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Excerpt from

The Dangers of Genius

The Chaotic Brilliance of Silas Marlowe, Inventor, Philosopher, Skulker

By Derek Twite, Ffynche-Cult Publishing, £45.99

Chapter 4: Laboratory Cleanliness

Frenetic inventor Silas Marlowe, keen to try out his refitted Mark II Orgone Accumulator, had no scruples when dragging a young Lily Tiddles into his laboratory in the spring of 1960.

But Marlowe ended the trials shortly afterwards, around the time of his famous and surprise success in creating a neural network with fungal root fibres.


Thanks to witness interviews and Marlowe’s notebooks we are now in a position to understand the sudden abandonment of the tests.

The experimenter was using his garden compost heap as a growth substrate for

the mycelial network. But on a warm summer’s night in 1957, when Marlowe was on solo Skulk duty

in the Lion, temperatures in the heap allowed it to achieve 'stage one' sentience.


The heap blundered into Marlowe’s laboratory, sat down in the accumulator and switched it on. 

Just after dawn, Marlowe returned to find the heap smouldering, and emitting gaseous bursts in Morse code.

Marlowe’s contemporaneous notes indicate that the messages read, repeatedly: 'Why, why, existence?' and  'You can kiss me if you want Jolyon. Do you like my new blue shoes?'

The heap’s synapses had not simply acquired the ability to flirt with subjunctivism, but the accumulator had a dangerous fault. It had sucked out private thoughts of the previous occupant, and passed them to the heap’s overheated mushroom-brain.

Marlowe’s notes suggest the heap then burst into flames. He dowsed the blaze, while the liquidising silage emitted some final Morse, reading, to Marlowe’s bafflement: 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your…'

The ethical scandal would not have come to light were it not from Marlowe’s reckless curiosity.

Having hastily attempted to clear out the remaining straw and mess, he entered the accumulator himself, hoping to find a mental resonance with any secret thoughts held by the once-sentient fungal pile.

Poor housework proved his undoing. He was not discovered for several days, when passing schoolchildren heard intermittent fluted whistling notes from the lab.

The three young pupils opened the accumulator door to find Marlowe’s shrunken form, half-man half-heap. Loaded onto a pushchair he was rushed home.

Marlow’s year-long recovery marked the pinnacle of his theoretical writing, aided by long contemplative hours spent leaning up against shed walls on the village vegetable allotments.


Passers-by were said to marvel at the column of steam rising from him on still winter days.

He passed all his Mark II development notes and diaries to the Reichian Foundation, who proposed a solution that re-stimulated Marlowe’s continued designs.

The critical section of the diary reads:

I still have my Mark I Orgone Accumulator, but on its last service, Canute’s grease monkeys did the oil change and wanted to charge me to replace a leaky spark tube. Damned if I was going to pay for such trivialities, I decided to do the job myself.

Then I got stuck, worried about cross-threading the tube by hand and risk nicking the pre-famulated amulite baseplate. I’m also concerned about the requirement for replacing the 6 hydrocoptic marzlevanes on the ambidacient lunar waneshaft after 2000 hours of operation.

The problem with Marlowe’s refit will be easily spotted by keen Reichians.


The Mark I had 7 marzelvanes. Leaving one slot empty forced the waneshaft into an eccentric rotation, permitting orgone drift -- resonance lasting several days.

Marlowe’s later designs, such as the Mark VII Solo above, eliminated the waneshaft altogether in the generation of  Van der Graaf energy, thanks to the emergence of miniaturised transistor diodes. 

Marlowe never fully shook off the psychological scars, and could never bring himself to take his place of honour during the annual Sentient Heap Challenge.

The Dangers of Genius: The Chaotic Brilliance of Silas Marlowe, Inventor, Philosopher, Skulker is now available in the Cult Shop for just £45.99

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