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Son of Retro Pulp Tales
edited by Joe R. Lansdale and Keith Lansdale
Subterranean Press, 211 pages

Son of Retro Pulp Tales
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. His recent books include Zeppelins West and Flaming London. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, with his family.

Joe R. Lansdale Website
ISFDB Bibliography
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 Mario Guslandi

A sequel to the acclaimed Retro Pulp Tales, this new anthology, where Joe Lansdale teams with his son Keith to edit more stories in the old pulp tradition, assembles eleven brand new pieces of imaginative and thrilling fiction aimed to entertain, astonish and, most of all, make us forget for a while the dullness of daily life. While it may be beneath the scope of great literature (the purpose of which is supposedly also to educate and to elicit lofty thoughts and feelings), but it is one of the main properties of good fiction. So, if pulp fiction is the equivalent of pop music, there is nothing wrong with it because you can't always listen to Bach and Beethoven.

But back to the present book. Joe Lansdale himself sets the tone with "The Crawling Sky," an irresistible tale featuring Reverend Mercer once again, this time committed to solve the mystery surrounding a lonely house where a murderous creature is lurking.

"The Catastrophe Box" by Cherie Priest is a story of black magic about a cursed box bringing about horror and misfortune, in which the hazy plot is counterbalanced by an enticing narrative style. The same applies to "Pretty Green Eyes" by Timothy Truman, an entertaining, although very conventional action thriller employing the usual ingredients (money, violence and sex).

Other stories are rather ordinary: David J Show's "A Gunfight" is exactly what the title says and not much else; William F. Nolan's "The Perfect Nanny" is a forgettable tale of witchcraft.

Fortunately there's no lack of good stuff. Mike Resnick provides "The Forgotten Kingdom," a quite humorous action piece where a peculiar reverend and his companion fight about the treasures of Machu Pichu and a local stark naked lady, while James Grady contributes "Border Town," an effective example of pulp fiction set in a Western background and featuring small town characters and Nazi villains.

Matt Venne's "The Brown Bomber and the Nazi Werewolves of the S.S." is an amazing tale. Preposterous as the plot may seem (Joe Louis first imprisoned in a Nazi castle and then boxing against a werewolf), the story triggers strong emotions and turns out extremely enjoyable thanks to an excellent storytelling which makes even the implausible quite credible.

"The Lizard Men of Blood River" by Stephen Mertz is yet another hot, frenzy piece describing an unlucky expedition to Mato Grosso where a dirigible crashes down, savages make a carnage of crew and passengers and lizard men abduct one of the survivors. Foul play, ancient vengeful gods, blood sacrifices... you name it, it's all there -- and there's not a single moment of boredom.

In Harlan Ellison's "The Toad Prince or Sex Queen of the Martian Pleasure-Domes," a great, epic SF adventure, a prostitute now following her trade on Mars gets involved in a cosmic quest to retrieve the scattered parts of a superior being who wants to rule the universe.

Among so many excellent stories, the best, by far, is Christopher Golden's "Quiet Bullets," a delightful, moving story where a kid, who lost his father and whose mother is in poor health, learns from a ghost cowboy how to use a gun to shoot another terrible, darker ghost trying to creep into the house. It's a masterpiece of grace and measure which adds further flavor to an already tasteful anthology.

Copyright © 2009 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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