Sunday, July 31, 2022

King of the Night by Robert E. Howard

King of the Night
by Robert E. Howard
Weird Tales Nov 1930

Many of Howard's fantasy stories are in the same universe, separated by millennia. Sometimes his world building feels like a fantasy parallel to Earth, other times an alternate history of Earth, and others historical fiction by someone who fell asleep in history class.

This is the first story of Bran Mak Morn, the last King of the Picts. He's joined by a time travelling Kull to fight the Romans. No real story, just them talking about fighting, fighting, and talking about how they fought.

From a 21st century perspective this feels like Howard used the popularity of established character Kull to give the rub to newcomer Bran Mak Morn. It's still hard to grasp how much of Howard went unpublished during his lifetime. Kull was only in two other appearances and I think Bran Mak Morn only showed up once more, though mentioned another time.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

NRV: Cruiserweight Gauntlet Round Two

The Children of Noah has it's charms, but it doesn't stand up to the transcendent vision of the master of the form. Ed Wood Jr. survives this round - can he survive six more and claim the title?

Friday, July 29, 2022

Scream Your Bloody Head Off by Ed Wood, Jr.

Scream Your Bloody Head Off 
by Ed Wood, Jr.
Horror Sex Tales, Vol. 1, No. 1

A cheating husband kills his wife and has challenges disposing of her body. Ed Wood's writing is even more incoherent than his directing. Like an IA wrote it before being run through Google translate a couple times.  "He was a handsome well-built guy and built between his legs like a stud, and he used that member like a stud."

Collected in Blood Splatters Quickly, available from Amazon.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Children of Noah by Richard Matheson

The Children of Noah 
by Richard Matheson
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, March 1957

Quickie small town speed trap horror, would have worked as one of the blackout sketches on Night Gallery.

In Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories of Richard Matheson, ebook from Amazon

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

NRV: Cruiserweight Title Gauntlet Round One

Roald Dahl's drab snobbery versus Robert Bloch's dull snootiness. Dahl barely makes it a couple pages through the Gauntlet before being eliminated, hopefully clearing a path for an author who wasn't a miserable anti-Semite. But it won't be Bloch, who also fails to measure up. We start with a double countout, and two new authors will meet in this game of human chess! Will one of them survive the Gauntlet?

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The Butler by Roald Dahl

The Butler
by Roald Dahl
Travel and Leisure (May 1974) as The Butler Did It

Reprinted in Cruelty: Tales of Malice and Greed

A self-made millionaire buys fancy wine to show off, his butler serves him cheap wine and drinks the good stuff himself. Just like the English to be snobbish to the rich for not being the right kind of rich.

Paperback from Amazon

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Gods are Not Mocked by Robert Bloch

The Gods are Not Mocked 
by Robert Bloch
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, August 1968

Reprinted in Cold Chills, Fear Today Gone Tomorrow, and Last Rites

A hippie gag store owner is confronted by the father of a girl who died after taking the store owners LSD. There's a lecture about how bumper stickers are in poor taste, then the jokester is eaten off-page by Smoky the Bear.

Just in case you couldn't tell from the text that Bloch is the world's most angular square, Cold Chills has an afterword where he assures us he's a bit of a roaster himself, but these bumper stickers just go too far.

Cold Chills from Amazon

Sunday, July 24, 2022

No Redeeming Value: Cruiserweight Championship Gauntlet

Can one author defeat all challengers, survive eight rounds, and become Trash Fiction Championships first Cruiserweight Champion? Will Roald Dahl survive...The Gauntlet!?

Brought to you by comic writer Kek-W, author for 2000 AD among others.

Follow him on twitter @19f3_records

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

NRV: Television Championship

Alien Nation stood up on his own, though it didn't match the tone of the show. Dark Designs had some strange choices - cosmic powered Nazi geometric shapes, sentient viruses - not the strangest stuff to come out of Marvel, but it didn't work well with prose. Alien Nation inserts a microchip in Cap's head and sends him on a shooting spree. Alien Nation retains the Television Title.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Alien Nation 4: The Change by Barry B. Longyear

Alien Nation 4
The Change
by Barry B. Longyear
1994 Pocket Books

One of George's former resistance comrade in arms escapes from prison and uses mind control devices to fulfill an oath to kill anyone who has ever known George. George is going through alien menopause and Matt spends most of the the time in the hospital. Buck is skipping class to hang out with Tenctonese elders, who all sound like hippie burn outs.

Nasty enough villain, but the ending felt unfocused. Did not have the feel of the TV show in plotting or tone, and I assume that the cursing, violence, and rape scene wouldn't find it's way on the small screen. Based on a script for the unproduced season two, but not made into a TV movie like others.

Paperback from Amazon

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Captain America: Dark Designs by Stefan Petrucha

Captain America: Dark Designs
by Stefan Petrucha
2016 Marvel

Cap and Iron Man fight a Sleeper, a robot left over by the Nazis after WWII. This sleeper is just a series of geometric shapes, one of which is somehow powered by an Infinity Gem shard. Meanwhile, Cap is found to have a dormant virus that he caught while frozen in ice, as does the Red Skull who at this time lives in a copy of Rogers' body.

Other than a quick fight with the Red Skull, it's mostly SHIELD flying Cap around avoiding and fighting floating shapes. There's a subplot of a CDC scientist who wants to eradicate the threat of the virus while Cap heroically threatens the human race since there are no other superheroes on Earth.

For some reason the story is set in 2005, but other than a couple scenes with PDAs instead of phones it could have been at any time. It might have been set in the past since Sam Wilson was Captain America at the time, but usually Marvel avoids time references and says things like "set before the events of..." Had a mid-90s feel to me.

Hawkeye is ambidextrous and Rogers only has one scar, which he got trying to save Bucky. And we find out that Captain America solving the trolley problem is as insufferable as you think it would be - "I would simply save everybody", "You can't", "I'd try harder", etc.

Kindle ebook, Audible audiobook, and paperback from Amazon

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

NRV: Television Championship


Our inaugural champion makes their first defense against tie-in powerhouse Marvel. Alien Nation faces Captain America for the Television Championship.

Brought to you by artist Ɓukasz Kowalczuk. Buy his stuff and hire him to do the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, cowards! 



Sunday, July 10, 2022

Tag Team Elimination Tournament Final Round

Startling Detective Adventures (December 1937, v19n113)

Double Death: Trapping New Jersey's Elusive Cop Killer by Tom Bailey

Cops are shot while serving a warrant on an eccentric bail bondman.

Teen-Age Gangsters (1957)

Sex and Liquor

Stories of "non-virgin clubs", with games like seven minutes in heaven, pretty much the stuff of 80s teen comedies. Tame for this title.

Battered and bloodied, these two true crime titles barely stumbled through the last round, but Startling Detective Adventures makes the pin, and is your new Tag Team Champion!

Thursday, July 7, 2022

NRV: Tag Team Elimination Tournament Round Six

Startling Detective Adventures (December 1937, v19n113)

Murder in the Model's Boudoir by Lawrence Flick Jr.

A good time girl with a black book filled with influential names is murdered. 

Savage Realms Monthly Volume 2 (February 2021)

Titan's Thirst by Alexander S. Karcher

Quick, poetic piece about a primitive man hunting a man-eating lion.

Teen-Age Gangsters (1957)

Teen-Agers in Jail

Teen-Age Gangsters crawls deeper in the gutter with sexual sadism in girls' juvenile detention.

Savage Realms succumbs to the shadows.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

NRV: Tag Team Elimination Tournament Round Five

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

No Profit in Murder by Alan Hathway

The Keyhole is a mysterious columnist crime solver. This case involves a slain mail carrier, an Inca curse, and a murdered inventor. The premise is still being set up as the Keyhole smashes and shoots his way out of it.

Savage Realms Monthly Volume 2 (February 2021)

In the Cove of the Apostate by B. Harlan Crawford

Barbarian nomad Seanai takes refuge in a cursed temple of a city that was driven into the sea for worshipping dark gods. The spirits of the apostates animate statues held together with possessed sea-life.

Teen-Age Gangsters (1957)

Gang Wars

Yikes! Strong stuff here from Teen-Age Gangsters. After the introduction of an ex-gang member being beaten and outraged, more general information about New York's juvenile gangs and the lax criminal justice system that doesn't strip search teenage girls enough. Surprisingly, neither parents nor comic books were blamed.

Startling Detective Adventures (December 1937, v19n113)

The Man Who Turned Monster by Dean S Jennings

The story of Roy Righthouse, obsessed killer and necrophile who strangled a nurse before turning himself in. One of these true crime stories which took some narrative liberties, complete with internal monologues of the characters. More florid than most, Jennings tries to go full Dostoyevsky.

Mystery Magazine had that sub-genre of mystery that introduced bizarre elements in the beginning, hoping to explain everything in the resolution. It almost never works, and you're better off depending on action than the whodunit. A whole magazine of this format is a bit much. Street & Smith Mystery Magazine is eliminated!

Sunday, July 3, 2022

NRV: Tag Team Elimination Tournament Round Four

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

Death Lights a Candle by Theodore Tinsley

The Cash & Carrie detective agency is run by Carrie Cashin, but her assistant Aleck poses as the owner Remington Steele style. They are called in to solve a case involving a man repeatedly lighting a candle on a street corner and robbers who hold up a bank to make a deposit. The resolution made no sense and required extensive knowledge on Cashin's part not revealed until the end.

Complete Man (February, 1967, v7n01)

4-Day Pacific Nightmare: Downed Navy Ace Who Survived Typhoon Louise by Ed Hyde

What it says on the tin.

Savage Realms Monthly Volume 1 (January 2021)

Serpent Lord of Bryson Metals by Kell Myers

Fun short set in post-apocalyptic Florida, as a sword wielding Army soldier fights a burnout magician to keep an artifact out of the hands of the reptilian Krunts.

Teen-Age Gangsters (1957)


A couple of case studies of child prostitution rings bookend social hygiene statistics.

Startling Detective Adventures (December 1937, v19n113)

Sex Slaves of the Pacific by Jack Dewitt

Women are promised jobs in Hawaii only to be forced into prostitution. Most true crime, from the 20s to today, let's the crime speak for itself, but there's always the occasional author who does some editorializing.

I was never too fond of the respectable side of men's adventure magazines, preferring the trashy stuff over realistic stories of war and survival. Complete Man is fed to the sharks and eliminated.