STARTLING ADVENTURES MAGAZINE
Editor Daniel Werneck
In its glory days, the pulp fiction monthly magazines were the repositories of thousands of fantastic short stories. It was a time unparalleled in America when reading was a national pastime, long before television and computers captured our imagination. Editor Daniel Werneck expresses this feeling aptly in his end of the book essay which is a nice concise history of the pulps, past, present and future. It is Werneck’s love the genre that propelled him to create his own homage to those long ago mags.
Startling Adventure Magazines contains an editorial, the previously mentioned essay, and five pieces of fiction. They are all short and the entire book/mag can be read in a leisurely ninety-minutes. The stories are as diverse as the originals which they wish to mirror and although the quality of each is evident, the effects are a mixed bag.
Vic’s Night Out by Anthony Abelaye seemed pointless. My high school English drummed the basic rules of writing into our heads long-long ago. For it to be a “real” story, it has to have brought about change by the tale’s ending, something that does not happen here. We meet two losers about to go out on the town. They go to a club, one of them starts a fight. They meet an old prostitute and take her home. She begins an affair with one of the two losers, leaving the other alone in a neighborhood bar feeling sorry for his pal. In others words they were sorry losers when the story started and remain so when it ends. Abelaye has a funky, modernistic prose he should use on something a whole lot more substantial.
Atha and the Green Tower by Eric Orchard is clearly the best action entry here and he delivers a quick, fast moving story much like the old pulps. This one should have been longer. Still my favorite is easily Werneck’s own Automatic Lives which tells the story of DVL-54, worker robot who makes guitars. One day he is informed that the government is transferring him to a factory that produces machine guns. Following DVL-54 as he comes to grip with this change and his bizarre sadness at losing his old job is a very poignant drama that was skillfully handled. This writer had much to offer.
The remainder of this slim volume contains another sci-fi entry, Summer by Colin Peters which is also extremely well done and a neat little one act play entitled Mama’s Boy by Jonathan Wallace where in a gay Devil plays a game of chance with a bar patron with disastrous results. If done on stage, the ending would certainly make folks sit up and take notice.
And there you have volume number of Startling Adventures Magazine. A tip of the pulp fedora to Daniel Werneck and company. This little book isn’t about to conquer the world, but it does entertain and in the end, isn’t that what the pulps were really all about?