Deus ex machina: A plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly and abruptly resolved by an unexpected and seemingly unlikely occurrence, typically so much as to seem contrived.
Phil: I like nerdy reading. I like sci-fi. I like space ships and I love the TV show Thunderbirds. Not for the plots, which are mostly rubbish, but for the models and whizz-bang stuff. The twenty-first century doesn’t look as good as it did when Gerry Anderson designed it!
Anyway, I was browsing in an especially nerdy (even for me) shop and spotted book for a couple of quid.
Thunderbirds Lost World isn’t a novelisation of one of the TV shows. No, it’s a brand new (for 1966 when it was published) novel offering a thrilling tale.
Investing the disappearance of two airliners over New Guinea, Thunderbird One and pilot Scott Tracey find themselves crash landing after his craft is hit by a mysterious invisible force. After some escapades that would be impossible to film with puppets, he is rescued by Thunderbird Two.
Separately, a boffin is planning an expedition to the island. He disappears and Scott heads off to find him. They suspect International Rescue’s arch-enemy, The Hood, might have something to do with it all.
Anyway, it turns out there is a race of being hidden on the island who are using alien technology to do bad things and are planning to take over the world.
Things look sticky for our heroes – they are trapped in jail with no hope of escape or rescue.
Then there is an earthquake, the jail doors fly open, the baddies disappear and everyone gets away to live happily ever after.
Pretty much an entire novel-worth of buildup, the ground shakes and everything is OK?
How on earth did author John W Jennison get away with this?
I had wondered as the bookmark was nearly at the back and we seemed a long way off a plot resolution, but I didn’t see this coming. Can anyone name a more blatant ending thrown in because the author wanted to go down the pub or was just close to their deadline?
(Nerd note: If you have a copy with a dust jacket, it shows Thunderbird One flying over a dinosaur. There are no dinosaurs in the story.)