Thursday, May 26, 2022

Hook 3: Star City by Tully Zetford

Hook 3
Star City 
By Tully Zetford (Kenneth Bulmer)
1974 New English Library

Hook loses his payment for a job, tries to steal it back in what may be a Parker tribute, then saves a child and hangs around a rich woman. We don't reach an actual storyline until the short novel is almost over.

Hook is invited to a hunting party where the rich mow down primitive humanoids for sport. Hook takes the natives' side and organizes a defense, culminating in an unexpected, though unlikely, conclusion.

Other installments had a GTA feel of running from danger to danger. This felt like he just kept typing, hoping an idea would come, and it never really did.

Paperback from Amazon

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Series Showdown: Six-Gun Samurai vs Renegade

Captain Gringo continues to bugger his way across Latin American while Six-Gun Samurai moves towards more conventional men's adventure. Captain Gringo empties a belt of his Maxim machinegun into Six-Gun Samurai, winning the Western division.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Captain Gringo/Renegade 3: The Fear Merchant by Ramsay Thorne/Lou Cameron

Captain Gringo aka Renegade 3
The Fear Merchant
by Ramsay Thorne (Lou Cameron)

Richard Walker and Gaston take the boat of arms they absconded with in the last installment to Nicaragua where they plan to sell them to Conservative rebels. Walker ends up commanding a troop of green revolutionaries, flushes out a traitor in their camp, flees for the coast, and frees a village from a bandit overlord. And still finds time to make time with five different ladies. We get a psychedelic sex scene, a nude shootout, a psychotic hermit, and a mission siege.

The plotting style of this series takes some getting used to. We don't have a three act structure of introducing and overcoming obstacles, more of running from one obstacle to another. It fits in with Walker's vagabond life, but the installments feel like parts of stories sewn together. Mainly I would have liked to see the siege of the bandit king sequence take up a whole book instead of an epilogue rushed out at the end and barely connected to the main story.

Kindle ebook from Amazon

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Series Showdown: Predator vs Alien Nation

The Alien Nation book series does an excellent job capturing the essence of the underrated TV series, whereas the Predator books are more uneven than the films. Alien Nation wins the Media Tie-In division.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Six-Gun Samurai 3: Gundown at Golden Gate by Patrick Lee

Six-Gun Samurai 3
Gundown at Golden Gate
by Patrick Lee (W.L. Fieldhouse)
1981 Pinnacle

Tom Tanaka goes to San Francisco where corrupt politicians are warring with Chinese organized crime. Tom gets captured and escapes like three times and ends the story raiding a cathouse to rescue a young woman.

So far each of the installments has had a different author, but this one had a greater departure in tone, almost a Joseph Rosenberger feel with every punch or kick given a Japanese name as he mows down his opponents.

There's a thread of Tom fighting against intolerance in the form of racist white politicians and him softening his negative Japanese attitude towards the Chinese, and then proceeds to spit on Koreans, so no real good guys in this one.

Felt more Men's Adventure than Western, and lost some of the chanbara feel of the first books.

Paperback from Amazon

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Alien Nation 3: Body and Soul by Peter David

Alien Nation 3
Body and Soul
by Peter David
1993 Pocket Books

Detective Sikes relationship with newcomer Cathy awkwardly moves forward. One has to be trained to arouse Tenctonese women lest their superhuman strength injure or kill them, so they enter a sex class, which Sikes approaches with his typical maturity.

Meanwhile George offers to father Albert's child and Susan, being influenced by her human coworkers, becomes jealous. Emily hits the Tenctonese version of puberty and tries to hang out with older kids, and Buck manages to stay out of trouble.

The differences in anatomy and culture fosters a theme of communication and consent in a mature manner while still being fodder for juvenile humor. And there's the actual plot - a giant and child escape from a genetics lab, but that doesn't take up much page length.

For some reason the prose grated on me for the first few pages until I could get into it.

Paperback from Amazon

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Night Hunter 3: The Ghost Dance by Robert Faulcon

Night Hunter 3
The Ghost Dance
by Robert Faulcon (Robert Holdstock)

A woman from a Sioux reservation is embedded with several native American spirits, through bones and totems implanted under her skin, and sent to rural England. Dan Brady follows leads for his missing family to the same town, and connects with another father whose child has been targeted by Arachne, the secretive occult society of the series.

Less focused than the others, and had to read some events in the end a couple times over to kinda follow what was happening. Took a while to get going, but there are some great scenes. As the woman travels to England, she stops periodically for the spirits to feed, slaughtering a cruise ship, a hospital, and an entire town. Great image of a giant grasshopper feasting on eyes pulled from a pile of severed heads, shades of Eat Them Alive.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Predator: Stalking Shadows by James A. Moore and Mark Morris

Predator: Stalking Shadows
by James A. Moore and Mark Morris
2020 Titan Books

This tie-in novel fills in the gap between the 1990 film Predator 2, which was set in 1997 for some reason, and the 2020 video game Predator: Hunting Grounds, and maybe ties in specifically with a DLC set in 2025. Based on this novel, not much happened over 28 years.

This is the story of marine Scott Devlin, who went from a private guarding the ruins in the aftermath of Predator 2 to running an OWLF command center, the OWLF being the secret Predator hunting organization that Gary Busey worked for.

Ninety percent of the page count is military peeing contests. "You don't have clearance for this soldier", "I don't report to you", "Who's your commanding officer?", etc. Most of the rest is Devlin trying to make sense of the skinned corpses showing up in terrorist conflicts around the globe. A little of this would be OK to show Devlin's perspective, but seeing as how the reader already knows it was done by Predators, way to much page count is devoted to a non-mystery.

Over the decades, Devlin joins Dutch Schafer, Schwarzenegger's character from the first film, and runs counter-terrorism missions that run across the Predators' handiwork, but not so much actual Predators. There's a quick sequence at the beginning with Dutch fighting a Yautja, and a quick fight at the end, with some non-encounters along the way. The best action sequence was a bar fight.

Afterwards there's a lengthy epilogue with Devlin finding love and describing the aftermath of some of the comic tie-ins. At 330 pages it could have easily have lost a third, and the audiobook felt like an eternity, probably because I couldn't skim through the lengthy "What could have done this?" inner monologues. A lot of it felt like a Grammarly commercial in reverse, with the sentences packed with as many redundant words that could fit.

I try to be kind to tie-ins, as they sometimes have impossible stipulations from the franchise owners. I could see this being a case of "Don't add any new characters, organizations, or concepts, and only have them defeat three Predators. 150,000 words. And make sure to introduce female Predators, dog predator things, and why Dutch is able to move without a walker in 2025."

Paperback, kindle ebook, and audible audiobook from Amazon

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Series Showdown: Vietnam Ground Zero vs The Killers

Writing a novel so grim it makes Vietnam War era POW torture seem light hearted is an accomplishment on it's own, but Vietnam Ground Zero held my attention better in the story. Vietnam Ground Zero smashes its rifle butt on the Killers skull, opening it like a ripe melon.