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The Good, The Bad, and the Infernal
Guy Adams
Solaris, 315 pages

The Good, The Bad, and the Infernal
Guy Adams
Guy Adams is the author of the best-selling Rules of Modern Policing: 1973 Edition, a spoof police manual ''written by' DCI Gene Hunt of Life On Mars. Published by Transworld, it has sold over 120,000 copies. Guy has also written a two-volume series companion to the show published by Simon & Schuster; a Torchwood novel, The House That Jack Built (BBC Books); and The Case Notes of Sherlock Holmes, a fictional facsimile of a scrapbook kept by Doctor John Watson.

Guy Adams Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The World House

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox

The Old West. A time romanticized by many; wide-open plains of adventure, hardship, murder, heroes, and villains. A world very similar to our own, yet slightly askew. The legendary town of Wormwood is rumored to reappear, very soon. And many people are going to meet it, some whether they want to or not.

The title alone of The Good, The Bad, and the Infernal is enough to tweak any cross-genre fan's interest. The story starts off simply enough, introducing the reader to a host of colorful characters at the start of a journey to the mysterious town of Wormwood, which has appeared briefly over hundreds of years in several locations and in many different forms. Some believe it's a doorway to heaven, others the entrance to hell.

We first meet 'adventurer' Quartershaft, guiding a strange group of Monks and an eccentric inventor and his daughter into the West. Then we are treated to the jailbreak of a rogue freak show troupe, releasing eyeless Henry Jones, a shady blind-man who's a crack shot with a pistol. Finally, snake-oil peddler Obeisance Hicks and his assistant Hope Lane pop up, dragging Soldier Joe, a man who apparently once saw Wormwood, but is catatonically insane. See? Colorful.

Suddenly, the story jumps to the first person perspective of Elwyn Wallace, a banker on his way West that has a knack for getting into trouble with the local societal dregs. Adams does a good job of describing the filthy unpleasantness of frontier life, bedbugs, hookers, and all. Wallace finds himself rescued by and then the companion of a nameless, mysterious, old man who he feels compelled to follow towards the mysterious Wormwood. There are some bizarre adventures along the way.

The story then jumps between the three groups introduced at the beginning. Forset, the inventor along with the Monks and Quatershaft make their way across the land on a trackless steam engine car (very reminiscent of Will Smith's Wild Wild West), running into their own troubles, including steampunk-inspired cyborg Indians. We check in with the unlikable Obeisance Hicks whose path crosses Henry Jones' freak show troupe and get involved in their misadventures on the road to Wormwood.

The story is enjoyable, and strangely reminiscent of John Bunyan's 1678 classic The Pilgrim Progress (From This World to That Which is to Come). However, just as soon as it really gets going and this strange multitude of characters actually reaches the location where this sought-after Wormwood is destined to appear, the books abruptly ends leaving the reader hanging to await Once Upon a Time in Hell, Book Two of the Heaven's Gate Trilogy (which implies there will be a third book as well).

There seems to be a trend these days, especially with eBooks, for writers to immediately try crafting their own Lord of The Rings before they've really established a good solid story with a beginning middle and end. While there's nothing wrong with this, especially with the first book in what's going to be a series, creating a solid, satisfying story goes a long way to making the reader want to follow to the next adventure, as opposed to feeling they have to because the story ended so suddenly. Matt Bone managed to achieve this with his Crescent series of novels.

This book, unfortunately, reads like a prologue not a concrete work. And it also suffers from being crafted like a pitch for a mini-series, or SyFy show. While it's true this might make a fun show on the network, it read as if this was Guy Adam's treatment for a hopeful series, as opposed to a stand-alone piece of fiction in its own right (much like I felt Robopocalypse did).

The characters are interesting, though, enough that you do want to know what happens to them, if only to see if the lead up delivers on the story one feels should have followed. It will be interesting to see where Adam's takes the story as he finishes the trilogy.

Copyright © 2013 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been Star Trek characters, the Riddler in a Batman stunt show and holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University. He has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories while acting on stage, screen and television. He can sometimes be seen giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood and playing Norman Bates.

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