Tuesday, March 26, 2013

MYTHICAL - Brothers in Stone

MYTHICAL – Brothers in Stone
By C.E. Martin
275 pages

The second of C.E. Martin’s new pulp superhero action trilogy hits the ground running from page one and doesn’t let up until the last.  Picking up where the first, Heart of Stone, left off, Colonel Kenslir, military chief of the ultra secret Detachment 1039, is convinced he has destroyed the shape-shifting dragon that had posed a threat to national security and he has returned to Argon Tower, the group’s secret headquarters in Miami.

Unfortunately the ancient beast, Ketzkahtel, isn’t so easily killed and has returned to the living with a vengeance.  Determined to make Kenslir and his people suffer, the immortal monster travels to the deserts of Arizona to the long buried sarcophagus containing his twin brother.  Once raised back to life, the two will become unstoppable and the world will lay defenseless at their feet.

Meanwhile Kenslir and his newest recruit, recent high school graduate Josie Winter, aren’t without their own new allies in a spunky, sexy F.B.I. agent named Keegan and her psychic protégé Victor.  Martin infuses his tale with truly fun, oddball characters and enough wall-to-wall battles to fill three books, let alone one.  He paints his action sequences vividly so as to become cinematic and it’s all too easy to imagine them brought to life on the silver screen.

Super powered heroes versus the blackest magical forces in a pot-bubbling stew that will have you turning pages and losing track of time.  Martin’s work is addictive and we mean that in the most complimentary ways possible.  The third and final volume, Blood and Stone and it can’t get here soon enough.  Do not miss this series, action lovers.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


By R.S. Belcher
Tor Books
361 pages

Were we about to pitch this book as a possible movie to a Hollywood studio, we would  present it as a super amalgamated cross between Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” and Lawrence Kasdan’s “Silverado.” 

If you are an avid reader, then we no need to tell you that the new pulp genre known as the Weird Western is extremely popular these days.  From anthologies and novels, it is a fantasy theme that has captured the fancy of readers everywhere.   “The Six-Gun Tarot” is the best Weird Western book on the market today.

The setting is post-civil war in a Nevada mining town called Golgotha.  For reasons known only to a select few, it is the nexus of good and evil at the heart of the universe.  Locked up its mountains lies an ancient evil that existed before creation and here Belcher dives into Lovecraft territory head-on setting forth the book’s primary plot conflict.  The beast, known as the Black Wurm, is about to be released from captivity and if it succeeds it will destroy the world.

Thus is falls upon a handful of truly memorable characters to save creation.  These include Sheriff Jonathan Highfather, a man who cannot be killed; his deputy, a half-breed Indian coyote-changeling called Mutt, a young fifteen year old boy, Jim Negrey, on the run from the law who possesses a mysterious all-powerful eye said to contain unimaginable power and the beautiful but deadly Maude Stapleton, a Southern Belle secretly trained in ancient martial arts and occult practices.

That is only a sampling of some of the fantastical citizens of Golgotha that play an active part in this cataclysmic battle between light and dark, good and evil.  There’s also Auggie, the local shop merchant who keeps his dead wife alive in a vat of chemicals put together by the town’s eccentric inventor and Malachi Bick, the saloon owner who just may be a fallen angel sent to protect mankind at the beginning of time.

“The Six-Gun Tarot” is one of those rare books that kept surprising us from chapter to chapter.  Just when we thought it couldn’t get any weirder, it did just that until we became totally enraptured by Belcher’s daring and exuberant imagination.  It certainly has no bounds.  This is a book we recommend to all lovers of fantastic fiction and assure you once you’ve ridden into Golgotha, you won’t want to leave.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Ed. By Percival Constantine
Created by Jim Beard
Pro Se Productions
188 pages
Guest Reviewer – Todd Jones

Monster Aces is a mash-up of old monster movies and cliffhanger serials. Set in the 1930s, the Aces are essentially the “A-Team “of monster hunters. Digger is the team’s muscle, Gats is the weapons expert, Joker is the handsome wisecracker, and Cap’n is their no-nonsense leader. There is also their unofficial member, the beautiful but mysterious young woman, Trill. Having left their old lives behind them, the team’s members have dedicated themselves to helping the Cap’n rid the world of any and all kinds of nasty creatures that may threaten the human race.

Every tale in the anthology has the Aces tackling a different monster menace in a new locale. The four writers that contributed to this book do an excellent job of mixing together plenty of suspense, horror and action into each story in their own distinctive voice. My hope is that there will eventually be a follow-up to this book that will delve more into the team’s origin and the members’ individual backgrounds. If you love your monsters with a slice of adventure, you’ll enjoy this book.

Friday, March 01, 2013


By Michael D. Sellers
Universal Media
348 pages

Every now and then I’ll read a book and then find myself debating whether to review it here and share my thoughts with all of you.  I do my best to keep these reviews dedicated to pulp “fiction” but regular followers know I have dealt with non-fiction titles in the past; especially those I felt had a strong connection to pulp literature.  That this book is all about the movie version of “A Princess of Mars,” by the greatest pulp writer of them all, Edgar Rice Burroughs, qualifies it above and beyond my parameters for this review column.

No, the reason I was having doubts about reviewing this book are my own personal feelings of animosity towards many of the people who were a part of one of the most disastrous Hollywood marketing fiascos of all time.  It is book that details catastrophic incompetence among so many high ranking Disney executives one is left marveling how such a great movie as “John Carter,” ever got made in the first place.  It also turns the spotlight on the heroes of this epic calamity; the few with the courage of their convictions and the daring audacity to see it finished.  All this despite the selfish individuals determined to see them fail to the point of spreading lies to their cronies; unscrupulous movie critics eager for any scrap of negativity to enhance their own lackluster careers.

Let me give you an analogy that sets the stage for the drama in Seller’s cautionary tale.  Imagine having bought tickets to a baseball game that you’ve been eager to see for a long, long time.  Then prior to the game, the officials announce that your beloved team has lost…but they are still going to go ahead with the contest anyway.  Impossible, you say?  That could never happen; the game hasn’t even been played yet.  That’s impossible, you cry.  Then comes the day of the game and sure enough, no matter how brilliantly your team performed on the field, the umpires would consistently rule in favor of the other side as the outcome was pre-determined and they were only playing their part.

Now replace our favorite team with a movie based on one of the most cherished fantasy adventures of all time.  The players on your team are director Andrew Staton and his cast and crew; all set to deliver an amazing, inspired film version that will soar way beyond your wildest imagination.  The officials are the Disney studio heads who, rather than going out of their way to DO THEIR JOBS and promote the movie, do the exact opposite and through a series of unbelievable guffaws, fail in every single aspect and allow the word to get out to the media that the movie is a flop….before it is even released.

The umpires who played along are the cowardly critics who, rather than judge the actual film on its merits, preferred to follow along like the sheep they are and add their own unsubstantiated vitriol.  By the end, “John Carter,” was convicted of a crime it never committed and sentences to wear a badge of shame totally unmerited.  Or so these malicious executives hoped.  

One of my favorite chapters in the book comes towards the end, “What Would Walt Disney Think?”  Sellers wonders just how far the Disney Corporation has strayed from the goals and dreams of its founders, Walt and Roy Disney.  In looking at how the company is now run by slick business types who have no clue how to dream, it is a sad indictment on not only Disney but all of Hollywood.

And then there is the finale wherein the author, having clearly demonstrated that the men and women behind this sabotage of a wonderful movie, excused themselves of any wrong doing by claiming they were motivated solely in creating profit for their company.  That being the case, he then in wonderful movie accounting practice, shows how producing sequels would clearly add coins to the coffers in an almost risk-free scenario.  In other words, NOT doing more John Carter movies is illogical and should be pursued adamantly if these executives truly want to make money.

I saw “John Carter,” twice in the theater, bought the Blu-ray the day it was released and have watched it a dozen times since.  Each time I watch it I see new things in it that make me laugh and cry. It is a great movie, filled with wonder, adventure and romance!  Because of that, “John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood,” is the most frightening horror book I’ve ever read. That there exist people in this world who make a living destroying the dreams of others, whether intentional or not, is both scary and despicable.  But don’t take my word for it, read the book and then add your voice to the thousands across the globe demanding sequels.  In the end, we will not be denied!