PULP! Two-Pawed Tales of Adventure edited by Ianus J. Wolf
PULP! Two-Pawed Tales of Adventure edited by Ianus J. Wolf
Adventure Cadets, grab your decoder rings and get ready for:
Keep your dials tuned as we join the RVO Radio Theatre for adventure, mystery, and danger! Dive deep into the jungles of South America where the temple's gift may not bring what you wish in The Ruins. Then, jump to the Wild West of America as a badger determines who is the predator and who is Prey. But don't go too far as a group of intreped Army Rangers battle a foreign threat to America more dangerous than the evil mastermind's "robots" in Rocket Canyon. And this next tale of an Aussi gal with a heart of gold and fists of iron battles the Nazis in The Bouncer and the Didgeridoo of Awakening. And join our poster girl, the rough and tumble Tesla Mae and the Lost Tribe. Don't take too long to dock your airship, because evil cultists are trying to destroy Boston in Jericho Tanner and the Ebon Star. Find out who is the destroyer of world and who is the fox that can save us all in Savior. And finally wrap it all up with a trip across the pond and the high flying aces in Flight of the Fire Dragon! Stay tuned, listeners, for more adventure!
Featuring the stories of:
Cover by Quel
Customer's Reviews for PULP! Two-Pawed Tales of Adventure edited by Ianus J. Wolf
I have been eager to read "Pulp!: Two-Pawed Tales of Adventure" for a long while, and now that I have, I'm sorry it took this long. Pulp is a fun genre, with action and moxy and very little in the way of depth or character that makes it a fun, quick read. The stories here do that quite well.
"The Ruins" is a great choice to start the anthology off with. Tym Greene's story of a retrieval mission for a crashed plane in the jungles is what I imagine when I think of pulp: exotic locales, the threat of peril, adventure with an exclamation point, and characters who are a little two-dimensional but that's okay. It's short and sweet, and the ending is amusing. The only negative element I found was the main characters lacking a sense of agency; they are, inevitably, only witnesses that don't get to influence what occurs.
Next is "Prey", a western by Ocean Tigrox. A bounty hunter chasing an outlaw and winding up smack dab in the middle of a mysterious and dark mess. The first third introduces the strange town and its players, and the rest is involves several running action sequence. While the story is not as long as some of the others, it felt longer in places, but was still an enjoyable trip. The only negative thing I have to say about it is that the main character uses the same trick twice to get out of a scrape, and while clever the first time, let me down the second. Even with that, the story is solid.
Now Bill "Hafoc" Roger's "Rocket Canyon" is just flat out fun. It's full of the campier elements of Pulp - ray guns, robots with flashing neon eyes and rocket ships, but delivered with a seriousness that makes it work. Told in first person, the narrator's voice is strong and I can feel the folksy nature of it. However the real strength of this story is the setting, a world where the "Hungarian Werewolf Plague" resulted in the survivors being turned into anthros, and other elements that are sprinkled in that make such an interesting read. It stands apart from the other stories for that alone, and for a story that ties tightly in with the setting's anthro elements. Bravo.
T.S. McNally's "The Bouncer and the Didgeridoo of Awakening" starts off strong with the first person account of a female kangaroo in the 1940s outback. However the pleasant narrative voice jarringly changes mid-way through to third person, and the writing dips into an awkward prose that feels at odds with the pulpy tone and takes away from what otherwise is a fun action sequence on a speeding train. The story also jumps between the head of the main character and the bad guys, and added to the first-to-third perspective, is quite unbalancing.
"Tesla Mae and the Lost Tribe" almost doesn't fit in this anthology. Not as a matter of quality, but because of how the depth given to it sets it apart from the other stories. The pulpy elements are there--a mysterious island, a crashing airship, a hidden people--but barring a moment of the beginning and a few of the final pages, there is a severe lack of Peril and Adventure that infuses this genre. Instead it's slow and pleasant, so we get to really know and care about the characters. In that it succeeds. Renee Carter Hall's Tess is a fun, unique pulp character - not the two-fisted "Up and At'm" hero but one who meets danger with an "Uh oh" and braced for impact. This story unspools Tesla Mae, her parents, her habits and life all wonderfully. This story almost doesn't fit, and yet I'm glad it's here, and I want to see more of Tesla Mae.
The next story is more my speed and I enjoyed for the most part. The right mix of violence and pulp paced well with a gritty writing. I always anticipate Tarl "Voice" Hoch's stories, but "Jericho Tanner and the Ebon Star" has issues that distracted from my pleasure reading. there were several things that I didn't quite get, that could've used a little more elaboration, and a few things that just left me saying "What?" For instance, page 1 of the story we learn Jericho can't die, he comes back from the dead very fast and only get an explanation for this 30 pages later. The explanation is underwhelming, and there was a point earlier where the explanation would've been a smoother fit and shed light on another thing sooner. As soon as the main character is hired and investigates a crime scene, he's attacked and his sidekick captured, with no indication why or how the culprits knew about him or where he was. Also Jericho is kind of a jerk. His casual condescension of women may be time-period appropriate, maybe even genre appropriate, and while he gives a reason it's still a bit grating. With a bit more editing this story would've been all that good stuff without the speed bumps.
Full confession, I skipped Roland Jovaik's "Savior" after a few pages. The story itself seemed fine, but the prose was awash with phonetic spelling and other pet peeves of mine that were quickly ruining my experience. Rather than suffer through it and bias my opinion, I stopped reading. Your takeaway may be very different, so don't skip it because it rubbed my personal irritants the wrong way. I will say seeing fennecs and leopards in a western is at least different, so points there.
Rounding out the book is "Flight of the Fire Dragon" by Huskyteer. That this story involves two flying ace special agents surprises me not, given Huskyteer's love of spy camp and planes. This story is a humorous delight, having the feel of "Get Smart" with more competent and playful characters. It's properly silly and it knows it in that stiff-upper-lip British way.
All in all a good anthology with no outwardly Bad stories. Two out of eight missed the mark for me, but I would not call them Bad stories. Four stars, and I beseech the editor, Ianus J. Wolf, to craft a second volume.
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