TRASHY TUESDAY: Scorpion: Second Generation by Michael R. Linaker (NEL, 1982)
Following in the success of Jaws, there was a rush of paperback novels in the late 1970s and early 1980s featuring vengeful creatures of all types, from rats to frogs and even killer moths.
New English Library (NEL) was never one to miss a good opportunity and after contributing to the start of the trend with James Herbert’s The Rats (1974), they added books on cats, fish and finally scorpions!
Michael R. Linaker’s Scorpion appeared in 1980 and was successful enough to spawn a follow-up Scorpion: Second Generation in 1982.
Having staved off the attack by breast-eating scorpions in Scorpion, the British people had little time to recover before a more deadly second wave appeared in Scorpion: Second Generation:
“this time grown huge, irradiated, mutant. Their claws could strip the living flesh of man or woman down to the white bone. Could snap and splinter the bone into tortured fragments. Gouging, tearing, blinding, they held their bloodied victims while they pumped spurts of venom into the agonised body.” (From the back cover).
The book follows the established pattern of this sub-genre, with the creatures suddenly arriving, wreaking havoc and then being defeated. Perhaps with an eye to a possible film, a number of the victims are attractive and naked and there is a horrific early scene involving a massacre at a country circus. There is also a battle between bikers on choppers and the scorpions. Fortunately there is a steely-eyed police detective and a scorpion specialist to save the day, and to contribute the occasional lecture on the dangers of tampering with nature. There is also the occasional sex scene. The book ends with the possibility of the scorpion plague spreading to the United States, but there was never a third book.
The Cover: the cover has the typical NEL touch of gruesome, bloodied creatures and a screaming woman. The background is of the gloomy English countryside, lit by lightening, being overrun by giant scorpion. The scale is all wrong, and the scorpions are much larger on the cover than they are in the book. They also look fake and are not well drawn. The centre piece is more effective, and is of a giant scorpion with blood dripping off its claws and stinger. The screaming woman has an incredible set of teeth! There is nothing subtle about it and when combined with the gruesome description on the back cover it would have worked quite well as a marketing tool for its target audience. The only surprise is that there is no suggestion of the sex or nudity, that was frequently favoured by NEL covers. I do not know who the cover artist is, but is a good horror cover.