Image of the Beast / Blown, p.1Philip José Farmer
UNSPEAKABLE ACTS …
After viewing his partner's mutilation in a home
movie, a horrified private detective pursues
leads in the most disgusting case of his career.
His investigation plunges him into a nightmare
of sexual brutality and supernatural bestiality.
It is a journey he—and you—will never forget.
Image of the Beast and Blown are two under-
ground classics that tell this fantastic story
complete in one volume. They are now avail-
able for the first time in ten years.
With a Foreword by Theodore Sturgeon
PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER
FOREWORD BY THEODORE STURGEON
For Forrest J. Ackerman,
the Scarlet Pimpernel of fantasy
IMAGE OF THE BEAST and BLOWN
Copyright © 1968, 1969 by Philip Jose Farmer
Cover illustration by Enric: Copyright © 1979 by Playboy
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored
in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by an electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording means or otherwise without
prior written permission of the author.
Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada by
Playboy Press, Chicago, Illinois. Printed in the United States of
America. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 79-53029.
Reprinted by arrangement with Scott Meredith Literary Agency.
Books are available at quantity discounts for promotional and in-
dustrial use. For further information, write our sales promotion
agency: Ventura Associates, 40 East 49th Street, New York, New
First Playboy Press printing October 1979.
"I hear you're writing pornography now."
Thus spake one of the acquaintances of Philip José
Farmer recently. The question seems simple and straight-
forward. It was, obviously, asked by a man who honestly
felt he could define his own terms, and probably that the
terms he used were so self-evident that they didn't need
There is a vast number of honestly simple-minded
people who can, without hesitation, define
pornography science fiction
evil honorable peace
law and order love
and think, and act, and legislate, and sometimes burn,
jail, and kill on the basis of their definitions. These are
the Labellers, and they are without exception the most
lethal and destructive force ever faced by any species on
this or any other planet, and I shall tell you clearly and
Simple truth is hard to come by. Virtually everything
which looks like the truth is subject to question and
modification. "Water runs downhill." At what tempera-
ture? Where—in an Apollo capsule, for example, or in the
input end of a siphon? "Skirts are for girls." Would you
like to face up to a batallion of the kilted Black Watch
or a company of the hardbitten Greek evzones? (They
even have lace on their skirts.) "E=MC2," said that
burnished deity of the relative, Albert Einstein, "may
after all be a local phenomenon."
The lethal destructiveness inherent in Labelling lies
in the fact that the Labeller, without exception, over-
looks the most basic of all characteristic of everything
in the universe—passage: that is to say, flux and change.
If he stops and thinks (which is not his habit) the La-
beller must concede that rocks change, and mountains;
that the planets change, and the stars, and that they have
not stopped because of the purely local and most minor
phenomenon that he happens to be placing a Label on in
this place at this point in time.
Passage is more evident in what we call life than in
any other area. It is not enough to say that living things
change; one must go further and say that life is change.
That which does not change is abhorrent to the most
basic laws of the universe; that which does not change
is not alive; and in the presence of that which does not
change, life cannot exist.
This is why the Labeller is lethal. He is the dead
hand. His' is the command, Stop! He is death's friend,
life's enemy. He does not want, he cannot face, things
as they really are—moving, flowing, changing; he wants
them to stop.
I think it's because of a perfectly normal desire for se-
curity. He wants to feel safe. He does not know that he
has mistaken stasis for stability. If only everything
would stop, if only today and tomorrow would be just
like yesterday (he never looks really carefully at yester-
day, you understand, so he thinks everything was
motionless and peaceful and law-abiding yesterday,
which of course it wasn't) he could really feel safe. He
doesn't realize that he has become anti-life and pro-death
—that what he is actually about is a form of suicide,
for himself and for his species. He doesn't realize that
in the sanctuary of the church of his choice, any given
Sunday (or Saturday) morning, he will see respectable
matrons dressed in clothes which would have been for-
bidden, not only on the streets, but on the beaches,
within the memory of the older parishioners. He has
forgotten that it was only a few short years ago that
something close to cultural shock swept through our
species because Clark Gable, as Rhett Butler, said
"Damn" in a movie. He overlooks all evidence, all
truth, and he Labels; and he is absolutely deadly, so
watch out for him.
Philip José Farmer is a superb writer and in every
sense a good man, who seems to have been born with the
knowledge that the truth—the real truth—is to be sought
with the devotion of those who sought the Holy Grail,
and to be faced openly, even when it turned out to be
something that he and the rest of us would much rather
it wasn't. Ever since (in 1952) he exploded into science
fiction with an extraordinary novelette called The Lovers,
he has continued to call it what it is, show it as he finds
it. The book you hold in your hands is a perfect case in
point. The Labellers will be gone from here long about
page 5, crying "Stop!" (A word which of all words is
most against God.) A handful of poor tilted souls, whom
the Labellers have frustrated and perverted, will drool
wetly all the way through, skipping all the living con-
nective tissue and getting their jollies out of context.
(Some of these will ther
book, to Stop anyone else from getting any.) The rest of
you will take these pages for what they are: truths (for
many of these things are truly within us all, whether
you find that a pleasant truth or not) and the seeking
for truth; the symbols and analogs of truth and of the
quest for truth—and a hell of a good story.
After I had read The Image of the Beast, and be-
fore I wrote these comments, I called Phil Farmer for
one clarification. In all my reading and researching,
and in all my hardly impoverished imaginings, I have
never run across an image like the one concerning "the
most beautiful woman in the world" and the long, glis-
tening thing, with a golf-ball-sized head complete with
a face and a little beard, which emerged from her womb
and entered her throat. Aside from the amazement
and shock which it evokes, it filled me with wonder,
for it is unique, and was, to me, without literary or
psychopathological referents. They are, he tells me, Joan
of Arc and the famous/infamous Gilles de Rais (which
in itself is an odd coupling!), and he went on to tell
me that they are part of a far larger symbolic structure,
to be elucidated in two more books. This is why IMAGE
has the subtitle-note An exorcism: Ritual I. Therefore,
like everything else Farmer has written, IMAGE is fable.
That is to say, like all of Aesop and a lot of Shake-
speare, the story is larger than the narrative—the play
means more than the events described. Calculated dis-
comfort is a well-known path to truth. The lotus position
is at first an agony. A fast of forty days and
nights is only for the dedicated, and while it might lead
to a meeting with Satan, it is recorded somewhere that
Satan can thereupon be defeated. I take Farmer's
structured shock accordingly, and go with it, and eagerly
await the completion of his pattern.
For you can't keep a good man down, friends and
Labellers—neither his goodness nor his manhood.
GREEN MILK CURDLED.
Smoke rose to the light, and smoke and light fused to
become green milk. The milk fissioned to become smoke
and darkness above. As below.
Smog was outside, and smog was inside.
Green and sour.
The green and sour odor and taste came not only from
the smog, which had forced its tendrils into the air-
conditioned building, nor from the tobacco plumes in the
room. It came from memory of what he had seen that
morning and anticipation of what he would see within
the next few minutes.
The film room of the Los Angeles Police Department
was darker than Herald Childe had ever seen it. The
beam of light from the projection booth usually tended
to make gray what otherwise would have been black.
But the cigar and cigarette smoke, the smog, and the
mood of the viewers, blackened everything. Even the
silver light from the screen seemed to pull light in in-
stead of casting it back at the viewers.
Where the beam overhead struck the tobacco fumes,
green milk formed and curdled and soured. So thought
Herald Childe. The image was unforced. The worst smog
in history was smothering Los Angeles and Orange coun-
ties. Not a mouse of a wind had stirred for a day and a
night and a day and a night. On the third day, it seemed
that this condition might go on and on.
The smog. He could now forget the smog.
Spread-eagled on the screen was his partner (possibly
ex-partner). The wine-red draperies behind him glowed,
and Matthew Colben's face, normally as red as Chianti
half-diluted with water, was now the color of a trans-
parent plastic bag bulging with wine.
The camera swung away to show the rest of his
body and some of the room. He was flat on his back and
nude. His arms were strapped down beside him and
his legs, also strapped down, formed a V. His penis
lolled across his left thigh like a fat drunken worm.
The table must have been made for just this purpose
of tying down men with their legs separated so others
could walk in between the legs.
There was only the Y-shaped wooden table, the thick
wine-red carpet, and the wine-red draperies. The camera
swept around to show the circle of draperies and then
turned back and swooped up to show the full form of
Matthew Colben as seen by a fly on the ceiling. Col-
ben's head was on a dark pillow. He looked straight up
at the camera and smiled sillily. He did not seem to care
that he was bound and helpless.
The previous scenes had shown why he did not care
and had demonstrated how Colben had progressed,
through conditioning, from impotent fear to rigid antici-
Childe, having seen the complete film once, felt his
entrails slip about each other and knot each other and,
their tails coiled around his backbone, pull until they
were choking each other.
Colben grinned, and Childe murmured, "You fool!
You poor fucking fool!"
The man in the seat on Childe's right shifted and said,
"What'd you say?"
But his penis felt as if it were being sucked back up
into his belly and drawing his testicles after it.
The draperies opened, and the camera moved in to
show a huge black-rimmed, long-lashed, dark-blue eye.
Then it moved down along a straight narrow nose and
broad, full, and bright red lips. A pink-red tongue slipped
out between unnaturally white and even teeth, shot back
and forth a few times, dropped a bead of saliva on
the chin, and then disappeared.
The camera moved back, the draperies were thrust
open, and a woman entered. Her black glossy
hair was combed straight back and fell to her waist.
Her face was garish with beauty patches, rouge, powder,
green and red and black and azure paint around the
eyes and a curl of powder-blue down her cheeks, arti-
ficial eyelashes, and a tiny golden nose-ring. A green
robe, tied at her neck and waist, was so thin that she
might as well have been naked. Despite which, she untied
the cords about the neck and waist and slid the robe off
and showed that she could be even more naked.
The camera moved downward and closer. The hollow
at the base of the neck was deep and the bones beneath
hinted at exquisiteness.
. The breasts were full but not
large, slightly conical and up-tilted, with narrow and
long, almost sharp, nipples. The breasts were hung upon
a large rib cage. The belly sank inward; she was skinny
about the hips, the bones stuck out just a little. The cam-
era went round, or she pivoted—Childe could not tell
which because the camera was so close to her and he
had no reference point. Her buttocks were like huge un-
The camera traveled around her, showing the narrow
waist and ovoid hips and then turned so that it was look-
ing up toward the ceiling—which was covered with a
drape-like material the color of a broken blood-vessel
in a drunkard's eye. The camera glanced up her white
thigh; light was cast into the hollow between the legs—
she must have spread her legs then—and there was the
little brown eye of the anus and the edge of the mouth
of her vagina. The hairs were yellow, which meant that
the woman had either dyed her head hairs or her pubic
The camera, still pointing upward, passed between her
legs—which looked like the colossal limbs of a statue now
—and then traveled slowly upward. It straightened out
as it rose and was looking directly at her pubes. These
were partly covered by a triangular cloth which was taped
on. Childe did not know why. Modesty certainly was not
He had seen this shot before, but he braced himself.
The first time, he—in common with the others in the
room—had jumped and some had sworn and one had
The cloth was tight against the genitals, and a shift in
angle of lighting suddenly revealed that the cloth was
semitransparent. The hairs formed a dark triangle, and
the slit took in the cloth enough to show that the cloth
was tight against the slit.
Abruptly, and Childe jumped again even though he
knew what was coming, the cloth sank in more deeply,
as if something inside the vagina had spread the lips open.
Then something bulged against the cloth, something that
could only have come from within the woman. It thrust
the cloth up; the cloth shook as if a tiny fist or head
were beating against it, and then the bulge sank back,
Image of the Beast / Blown by Philip José Farmer / Science Fiction / Horror / Fantasy / Mystery & Detective have rating 3.6 out of 5 / Based on25 votes