Here’s a few snapshots of my James Bond paperbacks (there’s a few hardbacks at the end of the row). Believe it or not there are quite a few gaps in the collection, mostly American editions and I am missing a few of the Triad Panther / Granada girls on guns series. These days it’s hard to keep up with all the new releases. About a month ago I was in a book shop and they had three different Bond series for sale. Of course, I am not made of money – so I didn’t buy them. Maybe I will pick them up in second hand shops in a couple of years.
A little blatant self promotion – but if you love wild fast-paced hair-raising pulp adventure these anthologies from Pro Se Press, Pulse Fiction and Rat-A-Tat, are well worth a look – and while I am clearly spruiking my own work, let me assure you that the other stories in these collections – scribed by some first class pulpsters – are great little tales.
You can find them both at Amazon.
Remember audio cassettes and back when you used to make mix-tapes for all your friends? It was more than slapping your favourite songs on to a BASF C-90. It was walking a tight-rope; an intricate balancing act that took planning and patience. Did you start with a kick-ass rocker, or was it a soulful ballad that set the tone? If the song was too slow you’d kill the mood, or if you went too hard and fast early, the rest of the mix would seem flat. And what did you follow it with? Placement was equally as important as song selection. It was always about balance.
I have found that anthologies are a lot like mix-tapes. There are many anthologies out there in the marketplace, covering all genres – and I am guessing for the editors, balancing the stories within is a tough act. Even though the individual tales themselves maybe fantastic, placing them in the wrong order, or even in the wrong book, can make the reading experience a bit of a stop / start affair.
And that brings me to one of the reasons I am so proud to be a part of Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction. Having read it from cover to cover, I can say the balance is perfect. Not one of these six stories is out of place – and even though they are different genres they hang together cohesively, united by one common theme; that being – they are rattling good pulp adventure tales told with pace and flare.
The first story in Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction is The Insanitors by Barry Reese. Reese, the creator of the Rook and Lazarus Gray, is one of the shining lights of the New Pulp movement, and his action packed tale, The Insanitors provides more proof of his story-telling prowess. From first word to last the tale is a roller-coaster ride – taking the reader from Machu Picchu in Peru to the corridors of power in the White House. The hero of the piece is a man who calls himself Dr. Darkness, and aided by his daughter Lilly, he has to thwart the Insanitors, a group of half-breed demons intent on unleashing hell on earth.
The next story is The Honor of the Legion, by yours truly. I have talked about it quite a bit, both here and on social media, so I won’t rehash all that again, but as the title would imply it is a Foreign Legion adventure. The hero of the piece is Legionnaire, Mace Bullard – and since we’re all friends here, I’ll let you in on a little secret … Mace Bullard will return in a new blood-curdling action adventure called Sahara Six. I don’t know when it will be released, but I’ll let you know when details come to hand.
The third story in Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction Volume 1 is Never Enough Corpses by my Fight Card colleague, Brian Drake. This story is another cracking tale – harking back to The Saint, and other champagne heroes of the past. The hero of the piece is Daniel Redd, known as the Last Ace. Redd is a successful gambler with a taste for the finer things in life. But Redd is not a foppish dilettante. On the side, he also lends his assistance to those less fortunate than himself. In this instance, the damsel in distress who needs his help is Tori Heneghan – a woman caught in the middle of a blackmail scheme – and who has two goons on her tail trying to kill her.
Diamonds Are a Girl’s Worst Friend by Eric Beetner is the fourth tale. Set in Paris, in the early 1960s, and featuring Holly Lake – a slinky cat burglar – as the title may suggest, this tale is a classic diamond heist caper. I have read a few of Beetner’s other works, and generally they have been gritty and tough – often with a pitch black sense of humour. Diamonds shows another side of Beetner’s writing – delivering a sophisticated fast-paced romp that is equally entertaining as his darker work.
From the pen of one of Pulse Fiction’s creators, Tommy Hancock comes the western mystery The Man From Shadow Limb. The township of Shadow Limb is a hive of villainy and vice, that is, until a masked avenger arrives on the scene to clean up the town his way. This tense western tale is part whodunnit, so I won’t give too much away, but to say the story drips with atmosphere and I look forward to more adventures of the Man From Shadow Limb.
Last but not least, the final tale, Cry Blood, by D. Alan Lewis, features battered and bruised hard drinking P.I. Thomas Gunn – a Mike Hammer type character – who comes to the aid of a young woman whose family have been killed, and now mobsters are after her. Gunn sobers up and does his best to protect her as the body count around them rises. I reckon a lot of people are gonna love this one – it’s a great note to go out on.
As I have a story in this anthology, naturally I cannot be totally subjective, but in a collection like this, a story is only as good as the stories around it, and I’ve got to say the tales in Pulse Fiction are top rate. As you’ve probably gathered from the mini reviews above, the mandate for Pulse Fiction was to put together old fashioned tales in a new fashioned way. And to that end, I believe the individual authors, and editors Paul Bishop and Tommy Hancock, have succeeded admirably. Check this one out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
I remember when I was a wee little nipper – still in primary school – I read an article which said in the future we would all have so much more leisure time. Computerization and advances in communication would enable us to do a week’s work in only three days (or even less) resulting in shorter working weeks – and more time to do the things we like.
So here we are, thirty-plus years later and I am wondering where is the leisure time I was promised? Like so many people these days, I seem to be time poor struggling to get everything done that I want to include in my working week. When it comes to leisurely pass times, like reading, I have to squeeze it in, in between railway stations as I travel to and from work. However, Pro Se Productions has just released a book that is perfectly suited to my lifestyle. Rat-A-Tat: Short Bursts of Pulp, as the name would suggests, is an easy to digest collection of micro-pulp tales.
Each story is under three-thousand words, and despite their length, each of them has a beginning, middle and an end – and in true old-school pulp style, featuring square-jawed resourceful heroes, and despicable villains, from first story to last, they take the reader on a wild hair-raising journey.
One of the many spirited tales in this collection is Golden Wolf and the Pod Men, written by yours truly. The story is a wild swinging sixties, caped-crusader adventure, featuring Golden Wolf, the most intrepid and resourceful super-hero ever! Join Golden Wolf – agent for Crossbow – as he battles the diabolical Dr. Sardon and his clone army.
With twenty-eight stories, and popular new pulp authors such as, Teel James Glenn, Ralph L. Angelo and David White, Rat-A-Tat: Short Bursts of Pulp is a fantastic collection for fans of action, adventure, and intrigue – or if you are like me, struggling to find the time to read a book from cover to cover.
Fight Card’s latest offering has hit the shelves at Amazon – The Adventures of Sailor Tom Sharkey – scribed by Mark Finn (writing as Jack Tunney).
He was one of the greatest heavyweight boxers to enter the legendary squared circle during the Golden Age of Boxing. Standing a mere 5’ 8”, Sailor Tom Sharkey was one of boxing’s most feared opponents… Gentleman Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, Kid McCoy, and Jim Jeffries all agreed he was their fiercest opponent and gave them their toughest fights. A colorful boxer both in the ring and out, he retired in 1904 after several legendary and controversial failed attempts to win the championship belt.
That’s the story you know – But it’s not the end of Sharkey’s story – not by a long shot… In the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s humorous Sailor Steve Costigan boxing tales, this action-packed collection of rowdy, bawdy, burlesque, tall Texas tales feature Sailor Tom Sharkey’s adventures after he hung up his professional gloves.
Thrill to Sharkey’s brush with Hollywood’s “It” Girl, Clara Bow… Get chills as Sharkey and Kid McCoy faces down a maniacal bandit… Feel the heat as Sharkey rides the rails with Jim Jeffries and the Vaudeville Carnival into a clashes with a mad scientists and mummified menaces… Watch as Sharkey plays Santa Claus to a bunch of Tammany Hall orphans and end up with a tiger by the tail – literally – and much more!
These are the Untold Tales of the Wildest Tale-Teller of Boxing’s Golden Age!
G’day folks! It’s been a long time coming but I am proud to announce that Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction is now available in both paperback and eBook. This collection of wild pulp tales features my story Honor of the Legion, featuring French Foreign Legionnaire Mace Bullard, a man with no past and little chance of surviving the future. Join Bullard as he battles scimitar wielding Berbers, machine-gun toting Nazis, and tangles with the mysterious Sin Queen of Marrakech.
Here’s a brief snippet to whet your appetite.
François Mesmer was considered the Legion strongman. He was a mountain of muscle at six-foot-four tall, and impossibly broad shouldered. As he galloped back to camp at dusk, he looked a sight. Although his horse was a full sized muscular Arabian stallion, it looked like a Shetland pony carrying his great bulk.
He quickly dismounted and approached Sergent Mace Bullard who was leading the patrol, and currently seated around a campfire with four other Legionnaires. Bullard stood as Mesmer approached. The big man removed his kepi brimmed hat and flicked back his blond hair from his sweat soaked brow.
“Sir, eight riders are approaching,” Mesmer blurted, struggling for breath.
“Do you think they are trouble?” Bullard asked.
Mesmer didn’t answer the question directly. “They have a man with them, tied over his horse. I do not know if he is dead or alive … He’s wearing a Legion uniform.”
The hairs on Bullard’s neck stood up. “A Legionnaire, you say?”
“Well, let’s give them a welcome.”
Bullard called his men to attention and outlined his plan.
The sun had set as the Berbers rode in. They rode in slowly, warily. Each of them was dressed identically, wearing a black djellaba with a yellow sash. The leader of the small band of cutthroats peered through the dim light at the camp site before him.
He felt uneasy.
The camp looked deserted, but there was something strange about it. The fire was still smoking, having only been recently extinguished. Then there were the horses. Six of them were tied together and standing nearby. If the occupants of the camp had moved on, surely they would have taken their horses.
The leader called his men to a halt with a hand gesture. He dropped down from his mount, and moved cautiously toward the fire. The boot prints around the site were fresh. The desert winds had not had time to obliterate them.
He was about to order his men to be on guard, when the sand before him erupted. Bullard had been hiding in the sand covered by a tarpaulin. It was an old Bedouin trick he had learned.
Caught by surprise, the cutthroats were slow to reach their weapons. Bullard shot the leader with his sidearm, and then sprang forward yelling, “En avant, la Legion!”
His men answered his call and swept down from the dunes, firing as they went. One of the Berbers produced a large curved scimitar and slashed at Bullard. The Legionnaire leaped backward as the blade zinged past at head height. As the marauder swung again, in mid stroke, he cried out in pain, dropping the sword and clutching at his bloody wrist. Mesmer, high on one of the dunes, had a smoking rifle in his hand.
“Merci,” Bullard yelled, acknowledging his compatriot.
The marauder scuttled forward, and retrieved the sword with his other hand. Clearly, he would rather die than surrender. Bullard was happy to oblige. Almost with a tinge of regret, he raised his pistol and pulled the trigger, putting the brigand down for good.
The battle was over in less than a minute. Bullard moved past the bodies of the cutthroats to the packhorse with the Legionnaire draped over it. The man hadn’t moved at all during the entire skirmish, and Bullard surmised the Legionnaire was dead. That in itself was strange. Why were the riders transporting a dead body?
Bullard raised the man’s head and stared at the face.
“I know this man,” he said, as he peered into the lifeless eyes.
Bishop & Hancock’s Pulse Fiction Volume 1 is available from Amazon.
Challenge of the Lady Ninja is a difficult film to describe because it refuses to explain itself. Not that any film should have to spoon feed an audience, but in this instance it almost comes across as if they were making the story up as they were going along. But let’s see if I can put the pieces together. Firstly, it is a contemporary film, meaning it appears to be set in the year that is was made – being 1982. I know this because the villains drive around in modern motor cars. Next point, Japan has invaded China, and now controls Shanghai. However there is an underground resistance of freedom fighters who are rebelling against the Japanese oppressors. So Chinese / Japanese animosity is at an all time high.
As the movie opens in Shanghai, we meet the villain of the piece, Lee Tung. We know he is the villain, because Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars plays when we see him first. Lee Tung lives in a luxurious villa, with high walls and four specialist bodyguards – skilled at various martial arts.
Lee Tung is a Chinese business man but is reviled because he works hand in hand with the Japanese, He is considered a traitor to his people. His uncle, and prospective father-in-law calls on Lee Tung and begs him to change his ways. Lee Tung refuses. Uncle has no option but to try and kill Lee Tung. But before he can strike, he is cut down by the body guards.
The movie changes location to Japan, and we are introduced to Yu Chow Wei. She is at ninja school, and the time has come for her to prove she is worthy of being a ninja by passing a series of tests. Wearing a fire-engine red ninja costume, during the test she is attacked by the other ninja students as she tries to make it through a forest to a temple where she must retrieve a medallion. It is during this test, we are introduced to Miss Wu’s special ninja power – which I have got to say is kinda goofy! Surrounded by a cadre of ninja men holding swords, with a Linda Carter Wonder Woman twirl, she magically appears as a smokin’ hot bikini babe. The ninja men go all slack jawed and goggle-eyed. They drop their weapons and rush forward to… well, I guess some kind of ninja gang-bang. Thankfully before the movie gets all rapey, it is revealed that the smokin’ hot babe shtick is all an illusion planted in their minds. She is standing to the side, still dressed in her ninja costume. She throws a smoke bomb at the ninjas who are groping thin air. Then she continues her quest.
Her last challenge is against the number one pupil at the ninja school. He is guarding the medallion. If she gets past him, she will become the first lady ninja. She does succeed by outwitting him. However, he thinks she is unworthy of being a ninja for two reasons. Firstly, because she is a woman. And secondly, because – shock horror – she is Chinese!
At graduation, Miss Yu is informed of her father’s death. If you haven’t worked it out, she is the first cousin of Lee Tung (and his fiance). It was her father that was killed in the opening scene. So now equipped with freshly minted ninja skills, she heads back to Shanghai for her father’s funeral, and naturally to avenge him – because she is a ninja!
Upon arrival back home, Miss Yu finds things are worse than she though in Shanghai. She decides to train three other women in the art of ninja-ism so they can take down Lee Tung and his Japanese lackeys. This provides the opportunity for a training montage as the ladies get into shape – and it must be said, it contains a studied amount of leering, upskirt, crotch-shot photography. I always like to use the words upskirt, crotch-shot where possible in my film reviews because it helps the blog attract more traffic. While I am at it, I would just like to add naked, nude and porn. They have little to do with the movie, but once again will increase the amount of hits this post receives. But the film does have boobies though, so there’s that. But where was I? Actually I think I’ve finished. So let’s wrap this up.
So the rebels, with the assistance of four lady ninjas take on Lee Tung and his bodyguards. Ninja mayhem ensues – swordfights, smokebombs and er, mud wrestling! Despite any veneer of being a cheesy sleazy ninja flick, Challenge of the Lady Ninja actually turns out to be a cheesy sleazy spy flick, complete with a twist ending (which I have to admit I did not see coming).
Needless to say, this film is not for everyone. But let’s face it, the name Challenge of the Lady Ninja tells the viewer everything they need to know. Ninjas. Ladies. And it’s relative obscurity means you’re not going to accidentally pick this film up. You’d have to seek this one out, and if you’re the type to seek out a cheap-jack Hong Kong film called Challenge of the Lady Ninja, then you know what your in for before you even start watching it. Therefore my thumbs up or thumbs down opinion is pointless really. But let’s just say the overall goofiness of the film won me over in a guilty pleasure kind of way.
For a more in-depth review with screencaps, head over to TarsTarkas.net
You can find out more about the Kickstarter campaign and the associated perks by clicking here.
Country: United Kingdom
Director: Don Sharp
Starring: Robert Powell, David Warner, John Mills, Eric Porter, Karen Dotrice, George Baker, William Squire, Timothy West
Based on the novel by John Buchan
Because Alfred Hitchcock’s version of The 39 Steps is considered one of the greatest movies of all time – a point of view that I fully concur with, this version of The Thirty Nine Steps is often written off as rubbish, or as an un-necessary remake. Nothing could be further from the truth. Firstly, it is not rubbish – it’s actually a finely crafted thriller that had me riveted from beginning to end. And secondly, it is not a remake. Hitchcock didn’t adhere too closely to John Buchan’s novel. This film, while it too takes its artistic liberties, is a far more faithful rendering of Buchan’s novel.
The film opens with a brief message on the screen. It says, ‘Early in 1914 a coded cable was sent from a European power to a house in West London. Decoded it read: LET THE SLEEPERS AWAKE’.
In London three men are meeting on a boat on the Thames. One man is Scudder (John Mills) and he is a secret agents. He has gathered information that suggests that a political leader in the Balkans is about to be assassinated. This assassination is only the tip of the tentacle, as this murder is intended as a prelude to war. The two men that Scudder is reporting to are Lord Harkness (William Squire) and Sir Hugh Portan (Timothy West). Both men agree that war is coming but not for some time. They dismiss Scudder’s theories as wild and unsubstantiated.
On the shore, watching discreetly is Sir Edmund Appleton (David Warner). Appleton, despite his upper class veneer is actually a Prussian spy. Gathered around he has assembeled a band of cronies who have to silence Scudder. And now that he has told Harkness and Portan they are targets too. As Scudder’s meeting with Harkness and Portan comes to end, he leaves the boat. Waiting for him is one of Appleton’s assassin’s but he cannot take a clean shot due to a particularly thick pea-soup fog.
Appleton decides to take care of Harkness personally and meets him as he walks home that evening. As they walk, Appleton pulls a knife from his cane and stabs Harkness.
The next day, Scudder reads about Harkness’ death in the newspaper and rushes to warn Portan, but he only gets close enough to witness his assassination. The unusual thing about the killing, is the second before Portan was shot, Appleton grabs his arm, holding him in place. Scudder sees Appleton and realises he is behind the plot. Scudder scurries off into the crowd and heads back to his apartment.
Appleton is no fool and sends two men to Scudders apartment and they arrive as Scudder is trying to leave. With the stairs blocked and no way to go down, he chooses to go up and knock on the door of the gentleman upstairs. This gentleman happens to be Richard Hannay (Robert Powell). Scudder tells his story and Hannay gives him sanctuary for the night.
The following morning, Hannay has to leave Scudder. Hannay is on his way to South Africa and has a train to catch. He leaves Scudder in his apartment, but it doesn’t take long for the Prussian agents to work out where he has been hiding. They come for him. Scudder escapes via the fire escape window and makes his way to the train station. As he makes his way onto the crowded platform, he spots Hannay and calls to him. Hannay turns and comes to meet him, but in the few metres between then, one of the Prussian agents catches up to Scudder and sticks a knife in his back. Scudder falls forward into Hannay’s arms. As he falls he tries to pass over a diary with important information about the assassination plot, but the diary falls to the ground and then is unwittingly kicked under a set of scales by a passer-by.
Hannay tends to Scudder and as he turns him over, notices the knife in his back. That too, is when the bystanders on the train platform notice that Scudder is dead. All they see is Hannay standing over a dead man with a knife in his back. They falsely believe that Hannay is the murderer. It’s not an isolated view either. Hannay is taken into police custody, and without the diary as evidence, he is quickly tried and sentenced for murder. His penalty is to be hung by the neck until dead.
As Hannay is being transported from the court, Appleton’s Prussian agents rescue him at gunpoint and spirit him away to Appleton’s palatial headquarters. Appleton enquires about the whereabouts of Scudder’s diary. Hannay claims to have no knowledge of the diary. Appleton almost believes him, but still has him locked away. But he makes it rather easy for Hannay to escape. Hannay needs Scudder’s diary to prove his innocence, so Appleton assume that if Hannay were free, he would search for the diary.
In time, Hannay does escape, and Appleton has his men discreetly follow Hannay who returns to the train station and starts searching high and low for the missing diary. From there on it begins to fall into line with other filmic incarnations of the tale – that is, until the climax, which I won’t spoil here – but the film posters tend to give a lot away.
The Thirty Nine Steps is a brilliant old-fashioned thriller. Sure the politics at the start are a little confusing but they don’t really matter. This is first and foremost a chase film, and this film provides one hell of a chase, culminating in a spectacular climax with Richard Hannay dangling from one of the hands of the Big Ben clock face. This film may not have the same reputation as Alfred Hitchcock’s version, but it is still a film well worth investing your time in.