Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

July Books 6) The Mind of Mr Soames

6) The Mind of Mr Soames, by Charles Eric Maine

I bought this on a sudden impulse in August last year at a second-hand book stall outside the National Theatre in London, because I had read a reference in, I think, Kim Newman's book on Doctor Who, saying that the BBC admired the writing of (among others) Charles Eric Maine and considered his work as a possible model for the proposed new sf series back in 1963. I had never heard of Maine, and grabbed this paperback to enlighten myself.

When I finally got around to looking at it last night, I almost tossed it aside; the eponymous Mr Soames has the mind of a baby, despite being much older, and that is uncomfortably close to my own family situation.

However, I decided to mock rather than mourn. Mr Soames is thirty years old, but has been in a coma since birth; the scientists who are the viewpoint characters bring him to life, and we're then suddenly in a sexually repressed late 1950's version of Frankenstein, as the created man wreaks havoc on his environment and his creators.

Some of it reminded me of the Rocky Horror Picture Show ("Oh, Rocky! That's no way to behave on your first day out!"). Some of it reminded me of a terrible novel of about the same era which I read twenty years ago, about the inevitable breakdown of English society which would result as soon as there is a film on general release in which the act of sexual intercourse is depicted. (Can anyone identify that novel?)

Of course, it's not just Frankenstein; in this era you have to compare with Flowers for Algernon, which takes a similar scenario and does it much, much better. I can see the cultural connection between Maine and early Doctor Who; I'm just glad it never became a close link.
Tags: bookblog 2007
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