Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Charles F. Meyers' No Time for Toffee

I know nothing at all about Charles F. Meyers apart from the fact that he wrote a series of humorous science fiction novels about a girl named Toffee. One of these was No Time for Toffee, published in 1952. The fact that he wrote several Toffee books would seem to indicate that they enjoyed some popularity.

The hero of the novel is advertising guru Marc Pillsworth. He’s been shot and is possibly dying. That’s bad news for the High Council. It means that George Pillsworth will be returning to Earth. George Pillsworth is a kind of ghost. He’s the spiritual emanation of Marc Pillsworth. George of course looks exactly like Marc. George can’t stay on Earth permanently until Marc is dead. This annoys him because there are so many things he likes about Earth. There are so many opportunities for dishonesty. There’s good booze. And of course there are women. For a spiritual entity George’s nature may seem to be not very spiritual.

As for Toffee, she’s a smokin’ hot redhead. She’d be the ideal woman if only she actually existed. But she doesn’t. Or maybe she does.

Marc’s immediate problem is that he’s going to have emergency surgery performed on him. The doctors don’t know it but the surgery will certainly kill him. Marc knows this because Toffee told him.

We then get a zany frenetic parade of craziness as Marc tries to avoid the surgeon’s knife, Toffee tries out her new dematerialisation gadget on him, Marc and Toffee try to keep George under control and a crooked congressman tries to have Marc murdered.

This is not science fiction but I guess it qualifies as a comic fantasy novel. The problem with comic novels is that the authors sometimes try too hard for zaniness and this is at times a problem here. It does however have some amusing moments and some moments of inspired lunacy.

It also has some fairly clever ideas. George Pillsworth is a ghost but he’s a totally different and original kind of ghost. He also has the ability to assume genuinely corporeal form. At least he’s corporeal enough to drink whiskey and apparently have physical relations with women. He’s definitely not your everyday ghost.

Toffee is a figment of Marc’s imagination but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t exist. Marc can see her and when she takes on corporeal form other people can see her. When she slugs a bad guy with a whiskey bottle he reacts the way a guy would react if he had been slugged with a whiskey bottle. She can drive a car. She also drinks whiskey (with some enthusiasm). She’s a flesh-and-blood woman but she isn’t real. It’s a cute idea.

By 1952 standards this would also qualify as a slightly risqué tale. There’s some definite sexual humour. Toffee might or might not be real but she’s certainly sexy. She wears very little clothing. In fact her idea of getting dressed for the day is to slip on nothing but an almost transparent négligée and then she’s ready to face the world.

As a character Toffee has a certain charm. She’s cute and feisty and she’s fun when she’s got a few drinks in her.

Whether you’ll enjoy this book or not depends on how you feel about zany screwball humour. If that’s your thing you’ll probably like the book, if it’s not your thing you may find it irritating.

No Time for Toffee is definitely an oddball novel. If you enjoy humorous science fiction/fantasy romps and you’re in the mood for something very light indeed you might enjoy this one.

Armchair Fiction have paired this novel with Kris Neville’s Special Delivery in one of their two-novel paperback editions.