Derek Raymond’s (Robin Cook) Factory Novels were part of the flow of works meant for the working class, novels that actually carried on the acts of social critique at the street level, a bleak world of shadow lives where the erotic and the sacrificial disturbed the night like angelic whispers from the halls of Pandemonium. Here’s one of Raymond’s main characters talking about unjust laws and police power that on the surface looked perfectly legal, but down below where power hides itself was another world of nefarious truth. He’s speaking a particular Law that had just passed parliament:
It was what I thought of as banana laws – the law of a society in the process of breaking down. Once properly tightened up, it would have meant that I could stop and arrest a man in the street simply because I didn’t like the look on his face, or the way his pockets bulged. It would have synchronized nicely with the plastic ID cards that every citizen would be required to carry by then, and before long we would have turned the country into a birdcage.1
Sadly in our time the planet has become more of a ratcage with no where to run, we all squirm in the secret places of darkness waiting for the axe.
Robin Cook who would use the pseudonym to write five novels in the series would say of the fourth – I Was Dora Suarez, which many see as one of the greatest noir novels of the 20th Century:
Writing Suarez broke me; I see that now. I don’t mean that it broke me physically or mentally, although it came near to doing both. But it changed me; it separated out for ever what was living and what was dead. I realised it was doing so at the time, but not fully, and not how, and not at once. […] I asked for it, though. If you go down into the darkness, you must expect it to leave traces on you coming up — if you do come up. It’s like working in a mine; you hope that hands you can’t see know what they’re doing and will pull you through. I know I wondered half way through Suarez if I would get through — I mean, if my reason would get through. For the trouble with an experience like Suarez is that you become what you’re writing, passing like Alice through the language into the situation. (The Hidden Files, pp. 132–133.)
- Raymond, Derek. The Devil’s Home on Leave (Factory 2) (pp. 25-26). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition.