I remember when this book came out, as well as the movie on which it’s based, even though I never saw the movie and never read the novelization until now. I remember them because they both came out in 1964, when I was eleven years old, and that artwork featuring Carroll Baker was on the movie poster as well as the book cover. Yowza!
And since I never saw the movie, I can only judge STATION SIX – SAHARA as a novel. I’m happy to report that it’s pretty good. The story opens with German engineer Martin Donetz arriving at the Medina Oil Company Pumping Station Six, somewhere deep in the Sahara Desert. The station is manned – and I mean that literally – by several guys of various nationalities, all of whom are at each other’s throats due to the monotony and isolation of their existence. Another German, Kramer, is in charge of the station. There’s a wisecracking Australian, a stiff-necked former British Army officer, and an enigmatic Spaniard, plus some assorted Arabs. The first half of the book gives us back-stories and a steadily increasing sense of tension, then a beautiful blonde and her possibly sinister ex-husband show up to make all hell break loose.
Well, it never quite does, but there’s some nice suspense anyway. The legendary Michael Avallone plays it pretty straight here, as he did in most of his novelizations. There’s no sign of the goofy Avallone humor you find in the Ed Noon novels. Old pro that he was, he keeps the plot moving along briskly, or as briskly as he can considering the somewhat stodgy storyline he was handed. The movie itself was written by British authors Bryan Forbes and Brian Clemens (who worked on THE AVENGERS, among other iconic British TV series), and in a sign of how times have changed, the copyright of the novelization is in the names of Avallone, Forbes, and Clemens, rather than Allied Artists, the movie production company.
This is a fairly entertaining novel, not a classic by any means but worth reading. And it’s got that great cover art. Well, it was great when I was eleven years old.
Tuesday Night Music: American Honey
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