Bowman, W E

Tagged: Author

(1911-1985) UK draughtsman, civil engineer and author whose best-known work is The Ascent of Rum Doodle (1956), a Parody of British mountaineering expedition reports which quickly gained a cult following. An utterly inept team led by the pompous, Pooteresque "Binder" (his codename in walkie-talkie communications), and including an easily distracted Scientist, ascends or rather fails to ascend the titular mountain. The maritime sequel The Cruise of the Talking Fish (1957), whose parodic target is Thor Heyerdahl's The Kon-Tiki Expedition (1948; trans 1950), enters sf territory – not via the hoped discovery of the elusive talking fish of the Pacific, but with a bizarre episode in which the raft crew's pet cats consume radioactive flying fish and go into temporal speed-up (see Time Distortion). Generations of fast-breeding cats offer a graphic example of Overpopulation and of Evolution in action, with Mutant kittens developing oyster-opening appendages that menace the research team's sapient mollusc (which can allegedly distinguish 109 words). As in The Ascent of Rum Doodle, Binder is the overall leader and records escalating silliness with stalwart, stiff-upper-lipped and very British incomprehension. [DRL]

William Ernest Bowman

born Scarborough, North Yorkshire: 30 September 1911

died 1 January 1985

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