Monday, November 26, 2012

In Stock And Shipping

   Blind Shadows is now in stock and shipping from Miskatonic books. My first novel, written with the redoubtable James A. Moore, is available this week. Can't wait to get my copies. Details here:

http://miskatonicbooks.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/in-stock-and-shipping-blind-shadows-by-james-a-moore-charles-r-rutledge/

   And if you're in the Marietta Georgia area, Dr. No's Comics and Games will be stocking copies.

http://drnos.com/index.html

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Last Lawman

 I mentioned before that Peter Brandvold was fast becoming my favorite Western writer, and his new book, The Last Lawman, goes even further in cementing the title. Talk about your narrative drive. Federal Deputy Marshall Spurr Morgan is 60 years old and feeling his years, but that doesn't stop him from setting out on another manhunt. His quarry this time is Clell Stanhope, a stone killer who is cutting a murderous swath through the west.
   Brandvold spends a lot of time with Stanhope and his gang, the Vultures, showing the reader just what a lowlife this guy is. Brandvold wants you to hate him, and boy I do. But Stanhope is smart too, and he seems to be ahead of Spurr and his allies at every turn, taking a serious toll on the heroes as the book progresses.
   Brandvold gives me even more to like when his hero from another series, half-breed Yakima Henry, shows up to back Spurr's play. You know what a sucker I am for a crossover. (And Spurr himself is a character from Brandvold's Cuno Massey series.)
   Spurr's age makes him somewhat different than Yakima Henry or my favorite Brandvold character, The Rogue Lawman, in that Spurr can't be quite the bull in a china shop that the younger heroes are, but he makes up for it with experience and guile, and he's by no means a slouch when it comes to fannin' lead. This is a fast action, pulp style Western, my favorite kind, but there's quite a bit of rumination on growing older.
   This is apparently the first in a series, though, so it looks like Spurr has a few good years left. Looking forward to joining him for more adventures.
   Next up on my Brandvold (under his Frank Leslie pen-name) reading list is Dead Man's Trail, a new Yakima Henry novel which takes place around Christmas.
   

More Christmas Reading


   In addition to the Sexton Blake Christmas book mentioned below, I also started reading Six Guns and Slay Bells, a collection of Weird Westerns set at Christmas. Read the first story last night, Sheriff Santa by Robert J. Randisi. In this one, an aging Sheriff tries to stop a bank robbery while attired in the Santa Claus suit he wears for the town kids. Things don't go well, but then he gets some unexpected ghostly help. This is a very fun little story and a great beginning to the collection.
   This is another collection from the members of the Western Fictioneers, the same folks who did The Traditional West anthology I bragged on a while back and who are doing the shared world Wolf Creek books. I'll be talking about more of the stories as I read them, but you can get more info about Six Guns and Slay Bells right now by going here:

http://www.westernfictioneers.com/books.php

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Mystery of Mrs. Bardell's Xmas Pudding

   I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for a mystery story set at Christmas. Be it Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, Nero Wolfe in Christmas Party, or Ellery Queen in The Adventure of the Dauphin's Doll, I love em' all. So you can probably imagine, given my recent mania for all things Sexton Blake, how happy I was to discover an entire volume of Sexton Blake stories set at Christmas.
   Crime at Christmas features four Sexton Blake novellas by one of the best of the Blake writers, Gwyn Evans. Evans was known for his festive Christmas stories and readers of Union Jack and Detective Weekly came to expect them every Yule season. Evans was particularly fond of Blake's housekeeper, Mrs. Bardell, and he often placed her at the center of these Christmas mysteries, beginning with his very first one, The Mystery of Mrs. Bardell's Xmas Pudding, which I read last night.
   This story from the Union Jack Special Christmas number for 1925 is one of the most fun Christmas mysteries I've ever read. It's subtitled 'a Real Christmas story and a Real Detective story too!' and it is very much that. It starts off with American reporter 'Splash' Page and Inspector Coutts of Scotland Yard, who, finding themselves at loose ends for Christmas, are invited to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Sexton Blake's rooms in Baker Street. Evans takes the opportunity here to ladle on the Christmas trappings. Snow begins to fall and carolers are wandering the streets. All is warm and cozy by the fire in Baker Street as the three gentlemen and Blake's young assistant Tinker share good natured jibes while downstairs Mrs. Bardell bustles about in the kitchen.
  Things become more interesting when Mrs. Bardell comes into the consulting room and asks for Blake's advice. It seems that Mrs. Bardell's sister, Mrs. Cluppins, who runs a rooming house, has had her Christmas pudding stolen from her larder. Not only that, but for some reason, Mrs Cluppins' only boarder, a sailor known as 'Roarin Bill Barnes', is beside himself with anger over the theft.
   Mrs Bardell wants to take another pudding to her sister and Blake tells her to go ahead. However a little later Mrs. Bardell telephones from her sisters home to say that Roarin Bill has been murdered, stabbed in the back.
   Blake, Tinker, Coutts, and Page hurry over to investigate. (They take Blake's bloodhound Pedro too.) As it turns out, Barnes isn't quite dead, and Blake gets a cryptic clue from him before Barnes  lapses into unconsciousness. Barnes' reaction to the theft of the pudding takes on new significance and the team splits, with Tinker, Page, and Pedro going after the missing pudding and Blake and Coutts following other leads on the trail of the would be assassin.
   The rest of the narrative follows the heroes through various adventures as they encounter a gang of boy pirates, a shifty pub owner and other denizens of London's underworld. In the end Blake solves it all of course, and the whole cast sits down to a huge Christmas dinner. Like the man said, Christmas story and Detective story. Just a tremendous amount of fun.
   What's really cool about the book itself is that it's printed like bound issues of Union jack, complete with ads, features, back up stories and the like. A real time capsule of a bygone age. The other three stories in the book are:

The Crime of the Christmas Tree

The Affair of the Black Carol

Mrs. Bardell's Christmas Eve (I plan to read this one on Christmas Eve)

   I also have another Evans story, The Christmas Cavalier, in another collection. So plenty of Sexton Blake Christmas adventures ahead. I'll parcel them out through the Holiday season.

Friday, November 23, 2012

They Fight Crime!


   Sexton Blake and Kharrn. He's a British Detective. He's a time traveling Barbarian. Together, they fight crime!


   Okay, really it was just another Kirby-Esque sketch I did the other day...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

   I'd like to join Kharrn the Barbarian in wishing you a happy Thanksgiving. Now go and gorge yourselves like a bunch of barbarians and make me proud.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Wrath of Kharrn

  See these four Orcs? When I was a little newbie in Lord of the Rings Online they killed me. A lot. They were part of a tough quest at about level 20 and I just could not get past them. I died again and again. So now, whenever I happen to pass this small camp, I stop and kill these Orcs in revenge. Petty? Childish? Yep. But I hates them.

The Big British Breakfast

  We've all heard tales of how bad British food is. I always tell people that it depends on what you order and where. I found the steak and mushroom pies to be great, for instance. (I did have a scary experience with Yorkshire pudding, but I've tried to forget that.) However, during my various trips to the UK, my favorite meal was always breakfast. The Grafton Edwardian Hotel on Tottenham Court Road (Where Watson and I once tracked a werewolf that had been preying on shop girls, but I digress) always served up a fantastic breakfast buffet of eggs, bacon, sausages, potato cakes, baked beans (No Spam) and other delights.
   This year, on Second Breakfast Day, I was reminded of how much I liked the British style baked beans in tomato sauce with my eggs, so knowing I had the day off today, I stopped in at Publix yesterday evening and picked up a can of Heinz baked beans in the British foods section. While I was there, I swung by the bakery and got some blueberry scones. Publix scones come the closest to the genuine UK article of any scones I've tried and the blueberry are particularly good.
   So this morning I cooked myself a big breakfast of eggs, sausages, and baked beans, finishing up with a blueberry scone. This is the way to get a five day weekend started! 
(Note: The above image is not a picture of my actual breakfast. I ate mine before thinking to get the camera.)



Edit. Hey this marks my 200th post for the year! Doesn't look like I'm going to match last year's number, 243, but still a respectable number of posts.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Win a Copy of Bones of the Old Ones


  Good Reads is hosting a giveaway of my pal Howard Andrew Jones' new book, Bones of the Old Ones, the followup to his excellent sword and sorcery novel, The Desert of Souls. There will be three winners chosen and each will receive a signed hardback copy of Bones as well as Desert of Souls. I highly recommend Howard's work, so head over to the link below and sign up. Winners will be announced on December 19th.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13033947-the-bones-of-the-old-ones

Monday, November 19, 2012

Queen of the Night

   On one of my rambles around the internet I came across the scan above. It appears to be the cover for the follow up to Karl Edward Wagner's Bran Mak Morn pastiche, Legion From the Shadows, but from what I've heard, Wagner never wrote this book, though he sometimes claimed that he did. In the last interview he gave he said:

"I was asked to write some Robert E. Howard pastiches by Glenn Lord via my agent, Kirby McCauley. None of us were happy with the sorry state of the then-current crop, and I was brought in as a hired gun to try to sort the matter out. Legion From The Shadows and The Road of Kings were both difficult to write. I wrote in my own style, remaining true to Howard’s characters.
The second Bran Mak Morn novel, Queen of the Night, was held back for various reasons. It will be published in England later this year (1994) as a double volume."

   Still, according to friends and colleagues, the book was never written. When I came across this scan, however, I noted that there was copy on the back. Usually this is copy telling the reader what the book is about, so I wondered if perhaps Wagner had at least given a his publisher a synopsis. The text is hard to read in this small scan, (Anyone got a bigger one?) but from what I can make out the plot is pretty general.
   So being the intrepid journalist that I am, I decided to email the guy the scan had apparently come from, author David Drake, friend and occasional collaborator of KEW. Drake was kind enough to reply. he said:

    "Karl must have told his Zebra editor that he was going to set it in Atlantis, because he was really pissed when the Bran novel by...doggone...I'm blocking on the names...came out, it was set in Atlantis. There was never a synopsis or anything whatever written."

   So perhaps Drake was right and an editor at Zebra cobbled together some back cover copy based on a conversation with KEW. Interesting stuff.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Murgunstrumm

   I've blogged before about how scary I often find the stories of Hugh B. Cave to be. This weekend I finally got around to reading what is arguably his best known story, Murgunstrumm, and yeah, it's scary as hell. Though it was originally published in 1932, it's aged well. There are one or two melodramatic moments, but for the most part it certainly doesn't read like something 80 years old.
   The story begins with a very tense scene where a man escapes from a mental institution. Cave, a master of mood, makes the man's fear almost a tangible thing, slowly building up the psychological tension by describing the man's mental state and layering on the atmosphere. By the time the guy gets free, you almost feel like you were incarcerated with him. And that's just the first few pages.
   Cave continues the build-up. The reader learns that the hero and his girlfriend were both put into mental institutions because of the wild story that they told about being tortured and imprisoned by some horrible non-human creatures at an isolated country inn, and that the hero is going back to that inn. By the time he gets there, after first tricking the men who had him committed into visiting the place themselves, you know that bad bad things are going to happen. And they do. Cave is one of those writers who make you think "Oh jeez, he's not going to do what I think he's going to do", and then he does it. Where other writers might shy away, Cave plunges in. Karl Edward Wagner once pointed out that any of the writers who thought that the extremes of the splatterpunk horror story were something new, obviously hadn't read Hugh B. Cave. This is a genuinely disturbing story. There were a couple of times when I could feel my pulse rate pick up as Cave ratcheted up the tension. Gotta love a writer who can do that.
   Anyway, I won't give out any more of the plot because the slow build-up is part of the fun. Hugh B. Cave is yet another writer who I discovered because of Wagner. Fittingly enough I read it in the Carcosa volume Murgunstrumm and Others.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Favorite Tarzan Film

 In a comment on the post below about a new Tarzan movie, my pal Cromsblood asked if I had an absolute favorite Tarzan movie. I had to give that some thought because there are several I like quite a bit.
   I'm very fond of Mike Henry's three Tarzan films, partly because Henry, of all the various actors who had played Tarzan, came the closest to looking like Edgar Rice Burroughs' descriptions of the character . Tall, and leanly muscular, with jet black hair, he almost seemed a Russ Manning drawing come to life. I also like that in all three of his movies, Tarzan and the Valley of Gold, Tarzan and the Great River, and Tarzan and the Jungle Boy, he managed to show Tarzan as a man who could function  just fine in civilization, but who became a ruthless and implacable enemy back in the jungle. Henry's Tarzan wasn't someone to mess with.
   I'm also fond of the first half of the movie Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan. Why only the first half? Because that part almost gets the origin spot on. It's very close to the books. Unfortunately, the second half of the movie goes off on some 'noble savage' tangent and never recovers. I always turn the movie off right where Ralph Richardson's character dies. It's downhill from there. But boy, that first half is a blast.
   However, having considered the question for a bit, I think my absolute favorite Tarzan movie is the aptly named Tarzan's Greatest Adventure. This is a tightly written, no nonsense little movie, a straight ahead thriller that is not only a very good Tarzan movie, but just a very good movie. You could enjoy this without ever having seen a Tarzan film before.
   This was producer Sy Weintraub's first attempt to drag the apeman into contemporary times and make him more realistic. He got rid of all the trappings that Tarzan had been saddled with since the Weissmuller days. No mention of Jane. No Boy. None of that 'me Tarzan' stuff. Cheetah the chimp makes only a brief appearance.
   In Tarzan's Greatest Adventure four criminals slaughter a bunch of villagers in order to steal dynamite they need for a diamond stealing plot. Tarzan goes after them and tracks them through the jungle. Like I said of Mike Henry, this is a no nonsense Tarzan. Just like ERB's character, who thought little of killing an enemy, this Tarzan will do whatever has to be done to stop the bad guys.
   There are some good performances from the villains, particularly Anthony Quayle as the leader of the crew, and a pre-Bond Sean Connery as a sadistic grinning rogue. Worthy villains for the apeman. The movie was shot mostly on location in Africa and it shows. Gone are the fake looking jungles and obvious sets.
   Gordon Scott, who had already made a couple of pseudo-Weissmuller Tarzan movies, got to show that he could actually act if given a chance. This is probably his best film. He's a little beefy for ERB's Tarzan, but he's convincing in the role and he did most of his own stunts.
   So yeah, that's my  favorite Tarzan movie. Well worth a look.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More Sexton Blake on the Way

   As promised, Bear Alley Books is getting ready to release yet another Sexton Blake annual facsimile. This is the 1942 annual. Check out that cover. Blake dukes it out with a Nazi U-boat crew. Nazis. I hate those guys.
   I've already pre-ordered mine of course. Go here to get the info.

http://bearalleybooks.blogspot.com/2012/11/sexton-blake-annual-1942-special-offer.html

Tarzan Swings Again

 Someone forwarded me a link to an article in Variety about a possible new Tarzan film from Warner Brothers. Here's the premise:

"Years after he's re-assimilated into society, he (Tarzan) is asked by Queen Victoria to investigate the goings-on in the Congo. Tarzan teams with an ex-mercenary named George Washington Williams to save the Congo from a fierce warlord who controls a massive diamond mine."

   I'm fine with that as a plot. Sure, it isn't based on any of Edgar Rice Burroughs' actual Tarzan stories, but at least they're not filming the tired old origin story yet again. Thing is, some of my favorite Tarzan movies have had little to do with Burroughs' original tales. It's the character of Tarzan that concerns me much more than the plot. If he's portrayed the way ERB intended, I'm fine with a new adventure.
   In that respect, Tarzan has fared much better over the years than Robert E. Howard's Conan. Though the Johnny Weissmuller films didn't do much to bring the 'real' Tarzan to the screen, later movies, particularly those featuring Gordon Scott, Mike Henry, and Jock Mahoney went a long way towards bringing Burroughs' idea of an intelligent, articulate ape-man into cinemas. The 1960s Tarzan TV series starring Ron Ely was fairly close in many ways as well.
   If you've read the novels, then you know that by the fourth book, The Son of Tarzan, that the jungle lord had indeed been "re-assimilated into society" and was living in England as Lord Greystoke on his estate with his wife Jane and their son Jack (Korak). So that's fine, though in the books that would have been after the death of Queen Victoria. Still I think the producers are wise to keep Tarzan in the past, as to me, he's a character that doesn't work that well in the here and now.
   Anyway, I've been saying for years that I wished someone would make a Tarzan movie that wasn't an adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes. Handled properly, I think the ape-man could give the current crowd of action heroes a run for their money. Time will tell. If you want to read the entire Variety article, go here:

   http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118062211

P.S.
   The name being bandied about for the actor to portray Tarzan is Alexander Skarsgard. I have no idea who that is...


Acquisitions

Quite a few things showed up at the comic book store last night that I was interested in. I got the big art book, James Bama: Personal Works, which has a ton of paintings by one of my favorite artists that haven't been seen by too many folks. Stuff he painted for himself. When you consider the amount of commercial work that Bama did, it's amazing that he still found the time or interest to paint for his own enjoyment, but this book shows that art for art's sake never stopped being a source of pleasure for him.
   Also picked up The Big Book Of Ghost stories, another in Otto Penzler's series of "Big" books for Vintage Crime. Cliff, Jim, and I were amazed that there were quite a few stories in the book that none of us had read, since between the three of us we've read mass quantities of horror fiction. There are some classics as well, but yeah, a bunch of new stuff for me to read. The selections cover over a hundred years so you get everything from Victorian chillers by Kipling to modern ghostly tales by Asimov and Joyce Carol Oats. Should be fun.
   And I got The Once and Future Tarzan, a Dark Horse comic book that collects the series of the same name which appeared in Dark Horse Comics Presents. This is a tale of the far future where the 300 year old immortal Lord Greystoke lives in a post-apocalyptic world. It has art by my favorite living Tarzan artist, Thomas Yeates. I've already read the series but it's nice to have it in one volume. I bought a copy for my mom too, who still enjoys a good Tarzan comic.
   Finally, I picked up the 12th volume of the Dark Horse reprints of Marvel Comics' Savage sword of Conan. This volume reprints SSoC issues 121 through 130. We've finally escaped the long wasteland of writer Michael Fleisher's stint on the book and volume 13 will bring us into Chuck Dixon's run, which I've blogged about before at length. The issues between Fleisher and Dixon were written by Don Krarr, Larry Yakata, and the pseudonymous Jim Owsley (now Christopher Priest).
   The focus on these stories is Conan as mercenary, a trend Dixon would continue, leaving Fleisher's emphasis on fantasy behind. The good thing about this is the reprints have finally arrived at issues I enjoyed reading. Though I like Michael Fleisher's work on Jonah Hex and The Spectre, his Conan stuff just left me cold and he was on both the color comic and the black and white Savage Sword for a loooong time.
   All in all, not a bad haul.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Shadow Over Hercules

   In one of those odd coincidences, I learned that Michael Hurst, best known to US audiences as Hercules' sidekick Iolaus, is something of an H.P. Lovecraft fan. I was watching one of my favorite episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, a segment called Mercenary, which Hurst directed. I was listening to the audio commentary and there's a scene where Hercules and his prisoner, the titular mercenary, are trying to escape from some manta ray like creatures that live under the sand. They climb onto some half buried ruins to get away from the monsters and out of the blue, Hurst mentions that he shot the scene from a low level to give the buildings a strange look, "Like something from H.P. Lovecraft, like the geometry wasn't of this world."
   Go Iolaus!

Friday, November 09, 2012

No, I'm Not Obsessed. Why Would You Say That?

   Just because less than a month ago I didn't own any of these books and there are actually three more that wouldn't fit in the picture?  Well that's just silly. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go to ebay and look for more Blake stories...

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Reading Report

 I did a good bit of reading over the weekend, mostly in the form of short stories. Still enjoying the adventures of Sexton Blake in various collections. Have a couple more volumes of Blake stories on the way. I'll try to do a post soon on some of my favorites so far.
   I also read Peter Brandvold's novella The Canyon (written under his pen name, Frank Leslie) which is a horror Western that features series character Yakima Henry. I've read a couple of Brandvold's other 'weird westerns' Bad Wind Blowing and Ghost Colts, and found him to be a good horror writer. The Canyon is another strong entry, though the ending may surprise fans of Yakima Henry.
   I picked up a collection of short stories by Charles Beaumont, who wrote one of my favorite episodes of the original Twilight Zone, The Howling Man. That story gives this collection its title, but there are many other gems in the book. Beaumont was one of those writers who, like Joseph Payne Brennan, seemed to be a fountain of original ideas. Writers like Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson all praise Beaumont's abilities. Having read about half the stories in the book now, I can see why. Amazing stuff.
   Still not finding much on the novel front to hold my attention, so short stories and non fiction are filling the reading maw for now. I've got a couple of books that I'm holding onto for a rainy day, and that day may come soon.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

7 Men From Now

This 1956 Western movie was recommended to me by several people whose opinions I respect so I gave it a try, and boy I'm glad I did. Turned out to be one of the better Westerns I can recall seeing. Tightly directed, with spare dialog and an almost hard boiled feel to it, 7 Men From Now follows one man's quest for revenge that becomes a chance for redemption.
   What I found interesting about this movie was that while the plot seems like something you've seen before, a man's wife is killed by outlaws so he hunts them down, the execution is very different. Ben Stride, played by Randolph Scott, isn't Jose Wales. This is a man driven as much by guilt as revenge. He feels responsible for his wife's death, and you can see the pain on the man's face as he goes about his mission. No snappy one liners when men die. He's taking no pride in this. It's just something he feels he has to do.
   Along the way, Stride picks up a ragtag group of companions, including a married couple and two trail bums. Two of these characters will affect him greatly. The woman (Gail Russell) of the couple reminds him of his late wife, and he's obviously attracted to her. The leader of the two trail bums (Lee Marvin) is a dangerous hombre who knows way too much about Stride's past. The very different tensions provided by these two characters drive the middle of the film.
   This movie was originally written for John Wayne, who acted as producer, but he had to bow out as star because he was committed to filming The Searchers. Just as well that he did, because this is Randolph Scott's vehicle all the way, and I don't think even the Duke could have done it better.
   Amazingly 7 Men was the first script job for writer Burt Kennedy and only the second movie directed by Budd Boetticher, but it turned out so well that it far exceeded everyone's expectations for what was basically a 'B' Movie Western and led to a collaboration between Boetticher, Kennedy, and Scott that would produce six more films, all of which are considered excellent and a couple which are considered classics. You can bet I'll be watching the others soon.
  

Saturday, November 03, 2012

It's A Book!

   Woke up this morning to find a first look at actual copies of Blind Shadows, the horror/crime novel I wrote with James A. Moore, at the Miskatonic Books Blog. As you can probably imagine, this made my morning. Check out more pics and info here:

http://miskatonicbooks.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/first-look-at-blind-shadows-by-james-a-moore-charles-r-rutledge/

Friday, November 02, 2012

Sexton Blake Annual 1941

Freelance author and editor Steve Holland, who specializes in old British comics, books, and magazines, has done a great favor for fans of British detective Sexton Blake by recreating the Amalgamated Press Sexton Blake annual for 1941. (He's also recreated the annuals for 1938 and 1940, but we'll get to that.)
   Amalgamated Press started publishing soft cover Blake annuals in 1938, collecting the most popular Blake stories by the top writers on the series. As I've mentioned before, Blake appeared in something like 4000 stories over the decades, reportedly written by 200 or so writers. What Holland has done is recreate these annuals in perfect bound format.
   I was lucky because my current Blake-mania coincided with the release of the 1941 annual, which I spotted over at Bill Thom's Coming Attractions site and immediately ordered. This book is great. It's huge, at 8"X12" inches with a bright, painted cover by semi-legendary Blake artist Eric R. Parker. It contains all the original illustrations from the stories, printed on nice white paper, far superior to the original. Best, of course, is that the book has ten Sexton Blake stories, which carry the great detective and his sidekick Tinker all over the world to solve crimes and foil the schemes of master criminals.
   The first story RIDDLE OF THE CROSS finds Blake in Australia, where he and Tinker rescue a young man who's being beaten by a gang of thugs. A little later they discover a murder that is connected somehow to this man, which leads to more murders and a ruthless criminal. Blake does a lot of Sherlock Holmes style deductions in this one and there's plenty of action.
   Further stories in the annual take Blake to India, Canada, Egypt, Spain, Africa, and the far east. This is a terrific collection of stories, spotlighting the often exotic nature of the Blake stories as well as Blake's skills as a detective. If you've been meaning to give Sexton Blake's adventures a try, this would be a great place to start. I've seen the actual annuals go on Ebay for three or four hundred bucks, so this is definitely a bargain too.
   I was so impressed with the book that I immediately turned around and ordered the annuals for 1938 and 1940, and Holland's website, Bear Alley Books, says that the 1942 annual is on it's way. You can bet I'll be picking that one up as well. The link for the site is:

http://bearalleybooks.blogspot.com/
  
  

Thursday, November 01, 2012

No Surprise There

   F. Paul Wilson's newsletter sent me over to Oxford Dictionaries to take this "What Kind of Writer Are You" test. Not surprisingly, I'm Ernest Hemingway.

Care to give it a go:

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/08/american-writers-thesaurus-quiz/

When You Wish Upon A Death Star

When the news broke that George Lucas had sold the Star Wars Franchise to Disney, a lot of my co-workers stopped by my desk to see what I thought. I am their source of fannish knowledge. Of course I had to explain, as I often do, that just because I used to collect comic books and read science fiction, I'm not automatically a Star Wars fan. I do like Star Wars, just as I like Star Trek, but I don't consider myself an actual fan of either. I'm a comic book fan. A Robert E. Howard fan. A Doctor Who fan. A Sherlock Holmes fan. My knowledge of Star Wars is probably only slightly better than the average movie-goer. I blame a lot of this on The Big Bang Theory, which has fostered the idea that speculative fiction fans are fans of EVERYTHING.
   However I did give my co-workers my opinion, which is that ultimately I think it a good thing. George is tired of the universe he created, and it might be better to let new writers and directors try their hands at the property. Though I didn't hate the second three Star Wars movies (And yes, I know that chronologically they're the first three, so don't go all fan boy on me.) I thought they had a lot of problems story wise.
   I'm hoping that new folks can take Lucas's concepts and write some new and better stories. And of course Disney has the cash to do them right in terms of special effects, so no worries there.
   Interviews with George that I've seen in the last couple of days indicate to me that he's glad to step away from Star Wars and leave it to the new generation of film makers. He got his 4.2 BILLION and he's leaving his toys and going home.