Thursday, December 22, 2022
Clyde Allison's Gamefinger (Man From Sadisto 6)
What made Knowles so special among sleaze writers is that his books are not just sleazy, they’re also extremely funny. He was a very gifted comic writer. He also had a knack for coming up with truly outrageous plots.
His Man From SADISTO spy novels featuring Agent 0008 may be his best-known works but sadly they are now exceptionally difficult to find and used copies are astronomically expensive. I would love to collect all twenty books and as soon as I have a spare five thousand dollars that’s exactly what I’ll do.
One single title in the series has been brought back into print and that novel is Gamefinger. It appears to have fallen into the public domain which is the reason it’s the only one to be currently in print.
It certainly starts with a bang. Of sorts. Actually it’s a long steamy reasonably graphic sex scene. Ace SADISTO agent Trevor Anderson (who acts as narrator) is holidaying in Maine, using the cover name Rex Kingston. He’s staying in a log cabin so remote that it can only be reached by floatplane. He hasn’t heard a floatplane land so he is rather surprised when he sees a naked girl floating in the lake. She isn’t dead. He soon discovers that she’s very much alive. She is six feet tall and blonde and looks like every man’s fantasy of a naked amazon. She’s also very friendly. After they’ve had a long hot lovemaking session they decide that introductions might be in order. Her name is Karni. Then suddenly Agent 0008 receives a staggering karate blow and he doesn’t know anything until consciousness returns some considerable time later.
He regains consciousness in SADISTO headquarters. SADISTO is a top-secret US Government intelligence agency. Its mission is to protect the Free World. Protecting the Free World involves killing people and SADISTO’s elite triple-zero agents are licensed to kill. They’re not just licensed to kill, they’re expecting to keep in practise. Preferably by killing people who deserve to be killed (a category that includes anyone of whom SADISTO disapproves). Their ethical standards would shock the average Mob hitman. But it’s OK, they’re killing for freedom.
Agent 0008’s latest mission is his most important yet. The Free World is in deadly peril. A dangerous madman code-named Gamefinger has hatched a plot of such terrifying and sinister evil that it almost takes one’s breath away. Gamefinger intends to end war. This of course would be disastrous. Apart from anything else it would be bad for business and there’s no more profitable business than war. Gamefinger must be stopped.
Gamefinger’s scheme is ingenious. He wants to revive the Roman gladiatorial games in order to provide an outlet for human violence. His new gladiatorial games will be much more brutal than the Roman version, they will involve lots of nude girls and they will be televised live to the entire world. The games will cost hundreds of lives but could save millions of lives if Gamefinger is right. Agent 0008 has to grudgingly admit that it’s a genuine ethical dilemma and that maybe Gamefinger has logic on his side. But 0008 still has a job to do, and his job is to stop Gamefinger.
SADISTO’s plan is to infiltrate 0008 into Gamefinger’s organisation.
There’s plenty of pointed political satire in this book. SADISTO are the good guys but they’re more immoral than the bad guys. SADISTO’s agents are on the side of freedom but they’re sadistic bloodthirsty killers. It’s clever political satire because the author really does raise some pertinent questions about whether the good guys really are the good guys.
There’s also a great deal of black comedy, and the book is at times outrageously funny.
And there’s a lot sex. The sex is described in fairly explicit terms but manages not to come across as crude schoolboy stuff. This is well-crafted erotica.
Agent 0008 is an intriguing hero. He’s very much an anti-hero. He has no morals whatsoever. He doesn’t claim to have any morals. Killing is not just an integral part of his job, it is for 0008 a very pleasant part of the job. He can’t think of anything more enjoyable than killing and torturing people because he’s doing it for the Free World. He can feel virtuous about it. He’s the most chillingly nasty of all fictional spies but he’s brutally honest about himself. He’s a complete rogue but vaguely likeable in his cheerful amorality. He doesn't have any morals but he does understand morality.
The idea of televised deadly gladiatorial-style games being used for purposes of mind control became a very common trope in the 70s and 80s, especially in post-apocalyptic science fiction movies. But William Knoles/Clyde Allison came up with the idea way back in 1966. It’s an idea that may have been used in science fiction stories prior to that time but offhand I can’t think of any examples. Either way it was certainly an idea that would have seemed fresh and startling in 1966.
Gamefinger is basically a sleaze novel (although it is at least very skilfully written sleaze) with a spy plot tacked on but it’s an intriguing spy plot
It’s intended to be sexy and funny and satirical and it succeeds on all counts. Gamefinger is good dirty fun. Highly recommended.