Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Dillon And The Pirates of Xonira by Derrick Ferguson

Dillon And The Pirates of Xonira
by Derrick Ferguson
2012 Pulpwork Press

Dillion is hired to investigate his old friend Lord Chancellor C'jai of Xonira, accused of piracy. We get submarine battles and swordfights, but not near as over-the-top as other entries. 

Available from Amazon

Monday, June 5, 2023

Rogue by Greg Gifune

by Greg Gifune
2014 DarkFuse

A civil servant who monitors sex offenders is losing his mind. He's suspended for actions he doesn't remember, prone to fits of anger, has horrifying hallucinations, and is visited by a stranger in his backyard warning him to not use the phone.

Is it a government conspiracy? Demon possession? Time travel and alternate universes? Is it all a dream? Is he dead and being tormented in the afterlife?

Good prose, but the story reaches a level early on and doesn't move from there, aside from a quick scene of violence that felt out of place. Without things ramping up I was just left to guess what the resolution would be. I didn't guess completely right, but given that the story felt four parts Jacob's Ladder and one part Angel Heart, it wasn't a surprise either.

Some loose threads are wrapped up at the end, but like Jacob's Ladder a lot is dropped. The audiobook's narration was a good artistic choice, whispery and lethargic, but didn't help with the pacing.

Available from Amazon

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 15


Robert "Author of Psycho" Bloch worked from Weird Tales through Tales from the Darkside. Known mainly for the Hitchcock adaptation, my favorites from him have been in horror anthology TV and film.

Catnip by Robert Bloch
Weird Tales, March 1948

A school bully is menaced by the cat of a witch whose house he burned down. Just gruesome enough to stay in the ring.

The Dragon of Kao Tsu by Robert E Howard
Spicy Adventure Stories, September 1936

A woman wanting a dragon statue and our "hero" run around a warehouse getting menaced and knocked out. No adventure, an unfair mystery, and caps off with a bad-even-for-spicy-pulps light hearted rape.

Her Lover - Death! by Wyatt Blassingame
Horror Stories, January 1935

A mill owner prone to blackouts believes he's been on a murder spree and is a danger to his wife. Standard shudder stuff, though Blassingame crafts a more dreamlike atmosphere than most.

Not From Detroit by Joe R. Lansdale
Midnight Graffiti, Fall 1988
Collected in Lost Highways: Dark Fictions from the Road from Amazon https://amzn.to/3U7JTkE

Lansdale waxes sentimental with an elderly man fighting death to save his wife.

Slaves of the Worm by Richard Shaver
Fantastic Adventures, February 1948

Deep in the inner earth, the evil Fellowship of the Black Cross worships a giant worm with a human head.

Death Dines Out by Paul Ernst
Dime Mystery Magazine,  January 1936

Everyone drops dead at the death themed restaurant Café Styx, where guests sit at coffins and are served by waiters dressed as skeletons. Felt like he wrote a mystery into a corner  and just abandoned it as a horror tale.

Murder in the Family by Leigh Brackett
Mammoth Detective, March 1943

A homeless man finds a woman dead in the jaws of a lion statue at the La Brea tar pits. Promising premise runs aground in a series of false finishes in a single locatiom.

Brackett goes over the ropes. Robert E. Howard is disqualified and escorted out of the ring by security.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 14


Our next entry Wyatt Blassingame started with Weird Menace before moving into juvenile non-fiction.

Dread Exile by Paul Ernst
Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, June 1932

Spooky story of interplanetary body transference.

People of the Dark by Robert E. Howard
Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, June 1932

A man seeking to kill his romantic rival is bonked on the head and awakens in the past as Conan the Reaver, who has square bangs, wears a loincoth and worships Crom. This supposedly isn't officially Conan, but whatever. These framing stories of people regressing to past lives feel like ways to fill out story fragments.

Death Seems So Final by Richard Shaver (as Alexander Blade)
Amazing Stories January 1947, Vol 21 No 1

Narrative of a man still conscious after dying in a crash. Cliché subject saved by Shaver's inept yet impassioned take.

You Can Go Now by Dennis Etchison
Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, September 1980

Guy dies in a car wreck, dies in a plane crash, looks for his houseboat, killed his wife.

Subway Jack by Joe R. Lansdale
The Further Adventures of Batman, 1989

Batman fights Lansdale's interdimensional serial killer The God of the Razor, from his novel Nightrunners. Mostly prose, but parts are written in comic book script, which was distracting.

I Feel Bad Killing You by Leigh Brackett
New Detective Magazine, November 1944

Disgraced former cop navigates the world of criminals and crooked police to uncover the truth of his brother's suicide. My favorite tough guy prose, but the plot was a little limited.

They Thirst by Night by Wyatt Blassingame
Dime Mystery Magazine, June 1935

An Alabama preacher is seduced by a vampire. 

Etchison goes over the ropes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 13

Tunneling up through the floor, Richard Shaver emerges from the hollow earth and joins the fray.

Was Shaver a man haunted by strange messages from beyond and used those experiences to become a pulp writer? Was he an aspiring pulp writer first and used the Shaver Mystery as a gimmick? Was he a rambling lunatic whose inane scribblings were rewritten by Ray Palmer?

Whatever the truth, the man was crazy.

The Mind Rovers by Richard Shaver
Amazing Stories January 1947, Vol 21 No 1

A prisoner learns a novel means of escape - into his own mind. The world his dreams created has spawned life, and he can live in that world while a robot in the dream world controls his daily activities. He can travel into other dream worlds, where he recruits other prisoner and seeks to bust up the Prison Industrial Complex Racket, only to find it run by a former Nazi with strong mental defenses. Ambitious, creative, and Shaver definitely doesn't pull it off.

The Pitch by Dennis Etchison
Whispers, October 1978

Mall kitchen appliance pitchman with dark motives.

He Asked for Hell by Paul Ernst
Horror Stories, November 1935

A crystal cube creates a doorway to a gruesome dimension of the dead, where a man tries to dump the body of his murder victim. Truly chilling.

The Demons of Darkside by Leigh Brackett
Startling Stories, January 1941

A falsely accused man hijacks a ship to Mercury for evidence to save his loved one and encounters telepathic crystals.

On a Dark October by Joe R. Lansdale
The Horror Show, Spring 1984

Available in Bumper Crop from Amazon 

Dark quickie tale of human sacrifice.

The Grisly Horror by Robert E. Howard
Weird Tales, February 1935

Arcane African rites and a carnivorous gorilla in the pine swamps of Mississippi. More racist than it sounds.

All authors stay in the ring