Thursday, June 30, 2022

NRV: Tag Team Elimination Tournament Round Three

Teen-Age Gangsters (1957)

Smut Peddlers

Touches a bit on the whole "smut creates serial killers and rapists" nonsense, but focuses on two molesters and child pornographers - millionaire inventor Ivan Jerome and Charles Guzik, son of gangster Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik. Ironically, or appropriately, Teen Age Gangsters is about the smuttiest thing I've read out of the 50s.

Street & Smith's Mystery Magazine (May 1940,v06n01)

Angel's Wings by Norvell Page

A Death Angel story. Angus "Death Angel" Saint-Cloud is a lethal boxer turned PI, here working an insurance case about stolen emeralds. After accusing, and spanking, the thief he's framed for murder and runs around evading the police and a mysterious sniper. This energy works for pulp action, but this is the dumbest mystery I've read, completely nonsensical. Clumsy prose, awkward action, and a chinese stereotype complete with a  "no tickee no washee" joke.

Complete Man (February, 1967, v7n01)

"Love Break" Girls: For Office Use Only by Jim Rossi

Prostitution and blackmail rings under the guise of corporate sales training courses. By this point the line between fake exposé and narrative fiction is completely blurred.

Soldier of Fortune (March 1985, v10n03)

Flying the Unfriendly Skies by Dana Drenkowski

El Salvador has an air force.

Startling Detective Adventures (December 1937, v19n113)

Trailing the Crimson Marauders of Monterey by Captain Salvador Arredonda Y Farfan and Murray W. Kramer

Mexican police hunt down a gang who killed an employee in a botched robbery. Unremarkable.

Savage Realms Monthly Volume 1 (January 2021)

The Tomb of Orthun-Rah by David Sims

An adventuring party encounter a pack of venomous giant lizards and the ghost of a sorcerer while raiding an ancient temple for treasure. Manages to make a D&D module feel relatively organic.

Like Playboy, I'm not sure anyone reads Soldier of Fortune for the articles, just the classifieds and gun ads. Soldier of Fortune is eliminated.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

NRV: Tag Team Elimination Tournament Round Two

Soldier of Fortune (March 1985, v10n03)

From Wailing Wall to Hallowed Ground by Jim Graves

Learned a lot about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial - I didn't realize there were objections at the time to the bleakness of the Memorial Wall, as well as to the architect Maya Yin Ling for being born in Ohio. I tease, it was from racism, with Ross Perot calling her an "egg roll". They added a statute and a flagpole as part of a compromise, and it's questionable how much of the controversy was from veterans as a whole as opposed to some financial backers. This article is about the inauguration of the Three Soldiers statue.

Complete Man (February, 1967, v7n01)

Vietnam's Life-or-Death Rescue Daredevils by Emile C. Schurmacher

Quick handful of pages on helicopter rescues, evacuating wounded from fire zones.

Teen-Age Gangsters (1957)

Thrill Pills

Straight talk about goofballs. As silly as the parodies are, 1950s drug warnings are way sillier. Teens using barbiturates constantly get laid which somehow leads to car theft.

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (March 1983, v28n03)

Professor Kreller's Secret by Ingram Meyer

A romance author hires a pair of private detectives, one a grandma, to investigate her professor neighbor, who has guest visit but never leave. The professor drops dead on campus, they find newspaper clippings that the visitors are criminals who escaped justice, and they think the professor turned them into cats. This is introduced as a second act red herring, but the story just kinda ends with a "maybe he did turn them into cats...somehow". Feels like it was written for children.

Street & Smith's Mystery Magazine (May 1940,v06n01)

Too Many Ghosts by Maxwell Grant

Norgil the Magician investigates a murder in a haunted theater. Usual convoluted Scooby-Doo stuff.

Startling Detective Adventures (December 1937, v19n113)

Milwaukee's Passion Slayers and the Missing Schoolgirl

Two drifters rape and kill a teenage girl. Interesting to see some basic profiling, which was probably as effective as it is now. After conviction, the judge gives a speech about sterilization, which I'm sure has nothing to do with the culprits being Eastern European.

Savage Realms Monthly Volume 1 (January 2021)

The Festival of the Bull by Steve Dilks

Bohun, a warrior from an Africa stand-in, escapes a slave ship and lands in a Greco-Roman stand in, where he his captured, forced to fight a jaguar, and escapes. Solid enough, but after reading 70s historical fiction the recent stuff feels a bit PG-13 to me.

A couple of snoozers in this round, but Professor Kreller's Secret is giving me second thoughts about the entire shelf of AHMMs I've collected. Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine is eliminated.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

NRV: Tag Team Elimination Tournament Round One

No Redeeming Value

Tag Team Elimination Tournament

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine (March 1983, v28n03)

The Beckoning Eye by Ron Butler

An American businessman on vacation in Japan with a local police inspector evade an assassination attempt by the Yakuza. Mild thriller, no suspense, and no twist.

Teen-Age Gangsters (1957)

What Makes a Teenage Gangster   

Not exactly a research article, but quotes some psychologists. Talks about outdated theories of juvenile crime, like comic books and lack of corporal punishment, and gets closer to modern thinking with lack of group acceptance and household trauma, but then slips back into girls getting hooked at marijuana parties. Manages to slip in some references to infanticide and explicit child torture, in case you were worried this wasn't exploitation.

Soldier of Fortune (March 1985, v10n03)

I Was There: Silhouette Shoot by Uzal W. Ent

One page quickie about calling in a mortar strike during the Korean War.

Grimdark Magazine Issue 3 (March 2015) - Available from Amazon

A Recipe for Corpse Oil by Siobhan Gallagher

A pickpocket is recruited by a potion seller to steal chins to make corpse oil. A light comedy, the grimmest and darkest of fantasies.

Street & Smith's Mystery Magazine (May 1940,v06n01)

The Crack of Doom by Norman A. Daniels

A cop responding to a suicide call finds a series of bodies, heads twisted around following an unholy screeching. Daniels is a master mechanic of action scenes so we get great fist fights, shootouts, and fiery escapes, but the reveal was a letdown.

Complete Man (February, 1967, v7n01)

Come-Across Swinger by Karl Kramer

Sleaze short in the paperback original tradition, in the sub-genre of Private Airport Noir, the only other example of which I can think of is Coleman Francis' Skydivers, though it looks like Kramer had at least a couple novels in the genre. A dirtbag airport owner cheats on his wife, rapes a widow, screws over his partner, beats up an employee, and lives happily ever after.

Savage Realms Monthly Volume 1 (January 2021) - Available from Amazon

God of the Mountain by Willard Black

Redgar the barbarian is hired to rescue a woman from a savage tribe under the shadow of an active volcano. There's a sweet spot for Sword and Sorcery, and this one falls on the short side - the descriptions and actions could use more detail. S&S, like Westerns, tend towards generic templates, and this felt more generic than most - if this is a series character, maybe future installments have more variety.

Startling Detective Adventures (December 1937, v19n113)

Fatal Masquerade of the Midget Gunman by John Shirley (presumable a different John Shirley)

The story goes for the "midget" angle even though the gunman was a full five feet tall. The local press focused on the blackface, calling him the "Mammy Bandit". Pretty standard robbery gang true crime stuff.

A Recipe for Corpse Oil may not have been representative of grimdark, but you can't expect fairness and justice to prevail in this dark and cynical world. Grimdark Magazine is eliminated.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

NRV: Tag Team Title Elimination Tournament

Announcing an eight title elimination tournament. A story or feature from each title will compete, with the lowest reviewed title will be eliminated until we crown our first Tag Team Champions.

Brought to you by John Bender's Chainsaw.

"In Chainsaw, Bender delivers a rollercoaster ride of redneck humor and blood-soaked visuals that dives deep into backwoods hilarity while going full-tilt duh in all the right spots. More fun than pass the cousin at a hillbilly reunion, Bender pulls out all the stops and pushes the envelope on toilet jokes, dirt road mentalities, and gory splashes of ineptitude."

Available from Amazon

Four titles were chosen by the commissioner and another four were picked randomly from the Trash Menace collection. In publication order:

Representing True Crime, Startling Detective Adventures

The pulps continue with Street & Smith Mystery Magazine

True Crime goes juvi with Teen-Age Gangsters

Complete Man gets things sweaty

Long time veteran Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine fights for it's spot. Still in print and available from Amazon.

Soldier of Fortune takes the occasional break from firearm accessory ads for features

And representing Fantasy we have a couple of Young Guns, Grimdark Magazine, available from Amazon.

And Savage Realms, also at Amazon

Six decades, eight titles, 35 stories, but only one magazine will bring home the belt as our inaugural Tag Team Champion.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

No Redeeming Value


Winner of an eight magazine elimination tournament will decide the Tag Team Champion.

Alien Nation will defend the TV title against Marvel.

Roald Dahl will run the gauntlet - last author standing becomes the Cruiserweight Champion.

A Fatal Four Way match to decide the Young Guns Champion.

Our first Series Showdown Champion Horn will face off against the six other genre series champions  - the top four will be our new European, Intercontinental, United States, and World Champions.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Announcing Trash Fiction Championship

 Announcing Trash Fiction Championship. Genre fiction reviews collide with the world of professional wrestling.

Matches, tournaments, and titles, so many titles!

Four main belts, open to all comers:
  • European
  • Intercontinental
  • United States
  • World
Four specialized belts:
  • Cruiserweight (short stories)
  • Tag Team (magazines)
  • Television (media tie-ins)
  • Young Guns (21st century)
Rule of thumb is after two successful title defenses, a specialized champion can compete for the main belts, and a main title holder can challenge the rank above them. An author can holder any number of belts simultaneously, but they remain fighting champions and must defend.

Books I don't finish are count outs, and an author retires or is out with an injury if I run out of books. Vacant titles will be decided by tournament. There will be a variety of match types - three way, four way, elimination tournaments, gauntlets, and enough special stipulations to make a TNA booker's head spin. There will be special events with jam packed cards and intrusive promotional consideration (promoting my and friends' stuff, nobody's gonna make a dime off this nonsense).

First event coming soon!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Series Showdown: Viking vs Falcon

Both series slowed things down for the third installment, but Falcon kept up the momentum. Falcon splits the Viking up crotch to sternum.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Falcon 3: The Bloody Cross by Mark Ramsay

The Falcon 3
The Bloody Cross
by Mark Ramsay (John Maddox Roberts)

Draco Falcon travels to Paris, participates in a jousting tournament, and becomes King Philip's bodyguard. A lot of exposition on Templars, papal power, and currency. Like Renegade, this series has a good balance of pulp action and historical verisimilitude, but this one is a bit heavy on the explainy side.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Vikings 3: Blood on the Sun by Neil Langholm

Vikings 3
Blood on the Sun (aka The Sun in the Night)
by Neil Langholm (Laurence James)
1975 Sphere

Erik Ragnarsson makes his way back home after failing to rescue his father from the Irish. He kidnaps and frees a British princess and challenges a neighboring village to recruit karls to his cause.

The weakest entry, with the highlights feeling like what would have been filler between set pieces in other installments. The first half centers around women fighting over Erik, culminating in a naked catfight, and the story even yadda-yaddas its way back across the Atlantic to the new world.

Paperback from Amazon

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Series Showdown: Mathew Swain vs Hook

Both series had a slump by the third installment, but Mathew Swain leaned into the private eye premise whereas Hook lost it's way. Hook is swarmed by explosive drones and Mathew Swain wins the Science Fiction division.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Mathew Swain: The Deadliest Show in Town by Mike McQuay

Mathew Swain
The Deadliest Show in Town
by Mike McQuay
1982 Bantam

Swain is hired by a media conglomerate to find a virtual reality addicted newscaster, who is promptly snatched away from him. He deals with scummy media types and a candidate for Texas governor. The news companies pay criminals to commit crimes to generate footage.

Thin plotting and not much going on this time around.

Paperback from Amazon