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Charles Monteith – a kindred spirit

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Captain Justice flies to the rescue!
Brian Aldiss Writer
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I then read Biggles. Biggles was a great favourite for boys, and I took up a weekly magazine, called Modern Boy. How old was I when I started Modern Boy, I wonder? Possibly eight? And in Modern Boy, there were lots of adventures, week by week, that took place all over the world. For instance, there was a chap with his kanakas, scouring the Pacific that I quite enjoyed.

But what I most enjoyed were the stories of a man calling himself Murray Leinster... no, he was called... sometimes Leinster, but, generally Murray Roberts. He wrote stories about Captain Justice. Captain Justice, my hero! My hero. Captain Justice had a floating island called Station A that was in the middle of the Atlantic. And Captain Justice would be called upon when there was any global problem too big for the USA and Britain to solve. Send for Captain Justice. And Captain Justice had a wonderful airship, called the Flying Cloud. And the Flying Cloud was the invention of a Professor Flaznagel, and Flaznagel was one of Captain Justice's team. And this wonderful Flying Cloud, you could pull a lever and it would become totally invisible. Wonderful! Wonderful!

So, Justice had a great deal of problems on his hands. For instance, it turned out that the Sargasso Sea was full of frogmen, who were six feet high and very nasty indeed, and Captain Justice had to defeat them.

And eventually – I think it was possibly Murray Roberts' last Captain Justice book – he wrote a novel called, The World in Darkness. I collected all of his books – they were 4d, four pence – and I gave them to a science fiction museum on the Continent.

Brian Aldiss (1925-2017) was an English writer and anthologies editor, best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. He was educated at Framlingham College, Suffolk, and West Buckland School, Devon, and served in the Royal Signals between 1943-1947. After leaving the army, Aldiss worked as a bookseller in Oxford, an experience which provided the setting for his first book, 'The Brightfount Diaries' (1955). His first science fiction novel, 'Non-Stop', was published in 1958 while he was working as literary editor of the 'Oxford Mail'. His many prize-winning science fiction titles include 'Hothouse' (1962), which won the Hugo Award, 'The Saliva Tree' (1966), which was awarded the Nebula, and 'Helliconia Spring' (1982), which won both the British Science Fiction Association Award and the John W Campbell Memorial Award. Several of his books have been adapted for the cinema. His story, 'Supertoys Last All Summer Long', was adapted and released as the film 'AI' in 2001. His book 'Jocasta' (2005), is a reworking of Sophocles' classic Theban plays, 'Oedipus Rex' and 'Antigone'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Biggles, Modern Boy, Captain Justice, Flying Cloud, Professor Flaznagel, Murray Roberts

Duration: 3 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2014

Date story went live: 17 August 2015