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The Ape Man's Brother
Joe R. Lansdale
Subterranean Press, 103 pages

The Ape Man's Brother
Joe R. Lansdale
Joe R. Lansdale has been a student of the martial arts for more than thirty years. In fact, his standard day is six hours at the typewriter, three hours at Lansdale's Self Defense Systems, the martial-arts studio which he owns and at which he teaches. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, with his wife, Karen, writer and editor.

Joe R. Lansdale Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Deadman's Road
SF Site Review: The God of the Razor
SF Site Review: Retro Pulp Tales
SF Site Review: Bumper Crop
SF Site Review: Bumper Crop

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'The Big Guy picked her up with one arm, leaped off the limb, grabbed another limb with his free hand, swung them up into the cover of a thick-leafed tree, and they were gone.'
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The Ape Man's Brother is a slim work, written in the first person as a recollection of events, which may or may not be true. The narrator is the brother of the title, and the sibling to whom he refers is, as most people reading this will already have guessed, an alternate take on the most famous ape man of all. In deference to the author, I shall also refrain from using his theatrical name. Also playing prominent roles in this tale are several of the characters familiar to anyone who has previously encountered the Hollywood Ape Man's legend, in movies and full length novels. But do good things come in small packages? Is less sometimes more?

The story contains many references to the Big Guy's primal urges, some of which are described in basic, if honest terms, so this is perhaps not a book for younger children. The sanitised, Hollywood Ape Man, can be recognised here, but only as a pale shadow of this primal original. His basic story is very similar, albeit with mention of an experimental compound, not unlike the super-soldier serum that made Captain America, to account for the Big Guy's unique physiology. But it is what happens later, when the Ape Man and his brother are brought into the modern world, that takes up majority of the tale. It's a story of love, lust, jealousy and betrayal, woven in with the differing effects of modern civilisation on two primitives. One of whom thrives, while the other is overwhelmed. Both enjoy a period of celebrity, wealth and all it brings, but it is the Ape Man's brother, the product of an alternate branch of humanity, who adapts best. The Big Guy has been taken out of the jungle, but the jungle can't be taken out of him. Just about the only thing of real value in civilisation is the love of his life, referred to throughout only as The Woman. Unfortunately, New York holds many temptations, and those in combination with a severe case of culture clash and raging jealousy almost prove his undoing.

Presented as a personal account of what actually happened, before history was rewritten to airbrush out inconvenient and embarrassing truths, this is a fun, witty and endearing read. It subtly manages to overlay questions about the human condition on what is ostensibly a light adventure story. Considering that it is a work of fiction based on a work of fiction it feels remarkably honest. I can recommend The Ape Man's Brother as an essential purchase for anyone who is a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs Other Guy.

Copyright © 2013 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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