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Sheesh. What a lousy title.
Flesh Mob was published by Midnight Reader, a fellow imprint of Nightstand Books, in 1962. I can tell at a glance that it's my work, although I don't specifically recall writing it. And I must have put a title on it, but I an assure you that it wasn't Flesh Mob. It could only have been the inspiration of some editor in Illinois.
Several notables filled that role over the years, including Earl Kemp, A. J. Budrys, and Harlan Ellison, but it's hard to imagine any of those three making a eureka moment of Flesh Mob.
For years it struck me as merely a bad title, two works that when combined had a sort of reverse synergy, amounting to rather less than the sum of their parts. Then just this week I looked at the title and saw that it could only be a pun on the phrase "flash mob."
That still didn't make it a good title, but at least it gave it a lame reason for being.
Except not. Because a little internet research shows that "flash mob" came into existence, as both phrase and concept, sometime shortly after the turn of the present century, and approximately forty years after my humble little novel first appeared wherever bad books were sold. AJ and Harlan and Earl were grounded in science fiction, but that's not enough to account for a title that was a pun on a phrase nobody would utter for another four decades.
Never mind. The book's a multiple-viewpoint novel, with a rich cast of characters. Here's a sample of two of them:
"I'M LEAVING MATT," Kitty said.
Linc digested this bit of information. She searched his face, trying to decide whether he approved or disapproved. His face was a mask. She couldn't tell how he felt about it.
"I'm leaving him," she said again. "He didn't even come home last night. And the fact doesn't even bother me. There's not a thing left between us, Linc. Nothing at all. He can go his way and I can go mine and neither of us gives a whoop in hell about the other one. That's no basis for marriage."
"Will he give you a divorce?"
"I think so. He barely knows I'm alive. He'll probably be glad to get rid of me."
Linc shrugged. "His pride might be hurt. And he might be upset from a pure financial standpoint. Divorce can be costly to a man. Alimony."
"I wouldn't want alimony from him."
He said: "What will you do after the divorce?"
"Oh," she said. "I don't know. I may stay in Clifton, at least until I decide where I want to go next. New York eventually, I think. Small towns can get to you. I think I'm ready for the city."
"You'd fit right in."
"But for the time being we can have our fun. Do you feel like… like some fun now, Linc?"
"God, you're insatiable."
"I've been inactive for a long time," she told him. "Too long. It can get to you. Are you interested, Linc?"
"I'll race you to the bedroom," he said.
There you go, Gentle Reader. Flesh Mob. It is what it is…