Recent Reviews

monstersA bunch of reviews were recently added to Amazon — two positive, one not-so-much and one that I’m unclear on. Let’s see what they had to say, shall we?

Monster Aces was reviewed by Dave Brzeski:

This review is based on an advance review pdf, supplied by the publisher.

Jim Beard (‘Sgt. Janus, Spirit Breaker’, ‘Captain Action: Riddle of the Glowing Men’) is the brains behind the concept, so it was always going to be pulpy fun.

He contributed two of the stories in the book himself. The first introduces us to his team of “Monster Aces”, led by the enigmatic ‘Cap’n’, they include: ‘Joker’, the charming smooth talker of the group, so essential for smoothing their relationship with “civilians”; ‘Digger’, the powerful gentle giant of a man, who strangely also happens to be their stealth expert and ‘Gats’, the weapons expert. If any monster claimed to be immune to mortal weaponry, well Gats was there to put that theory to the test. They travelled and more or less lived on a massive sea vessel called ‘The Whale’, which was piloted by a man known only as ‘Mariner’. Then there’s ‘Trill’, unofficial member of the team. Enigmatic and pretty, almost ethereal in nature. Appearing and disappearing with no warning, she could be a nuisance but was often of immeasurable help. In fact she often as not was responsible for leading the team to wherever they were needed.

They hunted monsters and destroyed them. It was their sole raison d’etre. Cap’n was single-minded in this mission and no monster was looked upon with any sympathy… ever! This could and would lend a certain moral ambiguity to their mission.

In Jim Beard’s first story, ‘The Devil’s Clutch’, the people of the village of Nacht are being hunted. There’s an ancient legend, fearful, uncooperative villagers, a good soul damned and someone who delves into secrets that should have remained buried. It sets the tone for the series, somewhere between 30s pulp fiction and 60s Hammer movies.

Next up is ‘The Swamp People’, by Barry Reese (‘The Rook’, ‘The Adventures of Lazarus Gray’). It involves an innocent teenage girl, her typically stupid boyfriend, a carnival and an ancient race of ‘monsters’, who have been driven to extinction by the spread of humankind. The moral ambiguity of the Aces work is brought into sharper focus in this one.

The next story reminded me somewhat of the classic alien monster stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pre-superhero tales of Marvel-Atlas comics. In, ‘The River of Deceit’, by Van Allen Plexico, our intrepid monster hunters encounter a weird and powerful Alien being on the shores of an uncharted tributary of the Amazon. As the story progresses the question of just who is the monster here is brought into sharp focus once again.

We stay in Kirby territory for Ron Fortier’s ‘The Ghoul’. He has our heroes arrive in an armoured vehicle to take on a Ghoul, which in this world is a demon, who possesses a human victim. When the demon comes forth the hapless host transforms into an eight foot tall rampaging monster with greyish skin. It reminded me of those classic Marvel, or DC war comics, with their squads of misfit soldiers, in this case taking on a creature reminiscent of a certain Marvel Comics monster who has occasionally been portrayed with grey skin. Thankfully, for the Aces, this monster wasn’t quite THAT strong! I’ve read quite a few publications from Ron Fortier’s own Airship 27 productions, but this is the first time I’ve had the pleasure to read any of his own writing. It won’t be the last.

Finally we come to Jim Beard’s second story in the book, ‘Hands of the Monster’, in which the Aces kidnap a famous fictional doctor to help them deal with probably the most infamous monster of them all. It was never going to go according to plan.

There have been many monster hunters in fiction in the past. In fact there are quite a few around now, but these guys are more hardcore than most. They all get seriously injured on a regular basis. I would suggest that the Cap’n look into adding a regular medic to the support team.

This is a very enjoyable book. I look forward to learning more about the Aces in future volumes.

Glad you enjoyed the book, Dave! I definitely tried to focus on the group’s somewhat cloudy moral stance and I’m glad you picked up on that. I haven’t been asked back for any future Monster Aces volumes but I wouldn’t mind taking another swing at the characters.

Liberty Girl was reviewed by DelosJ:

Reads like juvenile lit. Many, many proofreading errors throughout. Almost no character development. At least it is an inexpensive buy and a short book.

Sorry you didn’t care for the book, Delos! I think I did an accurate job of translating the comic book into prose so I’m not sure if your faults lie with my own work or with the original. Nonetheless, sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea. I’ll make sure that Pro Se knows about your proofreading complaints.

Liberty Girl was also reviewed by Paul Sponaugle:

Excellent stand-alone novel that pays winking tribute to another 40’s pulp hero in an fun way. Even without that sly nod, the novel is an excellent two-age story of one person, Liberty Girl, who has to come to grips with something very unusual that happens to her. How it affects her and those around her drives the story without making it a one-gimmick plot. Wonderful story-telling!

Thanks, Paul! Much appreciated.

And, finally, Strange Trails was reviewed by cedarlili:

I prefer my stories a bit tighter, overall. The first one wasn’t too bad, but some suffered from a surfeit of descriptive passages taht detracted from the action. I’d rather have more left to the imagination, and this collection at 535 pages long is a hefty chunk of stories, which could have been pared down and still kept the tales intact.

The collection opens with Mr. Brass and the Master of Serpents, set in what seems to be an alternate history of the Old West. Aliens have done dreadful things to the Earth, and Mr. Brass himself was a pinkerton man before his death, revival in a mechanical body, and now he is still tracking down the evil cultists who would awaken Old Gods and destroy civilization. I really liked the old sheriff in this tale, he reminded me of the heroes of Westerns gone bye, doing what was best for his town, even if it killed him.

Sin and Lillies, by Tommy Hancock and Morgan Minor, is a ghost story, rambling, perhaps over-elaborate in descriptions, and the Lillie of the title (it’s not a misspelling) is a woman bound to her knucklebones which ride in the pocket of an evil man from town to town. The sheriff in this story falls for the beautiful woman only he and her keeper can see, and tries to win her freedom, so she can die fully.

When I started The Mechanical Heart: A Tale of Julia Holst and the Weird West, by Barry Reese, I had to stop and go look up Julia Holst. I was curious if she was some famous figure I hadn’t heard of. I didn’t see anything, so perhaps this is just an attempt to make the story look old-fashioned. The tale of a historically improbable figure, the author plops a blonde-cheerleader type into the role of gunfighter and she has a pet horse, and a sword. Sure, why not, these stories are odd enough, a sword that fell from Mars to Earth, and was owned by Attila the Hun fits right in with Conan, or Burrough’s Pellucidar stories. A clockwork man found in a defunct mine sets her off on a peculiar quest.

The final story, a novella by the length of it, I believe, was The Eye of Ulutoth, by Joel Jenkins. Reminiscent of Jack London’s tales of the South Seas, this saga takes place on a ship, which a cowboy and his Sux-Gun Susannah board, in search of dire Ulutoth, whom they hope to hill before he wakens to bathe in the blood and destruction of humanity. Only one of them will return to solid ground…

Stories of grave-robbing gone wrong, stories populated with magicians, albinos, strange creatures both earthly and aethereal, this collection has it all. For fans of the Weird West, it will doubtless be an enjoyable addition to the small but burgeoning genre. I know I learned a lot, reading it, and things I won’t soon forget. Like if you are seeking the Ankh of Ra, forget about it, lest you wind up on The Mummy Train. If you want to make a quick buck, listen to your gut and don’t tunnel sideways into a man’s grave, when that man was known for his uncanny goings-on.

So did you like my story? I’m unclear on that. I assume the title is what led you to think that Julia Holst was a real person? Wasn’t my intention… she’s simply the main character and I like to sometimes subtitle my stories in such a way. Ah, well. It does sound like you were pleased with the book overall, even with a few caveats. Thanks for the review!

Strange Trails Gets Reviewed

Strange-Trails-coverI recently contributed to an anthology of weird western tales published by Mechanoid Press. The book itself is titled Strange Trails and it’s just received its first review on Ric Croxton, who hosts The Book Cave Podcast with Art Sippo, wrote the following:

I just finished chatting with James Palmer about Strange Trails on the Book Cave podcast. The writers in this anthology are some of the best in the New Pulp field. Every character in each story could easily become the star in their own novel. Ghosts, mechanical lawman, magician, Native American gunfighter, a gunfighter from Hell and more. James Palmer has put together a future award winning novel. If you like Steampunk, weird western, mummies or robots set in the wild west that is full of magic and things that go bump in the night, this book has it and a lot more.

Thanks, Ric! I’m glad you enjoyed the book — it was fun to write my story and I hope that it proved to be entertaining. Over the years, I’ve been able to write a few western yarns (I have stories in both How the West Was Weird Volume One and Volume Two), which is kind of funny given that I’m not really a fun of the genre. Every time I’ve tried to do one, it’s proven to be a real challenge but I think it’s resulted in some fairly fun stories.

This was my first work for Mechanoid but hopefully it won’t be the last! We’ll see if they come knocking on my door again in the future.

I’m also reminded of the fact that I haven’t been on The Book Cave in ages! I always enjoyed talking with Ric and Art. Might have to rectify that soon.


It’s Finally Friday!

rowlingIt’s Friday! It seems like it’s been a long, strange journey to get here…

Reluctantly put away the second story for Lazarus Gray Volume Five so I could focus on this Box Thirteen tale for Radio Archives. I’m about 3,000 words into it. The entire thing only has to be 10,000 words and it’s not due until the end of the month so I think I’m doing fine. I’m still curious as to how it will be received by the editor as I think it veers into some slightly different directions than some of the episodes that I’ve listened to. Still, if they hate it, I can always strip-mine it and turn it into something else. I’ve been known to do that before! Never throw out anything, folks.

Moonstone is still moving forward with their latest Return of the Monsters project. I wrote a G-8 and his Battle Aces story for that one and it’s going to feature accompanying artwork by Sedat Ozgen, who has done a good bit of work for Moonstone in the past, including working on The Phantom when they had that license. Hopefully you guys will have the chance to see this one in print soon.

Finally got around to updating my Bibliography page, adding the third Lazarus Gray volume and Strange Trails. Counting all the individual issues that my work appeared in at Marvel, plus all the anthologies I’ve contributed to, I’ve now been published about 54 times in my career. That’s not bad for ten years as a professional! And that number is continually increasing. It’s been an amazing, thrilling ride and I thank all of you for making it possible.

The image accompanying this post features a quote from JK Rowling – “The stories we love best do live in us forever.” I like that a lot and definitely believe in it. All of my beloved favorites go on and on in my heart and in the hearts of all the others who share that passion.

May some of my heroes live on forever in your hearts, too.

Lots O’ Stuff!

Strange-Trails-coverMy weird western tale has been published by Mechanoid Press in their newest release, Strange Trails. Here’s how the publisher describes the book:

Strange tales from the Weird West

A mechanical Pinkerton man…a comely ghost…a lady knight errant in search of adventure…a mummy on the loose aboard a speeding train…these are just a few of the colorful characters you’ll meet in Strange Trails. Come with us now on a ride through a West that never was, where dangerous gunslingers encounter steam-powered robots, and Native Americans do battle with Lovecraftian entities. All brought to you by the hottest names in New Pulp.

So saddle up with Josh Reynolds (Mr. Brass), Tommy Hancock and Morgan Minor, Barry Reese (The Rook), Joel Jenkins (Dire Planet), Edward M. Erdelac (Merkabah Rider) and editor James Palmer (Monster Earth) as they take you on a wild ride through the Weird West as only they can guide you.

So what are you waiting for, partner? Put on your spurs, grab your six-shooter, prime your ray gun and get ready to ride off into the sunset with these six incredible tales of the Weird Wild West!

I had a lot of fun writing it and there’s actually a teeny-tiny connection to my ongoing pulp adventure universe… but none of you will be able to spot it until Lazarus Gray Volume 5 comes out (which probably won’t be until 2015!). Anyway, check it out — those other authors listed above are all high-quality entertainers.

The 42nd episode of The Shadow Fan’s Podcast was uploaded earlier today. This week I talk about a recent Will Murray interview where he mentioned the possibility of a Doc Savage/Shadow novel. I also review two books – Destination: Moon (1967) and the fourth issue of Dynamite’s Year One series. Good stuff!

An Amazon reviewer by the name of Randy Grim posted a brief review of The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible. Here’s what he had to say:

For those of us who have been long time fans of the Avenger this book as well as the first two short story collections has been thoroughly enjoyable. I am confident that anyone who enjoys the pulp heroes will find this a satisfying return to that thrilling era of yesteryear and for those who are curious about the character a fast paced and accurate introduction.

Thanks, Randy! I love The Avenger and I’m glad that you enjoyed the book. It was definitely an honor to work on the character for a second time.

On another topic, I have begun writing my Box Thirteen story. It’s off to a good start but it’s definitely in it the infancy stages.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more pulp goodness!