Sunday, April 16, 2023

Reading Rumble Round 12

The Queen of the space opera, Leigh Brackett, springboards over the ropes and into action.

Galactic Central 

Black Amazon of Mars by Leigh Brackett
Planet Stories, March 1951

Earthman from Mercury John Stark accompanies a dying friend to his homeland on primitive Mars, only for him to die, leaving him a mysterious talisman. He gets involved with an invasion led by the titular Amazon, who's described as on the cover, and stops an ancient frozen city from awakening and reclaiming the planet. Good prose and imagination, but could stand to have more adventure - the Amazon hardly does anything.

Collected here 

Death Wears My Face by Paul Ernst
Horror Stories, 1935

A man is approached by people he's never met, claiming they know him under a different name, only to later turn up dead. A doppelganger story outside of the shudder pulp formula.

Daughter of the Golden West by Dennis Etchison
Nightmares, 1979

A teenager is found dead and mutilated and his friends trace his steps to a new girl in school. There's a fine line between "atmospheric quiet horror" and "half-formed ideas with no ending".

The Case of the Stalking Shadow by Joe R. Lansdale
Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations, 2013

Not really an occult investigator story, other than a wrap around narrative. A woman returns to the woods to discover the truth behind a shadow that scared her as a child. Thin story with some creepy imagery.

The Devil in His Brain by Robert E. Howard
Lurid Confessions 1, June 1986

An abusive husband loses his arm in the Foreign Legion, and like everyone exposed to the horrors of war and trauma, came out a gentler man. Unsold attempt at the confessions market, more fun as a novelty than on its own merits. 

The Cold Cash Kill by James Reasoner
The Green Hornet Chronicles, 2010

Green Hornet and Kato investigate the murder of one of Hornet's alter ego's employees. 

James Reasoner goes over the ropes. Howard clings on by sheer force of novelty. Lansdale is knocked cold, but comes to before Ernst can drag him over the side.

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