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The Gas

Charles Platt

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Science fiction

An SF Gateway eBook: bringing the classics to the future.

Pick any male author, from Terry Southern to Samuel Beckett, and you may find an erotic novel lurking somewhere in his past. During the 1960s and the 1970s, dozens of novelists were tempted to write erotica in a spirit of playful rebellion. Many of the books were written under pseudonyms, and they quickly disappeared. But The Gas lives on.

Published originally by Olympia Press (the imprint that gave the world Lolita), this outrageous tour-de-force describes the comic and horrific consequences when an experimental chemical warfare agent is released accidentally and wafts across southern England. The gas has two effects: it relaxes inhibitions and accelerates hormone production in men and women. Within a matter of hours, people start ripping off their clothes and partying in the street, and "British reserve" becomes a distant memory.

The book's iconoclastic energy and its insistence on violating every taboo have earned it a unique, enduring status. In the words of a reviewer on Amazon (who gave it one star): "It's the most disgusting and completely unbelievable cult trash - yet somehow compelling because it's so yucky. It's the sort of book that when reading makes ya cringe, put down, then look at with furtive glances and pick up again just to get even more grossed out!"

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Charles Platt

Charles Platt (1945 - )
Charles Platt was a science-fiction writer, editor, journalist, critic, and graphic designer from the 1960s through to the 1990s. He created a unique look for New Worlds magazine at the same time that it was publishing his stories, including the grimly predictive "Lone Zone" and the comedic "Garbage World." After emigrating to the United States in 1970, Platt was a science-fiction editor for three American publishers and founded The Patchin Review, a notoriously polemical lit-crit quarterly.

Platt's fiction has ranged from humorous novels, such as Less Than Human and Free Zone, to a meticulously researched techno-thriller, The Silicon Man, which was nominated for a Campbell award. His columns appeared in Interzone, Science Fiction Eye, and Fantasy and Science Fiction before he moved into tech journalism as a senior writer at Wired magazine. His science fiction remains a memorably unusual mix of humor, suspense, prediction, and social comment.

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