Blog: Commentary from the den of a pulp super-fan

The underwater archaealogy thrillers of David Gibbins

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, August 16, 2017 in Review, Techno-Thriller
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The underwater archaealogy thrillers of David Gibbins

'Atlantis'A recent techno-thriller author I’ve discovered is David Gibbins. What sets him apart is that Gibbins is an actual underwater archaeologist! So he is using his professional background to base his works of fiction.

All his works feature fictional maritime archaeologist Jack Howard and his team. They are all contemporary thrillers and involve a plausible archaeological/historical backdrop. In fact, in the back of all the books is a section where Gibbins gives the factual background for the ideas.

The main character, Jack Howard, is head of the fictitious International Maritime University, an educational and research organization with the resources to have facilities around Europe and research vessels. His right-hand man is Costas Kazantzakis, a marine engineer (you almost have the Dirk Pitt/Al Giordino dynamic here, plus IMU kind of stands in for NUMA).

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‘Pulp Adventures’ #25

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2017 in Adventure Pulps, Comics, Fanzines, New Pulp, Pulps, Reprints, Review, Weird Fiction, Western Pulps
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘Pulp Adventures’ #25

'Pulp Adventures' #25The 10th issue of the new Pulp Adventures — #25, Spring 2017 — is out.

This issue has a set of new and reprinted pulp fiction, all under a Norman Saunders cover (again). No non-fiction other than the information on the authors or pulps these appeared in, which I think added to things. I’d just like to see an occasional full article on some topic.

For pulp reprints, first up is one of Robert E. Howard‘s Sailor Steve Costigan stories, “Waterfront Fists” which appeared in Fight Stories. I was surprised to learn that this pulp, the first focused on a specific sport, ran for over two decades.

Next, we get some different Western stories. First is “Chicago Man” by E.K. Jarvis, which ran in Mammoth Western in 1946. From Will H. Thompson, we get “Tigre and Isola” that appeared in Adventure way back in 1911. And then a very short short story by Larry Latham: “Desert Rescue.” This one appeared in Thrilling Comics, due to postage regulations. Comics had to have two pages of text, so many ran short stories or later letter pages. I recall seeing this in many of the comics I got in the ’60s. Since many early comic-book publishers where connected to pulp publishers, they could get this done.

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Eric Trent: a short-lived air-adventure series

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, August 7, 2017 in Ace, Altus Press, Aviation Pulps, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Eric Trent: a short-lived air-adventure series

The Complete Adventures of Eric TrentEric Trent was Donald Keyhoe‘s final serial air-adventure character in Flying Aces. More realistic than his previous character series (Richard Knight and Philip Strange), this short-lived series ran 12 stories from 1940-42.

Trent is an American who gets involved in Nazi plots and threats just before the U.S. entered World War II, and a bit after. He is not a formal agent, but more of a freelancer. He flies around and tries to sell the inventions of his associate, Mortimer Crabb. And they usually get involved with some plot or issue. As they aren’t agents, they have to extract themselves from the problem, including dealing with police and government agents who think they are part of the problem.

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‘The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin,’ Vol. 1

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, July 31, 2017 in Occult Detective, Reprints, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin,’ Vol. 1

'The Horror on the Links: The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin,' Vol. 1I had previously posted on Dr. Jules de Grandin, one of my favorite occult detectives, though he’s probably overlooked today. Created by Seabury Quinn (1889-1969), de Grandin ran for over 90 stories in Weird Tales, from 1925 to 1951.

I was fortunate to obtain the six books of de Grandin stories edited by Robert Weinberg in the 1970s, and always wanted to read more of the originals. Weinberg had selected what he felt was the best of the stories in those six books, and had apparently put together a list of what would appear in the next six. I always would have liked to know what he had planned.

The only complete reprint of all the de Grandin stories has been a set of three large and very pricey volumes from the Battered Silicon Dispatch Box. I had always hoped for a more reasonably priced set.

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‘The Pulpster’ #26

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, July 28, 2017 in Detective Pulps, Fanzines, Non-fiction, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘The Pulpster’ #26

'The Pulpster' #26It’s summer 2017, and that means a new Pulpfest and a new issue of The Pulpster, #26!

The main focus of this issue is “dangerous dames” and “psychos.” The first seems apropos, what with the recent Wonder Woman tearing up the movie screens. But Wonder Woman is not pulp. Who, then are some of the dangerous dames of the pulps?

Well, Ron Goulart and Bill Pronzini provide us with a pair of articles on that.

Ron is up first with a look at some of the few female detectives from the pulps, many that I wasn’t aware of. There is Madame Storey who appeared in Argosy and Mystery in the 1920s and ’30s. Violet McCade appeared in Street & Smith’s Clues Detective Stories in 1935-37 (around the same time as I.V. Frost). Longer running is Theodore Tinsley‘s Carrie Cashin who appeared in S&S’s tryout pulp Crime Busters (later renamed Street & Smith’s Mystery Magazine) for nearly 40 stories from 1937 to ’42, the whole run of the magazine. Then we have Sarah Watson in Detective Fiction Weekly from 1935-38. Finally, and surprisingly, we have Sally the Sleuth, who starred in short two-page comic stories in the spicy pulps where she often lost most of her clothes. Sadly, none of these are readily available today. I keep hoping Sanctum Books would at least reprint some Carrie Cashin.

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More Moon Man

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, July 24, 2017 in Ace, Hero Pulps, Moon Man, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

More Moon Man

'The Complete Adventures of the Moon Man,' Vol. 2I have posted previously about the Moon Man, the Robin Hood-like pulp hero who ran in Ace Magazine’s Ten Detective Aces for several years (1933-37). Altus Press is reprinting the whole series, and I have written about the stories in the first volume. As I noted there, I was surprised by how much the stories fit together, where actions in one story have repercussions in following stories.

I recently obtained the next three volumes, which each contain about five or six stories each, and its interesting to see how this continues.

The heart of volume 2 is the four-part series dealing with the “Red Six.” This criminal group blackmails people to commit the crimes that benefit the group. And they have their hooks into the Moon Man! So not only is he being blackmailed by the group, but he has to both stop them and prevent his identity from being exposed. But his identity is exposed: to his fiance Sue McEwan. This ushers in a new phase in the series now that Sue also knows who the Moon Man is.

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More ‘Event Group’ thrillers

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, July 19, 2017 in Pulps, Review, Techno-Thriller
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

More ‘Event Group’ thrillers

'Overlord'I have previously posted about David Golemon‘s Event Group series. This techno-thriller series focuses on a secretive group of scientists and soldiers who are part of the National Archives: Department 5656, or the Event Group. They look for dangerous secrets in the world to secure and preserve them, and have been around since Lincoln’s time.

At present, there are 11 books in the series. My first posting was on the first eight. Let’s look at the next books in the series.

A storyline that ran through the series and was a major part of three novels was that the world is threatened by an invasion of aliens, the Grays. They had wiped out a previous humanoid race that had existed on another world in our solar system, the remains of which formed the asteroid belt. This was revealed in Legacy. The first novel in the series served to both introduce us to the Event Group, to Maj. Jack Collins (now a colonel), the new head of security, and to the threat of the Grays.

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