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This issue concludes the story of Professor Challenger in Space, and begins that of Quiet, the Tin Can Brains Are Hunting!
Originally, this second novel was to be a more direct sequel to the first, and it would have featured Malone’s eyes being stolen by aliens. As a novice novelist, this device appealed to me because describing what each of his eyes saw would allow me an excuse for describing galaxy-wide events in the easy-to-write first person. In the event, I did not rely upon this crutch, but I still like the idea that the first part of the novel would have recounted what the left eye saw, the second part would have told what the right eye saw, and the third part would have been seen through a mechanical eye crafted for Malone by Professor Challenger as they battled to rescue Malone’s other eyes and save the universe.
At one point I also considered revealing the Grim Thinker, who will appear in the portion of this story reprinted next issue, to be actually a far-future version of Malone himself – this idea was dropped, as was that in the above paragraph, due to Malone not featuring in the novel.
If he had appeared in it, the following scene would have been used at an early point. It is included here for completeness. – The Editor
A few years following the adventure of Rarraak-Ra, Professor Challenger and I were taking a rest in the park. He was sitting beside me on the park bench, as usual, scratching away at the junction of his head and his body.
“Is it still bothering you,” I asked.
“What do you think?” he asked, as if I were an idiot asking the way to his own nose… “A severed head is never pleasant.”
“I imagine not,” I said, taking him not at all seriously. I was not in the mood for one of his tantrums. The sun was shining far too brightly for that! “Especially when soup pours out of the joint, ha ha!”
He clouted me on the back of the head.
“Ow!” I exclaimed.
“How do you like those apples?” he asked.
“I don’t like them very well at all,” I replied. “Please keep them to yourself in future.”
“Ha ha,” he laughed.
I decided not to pursue the matter. At least he was smiling.
“Do you see much of the Mechanical Housewife these days?” he enquired, after a few moments’ reverie.
The Mechanical Housewife was an extremely delightful creature with whom I had been fortunate enough to forge an acquaintance during our adventure in space. Sadly, the demands of living in different dimensions, and different eras of history, had made it difficult to continue the relationship.
“I’m afraid not, Challenger. How are things going with Anna and yourself?”
“Well, she is pretty busy nowadays,” he replied. “She often has universes to save, that kind of thing… She is always back in time to cook Sunday dinner, mind.”
“Well, of course,” said I. “There are limits, after all…”
“If only there were,” said Challenger. “I used to feel one step ahead of things, you know,” he said ruefully. “I used to be the man in charge, the fellow making all the running. Look at me now, nothing to do but sit wasting the day away with an idiot like you…”