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

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Mathew Swain 4: The Odds are Murder by Mike McQuay

Mathew Swain 4
The Odds are Murder
by Mike McQuay
1982 Bantam

Set against a backdrop of a plague driving people paranoid and violent, Swain protects an old flame when a series of corporate investors turn up dead. A darker vibe with this one, with fewer Chandleresque similes.

Packs less of a punch after recent events – it depends on the notion that the government would take drastic steps to stop a plaque, and a major plot point is based on a misunderstanding of insurance law.

Available from Amazon

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Renegade 4: Death Hunter by Ramsay Thorne

Renegade 4: Death Hunter
by Ramsay Thorne
1980 Warner

Captain Gringo and Gaston recruit mercenaries to hunt for a German submarine base in Costa Rica on behalf of British intelligence. A little low on the action, though it ends with a fun bit involving shooting a machine gun from a hot air balloon. The creepiest entry so far, opening with a rape played for laughs and a sex scene between Gringo and a thirteen-year-old.

Available from Amazon

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The Night Hunter 4: The Shrine by Robert Faulcon

The Night Hunter 4
The Shrine
by Robert Faulcon
1984 Arrow

A local ghost layer uncovers an Arachne shrine in an ancient Roman mine in rural England. The shrine is a psychic battery, draining the energies of several captives held underground.

Dan Brady enters the picture, setting a trap for Arachne agents and the elemental forces under their control. They arrive, four men with rotting animal heads, and the plan dissolves in a rage of death and madness.

Some genuine chills until things go over the top at the end. I've described the Night Hunter as if Nigel Kneale wrote Evil Dead, and we can add a little John Constantine to the characterization, with Brady's single minded focus damning those he comes into contact.

Paperback from Amazon.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Vietnam: Ground Zero 3 - Unconfirmed Kill by Eric Helm

Vietnam: Ground Zero 3
Unconfirmed Kill
by Eric Helm
1986 Gold Eagle

The soldiers of get some well deserved leave. Gerber and Fetterman join reporter Morrow in Hong Kong, only to be subject to assassination attempts by the Chinese officer that has been plotting against them. When Morrow is kidnapped, Gerber calls in the rest of the soldiers from their vacations to mount a rescue mission.

The finale is a raid on a Victorian mansion in suburban Hong Kong, the set up to a hundred HK action movie scenes. Add to that Fetterman jumping around, a pistol in each hand, and I find it hard to believe this came out only four months after A Better Tomorrow. I know there were shootout movies prior to that, but this hits on so many Heroic Bloodshed elements that weren't common at the time.

Available in ebook and paperback from Amazon.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

No Redeeming Value - Our Main Event


The Series Showdown started way back in February, 2020. Eight tournaments, 64 book series, 112 novels. Alien Nation has already claimed the Television Title belt. Now the top seven book series compete for the four vacant titles - European, Intercontinental, United States, and World championships.

Let's meet our competitors:

Vietnam: Ground Zero by Eric Helm. War is Hell brutality an jungle adventure.

Night Hunter by Robert Faulcon: Like John Constantine in an Evil Dead story scripted by Nigel Kneale.

Renegade by Ramsay Thorne: Mercenary action in Central America against the geopolitical background preceding the digging of the Panama Canal, with butt sex.

Mathew Swain by Mike McQuay: A hardboiled detective in a cyberpunk future, before Blade Runner.

Falcon by Mark Ramsay: Revenge seeking former crusader leads a private army.

Imaro by Charles Saunders: Early Sword and Soul innovator, monsters and magic in a fictional Africa stand in.

Horn by Ben Sloane. The winner of the first Series Showdown tournament. Nihilistic cyberpunk Robocop cash in that shifted into buddy cop territory.

These seven authors will go head to head, and the top four in ranked order will be our inaugural Trash Fiction Champions

Thursday, September 1, 2022

No Redeeming Value: Young Guns Championship


We'll probably see more of Curran and Beard in the future, but this was really a showdown of two 21st century titans Sodergren and Ferguson. Ferguson brought his A game and is our first Young Guns Champion!