Edited by David W. Edwards
Part One – by Derrick Ferguson & David W.Edwards
Part Two – by Arlen M.Todd
What we have here is a title with two different pulp actioners; both edited by David W.Edwards. Thus will give you or take on each separately.
Kicking of this volume is “The Thousand-Eyed Fear” by Editor Edwards and popular pulp writer, Derrick Ferguson. It’s a deliriously delicious pulp romp evocative of some the best classic tales of the early 30s. Set in World War One, the story follows a Doc Savage clone named Lt. Nolin Quigg, known around the world as Strongboy, and his team of young soldiers to include Brits and Americans referred to as The Lost Boys.
Occult scientist working for the Germans have somehow tapped into another dimension and captured a monstrous, evil entity capable of spreading fear throughout a limitless region and turning people into babbling fools or heinous monsters.
The Germans have devised a way of draining the occult energy from this “thing” and are going to use it to power their new secret weapon, a giant tank three times the size of such war machines. Thus it is up to Strongboy and his crew to infiltrate the German’s hidden underground base, thwart the fiendish beast and destroy the super tank. As we stated at the start of this review, this is magnificent pulp brilliantly written. We’ve no clue which of the two writers did what sections, as the prose is seemless and we have to add, aside from the violent, bloody action, Edwards and Ferguson infuse some thought provoking philosophies throughout giving their characters an original twist. All in all a great read and we are hoping to see lots more of Lt. Quigg and company in the future.
Next up is “The Q for Damnation” by Arlen M.Todd and storywise it is another stellar pulp tale with as yet another new hero in the French female masked vigilante/detective known as Monteau. Lina Mayen, when not on a case, disguises her operations under the guise of being a criminal mob boss herself. A nice tip of the hat to the Green Hornet set up. When one of Lina’s old friends, a curator of a Paris museum, is brutally murdered during the theft of a special painting said to possess arcane mysteries. Monteau is soon caught up in a truly bizarre case involving elements reported during a World War One battle. Lo and behold, we readers suddenly realize this story, happening almost thirty years after the first adventure, is actually a sequel that reveals some of the horrendous aftermaths of that previous tale. All in all, Todd’s writing is competent and we had fun challenging ourselves to properly translate much of his French dialogue; it being one of the languages we were raised in.
Now we’d love to give “The Q for Damanation” the same high marks as we did for “The Thousand-Eyed Fear,” but unfortunately that becomes impossible due solely to the printing gimmicks scattered throughout the text. By that we mean there are entire sections done in faux cursive, ala diary entries that go on and on, or reprinted hospital forms filled with supposed doctor’s notes etc. etc. There is even a section presented to us ala a scene in a play! We have to wonder if the editor believed this was a “fun” way to break up the monotony of page after page filled with only text? Keep in mind, all books are for the most part just pages of text. It was those words do that matters, not how they are dressed up visually. Thus this stuff fails miserably as it merely creates annoying, jarring visuals that instantly take the reader out of the narrative. Something that should be avoided at all cost. In the end, we’d suggest, if he truly needs to break up the repetitiveness of text pages, he revert to the traditional use of pulp interior illustrations. When done by talented graphic artists, such pieces actually enhance the fiction.
In the end, this is really a good, solid package and we do recommend it highly. The level of imagination in this volume is noteworthy and will entertain even the most jaded pulp fan.