Sky Goddess – Clive Trent (1937)

sascoverNeale, the American, called himself The Tumbleweed because, like tumbleweeds of his native west, he was forever rolling.

Like the tumbleweeds on The Outer Limits, this one is sentient.  He wants a wife, kids and a home . . . he didn’t want to roll.

He currently holds the cushy post of Acting Deputy Commissioner[1] for Allaha the White Queen of Amatonga in Rhodesia.  Since Robert Mugabe was only 13 years old, it might have still still been a nice place to live.

The White Queen is the son of an English Commander who apparently did not believe in the Brexit, because he sired over a hundred children.  They were of “all shades and coloring” but she was the only one white enough to be queen.  She grew up to marry “the coal-black Chief of the Amatonga”.  The Chief was killed by a lion when “learning to hunt with a rifle instead of a spear”, so  Allaha ascended to the throne.  Later, after her stomach calmed down, she ascended to power.

Back in the present, Allaha and Neale receive word that Lady Diana Sutwell and Fred Blake crashed flying into Capetown.  “Three-score of blacks with spears and loin-cloths” are dispatched to find the white woman . . . and the dude, if he happens to be there.  Before they even have the chance for a single man to be killed by lions — did the Chief’s death teach them nothing? — Blake and Lady Di stumble into camp on their own.  Quickly, her body language is nagging Neale to death:

No brassiere restrained [her breasts].  They stood out, firm little mounds pressing against that shirt of hers as if she was saying “Yes I am a woman.  Now what the hell are you going to do about it?”

Hips alone that would drive a man crazy.  She stood smiling at Neale as if she was saying, “What the hell?  I’m a woman, yes.  What does that mean to you?”

Despite having bedded Allaha the night before, Neale tells Lady Di — the daughter of a duke — that he loves her and wants to marry her despite his lowly station in life.  He knows this is as unlikely as a chauffeur marrying the Lord’s daughter.  He tells her straight-out, though, that he wants to have the sex with her.  She declines, saying that she is content to wait for Mr. Right.

Uber-respecter of women Neale leaves to find the other white meat, Allaha.  Unable to locate her, he circles back to the house.  He overhears Diana telling his assistant Roscoe that of course she and Blake were more than just travel-buddies.  She then disses Neale, saying she prefers a man who lives life to the fullest like Blake.  She and Roscoe then begin making out.  What?

Neale orders Roscoe back to his post.  Blake enters and seems to have no problem with either Roscoe or Neale banging his girl.  Worried of an attack by the natives, Neale prepares by picking up Diana’s clothes.  He says, “I’ll give these back to you before we leave.  Till then you’re going to be just a human female creature, and you’re going about without clothes like any female of the animal species.”  

The natives, led by Allaha, attack the house.  The four white bullet-chuckers easily dispatch the natives attacking the house with spears.  Blake suggests that maybe Diana — who fought while still naked — might get her clothes back.  Diana says, “Hell I don’t want them!” just to torture Neale.  Yeah, that’ll show him.  I mean literally show him.

The natives return to the house and set it on fire — which really should have been Plan A.  The gang is rescued by the Rhodesian police.  After all the stereotypes and racial epithets that I have skipped over, there is this surprisingly progressive passage:

Through the bush came a troop of hard-bitten Rhodesian police troopers firing with carbines from their saddles driving the natives into the depths of the scrub, tramping them down, imposing on them the terror that the white man exercises on the native everywhere in the world.

Only Neale and Diana survive the siege.  That night he goes to her tent.  She says, “You fought so gallantly and I had thought you were just a weakling.  I couldn’t love you when you came to me with your life story instead of dominating me.”

They agree that they hate each, so naturally start making out.  The next day Lady Diana heads back to Buluwayo, hopefully not tailed by paparazzi.

Meh.  But it does deserve special recognition for most gratuitous use of nudity in a story.


  • [1] Or Deputy Acting Commissioner according to his boss.
  • She really is referred to as Lady Di in the story.
  • First published in March 1937.