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Literature / The Greenwich Trilogy

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The Greenwich Trilogy is a series of three humorous science fiction novels written by three separate authors, all of whom appear as protagonists of the series. Set in and written during The '60s, the series—especially the first book—was considered somewhat shocking for its positive and reasonably realistic portrayal of the hippie culture of the time.

  • The Butterfly Kid (1967), by Chester Anderson, tells how Chester and his friend Michael Kurland find a stoned kid on the streets of New York's Greenwich Village, who is creating butterflies by opening and closing his hand. This leads to the discovery of a plot by alien lobsters to take over the world by unleashing a drug that makes hallucinations manifest in reality—the Reality Pill. Fortunately, Chester and friends have enough experience with drugs to be able to turn the lobster's plot against them.
  • The Unicorn Girl (1969), by Michael Kurland, tells how Michael and Chester meet a girl who is looking for her lost Unicorn, and stumble into a series of world-shifting "Blips" which threaten the very foundations of reality. Along the way, they encounter their old friend, writer and stage magician TA Waters.
  • The Probability Pad (1970), by TA Waters, is long out-of-print, and is essentially a replay of The Buttefly Kid with a different set of aliens.

The Butterfly Kid was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1968.

Tropes in this series:

  • Actual Pacifist: The invading blue lobsters in The Butterfly Kid are pacifists who refuse to engage in uncivilized violence themselves, but are perfectly willing to have humans to wreak havoc on each other, under the influence of their Reality Pill.
  • Alien Invasion: The giant blue alien lobsters in The Butterfly Kid are attempting to invade the Earth by introducing the Reality Pill, which causes your hallucinations to physically manifest. They hope to distract and disrupt the world with these hallucinatory manifestations long enough to take over.
  • Alternate Universe: The Unicorn Girl is all about the heroes involuntary exploration of a series of alternate universes.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Reality Pill in The Butterfly Kid allows you to create objects with your imagination. It also makes you extremely stoned, which makes focusing on creating something useful quite difficult.
  • Captain Obvious: Played with in The Butterfly Kid, where Chester points to Michael Kurland as an example of Whitehead's statement that "It requires an unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious." So he keeps pointing to the obvious everyone has overlooked.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: In The Unicorn Girl, the people with the Weirdness Censor regarding nudity are easy prey for immodest criminals.
  • Fantastic Drug: The Butterfly Kid gives us the "reality pill", a psychedelic which causes hallucinations that physically manifest. The alien invaders planned to use it to cause chaos. Unfortunately for them, our heroes are hippies who know how to handle their drugs....
  • Flying Saucer: One repeatedly shows up around the same time as the world-shifting BLIPs in The Unicorn Girl.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In The Unicorn Girl, this is given a truly unique justification. The characters visit a Victorian-like world where most people cannot even see nudity, a fact which some thieves are very happy to take advantage of. When our heroes get accused of the crime, they end up resorting to a naked escape themselves.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Lobster, actually. The invading aliens in The Butterfly Kid resemble giant blue lobsters, complete with those scary claws (which they don't actually use, being Actual Pacifists).
  • Human Hard Drive: In The Unicorn Girl, the protagonists encounter a traveling band of hippies, which include a young woman who read an entire encyclopedia while under the influence of powerful drugs. She is able to answer an astounding array of technical or historical questions, but nothing about herself or her own feelings.
  • Mushroom Samba: The The Butterfly Kid revolves around a plot by pacifist aliens to take over the world by overdosing humanity with a drug that causes solid, physical hallucinations that can be seen by people other than the one taking the drug.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In The Unicorn Girl, Michael and friends are visiting a Victorian-style world, when they come across a bunch of people frolicking naked in a field, who begin to spell out obscenities with their bodies as the travellers pass by.
  • Pretty Butterflies: The Butterfly Kid opens with Chester meeting a stoned kid on the streets of New York's Greenwich Village, who is sitting there, making butterflies appear from his hand.
  • Psychoactive Powers: The Reality Pill allows you to manifest objects and even small creatures (like butterflies) just by thinking of them. Unfortunately, it's also a powerful hallucinogen, which makes thinking up useful objects or creatures very difficult.
  • Shout Out Literature: In The Unicorn Girl, Michael and friends end up visiting the world of Lord Darcy (years before Michael took over the job of writing Lord Darcy novels).
  • Stage Magician: When Michael encounters fellow author Tom Waters in The Unicorn Girl, he (Tom) is working as a fortune teller and trickster at a traveling carnival. (In real life, Tom Waters was indeed a professional magician and member of the Magic Castle.)
  • Torture Always Works: Subverted in The Butterfly Kid. First, the protagonist is asked by his alien captors "What do you do?", and finds his vocal system, without his own intervention, telling them what he does, starting with a detailed account of his digestive processes. Then he is strapped into the alien torture machine, but their ideas of torture are... alien; and he finds them easy to withstand, with the possible exception of being forced to watch hallucinations of Donald Duck playing Brahms.
  • Water Source Tampering: The alien lobsters plan to take over the world by introducing their Reality Pill into the Earth's water supplies, and then move in during the ensuing chaos. Unfortunately for them, they choose New York's Greenwich Village, during The '60s, as the place for their initial testing of the pill on humans, and people in Greenwich Village know how to cope with powerful hallucinogens.
  • Weirdness Censor: In The Unicorn Girl, in the Victorian-style world they visit, most people are utterly unable to see anyone nude. This proves handy for our heroes when they have to make a hasty escape.

Alternative Title(s): The Butterfly Kid, The Unicorn Girl, The Probability Pad