(Note: this review originally appeared on Amazon.com)
RIDIN' THE RAILS WITH DILLON
It's been a while since I've reviewed anything: writing my own stuff,...more(Note: this review originally appeared on Amazon.com)
RIDIN' THE RAILS WITH DILLON
It's been a while since I've reviewed anything: writing my own stuff, work, and real-life stuff has kept me from working too much on reading and other fun extracurricular activities. I hope to be returning to reviewing now, and a great place for me to start again would be DILLON AND THE LAST RAIL TO KHUSRA.
To those unfamiliar with Derrick Ferguson's mercenary, Dillon is a jack-of-all-trades with a mysterious past and an infectious, boisterous style. One of the New Pulp movement's highest-profile characters, he's a good fit among characters like Doc Savage and more modern adventurers like Dirk Pitt. Dillon, as I've said before, is the kind of guy that you'll end up experiencing hair-raising adventures with every time he's around, yet you look forward to the crazy rides and good times when he's not.. LAST RAIL TO KHUSRA is a hell of a bite-sized introduction to the man and his world, and it can be enjoyed in one rapid-fire sitting.
As the story begins, Dillon is playing a friendly game of poker with other mercenaries in a North African territory so conflicted that warring factions change names by the hour. Dillon's introduction is a very cinematic reveal, and this betrays Ferguson's love of film and its influence on his writing very well. After Dillon departs from his temporary comrades, he encounters a lone woman and a little girl as they are accosted by thugs in an alley. Dillon saves them, and suddenly finds himself the protector of the girl, revealed to be a very special princess. Dillon's mission: to escort the princess and her entourage to Khusra. They're travelling by rail (obvious in the title), and what follows is a classic action-on-a-train adventure worthy of classics like FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Oh, and those mercenaries from earlier in the tale? They come back to haunt dillon and his charges with a vengeance and a thorn in their sides...
The action is fast-paced and packed with characters and exposition that don't slow the speeding train down for a second. It all leads up to a climax (actually a series of climaxes) that'll put you on the edge of your seat and leave you there until it's all over. And I'm not kidding or over-hyping it: there is a train crash here that's one of the best disaster film sequences ever set to paper.
If you're new to Dillon, or new to New Pulp in general, then snatch this one up. And if you're already a Dillon fan, what are you waiting for? You know you're gonna be in for a good time.(less)
In "Blood of the Centipede", Chuck Miller takes us further into the mythos he's created with his many an...more(This review originally appears on Amazon.com)
In "Blood of the Centipede", Chuck Miller takes us further into the mythos he's created with his many and varied characters, specifically the enigmatic Black Centipede. There really isn't a character (or a series) like this in New Pulp, and Miller has really stirred up an unexpected brew pieced together from his varied influences and his own creativity. To describe the Black Centipede to a first-timer is tricky, but it goes a little something like this: take a pulp vigilante with an occult bent (kind of like a more mystical version of The Shadow), throw him into a Farmerian world of interconnected figures & events both real and fictional, add a wry dollop of William Burroughs, and stir. Then watch the chaos and fun happen. It's a refreshing, heady, and addictive mix, and it's never boring.
"Encouraged" to take a break after the events of the first Black Centipede novel, our hero is saddled with a mysterious "assistant" in the form of Amelia Earhart as he travels to Hollywood to oversee the production of the upcoming Black Centipede B-movie. Once there, things begin to get seriously weird as the 'Pede is stalked by a strange gas-masked creature known as the Black Centipede Eater and her master, the mysterious White Centipede. Also introduced is a new vigilante in the form of the Blue Candiru (I know: "The Blue what?" I said that too... look it up. Ouch). Not everything is as it seems, and the rabbit hole goes deeper than originally thought. Everything leads to a confrontation with a hideous evil force in a battle which answers as many questions as it asks new ones. There's an exciting, creepy, and often surprisingly hilarious good time in this book.
Should new readers read Miller's first Centipede novel, "Creeping Dawn", in order to be able to enjoy this one? I don't think so. However, at times the mix of characters, places, and references in "Blood of the Centipede" get almost too heady. Just when things get too thick, Miller reels us back in a bit so it shouldn't be too overwhelming to new readers. However, reading "Creeping Dawn" first should help untangle some of the strands. That first book is also highly recommended.
Many writers in New Pulp (including myself) could be (and sometimes are) accused of rehashing or retreading old pulp tropes. And there's really nothing wrong with that: pulp cliches are pure fun. Chuck Miller is one of those writers who could not be accused of doing that, however. The intricate tapestry he's weaving for us in his tales are truly unique and are not to be missed.(less)
It's another epic outing for Dillon and friends, and I've yet to be disappointed. Derrick Ferguson has crafted...more(This review also appears on Amazon.com)
It's another epic outing for Dillon and friends, and I've yet to be disappointed. Derrick Ferguson has crafted a New Pulp character who has not only staying power, but crossover potential as well, meaning that even folks who don't get into pulp could appreciate the series as much as diehard fans of the genre. I also mean "crossover potential" in the other definition as well. Seriously: Dillon can and should cross over into other mediums, like film, and he would rock them.
The plot is a pseudo-sequel to "Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell", but readers who didn't check that book out (but they should!) won't get lost. The tale centers around the growth of piracy in the waters surrounding the island-nation of Xonira, a land that was founded by pirates itself. A mysterious group asks Dillon to investigate, since they believe that Dillon's old friend (and Xonira's leader) Lord Chancellor C'Jai is in on the piracy. Dillon agrees, and proceeds to sail into the adventure with a Diesel-powered sub full of motley friends and allies. When it hits the fan, it hits it hard and delivers thrills and action aplenty in the true Dillon tradition.
Ferguson consistently delivers quality, and he once again brings the goods here. One of the things I love about this series is the hints and suggestions of the wider scope of Dillon's "universe". The reader always gets hints about past adventures, future possibilities, and things going on elsewhere in the world within the books. It's things like this that make reading the Dillon books so much fun to read.
I don't have any complaints about the book. I wasn't happy originally with the introduction of Shon Pierri, who actually appeared before in the short story/comic "Dillon and the Escape from Tosegio". Shon is a young boy being schooled in the ways of a mercenary by his mother, Allie. Generally, I find children a distraction within fiction: they seem hard to write convincingly, and the more precocious they are the harder they are to portray. Shon really started to grow on me toward the end of the book, however, as he began to shine as Dillon's "boy wonder" sidekick. There were some really terrific set-pieces in the tale (my favorite concerning a certain pirate ship...), and Derrick's love of movies really sparkles in the action sequences. Also, this is the second time I've read a Dillon tale that had a perfect "end of a movie" feel: I kept expecting credits to roll over the closing scene, and this is a strangely satisfying way to end a book.
By all means, if you haven't checked out the Dillon series you should pick this (and the others) up. You won't be disappointed, and you'll be a fan in no time. Just don't forget the popcorn.(less)