Thursday, July 29, 2021

Imaro by Charles Saunders

by Charles Saunders
1981 DAW

In possibly the first example of has been coined Sword & Soul, Imaro is set in a mythical ancient Africa.  Imaro is exiled from his warrior/herdsman tribe and wanders the land, encountering other tribes and being tested in battle against man and beast. He works his way up to the head of a bandit gang and faces off against larger armies, river demons, and illusion casting sorcerers. We also get a sense of Imaro's inner life, as he deals with alienation and seeks to create a home of his own.

This was originally a series of short stories, and there have been some changes since the original publication. It didn't feel episodic like fix-up novels usually do as much as it felt just kind of samey. It ends in a weird place, like he started writing the sequel to a cliffhanger and decided to cut it off there for the next book.

Available from Amazon

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

The Dying Earth aka Mazirian the Magician
by Jack Vance
1950, Hillman Periodicals

A series of short stories set on a future Earth with a dying sun. The source for D&D's magic system, where magicians have to memorize a limited number of spells which the forget after casting. The naming conventions for magic items comes from here as well.  It hints at off-page body horror with the consequences of magic gone wrong. The stories have a fairy tale feel to them and are more of a pile of interesting ideas than an actual narrative.

Available from Amazon

The Falcon 1: The Falcon Strikes by Mark Ramsay

 The Falcon 1
The Falcon Strikes 
by Mark Ramsay (John Maddox Roberts)
1982 Signet

Draco Falcon is a masterless knight who has returned to France from the Crusades, seeking vengeance against those who sold him into slavery. Falcon has a white scar down the length of his face from being struck by lightning, which has also left him prone to fits of rage and madness.

Falcon is hired by a lady to protect her castle from unscrupulous lord seeking to take advantage of the political turmoil to take over her land.  We get skirmishes, jousting duels, and my personal favorite, siege warfare.

Violent and brutal, with Falcon slicing through bodies like warm butter. Good verisimilitude with the research which led me down a couple of rabbit holes.  For instance: there was a belief, popularized by Marshall McLuhan, that literate people in the middle ages only read out loud and were unaware that one could read silently.

Paperback from Amazon

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Marvel 1965: Thor

Partway through the year Thor has an extended adventure involving the Absorbing Man and the Destroyer, and he neglects his Blake identity enough that he almost gets evicted.

Thor's hammer: can detect evil across continents, tingles when nearby a supernatural menace, can help him locate whatever he wants, transmute elements. He also has the power to remove memories somehow

That's now Thor, Giant Man, Doctor Strange, and Mister Fantastic who can mind wipe whenever they want.

We're still pretending he can't fly on his own or change directions mid-air

Asgardians consider Dr. Blake to be Thor

In Avengers 14, Thor has Blake's medical skills and refers to a secret identity, as opposed to Blake being a distinct being.

Absorbing Man can just be near, though all examples show him touching, also absorb power of people he's near.

Thor's hammer get's broken, but he's able to fix it in a Pittsburgh steel mill.

Oh, and Thor kills a guy. He's probably killed thousands of sentient beings over the millennia, and Cap and others have a body count from their past in various wars, but I think this is the first time it was explicitly on page.

From Journey into Mystery 112-123, available in Thor Epic Collection: When Titans Clash from Amazon

Monday, July 5, 2021

Irrland - Kevelaer, Germany

 As an adult all I can think about is all the urine, but man this place looks fun.  I would break a bone within fifteen minutes of hitting the slides and not regret a single cast.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Series Showdown: Spawn of Hell vs Black Ice

Decent non-horror drama writing from both here, but mass murdering mutated earwigs are always going to beat spooky dead girls

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Black Ice by Pat Graversen

Black Ice
by Pat Graversen
1993 Zebra

A single mom returns to her home town with her son to take care of her abusive father, now paralyzed from a stroke.  Her son almost drowns in the same lake her three aunts drowned as children decades previously.  The kid is haunted/possessed by their ghosts/revenants until Mom and her doctor friend lure an elderly man to his death.

The human drama was the high point, with Graversen forgetting this was a horror novel for long stretches. She doesn't seem to know what to do with the sisters other than make the kid sneak away from his adult supervision, a device which is used something like twenty times.

Paperback from Amazon