Friday, March 7, 2014
Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu and the Panama Canal was first serialized in Liberty Magazine from November 16, 1940 to February 1, 1941. It was published in book form as The Island of Fu Manchu by Doubleday in the US and Cassell in the UK in 1941. The second quarter of the novel begins with Ardatha phoning Kerrigan before he leaves for their mission abroad. She shares Fu Manchu’s itinerary with him in the hopes he will arrange for the return of Peko, Fu Manchu’s pet marmoset. After hanging up, a confused Kerrigan learns Sir Lionel abducted the animal while being liberated from the clinic in Regent Park. Sir Denis explains both he and Barton understand Peko’s value as a hostage. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE NEXT FRIDAY.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu and the Panama Canal was first serialized in Liberty Magazine from November 16, 1940 to February 1, 1941. It was published in book form as The Island of Fu Manchu by Doubleday in the US and Cassell in the UK in 1941. The book serves as a direct follow-up to Rohmer’s 1939 bestseller, The Drums of Fu Manchu and is again narrated by Fleet Street journalist, Bart Kerrigan. The previous book in the series was published just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe. Rohmer chose to portray characters such as Hitler and Mussolini under thinly disguised aliases. More critically, he chose to have these threats to world peace removed by the conclusion of the book as he naively believed a Second World War would be avoided at all costs. Over a year into the war, Rohmer had to address these issues for his readers. His excuse was a brilliant one. The prior narrative had been censored by the Home Office. Bart Kerrigan was forced to alter names and events. Hitler and Mussolini yet lived. Interestingly, Rohmer chose to pick up the story some months after the last title and reflect changes in the lives of his characters. The Si-Fan has fallen under an unnamed pro-Fascist president who counts Fu Manchu’s duplicitous daughter among his closest allies. The Devil Doctor himself has fallen from grace within the Si-Fan as he opposes fascism at all costs. This rift threatens to tear the secret society apart as much as the war was doing the same to governments around the world. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE ON FRIDAY.
Friday, February 28, 2014
Jonathan Latimer is sadly forgotten today. There was a time when his screwball private eye series featuring the rarely sober Bill Crane were bestsellers and even made the transition to the silver screen in the late 1930s courtesy of Universal Pictures in a fun trio of B-movies. Latimer was a respected Hollywood screenwriter of the 1940s who crossed over to television from the 1950s through the early 1970s writing for such series as Perry Mason and Columbo. He also achieved instant notoriety as the author of the hardboiled detective novel, Solomon’s Vineyard which was banned almost upon publication in 1941 and remained unavailable in its original form in the U.S. for decades. The general consensus is with Solomon’s Vineyard, Latimer turned up the heat on hardboiled detective fiction and blurred the line between pulp and pornography. Most critics will claim that even today, readers would be hard-pressed to find a tougher or more shocking private eye novel. While public domain copies riddled with typos are easy to come by, I finally tracked down an affordable copy of an earlier edition and read the book for myself. I was shocked as well, not by the content, but to learn the book is clearly intended as yet another of Latimer’s laugh-out-loud farces despite its reputation. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I’ve known Ed Erdelac from New Pulp circles, but had never read any of his fiction before. Ed is a very talented author who has determined to carve out his own niche in the familiar sub-genre of spaghetti westerns. If one is to be accurate, spaghetti westerns were westerns of the 1960s and 1970s made by Italian filmmakers in Spain with international casts and international funding. They offered an avant-garde spin on westerns which were gritty, realistic, bloody, and notably laconic in contrast to the traditional Hollywood westerns which mythologized America’s past. Since the mid-1960s, Hollywood has occasionally offered up their own imitation spaghetti westerns right up to Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed Django Unchained. Enter: Ed Erdelac. Ed wasn’t the first author to translate spaghetti westerns to the printed page. Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy inspired a Man with No Name literary series in the 1960s. However, he is, to my knowledge, the first author to put a Jewish spin on this very stylish sub-genre. While there was a tongue-in-cheek Jewish spy series in the 1960s, Erdelac isn’t interested in writing a kitsch genre spoof. The Merkabah Rider series is as deadly serious as it is eccentric and the dramatic tone makes all the difference to the book’s success. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Samhain Publishing has just awakened Sleeping Bear, the second Renner and Quist adventure by Mark Rigney to see publication as an ebook. I discovered the series last year when the same publisher unearthed The Skates, a screwball quest involving tormented Victorian souls, a pair of magic ice skates, a ghostly hound, and dimensional time and space travel. For the benefit of newcomers, Renner and Quist are an odd couple double act comprising a stuffy Unitarian minister and a rather crude, sometimes boorish, ex-linebacker and former private eye who team to solve occult mysteries in Michigan. This quirky series is surprisingly literate fiction that calls to mind Douglas Adams’ delightful Dirk Gently series. Rigney’s fiction is built around his characters’ faith (or their lack thereof) in the supernatural and preternatural. The series is thought-provoking as much as it is entertaining. This time out, Sleeping Bear finds Reverend Renner suffering through a crisis of faith as his attempts to minister at a local hospice have fallen on not just deaf ears, but unbelieving ones. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE.
Friday, February 7, 2014
As Tartary Burns is the debut novel by Riley Hogan and is newly published by Airship 27. Calling the novel pulp fiction isn’t completely accurate. Hogan finds himself in the same position as the standout talents of the pulp world of the 1920s and 1930s who were published in the pulps but whose prose was more polished and literate than most of their peers to the degree that it seems an oversight they were passed up by the slicks. Many of those talents today are recognized as having lasting literary value. So it is with As Tartary Burns, an ambitious fast-paced historical adventure that presents an alternate history of the Cossacks, Ottomans, and Crimeans. Hogan’s book has been likened to Robert E. Howard and Harold Lamb. One reviewer suggests comparison to the film Braveheart. I felt it read like a stream-lined Game of Thrones with the explicit sex and language excised. Hogan is possessed not only of an obvious passion for history, but a pride in the culture, folklore and religion of these people to the degree that one wonders if it is his own heritage. His reshaping of world events makes one curious if he plans not so much a conventional follow-up, but rather an expanding alternate history of the world set in different epochs. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE.
Friday, January 31, 2014
Jim Beard made quite a splash in the New Pulp community when he introduced an original occult detective character in Sgt. Janus, Spirit-Breaker in 2012. There has been a rich history of Holmesian occult detectives, but Beard appeared to have been the first to hit upon the brilliant concept of having each short story in the volume narrated by the detective’s client. It was a simple, but highly effective means of giving eight different perspectives on the character. Beard also took the unexpected decision to kill off his character at the end of the last story in the collection. Imagine if A Study in Scarlet had concluded at the Reichenbach Falls and you have a clear notion of what a bold and unexpected move it was to make for an author who had already managed to raise the bar in a genre that many believed had been exhausted of fresh ideas. TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE VISIT THE BLACK GATE.