If you’re interested in video games, I’m willing to bet you’re familiar with mods and the mod community. Mods are fan-made modifications to games already in existence. I was recently made aware of a mod for a World War II Super Hero video game that swaps out the pre-existing super hero characters and their missions with a wide variety of pulp heroes and pulp-styled missions.
The video game in question is Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich, which was originally created by Irrational Games back in 2005 for the PC. It’s now available to download via the Steam store. This is a real-time tactical role-playing game where you control a group of heroes who time travel back in time to World War II and fight the Nazis.
I’m somewhat familiar with this franchise as the artwork always caught my attention due to its strong Jack Kirby influence, but I can’t say I’ve ever investigated it too deeply. Given the premise, it seems to be an ideal base product to insert some pulpy goodness.
With the Pulp Adventures Mod by Benton Grey, rather than the stock heroes, players control the likes of Doc Savage, The Shadow, Indiana Jones, The Green Hornet, Kato, the Rocketeer, The Spider, The Spirit, The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, The Phantom, Captain Midnight, Miss Fury, Dick Tracy, Jungle Jim, Kolu, Monk Mayfair, Ham Brooks, and Renny Renwick on a unique campaign of 17 world-spanning missions. Also, according to the website, “the story features several classic pulp villains and a twisting, turning plot that ties into the settings and adventures of many of the starring characters.”
In addition to the huge cast available in the campaign mode mentioned above, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and John Carter of Mars are playable in the sandbox mode at the moment.
Night’s Dominion wasn’t on my radar until a post by a fellow member of the Comic Book Art of Conan the Barbarian Facebook group posted an interview with the creator, Ted Naifeh. The elevator pitch seemed to be superheroes operating in a fantasy world. I thought the concept sounded fairly interesting and the artwork showcased in the interview really sold me on giving it a try. I made sure to add the book to my pull list at my local comic shop. The release of the first issue kind of snuck up on me, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it came out this week.
As far as first issues go, this one was pretty solid. We’re introduced to the cast of characters as well as the setting, the medieval-styled city of Umber. I get the impression Umber is a sister city of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar and Sanctuary, the primary setting of the Thieves’ World shared universe series.
The first issue does a good job of blending both the fantasy genre and super hero genre (or, at least so far, the urban vigilante sub-genre) together. It introduces us to the main characters via the “adventuring party meets at a tavern or inn” mechanism sometimes used in fantasy role-playing games. While not the most original way to do it, it’s definitely the most convenient way to bring a large, diverse group of characters together quickly.
Members of the party include its leader, a white-haired bard referred to as Maestro, an unnamed “magus” whose specialty is implied to be illusions and parlor tricks, a unnamed young cleric, who is an acolyte of something referred to as the Old Faith, an unnamed assassin from an organization known as the House of the Asps, and the barmaid, Emerane, who is secretly the best thief in the city, moonlighting under the alter ego of the Night.
The Maestro’s plan is for the group to rob the Tower of Uhlume, a temple where the titular King of Oblivion is worshiped. They plan to get to the treasure stores in the tower’s subbasement via a concealed shaft.
Emerane declines the job stating she doesn’t work with amateurs. She leaves the tavern after a brawl erupts, but her and the assassin have a brief martial encounter on her way home and a conversation. But Emerane departs soundlessly, leaving the assassin alone.
Later in the guise of the Night, Emerane returns a necklace to her stash of stolen loot in the belfry of a chapel and encounters the Fury. He’s the armored Batman-looking figure seen in the preview artwork. They have a brief tussle and conversation before Emerane eludes him. I get a definite Batman and Catwoman vibe from these two. It’s not clear if the Fury is a vigilante or works in some capacity with the government or city watch, but I look forward to learning more about him in future issues.
The next scene shows the cleric returning to his chapel, this is the same one which the Night used as a stash for her loot. City guards are confiscating the hoard as the head priest is crying on the steps. It was mentioned earlier that the Old Faith was hard up for money and it was goons looking to collect from the young cleric that were the catalysts of the tavern brawl.
The final scene shows Emerane, as the Night, meeting the group of adventurers at the arranged meeting spot and agreeing to join in the heist.
This was my first time reading a comic created by Ted Naifeh, but I have to admit, I like what I see. I enjoy the way he renders his characters and his panel to panel storytelling skills shown he’s been illustrating sequential art for some time. The artwork and storytelling get high marks from me.
From a writing perspective, I enjoyed how there wasn’t a lot of info dumping, Naifeh does a good job of layering information subtlety through the course of the story. Such as facts about the politics of Umber, including its royal family. There’s plenty yet to be revealed about the city of Umber and the main cast of characters, though.
This first issue has me intrigued, and I’m on board for at least the first six issues. I wish there were more fantasy comics like this on the stands and I want to do my part in supporting quality comics like this when they do pop up.
Paul Spiteri (panel moderator and editor of the Philip José Farmer collection, PEARLS FROM PEORIA), Christopher Paul Carey (co-author with PJF on THE SONG OF KWASIN), Win Scott Eckert (co-author with PJF on THE EVIL IN PEMBERELY HOUSE), and DANNY ADAMS (co-author with PJF on THE CITY BEYOND PLAY and DAYWORLD: A HOLE IN WEDNESDAY, also Farmer’s great-nephew) discuss working with the Science Fiction Grand Master.
Danny Adams reads from his latest novel Dayworld: A Hole in Wednesday which he coauthored with Philip José Farmer.
Christopher Paul Carey reads from his new novella Blood of Ancient Opar the latest installment in Farmer’s Ancient Opar series, as well as from The Song of Kwasin which he coauthored with Farmer.
Win Scott Eckert reads from The Evil in Pemberely House which he coauthored with Farmer, and from his latest work, a chapbook, Being an Account of the Delay at Green River, Wyoming, of Phileas Fogg, World Traveler, or, the Masked Man Meets an English Gentlemen.
Hello everyone and welcome to Pulp Crazy’s PulpFest 2016 Convention Report. I apologize for the lack of episodes lately, but I’ve been working on some new fiction that has taken up a good portion of my time. I hope to resume episodes on at least a monthly basis in late August. But until then, keep an eye out for some panel recordings from PulpFest 2016 to quench your pulp thirst.
PulpFest 2016 took place from July 21st to July 24th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus, Ohio. This was my sixth time attending PulpFest and I attended in conjunction with FarmerCon, a convention celebrating the life and work of author Philip José Farmer. This year marked FarmerCon XI.
PulpFest actually got started a little early for me, as I arrived in Columbus on the evening of Wednesday July 20th. My night was spent in the hotel atrium hanging out with the FarmerCon crowd into the wee hours of the morning.
On Thursday, the FarmerCon crew took our annual trip to the Acorn Bookshop in one of the nearby suburbs of Columbus. As usual, they had a nice selection of adventure, fantasy, and science fiction paperbacks, hardcovers, and some graphic novels. If you’re ever in Columbus and need to kill an hour or two, this is an excellent place to do it.
I grabbed a bunch of sword & sorcery paperbacks including short story collections and a novel by Fritz Leiber, as well as collections by Poul Anderson, and John Jakes. I also picked up a copy of Flashing Swords #1 edited by Lin Carter. There was also an Atlantis anthology Carter edited, The Magic of Atlantis that caught my eye. I also purchased a few novels by Tanith Lee that looked interesting, as well as some John Jakes novels.
My biggest haul was books 4 through 8, and 12 of the Thieves’ World series, along with a few books set in the same world by Janet K. Morris. I had purchased the first three books in the Thieves’ World series last year and recently finished the first one. I thought it was great and am currently in the midst of reading the second book. I hope to review these in the same way I’m currently handling the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber. The only downside I can really find in the first Thieves’ World book is I can’t find Death’s Harbor on the bloody map!
Due to the strength of David Drake’s Thieves’ World short story, “Goddess,” I picked up a Baen collection of Cormac Mac Art by Robert E. Howard that also includes a new story by David Drake featuring the CMA. Christopher Paul Carey gifted me a copy of Gardener Fox’s Warrior of Llarn that he picked up at a local used book store, so I made sure to buy the sequel Thief of Llarn to complete the set. Cheon of Weltanland caught my eye, not only for the Boris Vallejo cover, but the back cover copy mentions a Hyperborean witch. The author is credited as Charlotte Stone, but according to ISFDB this is actually a pen name for the husband and wife team of Dominique and Charles Nightingale.
After returning to the Hyatt Regency, it was early bird shopping time in the dealer room. Rather than going day by day through my purchases, I’ll just list them here for convenience.
Meteor House, the sponsors of FarmerCon always have a quality slate of new titles that premiere at PulpFest, and 2016 was no exception. As a matter of PulpFest 2016 marked a new record in terms of the number of titles released. I snagged a copy of each -
Dayworld: A Hole in Wednesday by Philip Jose Farmer and Danny Adams – A posthumous collaboration between Philip Jose Farmer and Danny Adams. The two previously collaborated on The City Beyond Play several years ago. This book serves as a prequel to Farmer’s Dayworld trilogy.
Blood of Ancient Opar by Christopher Paul Carey – I previously reviewed the latest installment of Philip Jose Farmer’s Ancient Opar (Khokarsa) series here. After getting an advanced review copy, I loved the feeling of getting the hardcover and softcover in my hands.
Crossovers Expanded Volumes 1 & 2 by Sean Lee Levin – A follow up to Win Scott Eckert’s original Crossovers: A Secret History of the World. Years of research have come to culmination in these two tomes of crossover chronologies. This is all new material that currently sit side-by-side on my bookshelf along with the original Crossovers.
While we’re on the subject of Philip Jose Farmer, the dealer room had a few bonus treats in regards to Farmer related artwork. I didn’t buy any of these pieces, but it was cool just to see them.
Heartwood Auctions had a few portfolios of Roy G. Krenkel black & white artwork they were selling, including two pieces related to the Ancient Opar series. The first was a rough of the frontispiece for Hadon of Ancient Opar and the other was a black and white pencil rough for the cover of Flight to Opar.
But the biggest kick was the original painting to the cover of the DAW edition of Ironcastle by J. H. Rosny, translated and retold by Philip Jose Farmer. Note how a fair portion of the painting was cropped out for the DAW paperback release. The painting was going for a cool $10,000.
The dealer room also had some paperbacks that caught my eye.
I picked up a Robert E. Howard collection titled, Black Cannan, as it contains “People of the Black Circle”, a short story that wasn’t reprinted during the Del Rey Robert E. Howard reprints. I also grabbed a copy of Conan of the Isles by L. Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter, as I’ve heard it features an aged King Conan. I’m not expecting much from this, but I am down to my last Robert E. Howard Conan story to read in the form of “Red Nails” and I’m curious to see what “Conan: The End” reads like.
I’m not usually one to collect books, I’m more of a reader, but when it comes to Philip Jose Farmer’s Ancient Opar series, that’s a different story. I couldn’t pass up a nice copy of the second printing of Hadon of Ancient Opar and look myself in the mirror the next morning.
For years there has been one pulp reprint that I have admired both at PulpFest and online. The Spider Vs The Empire State by Norvell Page. I finally pulled the trigger at the con this year and purchased it directly from the publisher’s table. Age of Aces is the publisher and let me tell you, this is one beautiful book. I look forward to eventually reading this landmark pulp hero trilogy. The gentleman that sold me the book tells me it isn’t like a usual Spider story, it’s more along the lines of an Operator #5 tale.
As long as I’ve been browsing Weird Tales covers, one particular issue always seems to pop up in my searches with the cover story of Golden Blood by Jack Williamson. I saw the paperback on a table for a couple bucks and it seemed like a good purchase.
Poul Anderson books are starting to catch my eye more and more. The People of the Wind seems like an interesting science fiction story dealing with the relations between a human race and an avian race occupying the same territory.
The City of the Singing Flame is a Clark Ashton Smith collection, despite having most of Smith’s fiction thanks to the Night Shade ebooks, I still can’t pass up a CAS paperback collection.
Quest of the Dark Lady caught my eye due to the cover and the plot. It looks to be a post apocalyptic sword & sorcery tale, and a stand-alone one at that. The reviews I’ve seen on Amazon of it make me think it’s a solid read.
Looking at those original Roy Krenkel illustrations and painting put me in the mood for some more RGK. When a dealer was selling some Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks for a buck a piece, I grabbed all the ones with Krenkel and Frank Frazetta covers that I could.
While looking through the boxes of Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks, Midnight Sun caught my eye. The cover was cool, but the author’s name was nowhere to be found. I opened it and to my delight discovered it was a fanzine devoted to the works of Karl Edward Wagner. The contents were absent from the spine, but for a buck it was a no-brainer.
Now if you listen to Pulp Crazy, you know I’m a fan of sword & sorcery, especially pulp era s&s. When I spotted a Fritz Leiber autographed copy of Swords against Darkness ….well I just had to own it.
Speaking of autographs, the guest of honor for PulpFest 2016 was author and editor Ted White. I regretfully left my copy of Weird HeroesVolume 5 at home, but found a cool looking paperback for him to sign, The Spawn of the Death Machine. I read the first chapter and between the cover and description it seemed like a post apocalyptic John Carter type of tale. Mr. White autographed it for me and mentioned it’s actually a sequel to an Ace Double novel, Android Avenger.
As always, the dealer room didn’t disappoint. If I was a dealer looking to movie an inventory of pulp magazines and/or paperback adventure, science fiction, and fantasy titles, I’d definitely give PulpFest a try.
Now onto the programming. I didn’t catch a whole lot of it this year, as I spent a good portion of my evenings catching up with old friends and meeting new ones out in the atrium. The panels I did attend were very enjoyable, though.
On Thursday night I caught Garyn Roberts’ panel detailing H. G. Wells’ (reprints) cover run in Amazing Stories. I didn’tknow this, but John W. Campbell put Wells reprints in Amazing Stories for 29 consecutive issues (if I’mremembering correctly) and Wells received the cover story each time.
PulpFest set aside a slate of a few hours for FarmerCon authors to read from their work in the early afternoon on Friday afternoon. Danny Adams read from Dayworld: A Hole in Wednesday, Christoper Paul Carey read from Blood of Ancient Opar and The Song of Kwasin, and Win Scott Eckert read from The Evil in Pemberely House and Being an Account of the Delay at Green River, Wyoming, of Phileas Fogg, World Traveler, or, The Masked Man Meets an English Gentleman. The authors also took questions from the audience between their readings.
This was a nice prelude to the Farmercon XI Panel later that Friday night, Collaborating with Philip Jose Farmer. On the panel were Paul Spiteri (who edited the Farmer collection Pearls from Peoria), Danny Adams (who co-wrote The City Beyond Play and Dayworld: A Hole in Wednesday with Farmer), Christopher Paul Carey (who co-wrote The Song of Kwasin with Farmer), and Win Scott Eckert (who co-wrote The Evil In Pemberely House with Farmer). It was an insightful and entertaining panel.
I caught the New Pulp Panel, moderated and hosted by author and editor Ron Fortier on Saturday morning. On the panel this year were Barbara Doran, Win Scott Eckert, Jeff Fournier, and Andy Fix. The panel had a lot of good quality writing and editing trade-craft talk this year.
The last panel I attended was Saturday night where the Guest of Honor, Ted White gave a presentation. Mr. White told some entertaining stories of his days breaking in and working in the science fiction and fantasy publishing scene.
PulpFest 2016 didn’tdisappoint. For me, it never does. I‘ll be curious to see where the convention ends up next year, as it appears the Hyatt Regency is no longer a feasible option. When I came to my first PulpFest back in 2011, it was at a Ramada (I think) Hotel/Motel on the outskirts of town. From what I could gather from the business meeting, it seems like the committee hopes to return to that sort of location, which I think is a good thing.
Well, I hope everyone enjoyed reading my PulpFest 2016 Convention Report as much as I enjoyed PulpFest itself. I have one more convention on my plate the Dum-Dum in Morris, Illinois. This is an Edgar Rice Burroughs focused convention. I’mheading there Thursday August 3rd and coming back Sunday August 7th. I’ll be sure to write up a report on that as well. Keep an eye out for my PulpFest 2016 Panel Recordings, I should have them up before I leave for the Dum-Dum.
In this week’s episode I discuss “The God of Tarzan” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is a short story typically read in the Jungle Tales of Tarzan collection by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The story deals with a 19 year old Tarzan’s quest to find God after reading the term in the dictionary.
Last year I was lucky to obtain an advanced reader copy of Hadon, King of Opar by Christopher Paul Carey before its release at PulpFest 2015. PulpFest 2016 is just around the corner and once again Meteor House provided Pulp Crazy with an advanced reader copy of the latest novella in Philip Jose Farmer’s Khokarsa (Ancient Opar) series, Blood of Ancient Opar by Christopher Paul Carey.
Blood of Ancient Opar picks up immediately following the massive cliffhanger of Hadon, King of Opar. Hadon and his allies have triumphed over the forces of the Mikawaru pirates who had invaded Opar in Hadon, King of Opar (with the Priests of Resu and the Oracle of Kho assisting the raiders), but Hadon’s troubles are far from over.
His daughter La reveals an ancient prophecy to Hadon and the two of them spend the rest of the novella trying to make sense of it and use it to their advantage against an emerging threat.
Blood of Ancient Opar is a fast-paced adventure that once again has the reader side-by-side with Hadon throughout the course of the story. This is one of those tales that is tough to review, as I don’t want to spoil some major events that occur in the book, but I can discuss some portions.
During the course of the book, Hadon finds himself in the valley adjoining Opar, the Valley of the Royals. Here, Hadon visits the Palace of Queens, which readers of Tarzan and the Golden Lion will likely find very familiar. The wonderful cover painting by Bob Eggleton depicts this event. The chapters set at the royal retreat were some of my favorites, as it was fun to visit an all-new location in Ancient Opar alongside Hadon.
On a grimmer note, needless to say, before the events of Hadon, King of Opar, the queendom was already facing hard times. As Blood of Ancient Opar begins, the city is in an even worse situation. Hadon and La really have their work cut out for them if they hope to get Opar back on track.
Using Farmer’s notes, Carey skillfully executes the kind of fantasy adventure tale you just don’t see much of anymore. His contributions to the Khokarsa/Ancient Opar series feel right at home sitting beside Farmer’s original Ancient Opar books on my bookshelf and I feel fortunate to see the series continue in such great hands. Blood of Ancient Opar is everything I hoped it would be.
This is a tale of heroic fantasy skillfully brought to life through the pen and mind of a writer intimately familiar with the source material. Blood of Ancient Opar hearkens back to classic sword and sorcery adventures of the past while displaying a mastery of modern fiction writing. One thing thing is for sure, readers familiar with Opar will never look at the lost city the same way again.
Blood of Ancient Opar will be debut July 21st at PulpFest 2016 / FarmerCon XI in Columbus, Ohio. The novella is available for preorder in both softcover and hardcover formats at http://meteorhousepress.com/blood-of-ancient-opar/ . It’s highly recommend you preorder now if you want to guarantee a copy. Meteor House is also offering the remaining copies of Hadon, King of Opar for sale as well. The two novellas can be purchased together while supplies last.
In this week’s episode I discuss The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft. Randolph Carter searches through the Dreamlands for Kadath, where the gods of the Dreamlands dwell. This novella was never prepared for publication by HPL and wasn’t published during his lifetime. I found it a bit hard to get into, but enjoyed reading it ten pages at a time.