Tag Archives: pulp

Sir Chimbo the Kung Fu Astro-Monkey

This is a rough timeline for an abolutely silly idea I have.

1935 Shanghai – Dr. Lin Ho, master of a number of disciplines both scientific and mystical, had a breakthrough in his efforts to project his essence into an animal. Intending to use this as a method to infiltrate Nazi and Communist forces, he instead granted a portion of his intelligence. Chi, and knowledge into a gibbon he’d been keeping as a companion. He had named the ape Chen Bo, but given the ape’s limited ability to speak, its nickname quickly became Chimbo.

The doctor spent the next five years teaching and refining Chimbo’s abilities. The conferred essence, intense exercises, and mixtures of medicinal and herbal treatments also increased his physical stature. His intelligence continued to grow as did his knowledge of languages and the mystic arts. He was able to fashion a necklace which gave his words a clarity which exceeded his physical limitations.

In early 1940, Dr. Lin shared with his friend that he’d been invited to a retreat in the mountains of Tibet. He assured Chimbo that he would return. Until then, he was sending the gibbon to England to study with old friends at Cambridge. While his studies were largely conducted in secret, it could not be helped that he would make friends.

Eventually, one such friend went to war and was captured on a secret mission. It was then that Chimbo was sent on his first secret mission. Several such successful missions followed, at least two resulting in saving members of the royal family. The Queen recognized his contribution to the war effort and granted him official citizenship and made him a knight.

Once the war was over, Chimbo went to America. Dr. Lin still hadn’t returned from his studies in Tibet, though the pair stayed in regular contact via astral projection. Joint missions with Americans in the last months of the war had given him contacts in the scientific community. Fascinated with rocketry, he was able to secure a position working with Wernher von Braun. A combination of Chimbo’s mystical and scientific skills along with the secrets von Braun brought with him from the Nazi’s own secret programs soon resulted in a ship capable of escaping the confines of the Earth.

Christened the Sun Wukong, the ship enabled up to five travelers to explore the inner solar system. Chimbo and his crew were among the first to encounter the Martians and thwart an invasion. An uneasy peace treaty was forged.

The crew of the Sun Wukong:
Paul Dirac – English physicist
Dr. Percy Juiian – American chemist.
Dr. Rachel Carson – american Biologist and writer
Amelia Earhart – pilot, rescued by Chimbo in the early forties from an island in the Pacific.

Review – Werewolves of Mass Destruction by Joshua Unruh (E-book)

werewolves Every once in a while I’ll see someone post about an indie author I’ve never heard of before. I was on Google plus a couple of days ago and just happened to see a share about a book called Werewolves of Mass Destruction by Joshua Unruh. The title, the price point, and that cover sold me in an instant. Did it live up to my expectations? Read on!

Verity Sooth, blogger of the bizarre, has a knack for finding weirdness and getting into trouble. So when she teams up with Ajax Stewart, Engineer of the Impossible, it can only be to battle an ageless Nazi Necromancer and his nihilistic cult.

But can even these two heroes thwart a beastly act of terror that may well end human life on Earth? And if they do, will Verity hit the story’s deadline?

Gripping Tales of the Impossible: Werewolves of Mass Destruction is the first in what will hopefully be many stories about Ajax Stewart, Engineer of the Impossible and Verity Sooth, Blogger of the Bizarre.

Approximately 15,000 words

The Goods – Werewolves? Check! Nazi mad science? Double check!! A muscular hero with amazing tech a la Doc Savage? TRIPLE CHECK!!! A smart ass and tough as hell female partner? QUADRUPLE CHECK!!!! This book had everything that a pulp fan like me could ask for. The writing was tight. The characters and situations were more than a little ridiculous. The action was pretty much non-stop. It had zombie-esque monsters strapped to jets with giant canons!!!!! There really isn’t any more to say.

The Bads – Really this is all YMMV stuff. I didn’t find any of this to be problematic for my enjoyment of the book (save for perhaps one thing. First of all, this is short. As the description says, it hits at about fifteen thousand words. That’s approximately thirty pages. So don’t go in expecting a novel. Second, there is a “damsel in distress”. I know that this is going to bother some of you. There were a couple of instances where she seemed a little too passive for my taste. To be fair, she does really try and in some cases she succeeds in self rescue. She also gets a few licks in, but she is more of a chronicler. The hero is also fairly old school. Apparently Ajax was a boyhood hero a la Tom Swift, and he’d gone off the radar somewhat.

I really wanted more depth from the two main characters. This feels like a setup for exactly that and I hope that in future adventures we’ll get it. I will indeed be picking up the next book when it becomes available. As I indicated with all of the exclamation points, it hit every button I had for this kind of thing and where it sputtered in a few places I am able to forgive. I give this four out of five “POW”s.

Josh’s Site
Josh’s Twitter

Review – Fables of the Flying City

Today I’m reviewing Fables of the Flying City by Jared Axelrod.

Synopsis: Ashe, a young woman from the streets of the flying city of Amperstam learns what it takes to be a member of the Aerial Guard, and finds herself at war with an invading empire and the rulers of the city she has sworn to protect!

Production: The audio here is very solid. Jared is a podcast pro. There’s no added production overhead.

Grade: B+

Cast: This is a straight read. Jared does most of it. There are a few episodes where he has a guest voice. All three voice actors do wonderful jobs with their segments. My favorite are the Hanner Gatling segments.

Grade: A

Story: This is a wonderful story. It’s a prequel for a graphic novel that will be coming out soon. He’s done a good job of setting up the world and characters. It has a very pulp, steampunk feel, but this isn’t just our world with gears tacked on. There’s some definite mystery here and this world is a different place than our own. Ashe, the protagonist is a wonderful character that we see grow and change, but as can happen from time to time, there’s an ancillary character that steals the show when she’s on stage: the afore mentioned Hanner Gatling. I’d kill for a Hanner-centric story.

Grade: A+

Verdict: This is a podcast to not be missed. I had the pleasure of being at the launch party at Balticon last year and I can say that it lived up to my own internal hype. Fair warning for those who don’t like short episodes, I think most of these clock in at about ten minutes each. Still, it’s done now so you can mainline it!

Grade: A

Review – Peace Lord of the Red Planet

This week’s review is of Peace Lord of the Red Planet by Steven H. Wilson

Synopsis: Shepherd Autrey is a Quaker, a physician, and a man deeply disturbed by the madness around him as the War Between the States bears down on his America in 1863. Dared by a friend to take an active role, Shep volunteers to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of Sherman’s scorched earth campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. There he runs foul of a Confederate recruiting drive and finds himself hanged by the neck from a tree. Awakening in a strange land which can’t possibly be earth, Shep is plunged into battle and saves the life of an alien warrior prince. Hailed by bloodthirsty killers as the bravest man alive, Shep combats his conscience, his flagging faith, and an ever-growing number of people who want him dead.

Production: The sound quality was good. One of the things about Podiobooks is, there is a quality standard so you can e relatively certain that all of their podcasts will be listenable from that standpoint.

Grade: B

Cast: Apparently Steven is part of an audio drama collective over at Prometheus Radio Theatre. This isn’t a full cast though. Instead, he elects to act out each part, rather than doing a straight read. He’s more than adequate for the task, giving each character a distinctive and believable voice. His female voices are well done, earning him more than the B+ he might otherwise get.

Grade: A-

Story: This is science fiction in the vein of Edgar Rice Burroughs. One of the reviewers over at the Podiobooks site mentioned Barsoom and if you aren’t familiar with that body of work then I can highly recommend it. It’s not necessary to enjoy Steven’s work though. The story is fairly strong. It’s told in first person, as Shep relays his journeys and adventures from some point in his near future. It’s appropriate to the genre and his limited point of view helps in setting up the alien culture he’s becomes a part of. Shep and his companions develop throughout the novel and character growth is always a good thing. The ending provides some nice surprises and over all I am very happy with it.

Grade: B+

Verdict: This is an altogether well done piece of work. It raised some interesting questions and presented some fresh ideas. It left some questions unanswered and in my book that’s a plus. There were a few instances where character actions pulled me out of the story, but they were few. I give this podcast a strong recommendation.

Grade: B+

Sidebar: I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about something that’s been niggling at my mind for many moons now and that this novel brought to the fore. I’ve no idea what Steven’s philosophical or religious beliefs are. He does a more than adequate job of relating certain schools of Christian thought throughout the novel. The ending contains a certain theology that some Christians will find troubling, I’m sure. I personally don’t have a problem with it. It doesn’t hurt the story and on some level I agree with it. However, I’m curious to know if the theology in the story lines up with the author’s or if the two are disconnected. It would likely be hard to tell without listening to more of his stories (something I plan on doing) and even then it may not be an indicator.

Some authors, like yours truly, might “change up” periodically and write stories that have nothing to do with a particularly belief system, unless it’s at a very low level. Other’s believe in making every story a bully pulpit. Still others, I suppose, may remain consistent even when the stories don’t reflect their beliefs. Which one Steven is I couldn’t say. Generally speaking though, when a story with a “message” is well done I don’t necessarily mind, even if I don’t agree with the agenda in question, but it can get tiresome. That’s true even when I DO agree with it. It would be easy to point the fingers at the usual suspects, but I’ve seen this in writers from all walks. In any case, well done or not I often wonder if it’s what the author believes or if they’re just trying to make you think about an issue.

So, my question is, do stories with, what is to you, an obvious message/moral bother you and is it worth while even trying to figure out what an author may or may not believe? Also, I’d like to know of some authors that you think do it well and if you’re so inclined examples of where it’s done poorly.