." A Los Angeles ad agency executive provisions a cave shelter in the country on land belonging to an elderly Mexican and his sexy eighteen-year-old daughter. The latter seduces him. Learning that rats are more resistant to radiation than humans, he provides himself with cats, dogs, and ferrets to do battle with the anticipated hordes. He is also in love with an idiotic blonde who insists on keeping her virtue and who resists being rescued when the bombs fall ("Really! Atomic War! . . . Some men will do anything to get a girl to do what they want her to do," she comments). She continues to refuse her favors and services in the cave, nagging at him insufferably. Finally he takes a trip into a nearby town and finds it almost uninhabited as a result of radiation and bacteriological warfare. He encounters a wino with fistfulls of now worthless cash, desperate for a drink. A fourteen-year-old girl whose hair is falling out from radiation disease propositions him, wanting canned food. He gives her canned dog food, which horrifies her. He takes a dog from some men planning to eat it. His first battle with rats takes place in an army-navy surplus store where he acquires a few supplies. He comes upon a gang intent on raping a woman and her fourteen-year-old daughter; although he cannot prevent the mother from being assaulted, he works his way free and kills the men. When he returns, the blonde complains that he didn't bring the nice clothes and makeup she had wanted. The protagonist, frustrated, finally rapes the blonde; she responds enthusiastically. Three vicious teenagers kill the old Mexican and threaten to rape the women (there is good rape and bad rape in this novel: this is bad rape). The blonde sides with the hoods and must be rescued against her will as the protagonist forces them to dig their own grave and then kills them. He finally realizes that he has loved little Rosa all along, the blonde repents and together they battle an onslaught of giant rats (perhaps mutated as a result of bomb test fallout) in a scene reminiscent of the conclusion of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The novel ends with both women, having served as draft animals in the plowing and having become pregnant as well, looking forward to a prosperous life with the protagonist. The (very mild) sex scenes are written according to the rigid but peculiar formulas of late fifties and early sixties porn in which prudery is vicious, sexual generosity admirable, and women respond enthusiastically to abuse.


Olman Feelyus said...

Sounds like a mess. Is there enough PA neatness that it can be part of the library?

Lantzvillager said...

Oh I would definitely include it in the post apocalyptic library. Some of the scenes where he goes out into the countryside to try to get supplies are pretty wild. The book though, in the end is pretty formulaic and doesn't really deliver like you wish it would.

Suzie said...

I remember I had a copy of this book years ago, and enjoyed reading it, perhaps strangely, being female. Unfortunately I lent it to someone and never saw it again. Been scouring the boot sales and charity shops for it though.