Author: Clyde Allison
Real name: William Knoles
Publisher: Ember Library EL 321
Cover illustration: Robert Bonfils
Published: March 1966
WARNING: This review contains moderately sexual and adult content.
Gamefinger is the sixth title published in the highly collectible Trevor Anderson – Agent 0008 series, and the book opens with our oversexed, secret agent on leave. He is holidaying, on his lonesome, at a secluded cabin, beside a lake in Maine. His peace and quiet (and his celibacy) is interrupted by the arrival by a six-foot tall blonde Amazon named Karni. When 0008 meets her, she is skinnydipping in the lake. As this book is a soft-core sex comedy, after a brief introduction, he makes love to her in the great outdoors. This, of course, is one of the many sex scenes described in the book, and while reading the story, I almost get the impression that these sex sequence were more of a contractual obligation, rather than Clyde Allison’s desire to titillate his reading audience. The second sex sequence is almost shoehorned into the story – almost as if the publisher has said that he requires a sex sequence every twenty-five pages. And Allison has obliged.
Later, in the cabin as 0008 believes he is about to embark on another lengthy sexcapade, he closes his eyes as Karni approaches him. But rather than slaking his carnal desires, she renders his unconscious with a well placed judo-chop.
Alas, Karni is not an enemy agent, she is in fact SADISTO’s (the Security and Administration Division of the Institute for Special Tactical Operations) latest recruit, 00085, and when Trevor Anderson wakes up, he is back at SADISTO headquarters and about to be briefed by the General (the head of SADISTO).
The General explains (Page 27):
“…Ahem well, 0008, we are faced, we think, with one of the worst potential menaces to the Free World in recent years. We have reason to believe a madman is scheming to end war and the fear of war.”
I thought it over. “Ending war isn’t so bad,” I said. “But ending the fear of war! Why great heavens, man, think of the terrible slump the war – I mean defense – industries would take! Think of the effect on aerospace and electronics industries! Without the fear of war, dozens of billion-dollar industries wouldn’t get any tax money.”
“Right,” said the General. “You can see what a menace this madman could be – if his scheme, whatever it is, should prove workable…”
The brains behind the diabolical scheme is a man named Cantwell Undershaft – known as ‘Gamefinger’ – who has set himself up as a Caesar type figure, dressed in togas and wearing laurel wreaths in his hair. His plan is to beam, via satellite, vicious battles into peoples living rooms and onto their television screens. Undershaft believes that this repugnant display will sate peoples natural desire for blood, and will put them off war and warmongering forever.
Undershaft has began his plan with a few test productions, which SADISTO has obtained footage of. This footage consists of native women being stabbed, girls with swords and shields hacking at each other, others jousting on horse back, and girls being fed to barracudas. But Undershaft’s productions are crude. They need refining – they need an expert in weapons. And that’s where 0008’s mission begins. He is to pose as world renown weapons expert Rex Kingston. SADISTO’s computer has anticipated that soon Undershaft will attempt to kidnap Kingston and have him work as a technical advisor on his productions. The plan is to have 0008 kidnapped instead.
0008 is airlifted back to his lakeside lodge in Maine, and not before too long, an agent, working for Undershaft arrives on the scene. The agent’s name is Drusilla, and as this book has a quota of pornography to fit within its pages, of course, she seduces 0008. Then of course, knocks him out and drugs him. When 0008 wakes up, he is on Eros Island, and at the whims of eccentric, mad billionaire Cantwell Undershaft.
Sure this book is trash – it is smut. But underneath that trashy veneer, there is something pretty interesting going on here. Particularly if you place it in the context of the times. The book was published in 1966. A year after the ground war started in Vietnam (March 1965). In this book, Vietnam is never mentioned. It talks about a generic ‘war’ – but in 1966, as far as America was concerned, their only war was the one in Vietnam. This story concerns itself with the televisation of acts of extreme violence, and I guess that could be equated with the nightly news reports about the Vietnam conflict. The villain, Undershaft, believes that televising violence will cause people to want to stop it, and therefore put an end to all war.
As Undershaft explains (page 77):
“To begin with,” began Cantwell, “I don’t pit nude girls against each other in fights to the death just for kicks – my kicks. Not at all.”
Remembering the casual way in which he’d had the brunette skewered through her left breast just to make a point, I doubted him – but kept silent.
“No,” continued Cantwell, “although I have had perhaps a couple hundred American, European, Chinese, Japanese, African, Arabian, Polynesian and other young men and girls kidnapped, brainwashed and made into slaves – the bulk of whom have hacked, stabbed or shot each other to death, or been torn to shreds by wild animals – and although I intend to kidnap, brainwash and, uh, amusingly destroy several hundred more – still, I do what I do for the sake of humanity.”
Also from page 78:
“… horrible, grisly, sadistic spectacles such as the Roman games provided a safety valve for the whole population. And that’s what the world lacks today – a safety valve. A safety valve I intend to supply – for the sake of mankind.”
As hinted at in the brief passages above, there are some brutal sections in the book – possibly verging on crossing over into ‘bad taste’. These sequence are even more off putting in the fact that they are juxtaposed against the comedy (and even sexual) elements of the story. So for one section there may be a playful, naughty romp by a poolside, then there will be a girl in a fight with a leopard. And while Allison doesn’t dwell on the unpleasantness, it still is kind of creepy to read. Allison does attempt to take the ‘heat’ out of the scenes with some witty asides from 0008 – so he definitely knows he was pushing the enevelope of what was (and is) acceptable. Which to me, indicates, that his passages were written quite purposefully. And that brings us back to Vietnam.
Over time, Vietnam became an unpopular war – was this because of the regular news updates presenting the violence to the general populace? Is this story – yes, a piece of soft-core smut – in reality, a thinly veiled commentary on the Vietnam war and how it was portrayed on television at the time?
So far I have only read a few other Clyde Allison novels – you can read reviews of For Your Sighs Only and Mondo Sadisto – which I enjoyed as Bondian, and pop culture piss-takes. And while those other stories shared many of the same elements as Gamefinger, the hidden understories didn’t gel as well as this one. As I said earlier, this book is trash, but as a piece of trash, I think it is a minor gem – or if not a gem, at least an interesting time capsule.
From the blurb:
Mad-dog billionaire, Cantwell Undershaft, was devising the the most diabolic scheme in 2,000 years – revival of the bloody and orgiastic Games of Ancient Rome in all their lewd and gory splendor…telecasting from outer space color broadcasts of the grisly spectacles – naked men and girls hacking each other to death, mauled by enraged wild beasts, torn to shreds by half-starved barracudas… His goal, ending forever mankind’s lust for war by fulfilling its craving for bloody, sexually sadistic kicks. Was his scheme an insane justification for his own depravity, or were the hundreds of men and girls slaughtered a realistic safety-valve for the world’s repressed desires? That was the problem dread SADISTO agent, Trevor Anderson – 0008, had to resolve in a nonstop orgy of sex and mayhem on remote Eros Island.
Gamefinger has been recently reprinted by Olympia Press, and is available from Amazon.com
Or for those who prefer eBooks, you can download it for the princely sum of $1.00 from the Olympia Press website.