Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Falcon 2: The Black Pope by Mark Ramsay

The Falcon 2
The Black Pope
by Mark Ramsay (Jon Maddox Roberts)
1982, Signet

Draco Falcon and his mercenary band stumble across the Black Pope in the pagan backwoods, one of the murderers of Falcon's father now runs an unholy order of knights who worship Baphomet. The order terrorizes small villages, gang raping boys in blasphemous sacrifices before eating their flesh.

Falcon is captured, escapes, hooks up with a pagan priestess, organizes a village defense, and leads a castle siege. We also get some flashbacks to Falcon's time as a galley slave where he endured years of sexual abuse. Between the PTSD, malaria, and being struck by lightning, Falcon regularly snaps into a berserker rage until he his calmed down.

Excellent, but too short. Each segment could be three times longer, especially the siege.

Paperback from Amazon

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Series Showdown: Mathew Swain vs Simon Rack

Both had future societies centered around gaining status - the citizens of Aleph fought for the number of rooms to their apartment, while moon citizens fought for seniority ranking. Both underperformed, but Swain at least performed at all. Mathew Swain kicks Simon Rack out of the airlock.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Simon Rack 2: Starcross by Laurence James

Simon Rack 2
Starcross aka War on Aleph
by Laurence James
1974 Sphere

Rack and his partner Bogart are forced to act as Ambassador between two planet, one like decadent Rome, the other militaristic Sparta, to broker a peace around a settling a new planet. eventually a Romeo and Juliet situation resolves the whole thing unsatisfactorily, along the way almost nothing happening. There are occasional sleazy flourishes - gladiator games over a poo lake filled with giant carnivorous worms, a duel with vibro flails, but even these fall flat.

In Kindle from Amazon

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Mathew Swain 2: When Trouble Beckons by Mike McQuay

Mathew Swain 2
When Trouble Beckons
by Mike McQuay
1981 Bantam

Scifi Private Eye Mathew Swain goes to the moon to help an old friend, to find her comatose with a dead man in her apartment. He finds drone workers, hostile police, and everyone clamming up at the word "beckon".

The process works better than the result - the clues don't make sense and the uncovered plot makes even less. Swain still cracks wise, but there wasn't a good sense of location. Half on the moon, half in a space station, and only occasional confusing references to the state of gravity.

Toned down from the first installment, though there are a couple of interesting sequences of him mind melding with a woman's consciousness in a tube.

Paperback from Amazon

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Series Showdown: Spur vs Six-Gun Samurai

Neither plot really worked out, and Six-Gun Samurai was a step down from the first installment, but at least no children were molested on page. Spur begs for its life as Six-Gun Samurai denies it an honorable death.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Six-Gun Samurai 2: Bushido Vengeance by Patrick Lee

Six-Gun Samurai 2
Bushido Vengeance
by Patrick Lee (Patrick E. Andrews)
1981 Pinnacle

After finding one of the men who killed his family, Tanaka Tom Fletcher uncovers a plot to manipulate two Apache tribes into fighting each other so a phony reservation agent can steal the gold from their land. Tom unites the tribe to face off against the US Army before the plot screeches to a halt for a courtroom scene.

Not as sleazy as the first, but plenty of heads being lopped off and Apache torture. Lee has cultures, from Japanese to Apache to Mexican to American, take turns competing to see who treats women the worst, but for a Piccadilly Western they could have fared much worse. There's a theme of the Apaches and Japanese having a system of honor that places them above the Americans, but mostly it's about how much someone should be tortured before they die.

The plot was a bit unlikely as well, but that may be more a function of Tom being an idiot. He seems to have a plan to kill his enemy without raising the ire of the US Army, then depends on the Apaches getting a fair trial, then depends on the Americans chalking up a bunch of dead soldiers to a misunderstanding and leaving the tribes alone.

Paperback from Amazon

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Spur 10: Nevada Hussy by Dirk Fletcher

Spur 10
Nevada Hussy
by Dirk Fletcher
1985 Leisure

Spur 10: Nevada Hussy by Dirk Fletcher
"prostrate trigger"

Spur McCoy goes to a mining town to uncover a plot to steal $30 million in ore, but mainly sleeps with sex workers and a rich cougar. Light on action and heavy on depravity - half the sex workers are underage, some as young as 10, incest, rape murders, the works. There's at least some sense that these are things the bad guys do, but it's particularly insidious in the context of a sex novel, especially when there are ostensibly normal sex scenes that go south when someone asks "How old are you again?"

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Series Showdown: Dragon vs Night Hunter

Two violent tales of possession by spirits from ancient civilizations at an archeological dig. Both are strong, but Night Hunter is leaner, meaner, and has a distinct vibe I'm digging. The Night Hunter pisses in Dragon's mouth, shoves a sword up his jacksie, and dumps him in a bog.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Night Hunter 2: The Talisman by Robert Faulcon

Night Hunter 2
The Talisman
by Robert Faulcon (Robert Holdstock)
1983 Arrow Books

Night Hunter 2: The Talisman by Robert Faulcon

Dan Brady continues his investigation of the shadowy Arachne organization and looking for his kidnapped family. His leads point him to a small English town where visitors have been inexplicably obsessed with returning. An archeological dig is linked to disappearances and brutal axe murders as Brady tries to find the connection between Arachne and the spirit of a vengeful Viking.

Notes of folk horror and British style psychical research, and the series balances well between a "monster of the week" and continuing his main search for his family. Some nasty Viking torture, including the Blood Eagle, where the victim's lungs are pulled out of their ribcage and spread like wings. And may be the only story with a reanimated corpse with a sword hilt dangling out of it's ass.

Paperback from Amazon