SATURN’S CHILD And Other Tales
By Mark Allen Vann
Writer Mark Allen Vann has the marvelous talent of spinning
old familiar genres around until they appear like something totally fresh and
new. He does this to perfection in his
latest collection of stories, “Saturn’s Child And Other Tales.” There are a
total of seven and each is wonderfully presented with seven new and original
heroes battling all manner of villainy.
Saturn’s Child kicks off the collection wherein Vann does a
flip on a classic Edgar Rice Burroughs off-world yarn. In this case it is the
beautiful Saturn Princess Xian Xenn who, while fleeing assassins, is magical
transported to the planet Earth. Specifically Los Vegas in the 70s where she
encounters mobsters, berserk bikers and ultimately has a meeting none other
than the King. We’ll be nominating this one for a Pulp Factory Award.
Secondly “Bad Medicine at Blackstone Gulch,” is a weird
western that introduces us to Marshal Hollister Payne charged with bringing the
deadly four Yancy Brothers to Silver
City to be judged for
their many crimes. Along the way they encounter the ghost of an Indian Shaman
set on delivering his own blood-oath vengeance.
“Dented Halos and Dirty Faces.” Angel City
was once a thriving metropolis protected by the Justice Squadron. Then the
vampire invasion fell upon it and the heroes were defeated. Now the citizens
cower in fear every night as the blood suckers seek out their new victims.
Private Eye Jana Dhark, the former super-hero Jett, is hired to find a missing
teenage girl by her father. But to do so will mean assembling a new team with
the courage to enter the Dead Zone and confront an army of the undead.
“They Call Him…Iron Mask” is a really charming twist on the
Superman origin, only this time the rocket ship that crash lands in Martha and
Elroy’s farm backyard is carrying a humanoid shaped robot with good intentions.
What happens next is both amusing and endearing. A story we personally love and
will to be another award nomination for sure.
“The Lion of Llanaxa” begins well enough but simply doesn’t
deliver by its conclusion. It’s a tale that goes nowhere and thus is the
weakest one in the book.
“Through Fog of War” has World War II Navy sailor Colton
Kendricks shipwrecked on a strange deserted island somewhere in the South
Pacific. What he discovers on that island defies all reason and logic, but
proves to be a very good opening chapter to what we hope is more to come.
Finally Vann wraps it all up with “Stalker in the Shadows,”
the tale of Rick Mordane who lives in a world where the dead have come back to
life. Well at least as visible, interacting ghosts if you will and he’s a
private eye better identified as a Poltergeist Negotiator. What a hot looking
redhead comes to him saying she’s being stalked by a former lover, Rick finds
himself unable to resist her charms even though the case itself has more holes
than a slice of Swiss cheese. A really wonky, fun story.
And there you have it, four terrific yarns, two genuine gems and one lackluster affair. Meaning this is another well crafted Xepico Press offering by a writer whose talent is only growing with each new collection. You don’t want to miss it.