Thursday, October 30, 2014

ADONIS MORGAN - Nobody Special

(Nobody Special)
By Frank Byrns
115 pages
Pro Se Press

There are several respected writers in the New Pulp movement who specialize in tales of realistic superheroes.  One of the best is writer Frank Byrns as he amply demonstrates in this paperback collection starring his metahuman character, Adonis Morgan.

The five stories here detail the adventures of a man riding the unpredictable rollercoaster that comes with having super strength.  Early on we learn that Morgan went the traditional cape and mask route upon attaining his powers but the world being what it is, he gave up that romantic calling fast.  He then tries his hand at being a movie stuntman; being impervious to most kind of traumas does have advantages.  But when he’s framed for murder by a fellow metahuman with a long-held grudge, even that quickly sours.

Next he’s a nighttime taxi-driver and eventually a bodyguard for a campaigning senator assigned to protect the man’s younger, trophy wife.  When she’s kidnapped, Morgan is once again the public patsy.

As you can see, Byrns’ doesn’t offer up any rose-colored views; proving all too often that the fun stuff does indeed only happen in the comic books.  A world with real super powered people would, by the mere premise, be a complicated place.  One which he deftly portrays with ease.  From the first page, we dropped smoothly into this world and could easily empathize with Morgan.  Sometimes being a superhero just isn’t all it’s cracked up to me.  On the other hand, these stories are original and insightful and offer up a unique look into a little explored sci-fi pulp genre.  If you’ve never read superhero prose before, this is the place to start.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Twelve Longmire Stories
By Craig Johnson
Viking Penguin
183 pages

We reviewers are always trying to come up with fancy descriptions that will instantly cue the reader into exactly what kind of experience awaits them in the title we are reporting on.  It’s that tight-wire routine of giving away just enough of the idea without spoiling the actual contents.  With any Craig Johnson Longmire title, that’s not all that difficult.

Like the best fictional detective series ever put to pen, the joy in these mysteries is always the characters themselves with the actual who-dunnits really only an excuse to visit them time after time.  And the Longmire books are no exceptions.  Rather they excel at this process and every time a new one comes out, we can’t wait to spend more time with Sheriff Walt, Deputy Vic, George Standing Bear and all the marvelous characters who inhabit Johnson’s Absaroka County, Wyoming.

Over the past years, since beginning the series, Johnson has written a dozen short stories dealing with this series.  Some are poetic epilogues to certain novels while others are simply stand alone vignettes that do not require any real familiarity with the books.  What they all have in common is Johnson’s grasp of humanity with all its foibles and his unique homespun humor.  Here’s the bottom line, if Mark Twain had written mystery stories, they would have read a whole lot like the dozen between the covers of “Wait For Sign.”  That’s the best compliment this reviewer can offer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


By Van Allen Plexico
White Rocket Books
335 pages

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, this is the third and final volume of Van Plexico’s THE SHATTERING trilogy. It is a mind-blowing, action packed finale far greater than anything we could have imagined.  Which is no small feat as we’ve been fans of Plexico’s writing since he burst on the scene with his superhero series, SENTINELS.

With THE SHATTERING books, Plexico’s love 80s and 90s science fiction comes shining through so that we can actually feel the influences of such writers Roger Zelazny and Larry Niven resonating throughout these adventures. 

KINGS OF OBLIVION picks up where all the multi-cliffhangers from book two, SONS OF TERRA, left off.  There are three levels of existence, the Above where the gods dwell, the Middle, or our reality, if you will and the Below where dwell all manner of hellish demons.  One such evil entity has been attempting through various devious manipulations to extend his control to mankind’s level and thereby become the lord and master of the known galaxies.  To achieve this end, the Man in Black has recruited the aid of several alien species and begun an all out assault on the universe.  Gone are the subtle, Machiavellian ploys of the first two books.  This foul beast, having been constantly thwarted by a handful of brilliant and tenacious soldiers, is now determined to totally shatter what he cannot possess.

Standing in his way are Legion Generals Agrippa and Tamerlane who in turn have allied themselves with members of an alien warrior race, the Dyonari and several of the last remaining gods from the fabled Golden City.  Together, this small ragtag group has overcome overwhelming odds while at the same time avoid killing each other in the remnants of a political coup wherein one of their own, General Iapetus, attempted to usurp the royal throne.

If you like rousing space battles, desperate last stands and daring heroes, you are not going to do any better than LEGION III : KINGS OF OBLIVION.  We said it before and it bears repeating, Van Plexico is the Master of Space Operas.  This latest entry cements that beyond any doubt what-so-ever!

Saturday, October 04, 2014


(And Other Stories)
By Micah S. Harris
Mino Profit Press
188 pages

Micah Harris is one of the finest adventure fantasy writers working today.  So we were thrilled when this little book popped up in the mail a few weeks ago.  It contains three new tales of the fantastic by Mr. Harris and each of them is a well-crafted gem.  One has to wonder, what with the lack of fiction magazines today, if any of these would have ever seen the light of day had it not been for the ease of self-publishing.  We are daily grateful we live in such an age when writers of this talent can follow this path and effectively make their efforts available we eager readers.

In the first tale, from which the book takes its title, a company of occultists hunt an inhuman villainess attempting to open a portal to our world so as to allow her demonic sire to enter.  Joining this stalwart group is the lovely Becky Sharp, a recurring character in Harris’ stories who has her own agenda.  The woman they are chasing kidnapped her baby girl and Becky is determined to rescue her no matter what the cost.  This story moves like a greyhound chasing a rabbit, from one marvelous scene to the next and even though many readers won’t recognize many of the classical references to these characters, it doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm in which Harris spins his story.  The climax is sheer over-the-top pulp genius.

In “The Anti-Pope of Avignon,” Harris channels Robert E. Howard the Puritan travels to Avignon to put an end to threat posed by the beautiful Fausta, the bastard love child of the late Pope Alexander VI and Cesare Borgia.  He has been hired by a community of French Hugenots who see her as a mortal enemy to their way of life.  But the Puritan is captured and thrown in a dungeon where he uncovers the presence of an unholy spirit called the Horla.  It is this demonic being that is the real villain and only his sword, wielded in holy righteousness, may save the day.  Any fan of the Solomon Kane stories should feel right at home with this delightful yarn.

“May the Ground Not Consume Thee…” is the last of this triple treat.  None other than Alexander Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo comes to the aid of a tortured French maid whose vile and sadistic husband has made it impossible for her to see her own daughter. To resolve the woman’s plight, the Count plots an elaborate scheme which includes duping a cruel, ageless vampire into being his pawn.  Once again Harris demonstrates his insane plotting genius.

In the end, it would impossible to pick which of these three pieces we enjoyed the most. All are equally well written, captivating and sheer reading treasures.  For a little book, this one packs a wallop and we strongly urge you to seek it out.  This is what good pulp writing is all about.