Jonathan Herovit is a lecherous, scotch-soaked author of over 90 pulpy science-fiction novels written under t**spoiler alert** pulpaweek.blogspot.com
Jonathan Herovit is a lecherous, scotch-soaked author of over 90 pulpy science-fiction novels written under the pseudonym of Kirk Poland. As Herovit's World kicks off, our protagonist is at the yearly cocktail party for the New League For Science-Fiction Professionals.
As usual, Herovit desperately tries (and finally succeeds) to lay one of the young female SF enthusiasts in attendance as a distraction from his home life, which is spiraling out of his control. Faced with his wife Janice’s post-partum depression, his own burgeoning alcohol problem, and an overdue novel that he has no desire to write, Herovit begins to hallucinate that his pseudonym is speaking to him and wants to take over his life.
As the pressure builds—his wife makes overtures at leaving him, constant threatening calls from his agent, plus a period of impotence— Herovit’s conversations with Kirk Poland (and even some of the characters from his many novels) become more and more vivid and conversative.
This is a very nervous novel, which plays to author Barry Malzberg's strengths, and, naturally, entire chapters are dedicated to awkward and unfulfilling sexual activity because old Barry is a pervert of the first degree.
Roughly halfway through the novel (right next to the full color Kent Cigarettes ad!), pseudonym Kirk Poland offers to completely take over his life and “clean up the mess” that Herovit has created. After a dark period of drunken introspection and intense anxiety, Herovit finally succumbs to the pressure, relinquishing his life to his alter-ego.
Kirk Poland has trouble adjusting to his new reality after so many years of insubstantiality, but the new man is not without an agenda. First, he burns the manuscript that has been festering on Herovit's typewriter in order to start fresh with some new material.
Secondly, Poland intends to give Herovit's wife Janice “a good fuck” to set her straight, but since he is technically a virgin he finds it prudent to practice on a prostitute, which leads to my favorite passage from this dirty little novel:
“He pours virtually yards and yards of seed into the prostitute, feeling them uncoil within, whole ropes of sperm flung from the ship of self (he must save that phrase for use someday), and he uses these ropes to clamber toward some sense of self-discovery.” (106)
Unfortunately for Poland, Janice is already on her way out the door when he gets home from his tryst, hoping to dump the baby and bills on him. Kirk bemoans that he “came into the sequence too late” and drinks himself into a stupor. When he awakens, thoroughly defeated, ready to renounce his newfound reality, he is greeted by Mack, the hard-nosed alien hater and protagonist of his Survey Team series. Mack gladly enters the shell that was once Herovit to set things right by murdering all those damn aliens that fouled it up for him in the first place.
Herovit's World really wasn't all that terrible. The nervous energy Malzberg creates is almost palpable in its intensity, and Jonathan Herovit reminded me of many of the loathsome characters you can find in any Irvine Welsh novel. I would definitely recommend this over the god-awful Sodom and Gomorrah Business if you really wanted to pick up a trashy Malzberg novel. ...more
Oh man, where to start? This novel is even viler than Norman's Gor series, which is saying quite a bit. I think I will spare you most of my thoughts on this piece of shit and give you a synopsis.
Dr. Brenda Hamilton—mathematician, feminist, bombshell—accepts a job under false pretense from Herjellsen, an octogenarian who definitely fulfills the 'mad scientist' archetype. It isn't until Hamilton has been at Herjellsen's Rhodesian compound for a few weeks that she discovers the madman is actually working on time travel, and that she is both a prisoner and one of the subjects about to be sent back in time.
This all sounds pretty standard, and it is, but right around page 50 is when Norman starts in with his bizarre dom-sub philosophies, so the whole story becomes murky. Before Hamilton can be sent back to the distant past (in the hopes that she will join a group of Cro-mags), her will must be broken by Herjellsen's lackeys until she is deemed ready for the submissive, slave-like existence that awaits her.
Here’s the old crank's explanation to Hamilton before he shoves her into a box for a one-way trip to the Stone Age:
“’You must understand,' said Herjellsen, ‘that if you were transmitted as a modern woman, irritable, sexless, hostile, competitive, hating men, your opportunities or survival might be considerably less.’" (111)
Hamilton’s mission? To turn ancient mankind's eyes to the stars so that space travel hurries along, allowing Herjellsen to partake in exploration of the galaxy, of course! Why Hamilton? Because she was the sexiest virgin they could find on such short notice, plus chaining up learned feminists is apparently the hobby of Herjessen's second in command, Gunther. It only took a few pages for the man to get his results:
"’I'm a prisoner,’ she said. ‘I want to be fucked like a prisoner, used!’” (63)
Time Slave wouldn't be a John Norman book if women didn't revel in their captivity, which brings us to the middle of the book, where things get real. Brenda Hamilton, transported to an unfamiliar time, is naked and running through the forest with a leopard in pursuit when she runs into Tree, a red blooded Cro-Magnon hunter.
At page 143 is the first (of many, very unfortunate) rape scenes in Time Slave. Some go on for pages, none are really necessary. The next 100 pages chronicle Brenda's transformation from a (caricature of) a fully realized woman to a whimpering, sex-obsessed slave. Of course, this being a John Norman novel, she revels in this change and feels that she has finally become a 'true woman':
“For the first time in her life she felt the fantastic sentience of an owned, loving female... She had just begun, under the hands of a primeval hunter, to learn the capacities of her femaleness.” (220)
The most unfortunate aspect of Time Slave is that there are, in fact, portions of the book about Stone Age man that aren't just a vehicle for Norman’s weirdo sexual philosophies, and they are actually pretty good. Plenty of action, along with the intricate detail devoted to each tribe's unique culture, plus some cool flora and fauna (cave bears!) could have been enough for a decent story in themselves.
Regrettably, more than half of this novel is lent to Norman's BDSM leanings, which involves a repetitive, preachy tone because the man is literally trying to convert you.
Time Slave is an interesting example of the sleazy underbelly of 70s SF, but I can't really recommend it on any other level....more
Appearing from the remote future, Nexx Central agent Ravel is emplaced in America, circa 1936. His mission: to undo successive tamperings of the timeAppearing from the remote future, Nexx Central agent Ravel is emplaced in America, circa 1936. His mission: to undo successive tamperings of the time stream which threaten the survival of Mankind. He falls in love with a lovely, simple girl, Lisa, but in the midst of his happiness is called away to Dinosaur Beach.
Dinosaur Beach is a Nexx Central station located millions of years in the past, in the Jurassic Age. but shortly after Ravel's arrival, the station is attacked and destroyed, and Ravel begins a terrifying odyssey through time. For the attackers were another time-tampering team from still a different future era. And Ravel himself is not only in growing danger but the human world as we know it... -The (poorly written) back cover
DAW Books UQ1021. Published 1971. 151 pages. 95c cover price.
Laumer starts Dinosaur Beach off strong with time-sweep agent Ravel abruptly awakening from a hypnotic state as a sleeper agent, which involved a happy marriage, to eliminate a rogue cyborg in the 'distant past' of 1936. Mission accomplished, our protagonist is zipped back to the Jurassic in order to have his memory wiped and a new personality laid over ita procedure Ravel is looking forward to since the wound from leaving his dear wife is still raw and painful.
Right around this point in the novel, which isn't too far in, I noticed the many this storys many inconsistencies. Granted, picking apart time travel yarns is a hobby in itself, particularly for the losers that flock to the SF genre (like myself). However, Dinosaur Beach had far too many to list in this little blog. E.g.: If Nexx Central is attempting to clean up numerous generations of abuse from the past, why destroy an anachronistic (for 1936) piece of technology like a cyborg, only to leave all of its parts for the natives to discover? Why are Nexx Central agents eating baby stegosaur and partying on the beach millions of years ago when their mission is to leave behind no trace? Laumer just doesnt make an effort to make the story logical, so after about 50 pages, I decided I wouldnt concern myself with paradoxes and plot holes.
Concerns about plausibility ditched, Dinosaur Beachbecomes more enjoyable, but it still has its issues. A love story that takes up a good chunk of the book is tossed aside for a lukewarm 'twist' at the end, and the result is that the little emotional impact the novel was striving for falls flat. Likewise, the time travel itself takes us to very few exotic locales in favor of vague 'null spaces,' plus different variations of the titular beach that Ravel on which keeps finding himself stranded.
Im intrigued by the short story The Time Sweepers on which this novel was based, as I think Dinosaur Beach could be much more memorable if boiled down to a 30 page story about killing robots in the Jurassic. Maybe move the party to the Cretaceous so a T-Rex can crash it? Make that a cyborg T-Rex with lasers firing out of its little vestigial arms and now youre cooking with gas!
Altogether, this ended up being a filler week. Sorry guys!
When the curiously exotic millionaress Klai Ford started telling him about ghosts in a uranium mine, Sawyer knew he better be ready for anything in hiWhen the curiously exotic millionaress Klai Ford started telling him about ghosts in a uranium mine, Sawyer knew he better be ready for anything in his investigations. But he didn't count on being drawn into a passage between dimensions and tossed adrift in a world of islands floating in the sky, where strange brutelike creatures were attacking the cities in a vast struggle for power. Lost in the new [missing section] realized that the key to [missing section] mysterious Well of the Worlds [missing section] the future of the universe [missing section] secret. -The back cover, which is pretty damn mangled.
Ace Books F-344, published 1952. 40c cover price. 142 pages.
The old Ace Books from the 50s and 60s have been a lot of fun in my experience, andThe Well of the Worldsdoes not disappoint. Set in the (then) very near future of 1953, the story begins in fictional city of Fortuna, which is located at one of our planet's poles (Kuttner doesn't specify). The Earth's poles were discovered to be loaded with uranium, so Fortuna is a boom town with an economy centered on the lucrative mining of the radioactive substance.
Clifford Sawyer, an agent of the Royal Atomic Energy Commission (by Toronto), is sent to investigate the bizarre allegations being made by Klai Ford, who inherited her large section of the mine only a few months ago under strange circumstances. Klai tells Sawyer a panicky story about how the mine has been overrun by ghosts, and that she believes the man who owns the rest of the mine, William Alper (total rich guy name), is trying to kill her.
Sawyer is, of course, skeptical of such a bizarre story, but he becomes a true believer when Alper surgically implants a kill switch into his brain, divulges that he has been communicating with an inter-dimensional being, then get the three of them sucked into said other dimension. All of this takes place within the first 30 pages!
This is why we can't have nice things! The remaining 100 pages ofthe Well of the Worldstake place on an alternate Earth where humanity is enslaved by the nearly immortal, serpentine, and extremely pretentious Isier. In this second phase of the book, Kuttner's imagery almost reaches the limits of the surreal, as the alternate dimension he paints is vividly colored and extremely ornate. The story meanders here and there, but the action is taut and Sawyer is an interesting character whose hand in the human uprising kept me interested throughout.
I would highly recommend this novel to those interested in SF from this time period. This is one well-written book that abandons many formulaic tropes for excellent storytelling and plenty of adventure.The Well of the Worlds effortlessly captures the sense of wonder that many genre books of the 1950's sought to capture, and I am glad to have stumbled upon it in a musty book reseller in Houston.
The computer projections left no room for doubt- in seven weeks, so many of Earth's people would have gone murderously ma“Forty-Nine days to Doomsday—
The computer projections left no room for doubt- in seven weeks, so many of Earth's people would have gone murderously mad that civilization would collapse beyond any possibility of recovery. There was no known cause for the outbreak of insanity, and only dilettante Elias Kane had as much as a hunch about its origin. With his giant alien servant Pendrake, Kane was prepared to risk his life to solve the riddle of the plague of psychosis- but first he had to evade the madness of the planet he hoped to save!” -The Back Cover
Copyright 1978, published by Dell SF. $1.75 cover price.252 pages.
The Psychopath Plague kicks off in an underwater casino as the novel's protagonist Elias Kane gambles with a recently received inheritance. After a year of living in a shack and brewing his own beer, Kane has relocated to a lavish suite. Within the first ten pages, he wins the services of Pendrake, whom he frees outright, after which Kane loses his fortune by playing what seemed to be a futuristic version of Risk.
Pendrake is a Cephantine, a race known for its honesty, servility, and for possessing incredible strength, bizarrely coupled with an extreme distaste for violence. The Chirpones, a race of penguin-like aliens that are so instinctually fearful of predators that they often die of fear if a human being so much as touches them, have recently begun trading entertainment technology with Earth and are introduced a few pages later. Pendrake informs Elias about the Psychopath Plague, a disease that makes even the most reasonable person murderously violent at the smallest frustration, after the ex-slave’s previous owner makes an attempt on their lives.
There are numerous galactic suspects, as most of the galaxy views humanity as a barbaric menace, but Kane focuses on two—the human colonies of the solar system detest ‘Earthies' and think of them as soft and frivolous, but rely upon the foodstuffs they create for survival. The Chirpones, although seemingly innocent and benign, came into the galactic scene immediately before the plague began. Elias Kane is tasked with discovering who is behind the Psychopath Plague, if anyone, and finding a way to stop it if possible, which involves a lot of planet hopping and galactic intrigue.
The Psychopath Plague is a decent little story, but its attempts at fusing mystery and science fiction are clumsy and full of tropes. Inside this short novel you will find vague space travel technology, numerous humanoid aliens with very human habits and desires, a red herring suspect, and worst of the entire last chapter: a 'parlor-room' scene where Elias lays out exactly how he unraveled the mystery.
This book was entertaining at times, frustrating at others, and fluff throughout. Nothing spectacular here, bring on the next book!
Into the time machine plunges Jomo, the black militant leader of BURN. "Revolution then" is his motto; he's going to rearrange history so th“Right On!
Into the time machine plunges Jomo, the black militant leader of BURN. "Revolution then" is his motto; he's going to rearrange history so the blacks get a fair shake- or, preferably, world dominance.
But in another area of time, rabble-rousing white supremacist Billy Roy Whisk is also at work—fixing history so the slaves are never freed.
Worlds spin in and out of existence, and through the paradoxes of time, one black man is pursuing Jomo and Whisk, trying to stop them before their experiments wipe out the world—forever” -The Back Cover
'A black militant, a white supremacist, and a time travel device tangle in a fight to rewrite history and eternity!' -The Front Cover
1970 printing by Paperback Library. 60c cover price. 171 pages.
It's fair to assume that Black in Time is a Blaxploitation novel, even though its 1970 printing predates that cinema craze, but this assumption does it a (slight) injustice. John Jakes' book, set in the (at the time) near future of 1977, focuses more on how historical events culminated in the racial tension of 1960's America's than the time paradoxes and constant action alluded to by the back cover.
Well, there are a few small paradoxes to be unraveled in the story, but they take backseat to a string of frenetic vignettes set in the distant past, plus loads and loads of dialogue. The characters in Black in Time love to prattle on about how justified their cause is in extremely ignorant but nonetheless entertaining and colorful rhetoric. At one point, Whisk declares he is going back in time to assassinate 'Martin Luther Coon' (Page 150), to give you an example of how outrageous the conversation can be.
Black in Time, being a temporal yarn, is oftentimes not sequential, so a synopsis could be a spoiler-heavy mess. Nonetheless, here goes:
Harold is a young assistant professor who has been hand-picked by the Freylinghausen Foundation to utilize their vague time nexus in order to study, but never manipulate, certain eras of time. Doctor Freylinghausen had labored his whole life, keeping the knowledge of time travel to himself, until he could independently fund his foundation to keep it out of the hands of any government that would inevitably abuse it. Harold finds himself caught up in the racial struggle between Jomo, self appointed leader of BURN (Brothers United for Revolution Now), and Reverend Billy Roy Whisk of the All-American Apostolic Fellowship of the USA. These two groups have obvious real world counterparts, but in this story, both are more militant and set for immediate, all out war. Whisk and Jomo alike are looking to make their respective races completely dominant by using Harold and the Freylinghausen Nexus. Oh yeah, and they each have very busty girlfriends who follow them around and back up their ideologies when needed, making it even more obvious that Jomo and Whisk are racial parallels.
The story isn't all moral outrage and bluster, though, as it does attempt to tackle the often raised questions regarding race and time travel. Harold spends the first half of the book being blackmailed to help either one of these maniacs, and the second half using his knowledge of time travel and history to stop them from killing Ben Franklin, Mohammed, and baby Richard Pryor. (OK, I made that last one up.)
Unfortunately almost all of the plans devised by the two opposing racialists involve assassination, so this novel gets repetitive pretty quickly in its second half, the only exceptions being a few obscure historical references. Jakes' obviously did his research when looking for times and locales into which he could weave his story, foreshadowing his eventual jump into historical fiction in his subsequent work.
In the end, Black in Time is just trashy enough to kill mainstream appeal but not trashy enough to garner a weirdo cult following, leaving it in pulp novel limbo.
Oh yeah, don’t read Black in Time if you cringe after reading a few N-bombs. Its usage is abundant, to say the least.
“Tiana crosses swords with demons, barbarians, vampire nuns!
On a quest to find her lost brother, Tiana of Reme, foster daughter of a pirate captain, v“Tiana crosses swords with demons, barbarians, vampire nuns!
On a quest to find her lost brother, Tiana of Reme, foster daughter of a pirate captain, ventures on a dangerous journey toward her greatest challenge- the Battle of the Wizards!” –The back cover
“Tiana, warrior supreme, sails her pirate ship on a perilous quest through the mists of alien lands!” –The front cover
Copyright 1978 by Pocket Books (this is a later publication but no date is given inside). $2.50 cover price. 189 pages.
Demon in the Mirror packs a lot of sexy, sexy action in less than two hundred pages. This book is very reminiscent of Robert E. Howard's dark fantasy novels, which makes a lot of sense given that Offutt penned half a dozen or so Conan novels in the seventies and eighties. Plenty of detail is given when it comes to A) Tiara's heaving bosom, B) visceral gore, and C) the combination of the two. Here are some examples:
“Bloodstains marred her garb now, but she smiled. The clothing had been calculated; Tiana knew well her looks, and she well knew men. She'd been much on display, and, if those fool Narokans had chosen to gape at her body when they should have been plying their swords, why then that was their problem.” (11)
“Maltar's opague black eyes roamed the lovely figure, but with the dispassionate interest of a farmer inspecting a pig on slaughter day. Those exquisitely formed features, the rounded thighs crowding her snug short breeks, the full perfect breasts so displayed—all, he knew comprised a death trap.” (90)
“The dressmaker was more than expert, and she commanded a small army of seamstresses. In a few hours, Tiana was arrayed in a lovely gown of scintillant green silk. She loved it, not merely because its beauty enhanced hers, but because it was intelligently made... She particularly admired the exhibition the gown afforded her fullformed breasts.” (160)
There you go: approximately 5% of the allusions to Tiana's “perfect body” made in Demon In the Mirror. Luckily, the novel isn't entirely romance fluff. Offutt and Lyon craft a well-executed and somewhat interesting plot behind all the breasts and dismemberment. Like many “low fantasy” novels, Demon In the Mirror features a group of plotting wizards who send Tiana and her crew on a series of dire quests that will require both cunning and swordplay to accomplish.
In order to find the whereabouts of her missing brother, Tiana must seek out the dismembered and scattered pieces of the immortal and pretty damn evil sorcerer Lamarred. After the initial few set-up chapters, the remainder of the novel is a violent scavenger hunt during which the reader gets to watch Tiana bounce and jiggle her way around a vivid fantasy world, outsmarting (and usually killing) anyone or anything who gets in her way. At one point, a completely naked Tiana 'slays' a VAMPIRE NUN. Actually, she kills quite a few monsters and bandits while completely in the buff, typically after she has been captured and tied up…
I approve of this book. Bring on the rest of the scantily clad trilogy!