Thursday, April 28, 2016

Prime Evil by Ed Kelleher & Harriett Vidal

Prime Evil
by Ed Kellher & Harriette Vidal
Leisure Books 1988

Embossed cover

Satan worshipers must kill a blood relation every 13 years to maintain their pact with the devil and live forever.  The sacrifice has to be a virgin, except when it isn't - there's a lot here that doesn't fit together.  It's Sarah Parkman's turn to be sacrificed and those that seek to protect her are killed in Omen style accidents.

Mostly we get backstories of various prostitutes that are being captured - not sure where they fit in either.  There's also an undercover nun who is also a secret agent, but that threatens to get too interesting so we don't see much of her.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Satan's Seed - Chill 1 - Jory Sherman

Satan's Seed
Chill 1
by Jory Sherman
Pinnacle, 1978

I actually enjoyed a Chill novel!  If only for the reason that he actually does stuff in this one.  Goes to places, talks to people, has a seance, and does two exorcisms.

Chill is called to a ranch in California to investigate cattle mutilations that have graduated into child killings.  He brings assistant and "special lady" Laura Littlefawn, who is full blown psychic in this first installment - she seems notably depowered in later books.

We are introduced to a series of characters and are told via seance that one is the murderer.  I was expecting some Agatha Christie style stuff here, and I'd spoil it for you if I could figure out what the hell was going on.  It probably wasn't that complicated - just dumb enough that I didn't bother following it.

Chill performs a couple exorcisms, but instead of freeing their victims from possession, the rites cause their bodies to explode.  Which I'm not complaining about.

To remind you, Chill is an insufferable vegetarian, the kind that explains it to waitresses in patronizing detail.  He also brings up that he doesn't drink or smoke as often as he can.  Except for wine and beer.  And he does eat meat, just not meat from your kitchen.

The 2000 print on demand reprint was horribly packaged.  I'm actually glad I got the paperback, as it serves of an example of how horrible books look when certain conventions aren't followed.  Little things like a missing title page and having the page numbers on the top make a difference.  The blurb was barely readable, and included a review quote from "Buzzy" referencing a website that is now a malware site.  The quote reads like something you'd buy off fiverr from someone in Eastern Europe.

Available for Kindle, a titch pricier than it should be.

Read a sample.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Apocalypse U.S.A.! - Death Merchant 54 by Joseph Rosenberger

Apocalypse U.S.A.!
Death Merchant 54
by Joseph Rosenberger

I hadn't had much luck with this series and hadn't seen what the fuss was all about.  Finally I turned up an installment that delivers.

Libyans, with the help of the Russians, are planning a chemical weapon attack on the east coast of the US.  We open up with a raid on an ice cream plant.  The Death Merchant, Richard Camellion, and crew hope they don't need to kill any cops, but they will, damn it, don't think they won't.  They do get to kill some innocent security guards, so there's some consolation.

The raid goes sour, so on to the next raid, at a salvage yard.  Then we've got a raid on a Libyan sleeper cell at a brickyard, but first - want to know how bricks are made?  Rosenberger will tell you.  Several times.  After the violent shootout they find the location of the nerve gas and the Soviet agents in charge of it - in a boat off the Pacific.  The President has ordered that the boat be taken intact and the nerve gas seized.

Carmellion, crew, and a team of SEALS head out to sea, but first a chapter about Israeli war atrocities, complete with footnotes.

I wouldn't have thought that several pages of helicopters strafing a boat would hold my attention, so well done, Rosenberger.  The crew sets down and clears the boat room by room by room by room.  Bullets, bombs, deadly karate moves with made-up names.  Wasn't counting but this one surely went up to triple digits in on-page deaths.  Well done.

I'm learning to skim over Rosenbeger's lengthy Platonic discourses.  He has characters which you think will represent different points of view, but they mainly just agree with each other and throw out random statistics and right-wing talking points.  If Rosenberger was alive today I get the feeling he'd be reposting memes on Facebook 24-7.

This is the first Death Merchant I've read that has brought in Rosenberger's pseudo-scientific spiritual side - he had written some cataclysmic non-fiction for Fate magazine.

"The tilt of the earth would come during World War III - a nuclear holocaust - and usher n a new age, one of peace, one that would last for a thousand years, from A.D. 2000 to A.D. 3000, after which there would be a new horror, a new evil.  Only this time man would not be fooled; he would be prepared, having developed a higher spiritual consciousness.  At the end of the year A.D. 7000 there would be a universal conflagration in which earth would be destroyed."

This is just thrown in the middle a scene, apropos of nothing.

Get the paperback from Amazon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Frankenstein Wheel by Paul W. Fairman

Frankenstein Wheel
by Paul W Fairman
1972 Popular Library

Part of the Frankenstein Horror Series, a series of unrelated books with only this one having anything to do with Frankenstein.  Picks up years after the Mary Shelly original, and written in largely the same style.

It's well done, but takes a while to get moving.  A lot more literary than I was expecting from the cover.  The reference to wheels has to do with karma.  Here, Frankenstein's monster repeats the sins of his creator and has to pay for them similarly.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pulp Magazine Scans on Kindle Fire

I've got a zillion magazine scans and didn't have an ideal means to read them.  They read fine on my laptop, but I tend to read in bed or on the move.  Magazine scans are pretty much just a series of pictures so they don't have flowable text like an ereader.  You can load them into a Kindle, but they show a page at a time (which is too small) and the zoom function is too awkward.  I got them to load on my phone, but they're too small without me having to constantly pinch and zoom.

A tablet seemed like the perfect size of view screen, but I'm too cheap to shell out a couple hundred bucks for just one function.  When I saw that the Kindle Fire was on sale for under $50, I did some research and grabbed one.

Amazon must have looked at how much Apple customers loved to be mistreated and wanted a piece of that pie.  As far as I can tell, the Fire could be a fully functioning tablet except Amazon puts in artificial roadblocks.

Amazon wants you to use their apps and cloud and services for everything - fair enough.  They're selling their tablet at a loss, this is my payment.  Want to look at a picture?  Upload it to the cloud and redownload it.  Listen to music?  Use Amazon Prime Music.  Do you have your own MP3 like a regular human?  Upload them to the cloud and then stream them back.  Hope you have a lot of bandwidth.

It doesn't help that their apps are all horrible.  The music player doesn't recognize folders or any playlist you don't enter in by hand.  I couldn't get the picture viewer to play a random slideshow.  I use N7Player and Digital Photo Frame Slideshow - these are free as of this writing.  These I can download from the Amazon App store.  What you can't download is an alternate ereader.

You can only download apps directly from the Amazon App store - Google does not exist in this world.  If you do a google search on the Silk browser, they censor out links to Google Play.  Luckily you don't have to hack or root or jailbreak or whatever else to get these programs - you can download directly from an alternate website or sideload them.

Pulp Magazine Scans - CBR

Magazine scans are available from a lot of sources, most notably The Pulp Magazine Archive at  You can download them in multiple formats, but don't get excited, most of them are only readable in PDF or CBR format.

CBR and CBZ files are just renamed extensions of RAR and ZIP - a compressed archive of JPGs.  If you put a bunch of pictures in a RAR or ZIP file and rename it, you've got a Comic Book RAR file.  These are viewable with a comic book reader.  There are plenty of free ones but none that fit my needs.

I wanted a viewer that would automatically resize to width so I didn't have to fiddle with the zoom on each page before I read it.  I couldn't find a free one that did this, so I shelled out the three bucks.  I bought Perfect Viewer, though ComiCat is likely just as good.

Go to settings > display.  I set Screen Orientation to Layout and Zoom to Fit to Width.  Then just slide or tap the right side of the screen to read.

If it's still too small, pinch and zoom one of the pages to around 110%.  Then go to settings>display, set Zoom to Fixed Size and Page Origin to Reading Direction (Vert).  This will scroll a column at a time, popping back up to the top of the second column.

Reading scans with the Kindle app on Kindle Fire

Reading books that are scanned pages instead of simple text is basically impossible on the Kindle.  It gets upgraded to "barely readable" with the Kindle Fire.

There are no display options for scans and images in Kindle Fire.  A simple "fix to width" option would solve everything here.  Unless you have amazing vision, to read a scanned magazine in Kindle Fire, one must:

  1. Swipe to your page.  Holding in landscape mode, the image will show up fitted to height, so it will show up in the left third of the screen.
  2. Double tap the image.  You can't pinch and zoom until you do this for some reason.
  3. Pinch and zoom to get it to fit the width, which might take some trial and error
  4. Read your page.  An opaque toolbar may cover the top tenth of the screen whenever you're not touching it.
  5. Click the x in the upper right corner.  You might have to tap the screen to get it to appear.  You can't swipe to the next page until you x out.
  6. Swipe to next page.

Simply do this for each and every page.  Three to four extra taps and a manually resizing might not seem like too much hassle, but I feel like I'm spending more time tapping than reading.

Ironically, the exact same file, converted to PDF and sideloaded, displays great with the Kindle app.  It automatically fits to width on landscape and you can change pages with one tap.  However, it won't show up in your library and you can't save your place.

I'd recommend using the Kindle app only for flowable text books bought on Amazon.  It works perfectly well on these books and you can't read these elsewhere without some complicated hacks.  I wouldn't recommend using the Kindle app for sideloaded books bought elsewhere, magazine scans, or comic books.


This should be an easy one, but it took me a little bit.
Adobe Reader doesn't fit to width.
FB Reader with the PDF plug in is slow to load and kept crashing.
Kindle App won't save your place.

I went with the free ezPDF Reader - there are probably other free PDF viewers that do the trick.

General settings:
Screen Orientation - if you want it to always be in Landscape mode
Basic (Minimum) Zoom Ratio - set to Screen Width Fitting
Page Scrolling Type - pick horizontal or vertical
Seamless Continuous Page Scroll - check if you want one long document to scroll down, uncheck if you want to turn pages

I usually like to turn pages horizontally rather than vertically, but for this program I set it to vertical  page scrolling with seamless turned off.  This lets me read a page at a time, the screen doesn't wiggle side to side when my shaky fingers scroll up and down, and I can change pages by tapping or flinging.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Doc Savage 006 - The Red Skull - by Lester Dent

The Red Skull
Doc Savage 006
August 1933
By Lester Dent

Doc flies out to Arizona to help build a dam that's being sabotaged.  That's about it.  There's an attack dog with teeth of hypodermic needles filled with poison but it doesn't really do anything.  A couple twists that make no damn sense.  There's prominent use of an autogyro, which I guess was exotic at the time.