Friday, June 29, 2012

UNDERCOVER REVIEW: Atomic Robo v1

Review by Nick Ahlhelm

Atomic Robo works with a very specific concept—what if Doc Savage was a robot.  And from that has come a modern comics masterpiece.

Writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener have created dozens of stories for the characters, but this time we will look at the very first one. Future volumes will be covered in future installments.

The first six issues that make up Atomic Robo Volume 1 revolve around a disturbance in Egypt. A pyramid has came alive with machinery, and Robo and his team have to stop it.

But while the over-arching story revolves around Egypt and the pyramid, each issue has its own focus. One issue gives a past tale of Robo versus Helsingard, a villain that would come to plague Robo more than once over time. The reader first meets the “Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne” from the subtitle in issue two where Robo and his allies battle giant ants (while commenting that such things shouldn’t even be scientifically possible). Yet another issue flashes back to the seventies and Robo’s trip to Mars.

Through it all, Robo is always the stalwart hero. He’s a guy that wants to do good—a guy that happened to be built by Nikola Tesla.

But what makes Robo standout far beyond so many other modern pulp characters in comics is the fact that he’s fun. Lots and lots of fun. While the stories are rarely played just for laughs, Clevinger and Wegener never let the book be dragged down by too much melodrama or angst. In comics, it proves a refreshing change from mainstream titles that seem bent on growing darker month by month.

Atomic Robo Volume 1 is now available wherever comics are available for purchase or order. The book is available on multiple digital platforms as well. Pulp fans will almost certainly love what they see.

Press Release: BEN BOOKS LAUNCHES BOBBY NASH’S EARTHSTRIKE AGENDA


EARTHSTRIKE AGENDA, the new novel by celebrated author Bobby Nash is now available in paperback and ebook formats at Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and more.


HUMANITY HAS GONE TO THE STARS.
Earth, once barren and decimated by war and the depletion of natural resources has been reborn.

Today, Scavengers prey on small mining towns and colonies. The United Planetary Alliance Marshal's Service seems unable to stop these raids. They are outmanned and outgunned, but is the only law on many colonies.

Newly promoted Captain, Virgina Harmon takes command of her first starship, the Pegasus, the latest ship built to solve the Scavenger problem. Plagued by nervousness over her first command Captain Harmon is rocked by the news of her mentor’s murder. Just days before he was to report to her aboard the Pegasus as chief of engineering.

In Earth orbit, a science station becomes a target. An enemy has a plan to use the Space Lab facility as a means to claiming Earth.

In deep space, the United Planetary Alliance city-ship Ulysis welcomes aboard a high-ranking officer with a special mission for the crew. Those plotting against the Alliance are preparing to make their move and their first target is the Ulysis.

Meanwhile, in the deepest regions of space an enemy has returned. An enemy seeking vengeance.
EARTHSTRIKE AGENDA
 
Whoever controls Earth ...Wins.
 
You can purchase the Earthstrike Agenda in paperback and ebook format at the following:
BEN Books Direct paperback
 
Amazon paperback
 
Amazon Kindle ebook
 
Smashwords ebook (Multiple formats)
 
Barnes and Noble Nook ebook
 
DriveThru Fiction ebook
 
Barnes and Noble paperback
COMING SOON!
 
 
Visit BEN Books at http://BEN-Books.blogspot.com
Visit Earthstrike Agenda author, Bobby Nash at www.bobbynash.com
 
Visit Bobby Nash’s Amazon Author Page at www.amazon.com/-/e/B002QJ8QQS

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Pulptress Debuts!

Pro Se Productions, a leading Publisher in New Pulp, proudly announces the debut adventures of the First Lady of New Pulp!

Pro Se Productions, Publisher of New Pulp and one of the leading companies in what many refer to as The New Pulp Movement, proudly announces the release of the first collection of the adventures of the First Lady of New Pulp- “The Pulptress” is now available in Pro Se’s digest size!

She appears, an enigma, a guardian angel in a mask and fedora, her past shrouded in mystery. Where did she come from? What secrets in her past drove her to become a crusader for justice? Who is The Pulptress? This masked woman of mystery, makes her debut on the New Pulp scene in a collection of stories sure to thrill and amaze you. Leading off with an introduction by The Pulptress' creator, Tommy Hancock, this collection features stories by Terry Alexander, Ron Fortier, Erwin K. Roberts, Andrea Judy, and Tommy Hancock! With a fantastic cover by Mitch Foust and beautiful design work by Sean Ali, this collection is a must have! It's time You met The First Lady of New Pulp! The Pulptress! From Pro Se Productions!

Originally conceived by Hancock as a character to represent New Pulp and Pro Se, The Pulptress quickly came to life, both as a vibrant real person portrayed by Pro Se’s own Megan Smith at the inaugural Pulp Ark Conference/Convention in 2011 and not long after that in the form of ideas and stories from the authors featured in this collection! Several tales also feature well known New Pulp guest stars alongside the Pulptress, including Derrick Ferguson’s Dillon, Ron Fortier’s Brother Bones, and Erwin K. Roberts’ The Voice!

Pro Se Productions presents ‘The Pulptress’ as the first of many books and collections that will appear in a digest format! Get your copy today for $6.00 from Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/c3v9599

or directly from Pro Se’s own store at http://tinyurl.com/7yyoeal

! Ebooks coming soon!

Check out Pro Se Productions at www.prosepulp.com

and www.pulpmachine.blogspot.com

Undercover Review: UCHRONIC TALES – The Zeppelin


UCHRONIC TALES – The Zeppelin
By W. Peter Miller
Uchronic Press
55 pages
Review by Ron Fortier

Recently I reviewed a short digest novella from Moonstone Books and mentioned liking this handy format for a quick, enjoyable reading experience. Well, California based writer, W. Peter Miller has launched his own series of such small paperbacks called “Unchronic Tales,” and the first one is entitled, “The Zeppelin.”

Now from the back cover copy, we’re told that these books will be set in an alternate world which is much like our own but then again different in some pretty startling and unique ways.  And make no mistake about “Uchronic Tales,” they are definitely part of the New Pulp Fiction movement sweeping the literary world today.

The hero of this first novella is American Agent Clark Tyler who has gone over to England at the start of World War One to enlist and do his part.  When a super Zeppelin, the Eisern Feist, attacks London one night, British Intelligence learns the bombing raid is actually a cover up for a more sinister German mission.  The Germans have kidnapped the daughter of famous scientist and are bringing her back to Berlin to utilize the special formula she now possesses, a formula that bestows her with a rather unbelievable ability.

Thus it is that she must be rescued at all cost and Tyler and his team fly off in modified tri-planes to overtake the dirigible, get aboard her and find the young lady before the massive airship can cross the channel and reach Germany.

Miller’s writing is pulp-perfect and the action nonstop from beginning to end. Tyler is a great, stalwart champion and the young, lovely scientist a spunky spitfire capable of holding her own when the action kicks into high gear. But before they can successfully complete her rescue, both of them will have to battle their way through an entire crew of German airmen and a team of highly trained, deadly German Commandos. 

Having relished this great little book, this reviewer is looking forward to digging into the second titled, “The Horn.”  If it is as good as, “The Zeppelin,” we pulp fans have much to celebrate.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Live A Little, Write A Lot!



In this column I’ve written before about how sometimes you have to step back from writing to gain a fresh perspective. Kudos to you if you are having a hot streak--ride it for all its worth. If you’re not though, it might just be that you’ve gotten jaded and have run out of fresh ideas.


I know, from my own experience, I go stale if all I do is sit at the keyboard and churn out story after story. Fortunately for this mom and grand-mom with a 4 generation family, life frequently gets in the way, making sure I am going to be forced to come up for air and witness what the rest of the world has been up to.


I have varied interests outside of writing: I’m a reader, a crafter, a crocheter, and an avid gardener. I love to haunt flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales. I cook and bake, and I enjoy making music. I’m also a bit of an amateur naturalist. So generally when I’m not writing, I’ll either be outdoors doing something, or indoors making something— maybe even online researching a brand new project. My family and friends have always remarked that I seldom sit down and just ‘veg out’. I always have something in my hands, some project in progress, something to talk about or show someone.


Case in point: the last 10 days or so have been devoted to getting my vegetable garden done up the way I want it. We got a late start with funky, flip-flopping spring weather and equipment problems, so it is just starting to look like something. Mother Nature waits for no one and so those plants have to go in. I had planned ahead for spending the nice weather outdoors, so I finished almost all of my writing commitments for this year before May was over. I’ve only volunteered for additional projects I know I can handle or that have open ended deadlines. We can certainly live without a garden, but we have spoiled our palates (homegrown produce is far superior), and in all honesty, my soul cries out to go play in the dirt and watch the miracle of life unfolding from seed to shoot, through harvest or blooming. I can’t imagine my life without a garden in it, not after almost 40 years of tilling, planting, weeding, and watering; so I make time for it. I feel a great sense of peace when I’m out there, and great pride when I put food on the table that I nurtured myself. This is something important, something my heart needs, so I will do the blasphemous thing and set most writing aside for now to concentrate on getting that garden filled up and growing well. It’s a choice, and since I’m not depending on the infrequent royalty checks to sustain me right now, I can do that.


Not everyone can afford to take time off from writing, and I do understand that too. Now what does that all have to do with writing pulp? Well, first of all, like a cold sip of water, a change of venue cleanses the palate between courses. Pulp is fast paced, action oriented, hard hitting and non stop thrills on the page; but it requires hours of time at a keyboard trying to get things just right. That can get old, and frustrating. Gardening is also about being patient, but it involves following routines, doing things in a timely manner, and watching for the unexpected. It can be rewarding or disheartening when things go wrong, and it has its own share of shock and awe. You can watch something slowly growing, coming into its own, and feel a great sense of anticipation and accomplishment. And then overnight an animal eats it, a hailstorm takes it all down; you lose it in a frost, or to an insect attack.


Yeah, that all kind of sucks, but it’s part of the drama that is real life—not the artificial world on the 6PM news and the so- called ‘reality shows’, but the unforgiving world our ancestors faced with no more than raw nerve, crude tools, and weapons they fashioned themselves. Mother Nature still rules this water planet, and She has a very perverse sense of timing when it comes to tossing in cataclysmic events. You might even say, it’s a rather pulpy approach. You no more think things are going well, and WHAMMO, something comes hurtling down out of the blue to rock your confidence. Of course you’re going to fight back! That’s what heroes do after all… So there’s a lot of pulp out there in the real world. I get to see entire life stories playing out. A crow carries off a robin fledgling to feed its own young while the screeching parents dive bomb it. A beetle blunders into the web of a spider and is quickly nabbed, wrapped and sedated. A chipmunk barely eludes a hunting cat.


There’s a lot of story fodder waiting to be mined if you take the time to let your imagination run wild. Not all writing is done at the keyboard you know. Some of the best ideas occur to you as you’re doing something else. You can be very inspired to write from things you observe in your interests and hobbies as well as your travels. You can build characters from the people around you and take everyday settings and turn them into story fodder.


I’ve often thought Quincy Market in Boston, with its cobblestone streets and myriad vendors, would make a wonderful setting for a fantasy or science fiction novel. Change the automotive traffic speeding around the square to hovercrafts or horse drawn carriages, put the people wandering through in different costumes or make them alien races on a planet with a red sun and purple sky. Maybe that businessman over there perusing the Wall Street Journal is really an assassin waiting for his mark. Maybe that girl busily texting someone is actually programming a bomb to detonate a building downtown. When you’re busy somewhere else, make up things about people who are around you, let your mind wander a bit. Even a trip to the grocery store becomes a writing exercise.


So I’m out in the garden, and I’m building temporary raised beds with a rake and stakes and string. This is a new patch for me, only my second year playing out there. There have been gardens here in the past, on this land that was first boreal forest that got cut down and cleared by colonists, then a small subsistence farm that grew up through the years to a working dairy coop. It was last owned by folks who ran first construction and then trucking businesses off the property. They didn’t have time for a lot of fussing, so they tilled and planted a garden every year, but never took the rocks out. It is filled with everything from pea gravel to two-fisted size chunks—enough to fill a quarry pit—and I’m just stubborn enough to want that rubble out of there. I am doing more rock hauling than anything else. It’s backbreaking, mundane work, so my mind tends to wander as my hands keep busy.


What kind of things do you suppose I think about? What if all those rocks were alien life forms? What if they were eggs of some strange beast? The remains of an elder race? The post-apocalyptic debris of a war that blasted a stone city to smithereens? What kind of story could I build on those concepts? I found some chunks of thick clay tile, probably from a drainage pipe, because there used to be a building nearby. Could there be a subterranean city down below? Is it filled with dangerous mole people? Watching a great blue heron flapping by, flying off our pond and over the field toward the bigger pond across the road, I got to thinking, what if that was a dragon or some other kind of aerial predator? How would I get away, and not be noticed? Suppose it was an enemy fighter craft, or a flying super villain come to subjugate our countrymen? How could a simple farmer react and save her life as well as her vital crops? Maybe I’m a wizard, or a gunner, and my rake is a staff or a rocket launcher in disguise! Or if I scratched up a skull and leg bone, would I be able to investigate the murder and bring the perp to justice?


You see where I am going with this?


Getting out there and away from the keyboard doesn’t mean I’m not still able to reach down inside and pull up that big bump of wonder and curiosity that will have me furiously pounding the keys somewhere down the road. In fact, the change of setting is very inspiring. That’s why I carry pens and paper in my garden bag whenever I go out. Hey, along with all those other ideas, I also got this week’s column from it! And you can do that anywhere; at a 4th of July picnic, a boring PTA meeting, or a necessary trip to the auto parts place. It takes a writer’s eye and some keen observation along with the willingness to say… “Hmmm, how can I use this juicy little detail and pulp it up?” I’ve done that many times over the years.


So yeah, if you have obligations or hobbies that keep you away from the keyboard for long periods of time don’t fret—mine them.


We live to write perhaps, and some of us write to live, but we also have to do things that aren’t necessarily connected with writing. When you can make that mental leap from what is going on around you to something that can be modified into a scene or story, you’re going to be a lot better off and more content with your necessary time off from writing.


So go do the dishes, shoot hoops with the kids, attend to your boss’ boring party, or clean the garage. Just keep the notebook or mini recorder handy and let your mind meander to the what-ifs? Put the people around you in different settings. Now and then, get out on the links, go to the beach, or spend some time in the bowling alley. Whatever it takes, get back into life, because that’s where the best stories are waiting.

Table Talk: In the Wake of the Rook...


Table Talk: In The Wake of the Rook...

Welcome back to Table Talk, a (wanna-be) weekly column where New Pulp authors Barry Reese, Bobby Nash and Mike Bullock babble on about whatever ricochets through their speakeasy. This week, the guys are still inhaling the euphoric fumes of rarified air that is the success of Tales of the Rook, the most recent release from Pro Se Press and Reese Unlimited. For those who have been on the lamb from all things New Pulp, Tales of the Rook has planted its flag squarely on the NewPulp best seller list since it debuted last month. If you haven’t read it yet, grab a copy and enjoy.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled gibber-gabber, already in progress:

Question:  Now that Tales of the Rook is out, and abona fide New Pulp hit, it begs the question: What other New Pulp character's anthology would you love an invite to work on and why?

Barry: There are a few that immediately come to mind: Derrick Ferguson's Dillon, Tommy Hancock's YesterYear characters and Perry Constantine's Elisa Hill are all characters I'd like to have a crack at. I've only read Lance Star: Sky Ranger in comic form but I think he'd be fun, too. I wrote Sun Koh in The Rook Volume Six but I wouldn't mind having a crack at the "official" version written by Art Sippo.

Bobby: Good question. I have written a number of stories for anthologies, including pulp and New Pulp characters like my own Lance Star: Sky Ranger. I agree with Barry’s choice of Derrick Ferguson's Dillon as a character I would love to take a crack at one of these days. I also wouldn’t mind another shot at writing characters from Van Allen Plexico’s Sentinels novels again. There’s good stuff there. Plus, I know there are some anthologies featuring newer characters coming from a couple of publishers, some for which I wrote stories.

Mike: I’m ashamed to say I haven’t had nearly enough time to read all the awesome New Pulp stuff that’s out there, so I have a limited view of what I can choose from to answer this question.

That being said, I, like Bobby, would love to have a shot at Van’s Sentinels. I’ve also always been excited by Tom Floyd’s Captain Spectre and the Lightning Legion and Marvel’s Mystery Men. Others that intrigue me that I’m not as familiar with as I’d like to be are Lance Star, Sgt. Janus and Yesteryear.

Going through this makes me think someone needs to create an online encyclopedia site for all the New Pulp characters… (anyone reading this feel free to take this idea and run with it!)

Question:  Which character(s) of your own would you like to see given the "Tales..." anthology treatment?

Barry: That's a tough one, given that it was my Rook character who got the Tales treatment! I guess if I were going to haul out anybody else from the Reese Unlimited stable, it'd be Lazarus Gray -- but Leonid Kaslov has always been a popular supporting character in The Rook universe and folks have always asked me to do some solo stuff with him. Might be fun to see what others would do with the "Russian Doc Savage."

Bobby: Yeah. This one is tough. My Lance Star: Sky Ranger character is working on volume 4 of that anthology series. Other than that, most of the characters I’ve created aren’t really “pulp” characters. I have often thought it might be fun to create a city as the basis for the anthology and let all of the stories take place there. I got as far as coming up with a name before other projects forced it onto the backburner. Maybe one day. Boy, I sure say that a lot. [smile]

Mike: That’s easy for me: all of them. There just aren’t enough hours in my days to tell all the stories I want to tell with Death Angel, Xander, Dr. Dusk, Runemaster and the Union. So, to see other great authors fire a round with any or all of them would not only go a long way to hitting the target of fleshing out those character’s worlds, but would be a great treat for me personally to pour over. I’d love to read a Tommy Hancock penned Dr. Dusk tale, or check out Barry’s take on Death Angel. How cool would it be to read Bobby Nash’s take on Xander, as well as Ron Fortier’s? I think Alan Porter would do wonderful things with Xander as well. And, of course, seeing Van Allen Plexico run the Union through an adventure or two would certainly be awesome. Having overseen so many anthologies and similar projects with the Phantom at Moonstone, I’d really enjoy overseeing something like that with characters I own, not just ones I feel I’ve come to know as well as my own.

Sigh… maybe one day… [wink]

Question (for the readers): What New Pulp Characters do YOU think deserve the anthology treatment and who would you pick to write those stories?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Undercover Review: Tales of the Rook Volume I


ROOK REVIEW

Tales of the Rook
Edited by David White & Barry Reese
Pro Se Productions
Reese Unlimited Imprint
Guest Review by Kevin Rodgers

Barry Reese, the creator of the Rook, recently invited his New Pulp colleagues to enter his universe and take turns with his iconic character.  Five writers accepted his invitation and allowed their creative talents and imaginations to propel the Rook into dangerous predicaments and thrilling plots. I’d been waiting impatiently for “Tales of the Rook,” to arrive because I knew this anthology would be well worth the money and I was right.

Barry Reese rightly anchors the collection with his newest Rook tale called, “The Killing Games.” Reese’s story interrupts a sea voyage for Max Davies, and his wife, Evelyn, who are forced to journey to a mysterious island after their ship is damaged in a storm. Ruthless Nazis, a mysterious castle and other devilish surprises await them on this island.  Reese’s exciting tale sets the tone for the rest of the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed “The Miss Beantown Affari,” by Ron Fortier.  Fortier uses his keen eye for detail and his mastery of action sequences to turn a beauty pageant into a wild shootout and abduction. I can’t say too much more because I don’t post spoilers in my reviews. Still Max Davies/the Rook definitely finds a way to expose the sleazy underbelly of old-school Boston and pinpoint the reason for all this chaos.

Up next is Bobby Nash who really knows how to turn up the heat and compel the reader to feel claustrophobic in his brilliant tale, “Where There’s Smoke.” I felt sympathy for the Rook when he steps into a trap and realizes there’s no escape from an arsonist’s inferno.  What follows is a fast paced sequence of events involving a well-equipped, hard to defeat villain.

Reese, Fortier and Nash rely heavily on action and adventure in the first half of this volume.  The second part of the book, which features stories by Mike Bullock, Percival Constantine and Tommy Hancock showcases the supernatural aspects of the Rook’s crime fighting saga.

Bullock lures the Rook into a labyrinth of demonic intrigue in, “Onyx Raven,” an imaginative, well written tale which introduces an intriguing, new character named Xander Janus.  We will be seeing more of his adventures in the future.

Percival Constantine ups the ante with the Family Grace’s connections to vampires and zombies in an entertaining contribution called, “The Curse of Baron Samedi.” The fun of this story is Constantine’s Rook is not Max Davies, but a future hero wearing the bird mask.

At the end of the anthology, Tommy Hancock pits the Rook against the classic pulp villain Doctor Death in a highly descriptive page turner called, “The Rook Nevermore,” which sets the stage for future Rook novels to be penned by Hancock.

In the end, “Tales of the Rook,” is a satisfying blend of well written, carefully crafted stories which held my interest from beginning to end. Fans of New Pulp should add this book to their libraries without hesitation!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

PRESS RELEASE-New Adventures of Armless O'Neil Debuts from Pulp Obscura!


A stranger with a glittering hook for a left hand. He came to the untamed wilderness of Africa to escape from a dark, troubled past to make his fortune. Yet his new life comes at an unexpected price. Wherever he goes adventure, danger, and death seems to follow... From Pulp Obscura comes five brand new adventures of one of the most unique heroes of Classic Pulp!

Armless O'Neil, explorer, adventurer, and soldier of fortune with his own unique view on life and a thirst for action like no other lives once more in the pages of Pulp Obscura, an imprint from Pro Se Productions in conjunction with Altus Press!

In the Heart of the Dark Continent, the Man Known as Armless O'Neil Hunts for Legendary Treasures, but Discovers a World of Shadowy Secrets, Wild Danger, and Sensational Adventure! Thrill to Five Fantastic Stories of Savage Mystery, Amazing Action, and Incredible Excitement from Sean Taylor, Nick Ahlhelm, R. P. Steeves, I. A. Watson, and Chuck Miller! Follow Armless O'Neil as he makes his way in bold new stories from the finest in New Pulp today! Featuring a stunning cover by Mike Fyles and wonderful cover design by Sean Ali as well as excellent interior design by Matt Moring (Print) and Russ Anderson(Ebook), Pulp Obscura Proudly Presents Blood-Price of the Missionary's Gold: The New Adventures of Armless O'Neil! From Pro Se Productions in conjunction with Altus Press! Pro Se Productions- Puttin' The Monthly Back into Pulp!

Get BLOOD-THE PRICE OF THE MISSIONARY’S GOLD: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF ARMLESS O’NEIL in print today for $12.00 from Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/7yfpt8p as well as www.prosepulp.com and www.pulpobscura.net!  

Also available in Ebook format for the Kindle at http://tinyurl.com/c6up47q and in multiple formats at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/172960 for only $2.99!


For the classic adventures of Armless O’Neil, check out Altus Press’ latest release – SWAMP FETISH: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES OF ARMLESS O’NEIL VOLUME 2 by Dan Cushman featuring an all new introduction by James Reasoner!  Get yours today at Amazon or at http://tinyurl.com/cx2bms3 !

Friday, June 15, 2012

PRESS RELEASE-New Old Man Tale in September Asimov's!


The September 2012 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction (appearing via online sources and in bookstores in mid-July) will feature a new novella about the variously named character from William Preston’s “Helping Them Take the Old Man Down” (Asimov’s, March 2010) and “Clockworks” (Asimov’s, April/May 2011), who was conceived in part as an homage to Doc Savage. 

The new story, which takes place in 1925, sends readers back to the first adventure of the man who will, in time, become “the Old Man.” Be sure to look for “Unearthed” in the September Asimov’s.

For those who want to read the stories in the sequence they’re intended to be read, you can now purchase “Helping Them Take the Old Man Down” and the prequel “Clockworks” in ebook format at Amazon. Both novelettes appear bundled together for $2.99 at the following links:

http://www.amazon.com/Helping-Them-Take-Clockworks-ebook/dp/B008BC4EME/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8

Undercover Review: THE SPIDER Wings of the Black Death


THE SPIDER
Wings of the Black Death
(An Audio Book)
Radio Archives.com
6 CD Set
4 hrs. 46 min.
Review by Ron Fortier

With the expansion of the increasingly popular New Pulp movement, it was inevitable that the audio book industry would enter this exciting new field.  One of the most aggressive to do so in the past year has been Radio Archives out of Spokane, Washington, headed by the wonderfully creative and energetic Roger Rittner.  Working with noted pulp writer and historian, Will Murray, Rittner and Radio Archives have began doing expansive audio book versions of classic pulp thrillers with the feel of genuine old time radio melodramas.  It is important to note that these are not exact, full cast recordings, but by adding brilliant sound effects and period background music, Radio Archives provides such marvelous audio atmosphere as to beautifully mimic those old radio plays.

“Wings of the Black,” was written by Norvell Page, writing as Grant Stockbridge, and appeared in the December 1933 issue of “The Spider” magazine. This exciting audio adaptation produced and directed by Rittner, features Nick Santa Maria as both the narrator and primary male characters to include Richard Wentworth, aka the Spider, and Police Commissioner Stanley Kirkpatrck along with Robin Riker who takes on the role of Nita Van Sloan, Wentworth’s paramour.  They are absolutely marvelous, each evoking these well known characters as we all imagined they would sound…and act towards each other.

The plot centers about a fiendish villain calling himself the Black Death. He has managed to get a strain of the Bubonic Plague and is systematically unleashing it on the people of New York City. He will only stop when they pay him a billion dollar ransom.  As if that were not horrendous enough, this merciless fiend has managed to convince the police that it is the Spider who is responsible to the point of leaving the Spider’s telltale crimson seal on the foreheads of his policemen victims.  Now, for the first time ever, Commissioner Kirkpatrick finds himself believing the Spider is in reality a heartless monster and he proceeds to hunt him down with all the resources at his command. Suddenly Richard Wentworth is battling both the fiendish mastermind and the police, frantically trying to evade capture until he can solve the mystery of the Black Death and bring him to justice.

Rittner’s direction is pace-perfect as he leads both Santa Maria and Riker through each chapter hitting all the right beats, from moments of intense action scenes to those of quiet, anxious reflection as the pair, depending on each other as never before, endure the Spider’s greatest challenge of his crime-fighting career.  Radio Archives’ “The Spider – Wings of the Black Death,” is a winner from the opening scene to the last. It pulls the listener into the raw, brutal, fantastic world of the classic pulps and in the end provides such a unique, rewarding experience as to delight both old and new fans alike.

Finally, this audio book is available both as a digital download and in the 6 CD set, both reasonably priced.  For those into new fangled digital toys, this reviewer would imagine the digital version would be their obvious choice. Whereas the legion of audio book listeners who prefer enjoying books while on long road trips will find the CD set much to their liking.  Either way, this is a package you will be thrilled with.  And if you aren’t familiar with audio books, this is easily the right book to begin with.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TABLE TALK - TALES OF THE ROOK


After a few weeks off, the guys (Barry Reese, Bobby Nash and Mike Bullock) return to the table to discuss their involvement in Pro Se/Reese Unlimited's most recent release Tales of the Rook.

Question: What did you enjoy most about the idea of working on Tales of the Rook, and how did that expectation match up with the final product?

Barry: I imagine my answer will be a bit different since I put the anthology together but here goes... There were a few reasons that I wanted to open up The Rook universe to other authors but foremost among them was just to see how different writers would interpret the character. I've written six story collections of the character to this point and I thought it would be fun to see how others viewed him as a hero and what different spins might be possible on the character and his allies. The quality of the stories that I got surpassed my wildest dreams -- and each writer brought something new to The Rook while still retaining the core of what I created. Honestly -- and I know I'm biased here -- I think it's one of the strongest New Pulp anthologies that anybody has published to this point.

Bobby: There is a sense of pride anytime I’m asked to write a story for an established character that I didn’t create. When Barry asked if I would be interested in penning a Rook tale I was honored that he was willing to trust me with his character. There was also a small tug of terror because there’s a real possibility he’ll absolutely hate what I’m doing to his character. Ah, it’s amazing we creative types remain sane, isn’t it?

Having read some of The Rook stories, I was familiar with the character and the type of situations that Barry puts the character into so using that as my base, along with the ubër-handy Rook timeline he provided, I decided where I wanted to place my story. Being an Atlanta-based writer, I decided to follow the old role of writing what you know and set my story during the Rook’s years in Atlanta. When writing established characters I like to put them in situations outside of what readers are normally used to seeing them in and use that to kick start my story. And what better story than to have an arsonist threaten to burn down parts of Atlanta, a city that does not appreciate fire?

I was blown away by the final product. When I saw George Sellas’ illustration for my tale I was even more excited. The icing on the cake, however, was hearing both Barry and Pro Se Publisher, Tommy Hancock, say nice things about my story on the PULPED! Podcast. There’s nothing quite as exciting as hearing that someone likes my work. It’s even more exciting when the creator of the character likes it. Writing for Tales of The Rook was a lot of fun. I’m honored to be a part of it.

Mike: For me it was the same feeling I got when I was about eight and a friend who had a really awesome toy walked over and asked me if I wanted to play with it. I didn’t take much time to process it, I just grabbed The Rook and started playing. I anticipated it to be a lot of fun, but sadly don’t think the final story I turned in lived up to my own anticipation of that fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast writing it and feel incredibly honored to have played with the Rook, but feel like I could have delivered a more enjoyable story. Hopefully, the chance arises again and I can swing the bat with a bit more power and finesse.

And, like Bobby, seeing the art from George was a big thrill. I love what he delivered for Onyx Raven.

Question: We’ve each written for characters that we’ve created as well as characters that were not originally our creations. Do you approach stories for pre-existing characters differently than you would your own?

Barry: Well, if it’s a character that’s been written and defined by others, I definitely do my homework first and try to get the character’s “voice” right. If it’s not my own character, then I want to do something that’s new and different but it has to retain the core sensibility that the creator gave to it. So my state of mind is very different – I can take wilder chances with my own work, whereas I want to be mindful of the character’s pre-existing legacy with other people’s creations.

Bobby: My approach to writing pre-existing characters is to research them, read up as much as possible, then try to form a story that will honor the character(s) but I also want to tell stories that haven’t been told with them many times before. In an anthology, especially, I want my story to stand out. For the Rook it was an all-out action story. For The Green Hornet, it was sending The Black Beauty into a death trap to show off Kato’s driving skills. I try to tell the best story for that character as possible.

Mike: I think I approach every story I write differently, so obviously the answer is yes. But, to be more specific, when dealing with characters I didn’t create, I try to wrap my mind around what makes the character cool and exciting first, then find ways to spotlight those things in a story. There’s also the distinct difference in world/environment/cast building that you needn’t do with an established character. For instance, with the Onyx Raven story I penned for Tales of the Rook, I didn’t need to unpack who the Rook’s love interest was, or where Max Davies lived, or what he drove, or what haunts him. Barry had already done all that for me. With Death Angel or Dr Dusk or Xander, I’ve had to create all those things myself.

When it comes to working on my own characters, there’s a lot more ‘work’ involved in building up the background so that the character comes to life in relation to their context.

Question: For those who may not have written established characters, or are curious about the differences in this area, what are some of the pros and cons to writing an existing character?

Barry: The pro and the con is that there’s backstory and characterization established by others. It can be easy to look at past stories, find a springboard for an idea and go forth – but you’re also bound by it. You can’t suddenly reveal that The Green Hornet and Kato are madly in love with one another, even if you think you’ve got a great story with it. So you’re playing within the rules set by someone else – it gives you direction, which is good, but it also restrains you a little.

Bobby: The pro is that there is a fan base already in place for established characters. When I say I wrote The Green Hornet, for example, there are many that know exactly who that character is, even though they may not have read the books or seen the TV series. When I told my Dad I was writing Green Hornet, his response was, “That was that TV show with Bruce Lee, right?”

The con is that your story options are somewhat limited. Has this story been told before? Will the owner of the property allow this story to be told? Things like that. At the end of the story I have to leave the characters in pretty much the same shape I found them. On the flipside, however, the constraints can make the writers come up with more interesting ways to tell certain types of stories.

Mike: There’s a definite trade-off. With my own characters, I’m in complete control and with that comes a freedom to take the story anywhere it leads me. When working with someone else’s characters, you must work within the confines of their rules, what they’ve already established and at the end of the day, what they’ll allow. There were things I wanted to do with Phantom that King Features wouldn’t sign off on, so I did those things in Savage Beauty instead, such as dealing with human trafficking and sex slavery. Like Barry said, you may have a great idea, or at least what you think is a great idea, for an established character, but the owner won’t allow it.

On the flipside, taking those ideas and creating your own characters to run with them is the sort of thing that brought us Watchmen…

Sunday, June 10, 2012

TALES OF THE ROOK GETS PULPED!


The Latest PULPED! is LIVE!  TALES OF THE ROOK GETS PULPED!  Join Tommy Hancock, Barry, Ron, Bobby Nash, Mike Bullock, and Perry Constantine for an extra sized helpin' of everything you want to know about TALES OF THE ROOK, the latest release from Reese Unlimited, an imprint of Pro Se Productions! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

UNDERCOVER REVIEW: The Lone Ranger - Vendetta

THE LONE RANGER
VENDETTA
By Howard Hopkins
Moonstone Books
124 pages
Review by Ron Fortier

It is somehow appropriate that the very first title in Moonstone Book’s new line of small paperback novellas “The Lone Ranger – Vendetta,” would be the late Howard Hopkins. Hopkins, who passed away unexpectedly last winter at the age of 49, though a versatile writer in all genres, was primarily known for his western novels under the penname of Lance Howard. Thus when Moonstone acquired the rights to produce new prose adventures of the famous Masked Man and his Indian companion Tonto, it would be to Hopkins they would turn first.

“The Lone Ranger – Vendetta,” is Howard at his finest, at ease narrating a fictional adventure of the old west that is still deeply rooted in the authentic aspects of that setting. Hopkins knew western lore, culture and lingo.  His delving into the Native American spiritualism that motivates the Ranger’s companion is brilliant and adds as yet another layer to a character many of us have known most of our lives. Hopkins also has no difficulty accepting this hero’s old fashion moral code about never taking a life, of always wanting to serve justice and never capitulating to his own personal desires for vengeance which is the theme of this short novella.

From out of the Ranger’s tortured past comes as yet another monster in human form seeking to wreak pain and suffering on our hero and all those he holds dear.  This time the villain is none other than the widow of Butch Cavendish, the outlaw who ambushed the six Texas Rangers in Brian’s Gap and in the process created one of the most iconic legends ever to come out of the old west.  Unbeknown to the Ranger and Tonto, Cavendish had been married and now this female murderer launches an insidious plan to find, capture and kill the Lone Ranger. But before she does so, she and her gang of cutthroats invade the town of Coopersville and proceed to butcher its citizenry.

All too quickly the Lone Ranger discovers for himself that female species is often deadlier than the male. But to stop her will he have to sacrifice his life and at long last fill the empty grave that await him in Brian’s Gap? “The Lone Ranger – Vendetta,” is a fast paced, thought provoking action western that looks beneath the man named John Reid and his history, revealing a heart big as the west and just as noble.  That it would mark the final chapter in a gifted writer’s stellar career is truly fitting, as Howard Hopkins the man was as large a talent as the hero he loved so much.

This is a book to own and treasure for all western fans; young and old.  Thanks Howard, and until we meet again, happy trails.