July 27th, 2007

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PKD back in the day

[WORLDS OF TOMORROW, December 1963]

Remember when Philip K. Dick was an unknown hack working in the zines for a penny a word, rather than the Library of America icon he is today...?

Here's a wonderful Virgil Finlay illo from the final installment of the serial ALL WE MARSMEN, later novelized into the great MARTIAN TIME SLIP (1964).
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Todd Schorr: The Harem Dancer

Hamid al-Khouri, an Iraqi youth who from childhood had exhibited uncanny native skills with paint and ink, chalk and clay, had eventually attended Rhode Island School of Design for two years on an international scholarship before he got radicalized.

Thus was born the art car bomb.

Upon his terrorist epiphany, al-Khouri had returned to the Middle East to wage jihad.

With style.

Disdaining conventional anonymity as the coward's way, betokening a lack of pride in the terrorist's calling, Hamid insisted that every explosive-packed vehicle whose production he oversaw left the bomb factory uniquely detailed. Further contravening the Islamic injunction against figurative representation (his semesters at RISD had left a certain Western impression after all), Hamid opted for eye-popping, kandy-flake, day-glo montages for his death vehicles.

The sixty virgins of paradise awarded each martyr undulated sensuously across bumpers and roofs. Devil worms that would torment the infidels in hell spat venom from hoods and trunks. Troops of turban-wearing monkeys representing traitorous imams cavorted across door panels.

Of course, the authorities at first welcomed such extravagant displays of terrorist art. They felt that their job had been made infinitely simpler: just watch for the al-Khouri specials, and you could preempt any bombing.

But then Hamid's art spawned a thousand imitators.

Pretty soon, every other car in the Middle East was a rolling, gaudy canvas. The ones packed with TNT were indistinguishable from regular traffic.

Everyone braced for an increase in unstoppable bombings.

But then, against all logic, terrorist events began to decrease.

Hamid's students had begun to care too much for their art to destroy it.

Frustrated, Hamid created his masterpiece and took it himself on a one-way mission.

When he awoke in heaven, Ed Roth hugged him first, then cold-cocked him.