Saturday, December 31, 2022

2022 Year in Review

2022 saw the end of the Series Showdown and the debut of Trash Fiction Championship. 57 novels were covered, not including short stories and magazines.

For book of the year we have a tie - David Sodergren's Dead Girl Blues and Derrick Ferguson's Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell.

2023 will see even more titles, including an obscene number of short stories. Onward through the fog!

Friday, December 30, 2022

Gatling 1: Zuni Gold by Jack Slade

Gatling 1
Zuni Gold
by Jack Slade (Peter McCurtin)
1989 Leisure

Gatling is hired to test advanced weaponry for Maxim, and uses the opportunity to protect a Zuni tribe from Aztecs hired by a mining consortium. The action scenes start with tactical set ups, but the actual shooting is brief and confusing. Gatling is suitably gritty, murdering more mining executives than the Molly McGuires. A personal gripe, it ends with two of my personal least favorite western elements - a trial, and the US Army agreeing to treat the native tribes fairly. It's not that I don't want to see them being treated fairly, but it's kind of a Pollyanna ending given history.

Available for kindle from Amazon

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Bloody Pile of Horror - Intercontinental Title Match


Our inaugural champion Mike McQuay swaps titles, bringing the Book of Justice against challenger Jack Slade with Gatling.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Friday, December 9, 2022

Conan the Valorous by John Maddox Roberts

Conan the Valorous
by John Maddox Roberts
1985 Tor

Broke, drunk, and down to his loincloth, Conan agrees to travel to his homeland of Cimmeria to complete a spell at the mountain shrine of Crom. Meanwhile, competing sorcerers make their way to the shrine, carving a scar of blood as they go.

In the middle, Conan finds time to rescue a tribal chief and her daughter and fight a giant bull. The highlight is when the evil sorcerers from not-India use dark magic to double-double-cross pirates, using their blood to summon and ancient evil from the depths.

This one leans into the Cthulu-esque elements of Conan, with horrible creatures and Elder Gods lurking behind dimensional barriers, and Conan rescuing villagers from an underground cave filled with torturing monsters.

Conan's homecoming was fun, like a Cimmerian kitchen sink drama - "Sleeping on a pillow of snow, are ya? Rocks not good enough for the fancy lad what been to the South, eh?" Meanwhile, Conan's acting like a Midwest college student who just came back from a semester in Europe.

I suspected I would like the later Conan pastiches more than Howard's originals, and so far I was right. Bit rushed at the end, and purist may have issues with the characterization, but great action, plenty of monsters, and a touch of horror.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Eric Brighteyes 2: A Witch's Welcome by Sigfridur Skaldaspillir

Eric Brighteyes 2
A Witch's Welcome
by Sigfridur Skaldaspillir (Mildred Downey Broxon)
1979 Zebra

The original Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard was published in 1891. This is more of remake than a sequel, and not much room to make this a series given that Brighteyes is born and dies in this Viking saga. 

Brighteyes is banished for a couple years from Iceland and does Viking stuff around the British Isles. Swanhild the witch is obsessed with him, and her manipulations lead to both their downfalls. In true saga form, most of the story is in broad summary, with some battles being wrapped up in a sentence. The more "real time" the story the better, but things speed up again towards the end making the conclusion feel like an epilogue. As this is someone's life story, not much in the way of a plot, just Eric going from place to place.

I've seen this described as the story from Swanhild's perspective, and while I haven't read the original to compare, most of the story focuses on Eric. I half expected some revisionist version, like the way Grendel was from the perspective of the monster, but not so much.

The book stands on weird moral grounds. While Eric seems to have some modern ideals (no killing monks, sees dishonor in attacking the weak) he's still a psychopathic serial rapist slaver. This is historical fiction and these are Vikings, after all, and most of the book is written without judgment. This is olden times and this is a story of horrible people doing horrible things to each other. However, there are parts that imply that Eric is supposed to be a honorable hero, and the ending definitely makes Swanhild out to be a villain deserving of being dragged to Hel at the end.

The ending plays sadly tragic for Eric, but it's hard to feel any sympathy. Can't get too outraged that he was framed for that one rape he didn't do. Morals aside, some occasional good battle sequences and historical details, but I didn't dig the narrative structure.

Paperback from Amazon

Monday, December 5, 2022

BPOH European Title: John Maddox Roberts vs Sigfridur Skaldaspillir


As the Falcon series concludes, we move on to the Conan novels of John Maddox Roberts. Can they stand up to Eric Brighteyes, itself a continuation of an earlier work? It's Cimmerian vs Viking for the European title!

Friday, December 2, 2022

Bloody Pile of Horror: Cruiserweight Four-Way Grudge Match

Roald Dahl turns on Ed Wood Jr. as soon as the bell rings, only to be knocked out by a double drop kick from Lansdale and Etchison. The two go at it blow for blow, but Lansdale comes out on top.

Lansdale is declared number one. Followed by Etchison at ten, Dahl at twenty, and Wood at thirty. These are their numbers for the Reading Rumble! Thirty authors go in, but only one will stay to the end and be crowned the Cruiserweight Champion!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Full Count by Joe R. Lansdale

The Full Count
by Joe R. Lansdale
Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, June 1978, Vol 42 No 6

A Texas Gulf Coast detective looks for a missing boxing trainer. Standard hardboiled detective fare, though well above average. May be Lansdale's first fiction credit. His name is spelled Lonsdale in the table of contents.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Royal Jelly by Roald Dahl

Royal Jelly
by Roald Dahl
1960,  Alfred A. Knopf

A beekeeper feeds Royal Jelly to his underweight newborn. Goofier and less menacing than I remembered. Also one of those stories that introduces an element at the end that makes the beginning make no sense - "I've just had a sudden stroke of inspiration! I'll use that thing I've been obsessing over for the last couple of years!"

Collected in The Umbrella Man and Other Stories, available from Amazon

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Sitting in the Corner, Quietly Whimpering By Dennis Etchison

Sitting in the Corner, Quietly Whimpering
By Dennis Etchison
Whispers #9, Dec 1976

A woman makes a confession in a late night laundromat. Getting a handle on Etchison's short fiction - there's a mood and a concept, but little story and certainly no ending. This is the second short I've read which just ends with someone running out into the night.

Available in 100 Fiendish Little Frightmares from AbeBooks

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Hazards of the Game by Ed Wood, Jr. as Dick Trent

The Hazards of the Game
by Ed Wood, Jr. as Dick Trent
Garter Girls v06 n01, Feb/Mar 1972

A hitman and his model hookup have a post-coital chat.

Collected in Angora Fever, available from Amazon

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Bloody Pile of Horror: Cruiserweight Four-Way Grudge Match

Roald Dahl and Ed Wood, Jr. cheated Joe R. Lansdale and Dennis Etchison of a clean win for the Cruiserweight Title. Now it's each author for themselves in a four way grudge match.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Sixth Fall

The Corpse by the Car Track
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

Fairly standard murder case in El Paso. The Sherriff drove the White suspect out to the desert to hide from a KKK lynch mob - while notable in the amount and severity toward Black people, lynch mobs and the KKK's vigilantism were common across ethnicities at the time.

The suspect was convicted and promptly pardoned by Texas Governor "Ma" Ferguson - a power she was accused of abusing so much that unilateral pardon and clemency power was taken away from the Governor to this day. She also effectively diefunded the Texas Rangers (which is why Texas was a haven for the wave of 1930s criminals) and the DPS was created in response by the next Governor.

She was an open puppet for her husband, impeached former Governor "Pa" Ferguson, with the catchy slogan "Me for Ma, and I Ain't Got a Durned Thing Against Pa".

Fantasy Tales Spring 1979 Vol 2 No 4
First Make Them Mad by Adrian Cole

I complain about fantasy stories with too much exposition, and here I am complaining there's not enough. There are sorcerers, different planets and planes, and something about stealing hands, but I don't have the faintest of where, who, or what is going on here, clear over my head.

Some interesting history with Startling Detective Adventure, which was all my feeble imagination could handle. Starling Detective Adventures takes the fourth fall and retains the Tag Team Title!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Fifth Fall

The Body in the Belfry by Joseph B. Wirges
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

A janitor rapes and kills a small child, leaving her body in a church's belfry. In response, a lynch mob takes it out on a random Black man, mutilates his body for several hours, and terrorizes the Black community of Little Rock.

The Exhumation by Peter Coleborn
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

A would-be saboteur is attacked by a vampire, causing his bomb to explode them both. His body torn asunder, the vampire tries to control a medical examiner to help him revive. Some new wrinkles to how vampires work, but unsatisfying.

Startling Detective pulls into the lead three to two.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Fourth Fall

Al Capone: King of Gangland by Alvin E. McDermott
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

First half is the author bragging that he got an exclusive interview in-between trials (and before Capone's prison sentence), second half is a standard bio, with a couple of lines of his "interview", such as it was.

The Inheritance by Denys Val Baker
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

A young woman inherits a spooky house, becomes obsessed with dancing around naked, and is found "dead with every sign of sexual assault".

Startling Detective makes the pin, the teams are tied two to two!

Friday, November 18, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Third Fall

The Gorilla Murderer by Sheriff Frank Green as told to Jerry E. Cravey
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

A child is abducted and found dead in Flint, Michigan, sparking a manhunt.

The Last Sleeping Gods of Mars by Andrew Darlington
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

On Mars, beast men attack a prisoner transport and an evil ceremony to serve the Elder Gods is interrupted. Little hard to follow, could have been fun expanded more.

Third fall goes to Fantasy Tales, which pulls ahead two to one.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Second Fall

The Clue of the Rattlesnake by Herbert Hall Taylor

Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

A gas station owner and his mistress posing as his sister are killed by gator trappers.

The Lean Wolves Wait by John Wysocki    
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

In the latter days of World War I, a mutinous Cossack is bewitched by a mysterious woman.

Lean Wolves had its issues - too much exposition for the obvious, too little for the wtf twist, a rapist protagonist - but more going on than a robbery that would barely make the local paper. Second fall goes to Fantasy Tales, and we have a tied score.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - First Fall

At the End of the Road by Patrick Connolly
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

A young woman and her subtextual predatory lesbian roommate leave the small town behind to broaden their horizons in London. She hooks up with the landlady's son who ends up being dead and the landlady's dead and that means everybody's dead, me, you, everyone died already.

The Phantom in the House of Oesterreich by Don Nachaidh
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

This one's wild. Years after a rich man was murdered while his wife was locked in a closet, it's revealed that she had been keeping her young lover as a sex slave in the attic, slipping him food and publishing the pulp fiction he wrote by candlelight (I looked and couldn't find what he published). The lover killed the husband after the couple argued, then later faked amnesia and started a new life. The wife's multiple affairs eventually uncovered the plot, though neither were ever convicted. This was made into three films, including one with Neal Patrick Harris.

An absolute squash. One of the most intriguing true crime stories against... well let's just say this was Raven/Canyon on Villano IV all over again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

BLPH: Tag Team Title Match - Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective

Blood Pile of Horror: Tag Team Title Match 

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective

Four Falls to a Finish

(4 out of 7 wins)

Sunday, November 13, 2022

BPOH: Young Guns Title

Good fun all around, but once again Dillon comes out ahead. Derrick Ferguson retains the Young Guns Title.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Dillon and the Bad Ass Belt Buckle by Derrick Ferguson

Dillon and the Bad Ass Belt Buckle
by Derrick Ferguson

After Dillon and Eli rescue a kidnapped actor in the jungles of Burma, they come across a bandit settlement called Cheap Prayer. Dillon challenges the leader to a deadly concentration course for their freedom, and for the Bad Ass belt buckle. Fun short.

Available in the Dillon Annual Collection 2018, from Amazon

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea

The Jersey Devil
by Hunter Shea
2016 Pinnacle

A host of a TV cryptozoology show joins a heavily armed cursed family for the Jersey Devil in the deeps of the Pine Barrens. After laying low for centuries, the Jersey Devil and its offspring have been made aggressive from toxic waste dumped in the woods. The devil attacks are ramped up, culminating in a slaughter at a punk music festival.

A fun creature feature but felt a bit in the middle of things. Not enough gore to be extreme horror, too many monster sex slaves to be light-hearted. Part horror and part action, but not fully in either camp.

In multiple formats from Amazon

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

BPOH: Young Guns - Derrick Ferguson vs Hunter Shea

Bloody Pile of Horror

Young Guns Title Match

Derrick Ferguson defends the Young Guns Title against Hunter Shea. Mercs vs Monster Hunters for the Championship Belt

Monday, November 7, 2022

BPOH: Television Title - Alien Nation vs Forgotten Realms

Bloody Pile of Horror: Television Title - Alien Nation vs Forgotten Realms

Alien Nation had a great run, but this installment broke me. The last three in the series each have different authors, and we'll see it in the ring again.

Forgotten Realms takes advantage and seizes the gold

Saturday, November 5, 2022

War of the Spider Queen Book 1: Dissolution by Richard Lee Byers

War of the Spider Queen Book 1
by Richard Lee Byers
2002 Wizards of the Coast

Set in the Dungeons and Dragons setting of the Underdark, a series of connecting underground caverns in cities, the Drow, or dark elves, are plotting against each other. Some males have escaped the matriarchal society, and it appears that their deity Lolth has withdrawn her favor, limiting their spellcasting ability.

The story culminates in an uprising by the lesser creatures of the Underdark - goblins, kobolds, that kind of stuff, led by an undead mind flayer lich. There are tons of spells and magic items and hand crossbows and this is probably the closest a D&D novel will come to my kind of thing.

I should have read this instead of listening to the audiobook, as I have a harder time keeping track of characters in spoken word. It didn't help me that every character was a drow magic user - someone has to be named Bardo the Bard for me to maybe keep track of who they are in these kinds of things.

Kindle, audiobook, and paperback from Amazon.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Alien Nation 5: Slag Like Me by Barry B. Longyear

Alien Nation 5
Slag Like Me
by Barry B. Longyear
1994 Pocket Books

In 1959, journalist John Howard Griffin disguised himself as a Black man using tanning booths, medication, and make up, and travelled the American South, recording the experience for Sepia magazine. Unlike the similarly themed Soul Man...

his book Black Like Me seems to still be well regarded. I was familiar with the parodies, from Eddie Murphy in Saturday Night Live...

to Chris Morris' Brass Eye. Even Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, gets in on the act

And the Punisher. Oof.

In Slag Like Me, a human reporter undergoes surgical treatment to look Tenctonese. He goes undercover in LA, hangs around gangsters, and exposes bigoted police. When he goes missing, LAPD and the FBI investigate, and Matthew Sikes undergoes the same procedure to flush out whoever did whatever to the reporter.

Meanwhile, George Francisco is partnered with former overseer and current FBI agent Paul Iniko to chase down leads, such as the exposed crooked cops and an angry neighbor.

I don't know if this story was based on unused season two scripts, and tie-in novels come with a lot of restrictions, so I don't want to assign blame, but everything about Slag Like Me gets it wrong.

Alien Nation is a metaphor for immigration, assimilation, and bigotry. These themes are baked into every scene of every story. I struggle to comprehend the creative mind that, after a movie, 22 television episodes, and four novels, decides "Hey, how about we make this next book about racism?" It also falls into the same trap as some X-Man stories - instead of using fictional bigotry to highlight and explore actual bigotry, it uses actual racism as a metaphor to explore the real theme, fictional racism against aliens who do not exist. And the discussions on racism and bigotry are not subtextual here, it's pure soapboxing.

One would think, given the title and cover and all, the main story would be Sikes living life as a newcomer. You would be wrong. A decent amount of page space is budgeted to him preparing, but he's barely out in public in disguise and can't manage to stay in character for more than two minutes. His first undercover act is to make an appointment with a Tenctonese gang leader, to whom he instantly announces that he is a human cop.

Very quickly they're pulled over and beaten up by the police. Matt is taken to the hospital and has amnesia, so I was hoping we'd have a bit where he would think he was Tenctonese for a while, but nope, he gets his memory back almost right away and promptly tells everyone he is a human cop. Sikes is not very good at going undercover.

At no time did the foundational premise of the book, Sikes going undercover as a Newcomer, have any affect on the plot or themes, other than to discover that LA cops would be as mean to Newcomers as they are to everyone else, which Sikes already knows.

The mystery plot is equally disappointing. Various conspiracies are hinted out before it's revealed to be characters who are named in passing once, and they did it for dumb reasons. Some mysteries have non-sequitur endings that reflect the chaotic nature of real crime, other times it reads like the author didn't feel like wrapping everything up and just picked a killer at random. This felt like the latter.

As with the last book, Sikes and Francisco are split up through most of the story, denying the buddy cop element, and is replace by Francisco and Iniko. We get kind of a Bugs/Daffy, Mickey/Donald deal where Francisco goes from being the rational half of the duo to being the irrational one. Pretty much all the soap opera elements, such as Francisco's home life, are neglected. We do get a little bit more of Dobbs, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs' character, which was nice.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Blood Pile of Horror: Television Championship


Alien Nation makes its second defense against Forgotten Realms, one of several Dungeons and Dragons settings with 295 novel tie ins of this writing. It's Tectonese vs Drow for the Television Championship.

Brought to you by DMR Books, a leader in new Sword and Sorcery. 

Check out their website and buy their stuff on Amazon.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Web Terror Tales Vol 5 No 1, February 1965

Web Terror Tales
Vol 5 No 1, February 1965

Web Terror Tales came as part of a shudder pulp revival mini-wave. The plots don't really follow the traditional, Scooby Doo plotting of weird menace. A little sadism, usually in the form of whipping, but tamer than the original shudder pulps. They have the feel of the text stories shoehorned into horror comics, but even more mediocre.

The Pain Tree by Aurelia Mulhare

The daughter of a Caribbean governor is obsessed with a hougan.

The Angel of Hell by Bursell Bradshaw

A journalist uncovers what a mad reclusive painter has been working on.

Mr. Borealis by Clement Duffy

An experimental cruise ship is hijacked by a supervillain. No ending, so they cut to an "it was a dream...or was it" cop out, repeating over a page of text.

Footlight Vengeance by Ramon Aguilera

A playwright gets revenge on his critics.

Prey on Me by Henry Cranford

A rich explorer is tormented by his cultist servants' savage rites on a secluded island. The

My Love, My Prisoner by Charles Patterson

A corpulent rich man suspects he's being poisoned by his child bride.

The Curse of the Borgias by Christine Crewell

A haunted painting commissioned by the Borgias. Some good imagery in places.

Repent at Leisure by Rip Kelly

A rich sadist finds a better way than divorce to get rid of her husbands.

Come Kiss the Lash by Justin Lamont

Catherine the Great was into whipping.

Murder: Scene One by Denham Kelsey

Cromwell tortures a court musician accused of sleeping with royalty.

Satan's Spawn by Pete Brown

An Indian monk is ordered by a mad hermit to torture a captive devil woman.

Glutton for Punishment by Ernestine Durrell

Tarzan-type actor turned gold digger plots to kill his rich wife. Good old fashioned twist in the tale for this one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Dead Girl Blues by David Sodergren

Dead Girl Blues
by David Sodergren

Sodergren brings the Giallo to Scotland. On her way to a date, stripper Willow has a woman fall dead into her arms in the streets. This starts her on a path uncovering a snuff film racket, leading her to obsession bordering on madness. Some great set pieces, great suspense, a few twists in the story, and of course, lots of blood.

As with his other books the set up starts as a tribute to a horror subgenre, but he takes it into different directions. This one gets brutal and it's stayed with me for a while.

Available from Amazon

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Gnelfs by Sidney Williams

by Sidney Williams
1991 Pinnacle

A little girl is menaced by Gnelfs, which are Smurf-like children's character and not a porn category, which are manifesting in this reality due to Kabbalistic imagery and a sorcerer for hire. She and her mother are assisted by a mysterious priest who has a Wandering Jew thing going on. A take off on Satanic Panic warning films like Deception of a Generation, with a little bit of Poltergeist and the Exorcist mixed in.

Easily twice as long as it needed to be, with way too much exposition and rationalization, some delivered by the gnelfs themselves.

Ebook, paperback, and audiobook from Amazon

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Renegades by Shaun Hutson

by Shaun Hutson
1991 Time Warner

Sean Doyle is a cop on the anti-terror squad who plays by his own rules on the hunt for IRA terrorists. David and Laura Callahan are decadent arms dealers who have discovered a stained glass window commissioned by Gilles de Rais which holds the key to eternal life. These two storylines run into each other in a gory bloodbath...eventually.

Doyle is the most absurd renegade cop in literary history, a pure Matthew Holness character, written straight but with enough self awareness that Hutson had to know how silly the whole thing was, but still fun for the ride.

The Dirty Harry meets Hellraiser premise never really takes off, largely because the two ends don't meet until the end, futz around for a few dozen pages, then fizzles out. Not much comes out of the Giles De Rais angle - a demon pops up, gets shot, and disappears, going down easier than most of the terrorists.

Probably fine on it's own merits, but hurt by the lost potential. Cut this in half and ramp up the horror elements and this could have been the greatest story put to page.

Friday, October 14, 2022

New Adventures of Frankenstein 4: Frankenstein Meets Dracula by Donald F. Glut

New Adventures of Frankenstein 4
Frankenstein Meets Dracula
by Donald F. Glut
1977 New English Library

Frankenstein's Monster and his buddy, former OGRE agent James Judson, travel to Transylvania in their atomic powered submarine where they accidentally revive Count Dracula. Drac enthralls Judson, forces them back to England, and starts a plan to kidnap Van Helsing's descendant and place his brain in the Monster's body.

Most of the story was setup, and the rest felt like an outline. The Count was suitably repugnant, but just not much going on to fill it out.

Collected in volume one of The New Adventures of Frankenstein Collection

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Live Girls by Ray Garton

Live Girls
by Ray Garton
1987 Pocket Books

Glory hole vampire on Time Square. A down on his luck former vigilante magazine feature writer becomes obsessed with a peep show performer after getting a vampiric bj. His would be girlfriend gets sucked into a lesbian vampire relationship, and is helped by a journalist whose sister was killed by vampires.

One part eroticism to four parts sleazy nastiness, just the right ratio. Just enough to justify the obsessiveness without getting romantic. A fun ride as long as you don't worry about the vamps' master plan - unlike Lost Boys or Near Dark there's no romantic angle, and I don't know the endgame for turning every 42nd Street pervert.

Available from Amazon

Friday, October 7, 2022

The Hand of Dracula by Robert Lory

The Dracula Horror Series 2
The Hand of Dracula
by Robert Lory
1973, Pinnacle

Horror meets Men's Adventure in this unique series. Criminologist and telekinetic Dr. Damien Harmon has revived Count Dracula, and keeps him under control through a sliver of wood embedded next to his heart. Aided by former cop Cameron Sanchez and Dracula's thrall Ktara, they fight crime.

Dr. Harmon's niece has a friend falsely accused of murder, and the group vow to clear his name, encountering an evil cult, an inhumanly strong hunchback, and a mob-connected necrophilic undertaker.

Fun enough when things get going, but Lory indulges in almost Rev. Fanthorpe padding, dragging out the most inconsequential actions and conversations for pages on end.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Berserker by William Meikle

by William Meikle

Vikings versus yetis. I've tried reading Meikle before, and his titles seem like they would be my jam, but something about the way he writes doesn't connect with the way I read and it just passes through me.

Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Chamber of Horrors Match

It's here! The Chamber of Horrors!

Two teams. Eight titles. One electric chair. Returning authors face off against new authors in a steel cage. In that steel cage, another steel cage. And in that cage - an electric chair.

The match ends when one teams straps a member of the other team in the chair and turns on the juice.

Returning authors include: Shaun Hutson, David Sodergren, Jory Sherman, and Donald Glut

New authors: William Meikle, Sidney Williams, Ray Garton, and Web Terror Tales

Brought to you by Donnie Goodman's debut horror collection The Razorblades in my Head, free on Kindle until 10/5 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Trash Fiction Championship: Bloody Pile of Horror

Trash Fiction Championship presents BLOODY PILE OF HORROR!

Eight horror authors, two teams, one electric chair, in...THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS!

Derrick Ferguson defends the Young Guns Title against newcomer Hunter Shea. Alien Nation faces off against the Forgotten Realms for the TV Title.

After no Crusierweight champion was crowned due to interference, Dennis Etchison, Joe Lansdale, Roald Dahl, and Ed Wood, Jr. will settle their differences in a four way grudge match.
Startling Detective Adventures will meet the challenge of Fantasy Tales in a four falls to a finish match. John Maddox Roberts faces Sigfridur Skaldaspillir for the European title. Mike McQuay shoots it up with Jack Slade for the Intercontinental Belt It's Helm vs Helm, as Eric Helm takes on Donald Hamilton for the US title. And Robert Faulcon defends the World Championship title against Richard Stark. 25+ Authors 7 Title Matches 1 ELECTRIC CHAIR

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Cüneyt Arkın Memorial Tournament

In a shocking move, Ramsay Thorne’s Renegade is disqualified for being a wrong’un.

We’ll see more from Charles Saunders, from the worlds of Imaro and beyond.

Horn comes to a close, in defeat Ben Sloane is unmasked as Stephen R. Cox, and unless his unavailable Mutant Hunter series surfaces, brings him to retirement.

As Falcon limps to a close, Mark Ramsay is unmasked as John Maddox Roberts and claims the European Championship.

Mathew Swain gets his happy ending, but there’s plenty more to read from Mike McQuay, our first Intercontinental Champion.

With no exit strategy in sight, we have many more installments of Vietnam Ground Zero by Eric Helm, our first United States Champion.

And the winner of the Series Showdown finals and our first World Champion, Robert Faulcon with Night Hunter.

And that concludes No Redeeming Value. Keep following for our next event.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Horn 4: Ultimate Weapon by Ben Sloane

Horn 4
Ultimate Weapon
by Ben Sloane (Stephen R. Cox)
1991 Gold Eagle / Worldwide Library

A black market engineer creates a droid body controlled by the brain and spinal column pulled from unwilling victims, planning to unleash them as unstoppable killing machines at the United Nations. Horn, his partner Winger, and their informant Dartt are on the case.

Very little action - the ending was wrapped up way to quickly with an EMP weapon. The setting felt like 1990 America but with high tech. Horn gets a bionic eye and an upgraded targeting system, and there's a theme that he fears this might make killing too easy and take away his humanity, which shows how much the series has softened since the first brutal installment.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Mzee by Charles Saunders

by Charles Saunders
Dragon 86, Vol 9 No 1, June 1984

Young Imaro is an orphaned outsider who is bullied by the other children of the village for not being given the responsibility of raising his own calf. He's finally been given the task of caring for one, but only because it is sickly and sure to die. He runs away and meets a mysterious stranger able to calm wild lions with his music who teaches him a valuable lesson.

A fine enough story, but would have done better in a collection or worked into a novel, which may have been the intention. It feels especially strange in Dragon magazine sandwiched between instructions to make your own paper castle and a review of Steve Jackson Games' Battlesuit. I was expecting more action, or at least more fantastical. It works best if you're already familiar with the character - I don't see a lot of 80s nerds running out to grab Imaro after reading this.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Falcon 4: The King’s Treasure by Mark Ramsay

Falcon 4: The King’s Treasure
by Mark Ramsay
1983 Signet

Draco Falcon and crew are hired to transport a royal treasure and a betrothed princess through bandit territory. Some more flashbacks to Falcon’s time in the Middle East. Well written but a lesser effort - strictly small scale, low stakes.

Ends with an excerpt from the next installment Greek Fire, which was never published, and something I’ve never seen before, a marketing survey.

Available from Amazon