Friday, November 30, 2012

Pro-Se Presents #15

Pro Se Presents #15 Pro Se Presents is an anthology title put out monthly by Pro Se productions. Issue # 15 has 5 stories within its pages, the first being ‘Doc Panic’ By David White. Doc Panic is your typical noir-ish crime fighter set in the late 1930’s. What is not typical about Doc Panic is that he comes from a family of villains and cultists. I found this to be an entertaining story with a good, if flawed lead character and several interesting supporting cast mates. The villain was your usual larger than life, over the top bad guy, but he was interesting. There was a segment of Doc Panic that I found to be a little too much, that had to do with killing a sacrifice and some graphic cannibalism. That was my only problem with the story though. All in all it was a good read and the longest one of the issue. I’d say 4 out of 5 stars Next up was a story called ‘Back in Black’ by Brad Mengel. This was a modern day story about a couple of costumed crime fighters with a twist. The story circled around a young man who had become crippled while fighting crime and subsequently lost his memory of his girlfriend as well as what really happened to him that caused the memory loss. This was a nice story all in all and left you with a cliffhanger of an ending. Though truthfully the manner in which the story was told left me a little dry. We were told of the interactions between the people in the story rather then reading their own wordplay between them. There was very little dialogue, which I found a bit irritating. All in all not a bad story, but to me at least, it could have been better. 3 out of 5 stars. Next up is ‘Lieutenant Picard and the Holy Grail’ by Aaron Smith. This to me was one of the very pleasant surprises in this issue. For one it takes place very close to where I live, on Long Island, so I knew of all the places Aaron mentions while speaking of the Nassau Coliseum and other NY area landmarks. This was a very interesting story about the theft of the Stanley Cup Trophy from the Coliseum in a very well thought out caper, that also ended up involving a helicopter chase of a small cruise ship out in the atlantic ocean. This was a very pleasant surprise. I liked this one a lot 5 out of 5 stars. Next is ‘Requiem for the cold dark cookie of the corporate sales department’ by Adam Lance Garcia. This gem, set in the late 1980’s was one of my favorites in this issue, as office politics come to a head while several competitors vie for one office promotion, and someone in the running is trying to move the odds in his favor, any way he or she can, including murder! A very entertaining read for me, written in a fun way. 5 out of 5 stars. The last tale in this tome is called ‘The stolen necklace’ by A.M Poulson. This one was different then all the rest. I don’t want to give anything away but the protagonist in this tale was my favorite of the issue. This was the hidden gem of the issue. It was probably the shortest story in the volume, but it definitely brought to mind the old axiom ‘Good things come in small packages’ It of course, involves a necklace that is stolen at a party during a minor blackout, or power loss. The likely perpetrators are discovered and beaten by the stories rather hungry hero. All in all this was the issues winner to me. 5 out of 5 stars. So there you have it, this month’s review of Pro Se Presents #15. Definitely a fun read with something for everyone, from classic noir, to modern day mystery and crime fighting, as well as a few off kilter stories that bring a smile to the face. All in all I’d have to say a good 4 ½ out of 5 stars for the whole shebang!
Hawk, Hand of the machineHawk, Hand of the machine by Van Allen Plexico
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hawk, hand of the machine
Hawk is a sci-fi novel set in the far distant future, and by far distant I mean many thousands of years in the future, and involves beings known as ‘Hands’ that are actually cloned and created warriors who are programmed with different abilities before they are popped fully grown from their birth pods. When Hawk is born, or re-born which is more the case, he is created without his full set of memories which were supposed to be implanted in him at ‘birth’, but were damaged because his birthing process was rushed.
Hawk was born into a war zone of sorts aboard a space station that was under attack by strange, insectoid beings, who are the primary enemy of the ‘Adversary’, as Hawk would later find out. Thus begins an epic space adventure featuring different heroes known as ‘Hands’.
The novel takes off quickly and maintains an even pace as Hawk, at first at least, is on an out of control roller coaster ride of sorts. He truly has no conception what is happening to him as his implanted memories are damaged and his sentient space ship is holding back information from him. Only when he meets another hand, ‘Falcon’, does he begin to understand what is going on in the universe around him. Eventually he and his fellow ‘Hands’, some real, some imposters, confront their deadly enemy in a final battle that still leaves many questions unanswered.
It’s been several years since I read any good sci-fi. This filled that niche. It was very good, very enjoyable. It held my attention, and I read through it in a few days. Van Plexico did a very nice job on this one, creating a galaxy that has fallen into a state of disrepair, as the enemies that drove it to the brink of destruction are now swarming at its gates once again.
All in all I have to give this story five stars. It was an excellent space adventure/mystery with a decent amount of action thrown in. Plus the cover is cool. Highly recommended, especially if you are a sci-fi fan.

View all my reviews ">

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


AlmuricAlmuric by Robert E. Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book surprised me. Being a huge 'Conan' fan I wanted to try something else written by Robert E. Howard, and was recommended by a friend to read "Almuric" The story takes place on a world many light years from earth. The protaganist is transported there and immediately does battle with an alien who, for the first time in Esau Cairn's life is more then a match for him in strength. He still defeats the man (Who seems more like a hairy ape then a true human) Thus begins Esau's life upon Almuric. The book has much in common with Edgar Rice Burroughs 'John Carter' series of which I am also a fan. This book held my interest completely. I did not put it down for very long. It was an excellent story about a man who conquers a world and makes it his own. Of course there is a climactic battle that ties up all the loose ends and everyone lives happily ever after, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's a great story and its highly recommended. I REALLY liked this one. Go buy it and read it! If you like sci-fi action and adventure you will love this book!

View all my reviews ">

Woodland King

King of the WoodKing of the Wood by John Maddox Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

King of the Wood is a story about a warrior who is banned from his tribe of Norseman living in America for killing his half brother. He begins an arduous journey across the land, first meeting and becoming linked to a witch/priestess then eventually escaping from her and heading south. Along the way he has many high adventures including getting lost at sea, becoming part of the Aztec empire, journeying north from there where he becomes embroiled in Monguls and ends up conquering the aztecs, and stopping their horrendous ritual slaughters. The book is very interesting, though I was not a fan of the ending it was still a great read. I highly recommend it, though there are points of this book that become a bit too graphic in the storytelling. As much as I enjoyed this book, I enjoyed John Maddoc Roberts 'Conan' books a good deal more. But this should be read if you are a fan of this type of story, it is a very good book, enjoy,.

View all my reviews ">

Book Review! Dillon and the voice of Odin

Dillon and the Voice of OdinDillon and the Voice of Odin by Derrick L. Ferguson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dillon and the Voice of Odin
I recently read Derrick Ferguson’s first ‘Dillon’ novel. For those who have not sampled them as of yet, ‘Dillon’ is a modern day pulp series featuring an adventurer who is simply known as ‘Dillon’. Whether it is his first or last name, no one is certain.
Dillon is a globe-trotting rogue who, in one of his ‘jobs’, searches for objects that are lost. Basically he’s an adventurer for hire, and finder of lost objects. The opening scene of the book becomes quiet explosive after a short while, and lends to some foreshadowing for later on. The story is set at an enjoyable pace and I have to admit, the mystery of it all as well as the larger then life villains piqued my interest.
The best way to describe this is as an homage to ‘60’s James Bond with some Indiana Jones thrown into the mix. I started reading it with a little bit of trepidation, as I was not sure what to expect. But what I received was actually quiet enjoyable. There was action, intrigue, a sprinkling of romance, high powered and over the top villains on several levels.
I honestly can’t say there was anything I didn’t like about this one. Even what little we know about Dillon’s backstory was intriguing.
This volume is actually the first in a series and there are several more volumes out there as of now. I’ll be picking them up as time goes on.
So what’s my verdict? I have to say 5 stars, I really enjoyed this book. Like I said, James Bond-ish in a 60’s way (Goldfinger and Thunderball are called to mind) An ‘On the run’ type of story with the protagonists globetrotting in search of the big bad. It’s a good ride. Give it a spin and see what you think.

View all my reviews ">

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monster AcesMonster Aces by Jim Beard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Things that go bump in the night.
Monster Aces, a new book by four of the best and most well-known authors in New Pulp is a just released book of tales concerning an oft forgotten or downplayed area of pulp fiction, Monsters. Creatures that frighten us with their unknown powers and lack of humanity. Things that are out of the norm and seemingly only of nightmares that play out behind closed eyelids. Horrifying beings that no sane man would ever want to encounter let alone seek out or hunt.
And yet that is exactly what the Monster Aces do. They hunt out and seek to destroy those things that go bump in the night. The Monster Aces are a team of four people with a fifth unofficial member (Sixth if you count the pilot of their boat, who never sees action.) The mysterious grey haired man known only as The Cap’n is their leader. Digger is their strong man and hand to hand fighter as well as stealth expert, or commando. Gats is a weapons master and marksman, always armed with more then a few guns, a steady hand and perfect eye. Joker rounds out the main team. He’s the smooth talker. The one who soothes the crowds nerves as well as gets the ladies notice wherever he goes. He is the group’s mouthpiece or public affairs officer. He deals with the aspects of their missions others can’t. The last member of the team is an unofficial one. Her name is Trill. She’s a small, pretty girl with certain psychic abilities that are not clearly determined, but her usefulness is always welcome, even begrudgingly so as it is most of the time, by The Cap’n.
The Monster Aces travel the globe in search of Monsters that seek to destroy mankind for whatever reasons, be they hunger for human flesh, or the simple reason to do evil for its own sake.
Within this tome you will find five stories featuring the Monster Aces facing off against different creatures. All horrifying in one way or another. Jim Beard, (Also known as the author of ‘Sgt. Janus’, and ‘Captain Action’) the series creator has two stories within this volume, the first one and the last. There is also one story each by Barry Reese (‘The Rook’, ‘Lazarus Grey’) , Van Allen Plexico (‘Hawk’, ‘The Sentinels’) and Ron Fortier (‘Captain Hazard’, ‘The Pulptress’, ‘Brother Bones’ etc.) each lend their unique voices to the Monster Aces collection with tales of things that go bump in the night.
Each tale is well crafted and draws you into the almost mythical world of the late 1930’s where each story takes place. Each story has its own flavor, its own unique account of what goes on in the monster hunters lives. It’s hard to pick a favorite as all are engrossing and, as you would expect with a word like “Monster” in its name, fun. But for me the last two stories stood out as ‘true’ monster tales and were to me at least the most memorable. The last simply because it featured two very familiar monsters in a never before seen situation that brought a smile to my face while reading it.
That being said though, there are no clunkers in this volume. Each tale has more then enough fun factor within its pages to lock the reader in for the full ride. It is an excellent book focused on a different genre then most of New Pulp usually is. The concept alone makes giving this a read more then worthwhile.
Special mention to Ron Fortier’s “The Ghoul” story for the use of a Brough Superior Motorcycle as Trill’s mode of transportation. Being a motorcycle enthusiast and instructor myself I got a big kick out of that scene.

View all my reviews ">

Monday, November 19, 2012

Doc Savage and the Fortress of Solitude!

Fortress of Solitude (Doc Savage, #23)Fortress of Solitude by Kenneth Robeson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Doc Savage and the Fortress of Solitude

Wherein Doc and crew face off against the most evil man in the world, John Sunlight. Taking place mostly in the arctic circle, the novel introduces the man who would be Doc’s only nemesis who was practically his equal, though in this novel that is never put to the test as the two men never meet in battle. It’s a battle of wits with two nations futures in the balance as the evil John Sunlight unleashes the horrific devices Doc has sequestered away in his hidden (Insert Drumroll here) FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE!
This was one of the classic Doc Savage stories from the 30’s which so easily translates to today with Doc’s amazing technologies envisioned so many years before their time. As always Doc has his right hand men with him, including Monk and Ham as well as Long Tom.
The cast of villains is just as colorful as the heroes in this tome as we meet the two amazonion sisters Giantia and Titania as well as their pixieish and beautiful sister, Fifi.
All in all it was a thrilling adventure that actually pushed Doc in directions he never had to go to before, including looking for threats emanating from within his own house as it were.
While not one of the best Doc novels it was still very, very good and highly recommended.

View all my reviews ">

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book review! Doc Savage : The Forgotten Realm

Doc Savage and the Forgotten Realm
I’ve been reading the new Doc Savage Novels by Will Murray for the past few months. This one, ‘The Forgotten Realm’ is actually one that was released in the early ‘90’s and now has been re-released. This is a rousing, fairly fast paced adventure that really held my attention. Doc, Monk, Ham and Johnny globe trot to England and then the heart of Africa itself, where the team has to fight three lions and a gorilla in a coliseum type battle. This to me was the high point of the novel with Doc snapping a lions neck bare handed- Take THAT Tarzan!
This book has it all, an excellent mystery, as well as a good amount of action and intriguing villains. Will is obviously a fan of Monk as he is in the forefront in all the new Doc Savage novels I have read, this one particularly. One of the high points was Monk battling a maddened bull ape in the aforementioned arena. It was a very satisfying Doc Savage story; in fact I have to say it was the absolute best of the Will Murray written novels I have read. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. It was a pleasure to read and I was sad to see it end.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review! Doc Savage- Death's Dark Domain!

Review of Doc Savage: Deaths Dark Domain


            I have always been a HUGE Doc Savage fan. When I recently discovered that Will Murray was writing new editions to the literally legendary series of books I began buying them. The new entry is called ‘Death’s Dark Domain’.

            DDD takes place in Eastern Europe in a disputed borderland between two countries. The story is filled with enough menace and supposed monsters to fill an old Universal movie. There’s lots of mystery here, as well as a few surprising moments. I don’t like giving too much away in reviews, but I will say we get to see Doc’s prodigious strength on display a few times as well as his amazing agility and his incredible intelligence. Will has Doc and his friend’s personalities down pat, and from the get go you feel like you’re reading a real Doc Savage story, and not fan fic or something akin to it.

            That is not to say the story does not have its problems. To me, Doc Savage should never be surprised by anything, no matter what it is, yet he was surprised by at least three occurrences in this book. That detracted a little from the story for me. Plus there was an anti-gun message within that just struck me as very wrong. I don’t see Doc Savage as ever believing that someone would get his own gun away from him and use it against him. Sorry that’s too much of a stretch.

            Beyond those issues though, this was a HIGHLY entertaining book. I read though it very quickly, basically finishing it in about a day. I sat for long hours reading it and enjoying just about every part of it. It was a good, classic style Doc story, as long as you are okay overlooking a few faults.

            There was one other issue I had with it and that was the lack of action. At the end we got to see some action scenes, but much of the book was the Doc Crew flying here, or flying there, watching a giant bat fly here or there. To me, a character like Doc has to have a physical antagonist. He has to have someone who can push him to the physical limit. Whether it is a man or a polar bear. Having Doc apply Chiropractic nerve pinches is interesting once, but not three to four times throughout the book. Doc Savage needs to hit someone, every book. He needs to fight someone bigger then him who is supposedly stronger then him, but turns out not to be to his own surprise, or it has to be an inhuman foe who is more powerful, but Doc defeats anyway through the fruits of his rigorous (Mental and physical) training.

            All in all it is a very good read. I give it four out of five stars. Even with the minor faults I saw Will Murray does an excellent job with Doc Savage and I can’t wait to read his next one.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Skyfall- A Review.

Skyfall- The new Bond film- Beware Spoilers remain within- I went to see Skyfall last night and came away with a very mixed reaction. While I liked the story and can actually remember it unlike the ridiculously terrible 'Quantum of solace' I still feel this guy (Daniel Craig) is a terrible Bond. Here are the reasons why: Bond is always supposed to be suave and debonair, Craig is neither. He is gruff and surly, walking around this film with a stubble for half the movie. Sorry that's not Bond. While he makes a good tough guy, Bond is never portrayed as a tough guy. He's quietly deadly. Craig is more of a barroom brawler type after he's drunk. Also and this is a big one, where's the subtle humor Pierce and Connery did so well? Not the over the top stuff like Moore did, but the subtle wit the great Bonds used so effectively. Craig is just so boring compared to them. He plays one emotion throughout. It's like he has no acting skill. He can only play reclusive and angry, and nothing more.
That aside, the writers here seemed to want to distance themselves from what has come before ,which is foolishness. They outright say (In the voice of Boy-Q) that they 'don't do exploding pens anymore.' I'm sorry, Bond films are known for the amazing gadgets and that's what the fans want. These are part of the allure, these are things we want to see. They don't want a 'Radio' (*You'll have to see it to understand what I meant there.)
The destruction of the Aston Martin. Really? That HAD to be done? To me that was yet more distancing themselves from the real Bond we all know and love.
The villain? Javier Barden was the mirror image of Bond, but the real Bond. He was suave and debonair, but now twisted and evil. Again he dies at the end , which he should have, leaving Bond the "Last Rat standing" They also did something I've been wanting for years and that was ridding us of that horrible 'M', Judy Dench. I was happy to see her go at stories end. Ralph Fienes will be a good replacement.
All in all an okay Bond flick with many faults. I like where the story went, how it was more personal then other Bond flicks, but that being said the best Bond flicks are the ones where he saves the world. This was more of a transitional flick. It was okay.
I still wish they would have chosen Clive Owen for the role and not Craig.
I'd have to say 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.