Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Royal Jelly by Roald Dahl

Royal Jelly
by Roald Dahl
1960,  Alfred A. Knopf

A beekeeper feeds Royal Jelly to his underweight newborn. Goofier and less menacing than I remembered. Also one of those stories that introduces an element at the end that makes the beginning make no sense - "I've just had a sudden stroke of inspiration! I'll use that thing I've been obsessing over for the last couple of years!"

Collected in The Umbrella Man and Other Stories, available from Amazon

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Sitting in the Corner, Quietly Whimpering By Dennis Etchison

Sitting in the Corner, Quietly Whimpering
By Dennis Etchison
Whispers #9, Dec 1976

A woman makes a confession in a late night laundromat. Getting a handle on Etchison's short fiction - there's a mood and a concept, but little story and certainly no ending. This is the second short I've read which just ends with someone running out into the night.

Available in 100 Fiendish Little Frightmares from AbeBooks

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Hazards of the Game by Ed Wood, Jr. as Dick Trent

The Hazards of the Game
by Ed Wood, Jr. as Dick Trent
Garter Girls v06 n01, Feb/Mar 1972

A hitman and his model hookup have a post-coital chat.

Collected in Angora Fever, available from Amazon

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Bloody Pile of Horror: Cruiserweight Four-Way Grudge Match

Roald Dahl and Ed Wood, Jr. cheated Joe R. Lansdale and Dennis Etchison of a clean win for the Cruiserweight Title. Now it's each author for themselves in a four way grudge match.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Sixth Fall

The Corpse by the Car Track
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

Fairly standard murder case in El Paso. The Sherriff drove the White suspect out to the desert to hide from a KKK lynch mob - while notable in the amount and severity toward Black people, lynch mobs and the KKK's vigilantism were common across ethnicities at the time.

The suspect was convicted and promptly pardoned by Texas Governor "Ma" Ferguson - a power she was accused of abusing so much that unilateral pardon and clemency power was taken away from the Governor to this day. She also effectively diefunded the Texas Rangers (which is why Texas was a haven for the wave of 1930s criminals) and the DPS was created in response by the next Governor.

She was an open puppet for her husband, impeached former Governor "Pa" Ferguson, with the catchy slogan "Me for Ma, and I Ain't Got a Durned Thing Against Pa".

Fantasy Tales Spring 1979 Vol 2 No 4
First Make Them Mad by Adrian Cole

I complain about fantasy stories with too much exposition, and here I am complaining there's not enough. There are sorcerers, different planets and planes, and something about stealing hands, but I don't have the faintest of where, who, or what is going on here, clear over my head.

Some interesting history with Startling Detective Adventure, which was all my feeble imagination could handle. Starling Detective Adventures takes the fourth fall and retains the Tag Team Title!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Fifth Fall

The Body in the Belfry by Joseph B. Wirges
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

A janitor rapes and kills a small child, leaving her body in a church's belfry. In response, a lynch mob takes it out on a random Black man, mutilates his body for several hours, and terrorizes the Black community of Little Rock.

The Exhumation by Peter Coleborn
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

A would-be saboteur is attacked by a vampire, causing his bomb to explode them both. His body torn asunder, the vampire tries to control a medical examiner to help him revive. Some new wrinkles to how vampires work, but unsatisfying.

Startling Detective pulls into the lead three to two.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Fourth Fall

Al Capone: King of Gangland by Alvin E. McDermott
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

First half is the author bragging that he got an exclusive interview in-between trials (and before Capone's prison sentence), second half is a standard bio, with a couple of lines of his "interview", such as it was.

The Inheritance by Denys Val Baker
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

A young woman inherits a spooky house, becomes obsessed with dancing around naked, and is found "dead with every sign of sexual assault".

Startling Detective makes the pin, the teams are tied two to two!

Friday, November 18, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Third Fall

The Gorilla Murderer by Sheriff Frank Green as told to Jerry E. Cravey
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

A child is abducted and found dead in Flint, Michigan, sparking a manhunt.

The Last Sleeping Gods of Mars by Andrew Darlington
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

On Mars, beast men attack a prisoner transport and an evil ceremony to serve the Elder Gods is interrupted. Little hard to follow, could have been fun expanded more.

Third fall goes to Fantasy Tales, which pulls ahead two to one.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - Second Fall

The Clue of the Rattlesnake by Herbert Hall Taylor

Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

A gas station owner and his mistress posing as his sister are killed by gator trappers.

The Lean Wolves Wait by John Wysocki    
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

In the latter days of World War I, a mutinous Cossack is bewitched by a mysterious woman.

Lean Wolves had its issues - too much exposition for the obvious, too little for the wtf twist, a rapist protagonist - but more going on than a robbery that would barely make the local paper. Second fall goes to Fantasy Tales, and we have a tied score.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective - First Fall

At the End of the Road by Patrick Connolly
Fantasy Tales Vol 2 No 3 Summer 1978

A young woman and her subtextual predatory lesbian roommate leave the small town behind to broaden their horizons in London. She hooks up with the landlady's son who ends up being dead and the landlady's dead and that means everybody's dead, me, you, everyone died already.

The Phantom in the House of Oesterreich by Don Nachaidh
Startling Detective Adventures Vol 5 No 26, July 1930

This one's wild. Years after a rich man was murdered while his wife was locked in a closet, it's revealed that she had been keeping her young lover as a sex slave in the attic, slipping him food and publishing the pulp fiction he wrote by candlelight (I looked and couldn't find what he published). The lover killed the husband after the couple argued, then later faked amnesia and started a new life. The wife's multiple affairs eventually uncovered the plot, though neither were ever convicted. This was made into three films, including one with Neal Patrick Harris.

An absolute squash. One of the most intriguing true crime stories against... well let's just say this was Raven/Canyon on Villano IV all over again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

BLPH: Tag Team Title Match - Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective

Blood Pile of Horror: Tag Team Title Match 

Fantasy Tales vs Startling Detective

Four Falls to a Finish

(4 out of 7 wins)

Sunday, November 13, 2022

BPOH: Young Guns Title

Good fun all around, but once again Dillon comes out ahead. Derrick Ferguson retains the Young Guns Title.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Dillon and the Bad Ass Belt Buckle by Derrick Ferguson

Dillon and the Bad Ass Belt Buckle
by Derrick Ferguson

After Dillon and Eli rescue a kidnapped actor in the jungles of Burma, they come across a bandit settlement called Cheap Prayer. Dillon challenges the leader to a deadly concentration course for their freedom, and for the Bad Ass belt buckle. Fun short.

Available in the Dillon Annual Collection 2018, from Amazon

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea

The Jersey Devil
by Hunter Shea
2016 Pinnacle

A host of a TV cryptozoology show joins a heavily armed cursed family for the Jersey Devil in the deeps of the Pine Barrens. After laying low for centuries, the Jersey Devil and its offspring have been made aggressive from toxic waste dumped in the woods. The devil attacks are ramped up, culminating in a slaughter at a punk music festival.

A fun creature feature but felt a bit in the middle of things. Not enough gore to be extreme horror, too many monster sex slaves to be light-hearted. Part horror and part action, but not fully in either camp.

In multiple formats from Amazon

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

BPOH: Young Guns - Derrick Ferguson vs Hunter Shea

Bloody Pile of Horror

Young Guns Title Match

Derrick Ferguson defends the Young Guns Title against Hunter Shea. Mercs vs Monster Hunters for the Championship Belt

Monday, November 7, 2022

BPOH: Television Title - Alien Nation vs Forgotten Realms

Bloody Pile of Horror: Television Title - Alien Nation vs Forgotten Realms

Alien Nation had a great run, but this installment broke me. The last three in the series each have different authors, and we'll see it in the ring again.

Forgotten Realms takes advantage and seizes the gold

Saturday, November 5, 2022

War of the Spider Queen Book 1: Dissolution by Richard Lee Byers

War of the Spider Queen Book 1
by Richard Lee Byers
2002 Wizards of the Coast

Set in the Dungeons and Dragons setting of the Underdark, a series of connecting underground caverns in cities, the Drow, or dark elves, are plotting against each other. Some males have escaped the matriarchal society, and it appears that their deity Lolth has withdrawn her favor, limiting their spellcasting ability.

The story culminates in an uprising by the lesser creatures of the Underdark - goblins, kobolds, that kind of stuff, led by an undead mind flayer lich. There are tons of spells and magic items and hand crossbows and this is probably the closest a D&D novel will come to my kind of thing.

I should have read this instead of listening to the audiobook, as I have a harder time keeping track of characters in spoken word. It didn't help me that every character was a drow magic user - someone has to be named Bardo the Bard for me to maybe keep track of who they are in these kinds of things.

Kindle, audiobook, and paperback from Amazon.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Alien Nation 5: Slag Like Me by Barry B. Longyear

Alien Nation 5
Slag Like Me
by Barry B. Longyear
1994 Pocket Books

In 1959, journalist John Howard Griffin disguised himself as a Black man using tanning booths, medication, and make up, and travelled the American South, recording the experience for Sepia magazine. Unlike the similarly themed Soul Man...

his book Black Like Me seems to still be well regarded. I was familiar with the parodies, from Eddie Murphy in Saturday Night Live...

to Chris Morris' Brass Eye. Even Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane, gets in on the act

And the Punisher. Oof.

In Slag Like Me, a human reporter undergoes surgical treatment to look Tenctonese. He goes undercover in LA, hangs around gangsters, and exposes bigoted police. When he goes missing, LAPD and the FBI investigate, and Matthew Sikes undergoes the same procedure to flush out whoever did whatever to the reporter.

Meanwhile, George Francisco is partnered with former overseer and current FBI agent Paul Iniko to chase down leads, such as the exposed crooked cops and an angry neighbor.

I don't know if this story was based on unused season two scripts, and tie-in novels come with a lot of restrictions, so I don't want to assign blame, but everything about Slag Like Me gets it wrong.

Alien Nation is a metaphor for immigration, assimilation, and bigotry. These themes are baked into every scene of every story. I struggle to comprehend the creative mind that, after a movie, 22 television episodes, and four novels, decides "Hey, how about we make this next book about racism?" It also falls into the same trap as some X-Man stories - instead of using fictional bigotry to highlight and explore actual bigotry, it uses actual racism as a metaphor to explore the real theme, fictional racism against aliens who do not exist. And the discussions on racism and bigotry are not subtextual here, it's pure soapboxing.

One would think, given the title and cover and all, the main story would be Sikes living life as a newcomer. You would be wrong. A decent amount of page space is budgeted to him preparing, but he's barely out in public in disguise and can't manage to stay in character for more than two minutes. His first undercover act is to make an appointment with a Tenctonese gang leader, to whom he instantly announces that he is a human cop.

Very quickly they're pulled over and beaten up by the police. Matt is taken to the hospital and has amnesia, so I was hoping we'd have a bit where he would think he was Tenctonese for a while, but nope, he gets his memory back almost right away and promptly tells everyone he is a human cop. Sikes is not very good at going undercover.

At no time did the foundational premise of the book, Sikes going undercover as a Newcomer, have any affect on the plot or themes, other than to discover that LA cops would be as mean to Newcomers as they are to everyone else, which Sikes already knows.

The mystery plot is equally disappointing. Various conspiracies are hinted out before it's revealed to be characters who are named in passing once, and they did it for dumb reasons. Some mysteries have non-sequitur endings that reflect the chaotic nature of real crime, other times it reads like the author didn't feel like wrapping everything up and just picked a killer at random. This felt like the latter.

As with the last book, Sikes and Francisco are split up through most of the story, denying the buddy cop element, and is replace by Francisco and Iniko. We get kind of a Bugs/Daffy, Mickey/Donald deal where Francisco goes from being the rational half of the duo to being the irrational one. Pretty much all the soap opera elements, such as Francisco's home life, are neglected. We do get a little bit more of Dobbs, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs' character, which was nice.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Blood Pile of Horror: Television Championship


Alien Nation makes its second defense against Forgotten Realms, one of several Dungeons and Dragons settings with 295 novel tie ins of this writing. It's Tectonese vs Drow for the Television Championship.

Brought to you by DMR Books, a leader in new Sword and Sorcery. 

Check out their website and buy their stuff on Amazon.