Tagged: monster

REVIEW: Pacific Rim

pacific-rim-dvdI find Guillermo del Toro an incredibly imaginative visualist and energetic storyteller but his movies tend to be overly stuffed with too many elements to crowd the story (Hellboy II) or too many visual and nowhere near enough story (Pacific Rim). I found the latter film incredibly showy, loud, and disappointingly predictable and dull. The worldbuilding is nearly nonexistent, the characters half-baked, and the Kaiju underwhelming.

Back in my Weekly World News days, Addie Blaustein would create a Kaiju and I’d be challenged to write a piece about whatever she conjured up so I know a little something about the Japanese genre and its history. The creatures del Toro and his effects team offer up are large, loud, and messy. But they lack differentiation. Oddly, the Toho monsters had character and a different approach to their attacks. The Kaiju, levels 1-5 here, emerge from the water, attack a city and roar a lot. While visually different, they’re boring.

So are the humans manning the mecha, excuse me, Jaegers, that have been designed to battle them. We have the stereotypical Chinese and Russians, the flinty Aussies and the stoic American brothers. Ho hum. Five years after losing his sibling in a horrible battle, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) is coaxed back by his former boss Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) into a final fight with the very fate of the world at stake. Gosh, who will be good enough and compatible enough to work in tandem with him? Could it be Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), Pentecost’s aide with traumatic issues of her own? Of course.

Screenwriters Travis Beacham and del Toro tell us the world is under attack by alien beings under the surface and that after all these years, the Kaiju are winning and humanity is threatened. But after all the death and devastation, we have no real sense of what life is like for the common man and woman. What’s the global economy or political landscape like? The dull narration early on provides us some clues but glosses over things to give us one fight after another that is often at night and cut so quickly you can’t quite tell what’s going on.

One irksome point was that Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) had to go to the black market to find Kaiju samples to study when one would think understanding the creatures would be a major priority for the world leaders so they can develop effective countermeasures. Day’s performance is over the top, beat only by Burn Gorham’s wacky mad mathematician. Both feel like they were imported from some other film.

Rim HeroesYou would think del Toro’s valentine to the monster movies of old would be more fun but instead, it plods and roars and bores. Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em robots versus Godzilla wanna-bes! This should have been epic and falls short on almost every level. Rather than dropping a bomb to seal the portal to Pellucidar or wherever the aliens are residing, it would have been far more interesting to send the mecha down there and bring the fight to the manufacturers of these monsters. Instead, the threat is sealed, leaving matters unresolved until the unnecessary sequel.

The summer IMAX 3-D blockbuster is out on home video now in a variety of packages from Warner Home Video. The one most of you will wind up with is the Blu-ray, DVD, Ultraviolet combo pack and it’s good to know that the video transfer is wonderful with bright colors where appropriate and clarity throughout. Additionally, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and 5.1 surround tracks are wonderful.

The package comes with two Blu-ray discs because the extras spill from one to take over the other. On disc one you get the film and can listen to del Toro’s fascinating Audio Commentary, which delves into his influences and discusses the challenges to bringing his imagination to the screen. There are 62 minutes’ worth of Focus Points, a baker’s dozen of featurettes. For the record these include: A Film by Guillermo del Toro (4:47), A Primer on Kaijus & Jaegers (4:09)

Intricacy of Robot Design (4:53), Honoring the Kaiju Tradition (4:30), The Importance of Mass and Scale (5:45), Shatterdome Ranger Roll Call (5:39), Jaegers Echo Human Grace (4:01), Inside the Drift (4:36), Goth-Tech (4:39), Mega Sized Sets (8:54), Baby Kaiju Set Visit (3:07), Tokyo Alley Set Visit (3:17), and Orchestral Sounds from the Anteverse (4:04).

Over on the second disc you then get the interactive The Director’s Notebook, which allows you to flip through his digital handbook on the making of the film, allowing you to go from still images to interviews, and tons of details on the pre-production designs. You can even use the

Magnify Mode, translating del Toro’s Spanish text and accessing exclusive galleries. The disc also offers you The Digital Artistry of Pacific Rim (17 minutes), focusing on the digital effects; The Shatterdome: an archive of the film’s design art via video and still galleries; four Deleted Scenes (4 minutes); Drift Space (5 minutes), a look at the film’s four Drift sequences; Blooper Reel (4 minutes), mostly from Day and del Toro regular Ron Perlman.

REVIEW: Uncle Grandpa – “Good Morning!”

Cartoon Network’s Uncle Grandpa, seen here with Pizza Steve, Gus, and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger.

Artist Willy Elder called it “chicken fat” – the extra background gags he’d cram into his art for Mad, Little Annie Fanny, and elsewhere.  He described it as “The part of the soup that is bad for you, but where all the flavor is.” Cartoon Network’s new Uncle Grandpa is slopping over with “chicken fat”, but manages not to drown in it. It successfully answers the question, “What if Mary Poppins were not only male, but an idiot”?

A spin-off from Peter Browngardt’s previous effort, Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, the title character is described as “Everybody in the world’s Uncle and Grandpa”, a magic character that drives around in an enchanted RV with his compatriots Gus the world’s strongest monster, Pizza Steve (a sentient slice of pizza) and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger (who does what it says on the tin).  He drops into children’s lives and takes them on mad adventures, usually depositing them back home with lessons learned, that lesson usually being “Do not go on mad adventures with Uncle Grandpa”.  The show has the same “anything can happen” feel as many of Cartoon Network’s recent outings like Adventure Time and Chowder (on which Peter served as a storyboard artist), with a more unabashedly silly bent.

The character design is much cleaner than the camp-grotesque style of both Fort Awesome and the pilot episode he did as part of the Cartoonstitute. Like Chowder, the show features various animation techniques – Giant Realistic Flying Tiger is animated with paper cutouts of photos of real tigers. It skewers many kids’ show contrivances while still zealously clinging to them. Uncle Grandpa’s talking belly bag is a clear shot at Dora the Explorer’s backpack.

The show follows CN’s new 15-minute format, with each episode featuring two cartoons, a 9-minute main adventure and a two-minute backup.  The show is packed from stem to stern with crazy, with so much going on you’ll need to rewind and check on it all.

Uncle Grandpa runs Mondays at 8PM on Cartoon Network.

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Pulp Fiction Reviews and The Red Reunion

New Pulp Author Ron Fortier returns with another Pulp Fiction Review. This time out Ron takes a look at Stein and Candle Vol. III by Michael Panush.

STEIN AND CANDLE Vol III
By Michael Panush
Curiosity Quills Press
232 pages

From the talented imagination of writer Michael Panush comes this third volume in the adventures of Mort Candle, a grizzled ex-Sergeant and his ward, the teenage occult expert Weatherby Stein.  Panush continues to chronicle their post World War II exploits as paranormal investigators and within these pages you’ll find the duo’s newest exploits as they travel the globe encountering all manner of supernatural monsters.  There are a total of six cases set forth here and each is a well presented pulp actioner, all worthy of the 1930s classics.

The book kicks off with our guys in Japan in “Trouble in Tokyo.”  They are hired by a police detective discover who it is attacking rival Yakuza clans and in the process fomenting a gangland war that could severely hamper the city’s reconstruction efforts.  Soon Candle and Stein aren’t only dealing with sword wielding crooks but a secret ninja clan controlling ancient Japanese creatures of mythology to wipe out their foes.  This one is exotic wall to wall action without let up from beginning to end.

The X-Files meets Happy Days in “Teenage Wasteland” when Weatherby goes undercover in a suburban high school to investigate teenagers meddling with the occult.  Along the way he encounters ethnic prejudices, an athletic bully and a Sandra Dee like blonde beauty that turns his head and melts his heart.  Easily one of the weirder but most enjoyable stories in this series yet.

Then there is “Lounge Lizard” wherein our heroes head for Lake Tahoe to find a missing crooner who has run off with the his boss’ cash. This leads them into a deadly parallel world of dinosaurs and their lizard-men riders.  Exactly the mishmash Panush excels at.  Whereas in “Drac’s Back,” Castle, short on funds, accepts an assignment from a group of American vampires to help them travel to Transylvania and resurrect the greatest bloodsucker of them all, Count Dracula.  Stein is opposed to the idea and has good reason to be.  It doesn’t turn out well.

The fifth tale, “Stein Family Reunion,” has Mort and Weatherby in San Francisco encountering Adam, a monstrous individual created from parts of dead bodies by an earlier member of the Stein clan.  Thus do our heroes come to the aid of one of the most iconic monsters in English fiction.  After introducing Dracula to the series, we just knew “the monster” couldn’t be far behind.

The book wraps up with “Big City Showdown,” parts one and two and is the longest single Stein and Candle adventure yet.  And it deserves that extra space as it has a sense of climatic finality to it.  Dracula and the Stein’s twisted wizard ancestor, the Viscount Wagner Stein, team up in New York with an audacious plan to conquer America.  The challenges these two powerful entities posed singularly proved to be difficult to our heroes in past encounters.  Now combined, they are virtually unbeatable; unless that is, our two occult detectives can assemble their own team to battle them.  And this is exactly what transpires until almost every major supporting character in the series reappears for this one cataclysmic confrontation between the forces of good and evil.

There is a definitive air of closure by the story’s end that had this reader both pleased and sad.  If this is the end of the Stein and Candle Detective Agency, then they go out on a grand note that we applaud.  But we truly hope this isn’t the last chapter in one of New Pulp’s most imaginative series ever created.  Please, Michael Panush, we want more!

PULP FICTION REVIEWS AND THE RED REUNION

PULP FICTION REVIEWS AND THE RED REUNION

New Pulp Author Ron Fortier returns with another Pulp Fiction Review. This time out Ron takes a look at Stein and Candle Vol. III by Michael Panush.

STEIN AND CANDLE Vol III
By Michael Panush
Curiosity Quills Press
232 pages

From the talented imagination of writer Michael Panush comes this third volume in the adventures of Mort Candle, a grizzled ex-Sergeant and his ward, the teenage occult expert Weatherby Stein.  Panush continues to chronicle their post World War II exploits as paranormal investigators and within these pages you’ll find the duo’s newest exploits as they travel the globe encountering all manner of supernatural monsters.  There are a total of six cases set forth here and each is a well presented pulp actioner, all worthy of the 1930s classics.

The book kicks off with our guys in Japan in “Trouble in Tokyo.”  They are hired by a police detective discover who it is attacking rival Yakuza clans and in the process fomenting a gangland war that could severely hamper the city’s reconstruction efforts.  Soon Candle and Stein aren’t only dealing with sword wielding crooks but a secret ninja clan controlling ancient Japanese creatures of mythology to wipe out their foes.  This one is exotic wall to wall action without let up from beginning to end.

The X-Files meets Happy Days in “Teenage Wasteland” when Weatherby goes undercover in a suburban high school to investigate teenagers meddling with the occult.  Along the way he encounters ethnic prejudices, an athletic bully and a Sandra Dee like blonde beauty that turns his head and melts his heart.  Easily one of the weirder but most enjoyable stories in this series yet.

Then there is “Lounge Lizard” wherein our heroes head for Lake Tahoe to find a missing crooner who has run off with the his boss’ cash. This leads them into a deadly parallel world of dinosaurs and their lizard-men riders.  Exactly the mishmash Panush excels at.  Whereas in “Drac’s Back,” Castle, short on funds, accepts an assignment from a group of American vampires to help them travel to Transylvania and resurrect the greatest bloodsucker of them all, Count Dracula.  Stein is opposed to the idea and has good reason to be.  It doesn’t turn out well.

The fifth tale, “Stein Family Reunion,” has Mort and Weatherby in San Francisco encountering Adam, a monstrous individual created from parts of dead bodies by an earlier member of the Stein clan.  Thus do our heroes come to the aid of one of the most iconic monsters in English fiction.  After introducing Dracula to the series, we just knew “the monster” couldn’t be far behind.

The book wraps up with “Big City Showdown,” parts one and two and is the longest single Stein and Candle adventure yet.  And it deserves that extra space as it has a sense of climatic finality to it.  Dracula and the Stein’s twisted wizard ancestor, the Viscount Wagner Stein, team up in New York with an audacious plan to conquer America.  The challenges these two powerful entities posed singularly proved to be difficult to our heroes in past encounters.  Now combined, they are virtually unbeatable; unless that is, our two occult detectives can assemble their own team to battle them.  And this is exactly what transpires until almost every major supporting character in the series reappears for this one cataclysmic confrontation between the forces of good and evil.

There is a definitive air of closure by the story’s end that had this reader both pleased and sad.  If this is the end of the Stein and Candle Detective Agency, then they go out on a grand note that we applaud.  But we truly hope this isn’t the last chapter in one of New Pulp’s most imaginative series ever created.  Please, Michael Panush, we want more!

Salmon Reviews First Fringe Novel!

OUT ON THE FRINGE
A Review of Christa Faust’s THE ZODIAC PARADOX
byAndrew Salmon
 
If you’re a Fringe fan like me, you’re probably feeling some withdrawal by now. So having the chance to dive into THE ZODIAC PARADOX by tie-in queen Christa Faust was welcome relief. But does the novel deliver? Read on.
 
 
The first thing readers should know is that the novel is a prequel with a capital P. It begins in 1968 and moves ahead into the 1970s so if you’re expecting Olivia and Peter to appear, then you’ll have to wait for the next two books inthe series. What you do get in the pages of THE ZODIAC PARADOX are healthy doses of Walter Bishop, William Bell and a smattering of Nina Sharp for some seasoning.
 
The novel kicks off with Walter and Bell performing their LSD experiments (which will ultimately culminate with the invention of Cortexiphan in the TV show) that result in their temporarily opening up a portal between universes. If you don’t know what any of the above means, then stop reading and get yourself some Fringe boxsets as you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Still with  me? Okay. Now through this portal, a serial killer flees the police in the alternate universe and enters ours and immediately takes up here where he left off over there. This killer will come to be known as the Zodiac Killer. When Zodiac killings begin to resemble Walter’s and Bell’s remembered visions when the portal opened, they realize that they are responsible for unleashing this monster and must do something about it.
 
What follows is an engaging read that will satisfy Fringe fans and should please newcomers to the Fringe world. Faust can write and, although her other work tends to be gritty, intense and sexual, she knows how to rein that in for her tie-in work. If you’ve read her award-winning version of Snakes on a Plane (the best tie-in novel I’ve ever read), you know what I’m talking about.
 
Her characterizations are accurate and you find yourself hearing the actors’ voices as you read the lines. Walter, especially, is well drawn. Given John Noble’s unforgettable performance in the series, this comes as welcome relief. Yes, he’s not the focused, unfeeling monster portrayed in flashbacks on the show, but he has no reason to be. He’s young, brilliant, untouched by tragedy and yet, when the situation demands it, he will exhibit that iron will that will, ultimately, lead to his downfall and eventual redemption. Bell, too, comes across accurately. He’s the rock star of the group and his megalomania is hinted at here. Nina Sharp is a little farther along than the two leads. She’s focused, smart and her won’t take crap from anyone is balanced with her genuine empathy.
 
The action of the book is the only weak link here. Although most of the sequences are well thought out and exciting, these brilliant people often do stupid things, which I suppose can be explained by their being out of their depth. Two academically inclined youths, bookworms for lack of a better term, can’t be expected to act like Rambo and that’s as it should be. They are, however, geniuses, and their smarts occasionally go out the window. This is a minor nit-pick but it did take away from the reading experience a time or two.
 
So, should you read THE ZODIAC PARADOX? If you’re a fan of the show, definitely. There are insider nods throughout the book that will go unnoticed by newbies. And what about you newbies? Can you get anything out of the book? As a long-time fan of the show, it’s all but impossible for me to answer that question but I’ll give it a try. The answer is yes. The novel captures the genre smash-up that was the show. Using science and dimensional portals against a radiation-spewing killer from an alternate universe is what Fringe, the series, was all about and the novel should grab you right out of the gate.
 
I enjoyed THE ZODIAC PARADOXand am looking forward to Book 2 with a Olivia front and center. Fringe fans take note, the show lives on!

Pulp Fiction Reviews El Mosaico

New Pulp Author Ron Fortier returns with another Pulp Fiction Review. This time out Ron takes a look at EL MOSAICO (Scarred Souls) by New Pulp Author Michael Panush.

EL MOSAICO
(Scarred Souls)
By Michael Panush
Curiosity Quills
201 pages

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but Michael Panush is rapidly becoming one of my favorite New Pulp writers.  Having discovered him via “Dinosaur Jazz,” a book we nominated for Best Pulp Novel of 2012, we then discovered his “Stein & Candle Detective Agency” series about two post-World War II occult detectives.  As if that isn’t enough to keep this prolific writer busy, now he’s launched as yet another series which can best be described as Frankenstein done western style.

During the Civil War, a Confederate doctor/occultist has the brilliant idea of stitching together body parts from dead soldiers and then animating them using black magic. His plan is to fill the rapidly diminishing ranks of Southern companies with these reanimated corpse soldiers.  He manages to create one such patchwork man before being killed by Union bombardment.  That one and only success is Clayton Cane.

Cane is a bounty hunter traveling the untamed west of the late 1860s and because his very nature is always encountering one fantastic monster after another in this first collection of adventures; there are eight total and each is a gem.

In “Bayou Bloodshed,” Cane is hired to find a black girl who has run off to a secluded island in the middle of the swamps.  The island is populated with two desperate clans; one of gatormen and the other of werewolves.  Needless to say, Cane’s mission is not an easy one.

Then Panush offers up “Red Blades of Whitechapel,” whereby his jigsaw hero end up in London to hunt down a serial killer with a royal pedigree.  Considering this story’s open-ended climax, the main villain could well return for a future encounter.

With “Dead Man’s Band,” Cane captures an outlaw alchemist named Black who leads a band of dead outlaws.  When these deceased desperados attack the hotel Cane is hold up in the pitched battle appears to be El Mosaico’s last stand.

“Monster Men of Malchite Falls” has the bizarre bounty hunter infiltrating a weird fortress laboratory in the middle of the dessert to rescue a little boy. What he discovers is another mad scientist much like the man who put him together.

In “Tomb of Kings” Clayton Cane is one again employed by the British Government to act as security for an archeological dig in Egypt. When the leader of the expedition unearths and revives the Nameless Pharaoh, Cane must ally himself with Arab dessert warriors to defeat an ancient army of monsters.

Back in the U.S. the man-made gunslinger is next hired by the cavalry to help down an old Indian shaman who may be unleashing an army of ghost braves to defend their land in the moving “Ghost Dances.”

In the seventh story, Cane travels south of the border hunting a gang of vicious stage coach robbers and teams up with a wily Mexican bandito named “Tarantula.”

Lastly Cane is hired by a foreign professor to help him track down the whereabouts of the Ragnorak Hammer before it can be used to destroy the world. When their hunt takes into a brutal Minnesota blizzard, they received unexpected aid from an immortal Viking legend.

“El Mosaico – Scarred Souls” is the epitome of New Pulp fun and originality.  It’s a dandy mash up of cowboys and creatures and the wise reader should saddle up and join Clayton Cane.  The ahead looks to be truly fantastic.

The Monsters are Returning!

Monster Earth Volume 1 cover

New Pulp Publisher, Mechanoid Press has announced Monster Earth 2, the second volume in the popular series.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monster Earth 2 Is Coming!

Atlanta, GA—Mechanoid Press, a small imprint specializing in science fiction, New Pulp and more, returns to the exciting world of their popular giant monster anthology MONSTER EARTH with MONSTER EARTH 2.

Returning to the helm of this mammoth (pun intended) undertaking are editors James Palmer (Mars McCoy: Space Ranger Vol. 2) and Jim Beard (Captain Action and the Riddle of the Glowing Men).

“This is going to take the monster action to a whole new level,” explains Palmer. “I thing fans of the first book are really going to love this one.”

MONSTER EARTH 2 will bring the action closer to the present day, with the nations of the world experimenting with genetic manipulation of the various beasties. Add a secret death cult trying to herald the end of days, and you’ve got a volatile recipe for mayhem and destruction as only some of the hottest writers in New Pulp can bring it.

Returning for this volume are Edward M. Erdelac (Mighty Nanuq), Jeff McGinnis (The Beast’s Home) and Fraser Sherman (Peace with Honor). Joining them will be Thomas Deja (How the West Was Weird). Just as in the previous anthology, Beard and Palmer will also contribute stories.

“Jim did a great job with the bible on this one,” says Palmer. “Between that and all the readers who have asked about a sequel, I knew we just had to do another book.”

MONSTER EARTH 2 is scheduled for either a late December or early January release, and will appear in both Kindle and trade paper formats.

About James Palmer:
James has written articles, interviews, columns, reviews and fiction for Strange Horizons, Tangent Online, The Internet Review of Science Fiction, and New Pulp Publishers Airship 27, Pro Se Productions, and White Rocket Books. His books Slow Djinn and Four Terrors: Weird Horror Tales are currently available in PDF and Kindle formats. He also has a story in Mars McCoy: Space Ranger Vol 2. from Airship 27. For more, visit http://www.jamespalmerbooks.com/ or follow James on Twitter: www.twitter.com/palmerwriter and www.facebook.com/jamespalmerwriter

About Mechanoid Press:
Mechanoid Press is a new imprint specializing in science fiction, New Pulp, and steampunk ebooks and anthologies. For more, visit http://www.mechanoidpress.com/ or follow the robot revolution on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mechanoidpress. You can also like Mechanoid Press on Facebook.

The Monsters Are Returning 2!

The Monsters Are Returning 2!

New Pulp Publisher, Mechanoid Press has announced Monster Earth 2, the second volume in the popular series.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: James Palmer
palmerwriter@yahoo.com
http://www.mechanoidpress.com/

Monster Earth 2 Is Coming!

Atlanta, GA—Mechanoid Press, a small imprint specializing in science fiction, New Pulp and more, returns to the exciting world of their popular giant monster anthology MONSTER EARTH with MONSTER EARTH 2.

Returning to the helm of this mammoth (pun intended) undertaking are editors James Palmer (Mars McCoy: Space Ranger Vol. 2) and Jim Beard (Captain Action and the Riddle of the Glowing Men).

“This is going to take the monster action to a whole new level,” explains Palmer. “I thing fans of the first book are really going to love this one.”

MONSTER EARTH 2 will bring the action closer to the present day, with the nations of the world experimenting with genetic manipulation of the various beasties. Add a secret death cult trying to herald the end of days, and you’ve got a volatile recipe for mayhem and destruction as only some of the hottest writers in New Pulp can bring it.

Returning for this volume are Edward M. Erdelac (Mighty Nanuq), Jeff McGinnis (The Beast’s Home) and Fraser Sherman (Peace with Honor). Joining them will be Thomas Dejah (How the West Was Weird). Just as in the previous anthology, Beard and Palmer will also contribute stories.

“Jim did a great job with the bible on this one,” says Palmer. “Between that and all the readers who have asked about a sequel, I knew we just had to do another book.”

MONSTER EARTH 2 is scheduled for either a late December or early January release, and will appear in both Kindle and trade paper formats.

#

About James Palmer:
James has written articles, interviews, columns, reviews and fiction for Strange Horizons, Tangent Online, The Internet Review of Science Fiction, and New Pulp Publishers Airship 27, Pro Se Productions, and White Rocket Books. His books Slow Djinn and Four Terrors: Weird Horror Tales are currently available in PDF and Kindle formats. He also has a story in Mars McCoy: Space Ranger Vol 2. from Airship 27. For more, visit http://www.jamespalmerbooks.com/ or follow James on Twitter: www.twitter.com/palmerwriter and www.facebook.com/jamespalmerwriter

About Mechanoid Press:
Mechanoid Press is a new imprint specializing in science fiction, New Pulp, and steampunk ebooks and anthologies. For more, visit http://www.mechanoidpress.com/ or follow the robot revolution on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mechanoidpress. You can also like Mechanoid Press on Facebook.

http://www.jamespalmerbooks.com
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Dennis O’Neil: Zen Denver

O'Neil Art 130606Yesterday, just outside Denver, I went through an area I must have gone through long ago. My friend and I were a couple of footloose ramblers with no money in an interstice of time between being in thrall to one authoritarian institution, a Catholic university, and another, the United States Navy. (You wanna salute? Go ahead – salute!) We were hitchhiking back from San Francisco because…well, hey, it was good enough for Jack Kerouac and besides, if you’re not going to do stupid and dangerous things when you’re young, when you gonna do them?

(Parenthetical digression: Hitchhiking was stupid and dangerous back in 1961 and it’s way, way more stupid and dangerous now, and if our luck had veered a bit we could have suffered dreadfully. So don’t do it.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, in Colorado getting busted by a state cop.

But, as it happened, the cop was from Missouri as were we, and so, instead of depositing us in the slammer, he flagged down a Greyhound bus and asked the driver to haul us east. The rest of the adventure went well.

As I looked outside the car window yesterday, nothing seemed familiar except those magnificent mountains in the distance. But why would it? A half century-plus had passed and Colorado, along with everything else, had changed and my memory probably wasn’t reliable when I was 22 and is absolutely not reliable now. (Reality may or may not not be malleable, but the truth? That’s generally open to interpretation.)

We were coming from the Denver Comic Con and a pleasant weekend. We were expecting the show to pull in…I don’t know… a couple-three thousand fans? But there was the energy of over 50,000 attendees percolating through the Colorado Convention Center. Plus a lot of comics guys and a whole lot of dealers. And a full complement of celebrities. This was only the second year the con was held. In its infancy and already a monster.

There was a lot to like, but what most pleased us, both at the con and the Hyatt across the street, where we stayed, was the pervasive atmosphere of courtesy. Everyone was extremely polite and extremely nice. Many of the fans who came for autographs thanked me warmly for, let’s face it, not doing much more than signing my name, a trick most third graders have mastered. They also thanked us for coming to Denver – not necessary, because Denver itself had already taken care of that.

In the airport, I was astonished and delighted to see, in large, bas relief lettering, this quotation from Zen master Thich Naht Hanh: I have arrived. I am home. My destination is in each step. Appropriate, but not what you’d expect in a thriving center of commercial journeying.

Then we went over, and past, the geography I’d traveled long ago and when we arrived at our house everything was in good order. Life can be okay. Just remember that the step you’re taking is your destination.

RECOMMENDED READING: Google something like Thich Naht Hanh quotes. Read a few, or a few dozen. Then you might want to try one of his many books.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

 

HANCOCK TIPS HIS HAT TO ‘MAN-MADE TROUBLES: THE FIVE-MINUTE FRANKENSTEIN!

TIPPIN’ HANCOCK’S HAT-Reviews of Pulp and Genre Fiction in All Media
by Tommy Hancock

MAN-MADE TROUBLES:THE FIVE-MINUTE FRANKENSTEIN
An Anthology by L. Andrew Cooper, Georgia L. Jones, LS King, Christopher Kokoski, Brad PArnell, Thomas Rafalski, Teddi Robinson, Divinity Rose, and Jason S. Walters
BlackWyrm Publishing
2013

There aren’t many fictional names that conjure vivid images in young and old, fan and neophyte, expert and novice, reader and nonreader, like Frankenstein.   Originally a novel of course by Mary Shelley, a fact almost every modern person in existence over the age of 12 probably knows, the concept of Victor Frankenstein stitching together parts of various corpses and charging it with life has gone so far beyond Shelley’s original pages.   The indelible images of the Doctor and his Monster are so engrained in our society and consciousness that effort is made by many to prove that both the human and the created being actually existed or at least had basis in reality.  Still others have taken the Frankenstein tale and retold it in different settings, updated it for modern consumption, or simply taken the themes of the original tale and woven those now classic tropes into new tales.

All of that and more is exactly what the writers of MAN-MADE TROUBLES: THE FIVE-MINUTE FRANKENSTEIN have done with some success.

As stated in the book’s introduction, this is a collection that came out of a group of writers associated with BlackWyrm Publishing discussing doing a Frankenstein anthology.  The plan for the collection seems fairly simple and straightforward, with an interesting twist.  Writers were to write a tale about or inspired by Frankenstein, either the doctor, the monster, or both, and to link either directly or thematically to the source work.  The kicker was, however, that each writer only had four pages to do so, about 1200 words to tell a complete story.

The result of this interesting set of rules turned out to be a rather enjoyable mix of horror, humor, and even adventure as well as a revealing look at just how much we as mere humans connect to the Frankenstein mythos.  The stories range from starring the Monster himself as well as various Frankensteins to simply being about the feeling of one’s life being nothing but mismatched parts of others’ experiences.  Dystopian futures are a common element in more than one tale.  An interesting twist on a classic fairy tale with a hint of Monster is included as well.  Ranging from the straightforward to the abstract, the short short tales in this collection pretty much all hit the mark they aimed for.

Were some better than others? Sure.  The stories by Georgia L. Jones, Divinity Rose, Christopher Kokoski, and Jason S. Walters stand out, but all the tales were fine entries in this quirky collection.

A setback for readers, however, may be the price of the print edition.  It’s a ten dollar book on paper, but the ebook is only 99 cents.  It’s well worth that and more to enjoy this, so if the money’s an issue, pick it up digitally!

THREE OUT OF FIVE TIPS OF THE HAT-The stories are overall fun and engaging, with a few near misses, but definitely an interesting read overall!