Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 9

Robert E. Howard brings his two fists to the ring, and the three Texas titans face off in the squared circle.


Probably not complete works at Amazon 

By the Hair of the Head by Joe R. Lansdale
Shadows 6, 1983

Atmospheric chiller of an author living with a former keeper in a defunct lighthouse.

Reprinted in High Cotton, from Amazon 

Pirate's Blood by James Reasoner
Kolchak the Night Stalker Casebook, 2006 from Amazon 

Reporter Kolchak encounters ghost pirates after revenge on a corporate raider aboard a cruise ship. Fun, but doesn't quite hit the tone of the TV show.

Black Vulmea's Vengeance by Robert E. Howard
Golden Fleece, November 1938

Irish pirate Vulmea invents a hidden treasure to escape the clutches of the British. Angry natives, hidden tunnels, and a giant snake. Vulmea ends up aiding his British captor for the sake of his wife and daughter - presumably the scores of men he kills were childless bachelors.

All authors stay on their feet.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 8

The million word a year man James Reasoner steps in the ring. His output defies bibliography. Read his blog https://jamesreasoner.blogspot.com/ and buy his stuff on Amazon  https://amzn.to/3GioDlN

Man in the Morgue by James Reasoner
Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine November 1978 v42 n11

An obit writer follows a lead about deaths at a flophouse.

Chompers by Joe R. Lansdale
Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, July 1982

Quickie about a homeless woman finding a cursed pair of dentures.

Lansdale and Reasoner go toe to toe, both authors staying in the ring.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Reading Rumble 7

Fantasy and horror author Tanith Lee springboards into the ring.

Bibliography https://isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?105

Amazon shop https://amzn.to/3vyFmvX


The Nightmare's Tale by Tanith Lee
Women of Darkness II 1990

Collected in Tanith Lee A-Z, from Amazon https://amzn.to/3IhgBft

A man's object of revenge dies too soon, but not too late for voodoo-esque magic.

Drive-In Date by Joe R. Lansdale
Cemetery Dance, Winter 1991

Two dirt bags an their drive-in "date". The first of his splatterpunk dark comedy pieces in the Rumble.

The Wood of the Dead by Algernon Blackwood
The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories, 1906

"What happened to that old man I was talking to?"

"There's no old man here. Might have been the ghost that portends death in the village. Excuse me, I'm off to live a happy and full life."

Lee and Blackwood go over the ropes.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Reading Rumble TV Title Winner

The further Star Wars gets from Lucas the better it tends to get, but the tie in novels just seem like a mess. Forgotten Realms retains the title.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Forgotten Realms: The Crystal Shard by R. A. Salvatore

Dungeons and Dragons: Forgotten Realms
The Icewind Dale
The Crystal Shard
by R. A. Salvatore
1988 TSR

In the far north of the Forgotten Realms, a wizard is possessed by a magical crystal and is building an army of goblins, giants, and a demon to threaten the settlement of ten-towns.

Meet our heroes: Drizzt the Drow, a dark elf shunned by his own people for not being evil; Bruenor the grumpy elf, Wulfgar the Barbarian, and there's a halfling thief that is in the periphery who joins the gang later.

The entire genre acts as a pastiche to Lord of the Rings, but there are some very specific elements here, including the dwarf and elf comparing kill counts. Homage or theft, depending on how charitable you feel.

Ninety percent exposition and council meetings, but the remaining ten percent was good fun. The first appearance of fan favorite Drizzt - I was expecting him to be more angst ridden, but this may be what counts as edgy in fantasy fiction.

Available from Amazon

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order
Vector Prime
by R.A. Salvatore
1999 Del Rey

Set 25 years after A New Hope, the Star Wars gang have kids, the new Jedi are disorganized, and the galaxy is being invaded by the Yuuzhan Vong, an alien race of religious zealots who use advanced biology for their technology.

Mainly known for killing off Chewie by dropping a moon on him. Everybody's got to go sometime, and this all got rebooted after The Force Awakens, but Salvatore kind of pulls a Ed Brubaker, killing off a major supporting character on the front end to show the stakes are high.

The audiobook I listened to was abridged, mercifully. The full version is four times longer, and from what I could tell reading a synopsis, didn't have additional major scenes. Other than Chewie buying it and the cool aliens, not a whole lot going on. First in a series of nineteen.

Available from Amazon.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Reading Rumble TV Title Match

It's Salvatore vs Salvatore, as two tie-in Titans face off for the Television Title

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Estelle Roberts and the death of Mona Tinsley

I first came across the account of medium Estelle Roberts assisting police in the investigation of the disappearance of Mona Tinsley in 1937 England in the book Strange Talents by Bernhardt J. Hurwood. In that account, Ms. Roberts accurately described the murder, identified the killer, and located the body. A check of primary sources flavors those claims a bit differently.

Wikipedia has a good summary, and I've verified things like dates and places with contemporaneous newspaper accounts. Roberts involvement was covered at the time by Psychic News, and her direct account was published in her 1969 book 50 Years a Medium.

Mona Tinsley was reported missing in January of 1937, Roberts became involved a month later, and Mona's body was discovered the following June. Roberts did not ID the suspect, as Frederick Nodder was arrested a couple days after the disappearance, well before Roberts got involved.

Roberts also didn't help police locate the body, which was found by boaters. She says herself "“I can’t say precisely where" the body was, but supposedly channels Mona's tormented spirit to follow the path, which led to a field that Roberts and her entourage found impassible, though the killer supposedly had no problem following the route carrying the corpse.

The location she supposedly gave has along the lines of through fields and rivers, which describes pretty much all of England. It's implied that the body was found just beyond the "impassible" field - it was eight miles away across several villages, in an accessible area.

Roberts herself still hedged her bets, saying "The river holds the secret of the child’s whereabouts", which isn't the most exact way of saying you know the body is in the river.

So far, at best, even if Roberts had legit psychic powers, they didn't come in handy in this case, as the killer was already known and she didn't help locate the body. Most of the claims about the details of the murder were unverified, as Nodder never confessed.

Her knowing some limited details is less impressive when we learn that police questioned her about her impressions of the case prior to her entering the murder scene, which would tip her off. Her knowing the landmarks near a building she just travelled to isn't particularly remarkable. The biggest piece of evidence of her psychic powers was supposed to be the fact that she knew the killer used the side door to dispose of the body, which was proven because the front door was nailed shut. Despite having a 50/50 chance to begin with, she probably figured that piece out when she entered the house.

The only things that she reports to have known that were verified were that the child was dead and that she had been strangled. It was widely assumed Mona had been murdered - in fact this case led to changes in British law requiring a body for a murder charge. The strangling she was accurate on, but even then she only revealed this after the end of the trial.

Psychic News drip fed hints during the case, but only published details after they had been confirmed. According to the paper, Roberts told her followers that she had told the police where to find the body, which doesn't match her later account, and was told to her followers after the body had been found. Psychic News hints at other details, but doesn't publish any until after the trial was over.

Roberts reports being hesitant to assist police - contemporaneous accounts say she was concerned about the death penalty, and her later account says she didn't want publicity (despite announcing details to her followers at her own meeting hall). Either way, she claims that she helped in order to bring the family peace and closure.

Here again, even (or especially) if she was psychic, this doesn't hold up. Roberts claimed that Mona was raped (not verified in the autopsy) and that she was constantly in horror reliving the experience again and again, possibly for eternity. I'm sure this brought the family great comfort when they read this in the papers.