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

Asimov’s The Black Widowers

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2017 in Post-pulp, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Asimov’s The Black Widowers

'Tales of the Black Widowers'Isaac Asimov is probably known to most pulp fans for his science fiction work, in particular his Robot and Foundation series. Many may not be aware of his scientific work, including a long-running series of science articles (nearly 400) that were collected in a series of books (not sure if all were, I have many of the books).

Less known may be his mysteries. One of his most interesting mystery series is the Black Widowers. These are short stories set in a fictional men’s supper club, with each tale one of the members brings a guest. During the post dinner drinks, the guest is grilled, and it’s always found he has some issue or problem that must be solved (though not always a crime). The members try to figure out the problem. And it’s usually the club’s waiter, Henry, viewed as an almost unofficial member, who provides a solution to the problem. And its usually a simple and clear one.

Read more

Read More

Michael Crichton’s ‘Congo’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017 in New Pulp, Pulps, Review
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Michael Crichton’s ‘Congo’

'Congo'Mention the name Michael Crichton and most people will think of Jurassic Park (or at least the movies). Maybe some of his other works turned into movies like Andromeda Strain or Westworld.

But, no, this time I look at one novel of his written specifically in the pulp adventure tradition of H. Rider Haggard: Congo (1980).

And, yes, it was turned into a movie. But the book is better.

In Congo, you have several groups of people searching in Africa for the lost city of Zinj. Located near a volcano, the city is the source for rare blue diamonds, which are needed for faster communications. The main group is from a company called ERTS, which needs the diamonds to keep their technological edge. They have already sent and lost an expedition. Everyone in that expedition was all killed by something.

Read more

Read More

Armchair Fiction’s Lost World-Lost Race series

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, May 15, 2017 in Pulps, Reprints, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Armchair Fiction’s Lost World-Lost Race series

'Forgotten Worlds'Some may be familiar with Sinister Cinema, a company that has for years made various “B movies” available on VHS and now DVD. In 2010 they expanded with their Armchair Fiction series of reprints.

First it was classic science fiction, fantasy, and horror done in double novel format, similar to that used in the old Ace Double series, which they’ve just put our their 200th volume in their D series (and started the new E series). They expanded to Mystery-Crime Double novels (the B series) and have a few other series such as Masters of Science-Fiction (the M series), Horror Gems and Science Fiction Gems (the G series), as well as Science-Fiction Classics (the C series), which are single novels or collections. What they reprint is stuff that appeared either in pulp magazines or early paperbacks, and sometimes earlier works.

Read more

Read More

More Preston & Child

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017 in Review, Techno-Thriller
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

More Preston & Child

"Beyond the Ice Limit"Well, they keep putting them out, so I’ll keep reading and reviewing them. I have previously posted about the writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I have been enjoying their long-running Pendergast series, and the more recent Gideon Cross. Now they have new novels out in both series.

So, first up is the new Gideon Cross: Beyond the Ice Limit. This one is a sequel to one of Preston & Child’s stand-alone novels, The Ice Limit.

In The Ice Limit we are first introduced to Eli Glinn and his Effective Engineering Solutions. In this 2000 novel, Eli and EES are hired to come up with a plan to remove a huge meteor from an island near Cape Horn, and return it to the U.S., where it will be the showcase for a new museum being built by billionaire Palmer Lloyd. Obtaining the meteor is not without its issues, not the least of which is an Argentinian naval ship pursuing them. Their ship is sunk, taking the meteor to the ocean floor. At which point they figure out the meteor is actually an alien seed and is growing.

Read more

Read More

Pulp comics: Dynamite ‘Shadow’ 1-shots

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, April 28, 2017 in Comics, Review, The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Pulp comics: Dynamite ‘Shadow’ 1-shots

'The Shadow Over Innsmouth'Since 2012, Dynamite has had the rights to do The Shadow comics. Since then in addition to an on-going series (now ended), they have had several mini-series and one-shots with The Shadow. This is the third of three articles looking at what they have produced, here focusing on the several one-shots.

The one-shots are The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Shadow Annuals 2012 & 2013, The Shadow Special, The Shadow Special 2014, The Shadow #0 (One-Shot) 2014, and The Shadow #100. There is also Altered States: The Shadow, which I covered in another posting, as I did for the 2014 one-shot.

The Shadow Over Innsmouth has The Shadow along with Margo Lane in fog-bound Innsmouth, after they landed their seaplane there. After getting a tale told them of Captain Marsh, the South Seas, the Deep Ones, and more, they discover that it’s just a cover to scare people off from a major bootlegging operation that even includes a submarine. But The Shadow makes short work of it. The coda at the end has H.P. Lovecraft hearing the same tale, which we assume is the source of his story, “A Shadow Over Innsouth.”

Read more

Read More

More Nina & Eddie

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Review, Techno-Thriller
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

More Nina & Eddie

'The Valhalla Prophecy'I have previously posted on Andy McDermott‘s series starring archaeologist Nina Wilde and her bodyguard/ex-SAS/boyfriend and now husband Eddie Chase.

As noted, the first eight Wilde and Chase novels comprised a loose series, as they had a secondary story-line dealing with Atlantis that started with the first novel and is wrapped up with the eighth.

The next novel, The Valhalla Prophecy, starts a new phase for both characters. It’s interesting that even the cover style changed with this one. Here they learn of an ancient and deadly substance found by the Vikings with can cause death and mutations.

The Russians had discovered one source of it and knew it was so dangerous, they destroyed it and setup a group to monitor and discover any other sources. Wilde and Chase team up with them to find the other known source and destroy it before a dangerous American can obtain it and use it. But in doing so, this has unexpected consequences for both Nina and Eddie that leads to them leaving the International Heritage Agency, the UN agency formed to protect Atlantis and that Nina finally got to head.

Read more

Read More

A look at Street & Smith’s ‘Crime Busters’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, April 24, 2017 in Detective Pulps, Hero Pulps, Lester Dent, Street & Smith
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A look at Street & Smith’s ‘Crime Busters’

'Crime Busters' (November 1937)Street & Smith kicked off the hero pulp trend with The Shadow in 1931. They eventually followed that with Doc Savage in 1933. While those were successful, their subsequent series were not, as they tried western (Pete Rice), detective (Nick Carter), and air adventures (Bill Barnes).

Next they tried to copy the success of The Shadow and Doc with The Whisperer and The Skipper.

Walter Gibson suggested something different. A pulp magazine that would contain about three novelettes (long short stories) of different serial pulp heroes, from which successful ones could be spun out in their own magazines. Editor John Nanovic decided to go with that idea, but made some changes (probably not for the best).

In 1937, they dumped The Whisperer and The Skipper, and retitled Best Detective Magazine (which was mainly reprints) as Crime Busters.

Read more

Read More