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Authors: Robert Rankin

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The Educated Ape & other Wonders of the Worlds






The Educated Ape

and other Wonders

of the Worlds


Robert Rankin


with illustrations by the author




Copyright © Robert Rankin 2012


All rights reserved


The right of Robert Rankin to be
identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance
with the

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.


First published in Great Britain in 2012
by Gollancz An imprint of the Orion Publishing Group

Orion House, 5 Upper St Martin’s Lane,
London WC2H 9EA An Hachette UK Company


A CIP catalogue record for this book is
available from the British Library


ISBN (Cased) 978 0 575 08641 8


ISBN (Export Trade Paperback) 978 0 575
08642 5


1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2


Typeset at The Spartan Press Ltd,


Lymington, Hants


Printed and hound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd,
Croydon, CR0 4YY


The Orion Publishing Group’s policy is
to use papers that are natural, renewable and recyclable products and made from
wood grown in sustainable forests. The logging and manufacturing processes are
expected to conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin.

























‘So little of what could happen, does


Salvador Dali




‘History is not quite the way it was.’


Humphrey Banana




‘Joy, joy moves the wheels

In the universal time machine.’


Friedrich Schiller

‘Ode to Joy’, 1785







Bananary at Syon House raised many a manicured eyebrow.

it was in its way the very acme
of fin de siècle
modernity, it so
forcefully scorned the conventions of how a glass-house, intended for the
cultivation of tropical fruit,
look as to cause tender ladies to
reach for the smelling—salts.

House itself was an ancient pile, the work of Robert Adam, embodying those
classical features and delicate touches that define the English country house
to create a dwelling both noble and stately. A venerable residence all can

Bananary, however, was something completely different. It boldly bulged from
the rear of Syon House in an alarming fashion that troubled the hearts of those
who dared to venture within, or viewed it from what was considered to be a safe

geometry was deeply wrong, the shape beyond grotesque. For although wrought from
the traditional mediums of ironwork and glass, these materials had been
tortured into such weird and outré shapes and forms as beggared a sane
description. This was clearly not the work of Sir Joseph Paxton, whose genius
conceived the Crystal Palace. Nor was it that of Señor Voice, the London tram
conductor turned architect whose radical confections were currently making him
the toast of the town, and whose bagnio in Baker Street had been showered with
awards by the Royal Institute of British Architects. The Bananary at Syon House
left most folk lost for words.

gentleman who was rarely lost for words was the Society Columnist of
newspaper. He had recently visited Syon House to conduct an interview
with its owner Lord Brentford. His lordship had, four years earlier, been
pronounced ‘lost, believed dead’, having gone down, as it were, on the
of Mars
when she crashed into a distant ocean upon her maiden voyage. His
apparent return from the dead had caused quite a sensation in the British
Empire’s capital. His horror at the Bananary, built in his absence and adjoined
to the great house that was his by noble birth, had been — and still was —

Society Columnist of
The Times
had made a note of his lordship’s
quotable quotes.

this abomination is to be likened unto anything,’ Lord Brentford had fumed, ‘it
is a brazen blousy harlot who has unwelcomely attached herself to the
well—tailored coat of a distinguished elderly gentleman!’

manner of man,’ Lord Brentford further fumed, ‘could bring this blasphemy into

is —‘ and here he employed a phrase that would be reemployed many years later
by a prince amongst men ‘— a monstrous carbuncle upon the face of a much-loved

would soon be torn down, Lord Brentford assured the Society Columnist, and he,
Lord Brentford, would dance upon the scattered ruins as one would upon the
grave of a conquered foe.


what the designer of the Bananary had to say about this was anybody’s guess.
But then he was
a reader of
The Times,
nor was he even a man.

had, however, been born upon Earth, unlike many who, upon this warm summer’s
evening, gaped open-jawed at the Bananary and thronged the electrically
illuminated gardens of Syon Park.

and well-laid gardens, these, if perhaps overly planted with tall banana trees.

moneyed and titled elite had come at Lord Brentford’s request to celebrate his
safe return and see him unveil his plans for a Grand Exposition: The Wonders of
the Worlds. His lordship had spent his years in forced exile planning this
extravaganza, and all, it was hoped, would soon be explained and revealed.

great and the good were gathered here.


rajahs and mandarins, princes and paladins,

and barons and Lairds of Dunoon,

priest-kings and potentates, moguls of member states,

the first man who walked on the Moon.


the Poetry Columnist of
The Times
so pleasantly put it.

going on to put it some more for another twenty-seven verses.

strolled emissaries and ecclesiastics from the planet Venus. Tall, imposing
creatures these, gaunt, high-cheekboned and elegant, with golden eyes and
elaborate coiffures. They gloried in robes of lustrous Venusian silks that swam
with spectrums whose colours had no names on Earth.

ecclesiastics were exotic beings of ethereal beauty who had about them a
quality of such erotic fascination that they all but mesmerised those men of
Earth with whom they deigned to speak. Although their femininity appeared unquestionable,
the nature of their sexuality had become the subject of both public debate and
private fantasy. It was popularly rumoured that they were tri-maphrodite, being
male and female and ‘of the spirit’, all in a single body. Nobody on Earth,
however, knew for certain.

ecclesiastics wore diaphanous gowns that afforded tantalising glimpses of
beneath. From their delicate fingers they swung
brazen censers upon long gilded chains, censers which this evening breathed
queer and haunting perfumes into an air already overburdened by the heady
fragrance of bananas.

Ambassador of Jupiter was also present. Typical of his race, he was a fellow
both hearty and rotund, given to immoderate laughter, extravagant gestures and
a carefree disposition that most who met him found appealing. His skin,
naturally grey as an elephant’s hide, was this evening toned a light pink in a
respectful mimicry of Englishness. His deep-throated chucklings rattled the
upper panes of the Bananary, eliciting fears of imminent collapse from the
faint-hearted but further mirth from himself and his Jovian entourage.

was difficult not to like the Jovians. For although tensions between the three
inhabited planets of this solar system — Venus, Jupiter and Earth — were
oft-times somewhat strained, the jovial Jovians found greater favour amongst
Londoners than the aloof and mysterious visitors from Venus.

there was that certain
about the ecclesiastics …

were, of course, no Martians present at this glamorous soirée, for the Martian
race was happily extinct!

story of how this came about was known, in part, to almost every child in
England, told as a bedtime tale to put them soundly asleep.

upon a time,’ so they were told, ‘in the year eighteen eighty-five, Phnaarg,
the evil King of Mars, declared war upon Earth and sent a mighty fleet of
spaceships to attack the British Empire. These fearsome warships landed in
Surrey and from them came terrible three-legged engines of death. The soldiers
of the Crown fought bravely but could not best the Martians, who employed most
wicked and ungentlemanly weapons against them. All would have been lost if not
for patriotic bacteria in the service of Her Majesty the Queen, God bless her,
which bravely killed the horrid invaders, and everyone lived happily ever
after. Now go to sleep or I will give you a smack.’

was all well and good.

was, however, a second half to this tale, but few were the children who ever
heard it.

avoid the risk of further Martian attacks,’ so the unheard half goes, ‘Mr
Winston Churchill took control of the situation and formulated a top—secret
plan. With the aid of senior boffins Lord Charles Babbage and Lord Nikola
Tesla, several of the abandoned Martian spaceships were converted for human
piloting. They were then passengered by the incurables from the isolation
hospitals of the Home Counties and dispatched to the Red Planet. It was
effectively the birth of germ warfare, and it put paid to all the Martians of

the British Empire encompassed another world and Queen Victoria became Empress
of both India and Mars. With the evil Martians now defeated, other inhabitants
of the solar system came forward to establish friendly relations with Earth,
which then joined Jupiter and Venus to form a family of planets.

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