Every so often I take a look at a New Pulp release that I feel is deserving of your attention. Sometimes these are new releases, sometimes they’re a few years old. Sometimes they might even challenge your definition of ‘pulp.’ This time around, I’m turning my critical eye towards Dillon and the Pirates of Xonira by Derrick Ferguson. Here’s how the publisher described the book:
Once upon a time in the far away island nation of Xonira, Dillon was instrumental in halting a bloody revolution and handing the reins of power over to Lord Chancellor C’jai. Now, a mysterious group of international businessmen contact Dillon with evidence that Dillon’s old friend, the Lord Chancellor C’jai, is engaging in high seas piracy in the oceans surrounding Xonira. In order to discover the truth behind the matter, Dillon decides to fight fire with fire and assembles a motley crew of rogues and cutthroats aboard the diesel-powered submarine, Morgan Adams, and sails for Xonira. In Xonira, it seems, beautiful women, traitors, and tyrants are in no short supply, and Dillon’s less than triumphant return is is marked by a cascade of bullets, bombs, and blood!
This is the fourth book in the Dillon series and I’m very pleased to say that I’ve read and enjoyed every one of them. Authored by Derrick Ferguson, Dillon is easily one of the ‘stars’ of the New Pulp Movement and is frequently mentioned whenever any group of fans start talking about their favorites — and with good reason. The character of Dillon is kind of a modern-day Doc Savage, though without some of the cheesier trappings that Doc accumulated. In fact, you can see lots of influences on the series but in no case does it ever become pastiche — there are elements of this series that remind me of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt books, for instance.
There’s such an ease to reading this book and its predecessors — you can tell that the author is 100% in control of the story and that the characters are so familiar to him that they have a genuine life of their own. Dillon is so fully drawn that I or any reader can feel comfortable guessing how he would react to a situation — it’s very much like you ‘know’ the person you’re reading about. The amazing thing is that Derrick accomplished this even in the very first book in the series!
This particular novel focuses on the island of Xonira and there are enough twists and turns along the way to please any action/adventure fan. I really like the opening scene with Professor Sunjoy and the femme fatale who seduces her way into Dillon’s life has a lot of personality. The interplay between her and Dillon is sexy and provocative but it never devolves into the more porn-like aspects of, say, The Destroyer series.
Derrick is great at detailing action and this book has plenty of that — there are scenes that take place in a wide variety of settings and Derrick takes advantage of the natural environment to add some fun elements to each fight sequence.
Can you start with this book? I think you can — you’ll get added enjoyment out of it if you already the characters but Derrick does a fine job of introducing (or reintroducing) each of them. My personal all-time favorite Dillon story is “Dillon and the Bad-Ass Belt Buckle,” which can be found in Four Bullets for Dillon. I’ve given the Belt Buckle story to friends who want to quickly decide if they want “in” on the series but are hesitant to try a novel.
A word about the cover, which is by the talented Sean Ali. There have been a wide variety to the covers in this series… All have been good but it’s made it a little hard to find a definitive look to Dillon as a result. Lately, Sean Ali has been doing a number of promo pieces for the character and he’s keeping the same look that we see on this cover. I think that’s a good thing — while I love seeing different artistic interpretations for my own characters and for others’, I think it’s also good to have a solid “look” for the main hero. I’d like to see the previous books re-released at some point with a similar trade dress and cover scheme. Maybe that’s just me, though!
Highly recommended — if you haven’t picked up Dillon yet, you’ve truly been missing out.