Friday, January 24, 2014

Ruff Justice # 1 Sudden Thunder by Warren T. Longtree

Where were you in 1981? That’s when Ruff Justice # 1 hit the racks during the glory years of Adult Westerns. I have no clue as to the author’s real name, so I googled it and found several references to Paul Lederer. I think Paul Lederer writers under the name Owen G. Irons and the books of his that I’ve read are excellent. I read an interview on the Black Horse Western Extra site where Lederer mentions working on the series. In any event, the Ruff Justice series is enjoyable on its own terms. I have several of these and I enjoyed them all. I see these paperbacks all the time during my northwoods excursions to antique shops and flea markets. They are as common as L’Amour paperbacks, but seldom found in mint condition. U.S. Cavalry scout Ruffin T. Justice, along with his sidekick, a dog named Dooley Dog, is asked by Colonel MacEnroe to escort Hugh and Amos Denton and the lovely Marguerite Denton as they retrieve their father’s body. Referred to as a “fool’s errand” from the onset, readers won’t be surprised that the action and suspense levels heat up as the party make their way to Camas Meadows. I enjoyed the leisurely but detailed style of writing, and the way the story developed as they travel by wagon and horseback on a quest that Justice himself muses is “A fool’s mission, and he knew it. The Dentons must have twisted the colonel’s arm pretty hard to ever get the old man to agree to this. A Sunday drive through a battlefield. But if a man could push those thoughts aside it was a beautiful day...” (p. 18) While the lovely Marguerite Denton provides the requisite diversions one expects, the other Dentons harbor some secrets, all resulting in some good action scenes. Indian attacks, a trek through snow, and a girl named Candida add to the pulp paperback entertainment and helps make Ruff Justice # 1 an enjoyable book. No in-depth analytics are required here. This is solid masculine prose as advertised.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gunn # 1 Dawn of Revenge by Jory Sherman

Have you ever had one of those Eureka! moments when you remember something that you had forgotten about and it makes your day? Recently, when rummaging through several over-sized boxes in my den, I came across this great old paperback by Jory Sherman. I’ve read a great many of his books and Jory Sherman is a wonderful writer. Recently I’ve been enjoying his new “Savage” and “Sidewinder” series for Berkley Books, but here’s one from 1980. The Gunn series fell into the category of “Adult Western” and at one time there were probably dozens of them flooding the market. I think Jory wrote 29 Gunn books and they are all worth your time. The plot is a tried and true tale of vengeance. William Gunnison is blamed for his wife’s murder so he changes his name to Gunn and sets out after the real killers. A plot like that is as old as time itself, but Jory Sherman can make anything seem fresh. The villain here is Jason Coker, and he’s out to kill Gunn in a unique way. He solicits the help of a soiled dove who resembles Gunn’s wife, and he sends her on a rendezvous to trap him. The sex in the series is on par with what you might find in some of the Longarm books today, and the six-gun action is plentiful. Jory Sherman is a master at plotting, and the story moves along at a gallop. All of his books are written with a passion for writing and an understanding of what readers want. Today the Adult Western is alive and well with The Trailsman, Slocum, Longarm and The Gunsmith, some of which I’ll discuss in future posts. Meanwhile, backtrack a bit and pick up some of these exciting Gunn books by a truly talented writer.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Man Who Stopped at Nothing by Paul W. Fairman

The Man Who Stopped at Nothing originally appeared in the November 1951 issue of Fantastic Adventures. This edition is from Armchair Fiction out of Medford, Oregon, and also reprints Fairman’s Ten from Infinity as part of this double-novel presentation. The ever increasing demand for reprints of classic pulp fiction has created a cottage industry of publishing firms using print-on-demand technology. The only complaint I have with this excellent reprint is that they only credit Ziff-Davis as the original publishers, and you are left to googling to pull out the 1951 Fantastic Adventures biblio-entry. Bibliophiles won’t like that at all. Still, it’s nice to see anything by Paul W. Fairman being reprinted. He is not as well known as many other pulp writers, but everything he wrote that I have read is of high quality. He often published under the pseudonym Ivar Jorgenson. The Man Who Stopped at Nothing is a gem, but somewhat typical of 1950s era science-fiction. When Dorn Lattimore is killed in an automobile accident he suddenly finds himself in a new plane of existence. He can see what is happening around him, but he is invisible to all but those that share this plane of existence with him. He meets Sally Williams who had drowned a few years back off Coney Island. Sally takes Dorn under her wing and helps Dorn get accustomed to his new existence. Meanwhile, a mad scientist named professor Jan Limpus who has seen too many Frankenstein films, stumbles upon the car crash that killed Dorn and he steals the body. Limpus begins working on the body in his laboratory His desire is to revive a dead body in the tradition of Doctor Frankenstein. His experiments on Dorn’s body result in Dorn flipping in and out of planes of existence. This causes some fun situations such as the moment Dorn materializes in a bathroom wall in front of a luscious babe taking a shower. To complicate matters, Dorn begins to fall for Sally. As you can tell, this is a fun story to read, sort of a cross between the stories you might see a generation later on The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Fairman wrote many great stories, including a short story titled The Cosmic Frame which became the basis for the 1957 film, Invasion of the Saucer Men, a fan favorite to this day. I previously reviewed Fairman’s The Frankenstein Wheel, and at a later date I’ll review Ten from Infinity.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard


Scroll to the bottom of this post to learn about the new edition!

We didn’t know it at the time, but L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth was at the forefront of what is now being called the “New Pulp” literary movement. Battlefield Earth marked Hubbard’s return to popular fiction after a thirty year hiatus. During this period, the demand for Hubbard’s fiction never abated. To satisfy that demand, there were several reprints of his classic fiction, notably Ole Doc Methuselah by DAW books in 1970; and that same year Death’s Deputy from Leisure Books and Fear and The Ultimate Adventure as a double-novel paperback from Berkley. In 1975 Major Books republished The Kingslayer as Seven Steps to the Arbiter; and Popular Library reprinted Fear alongside Typewriter in the Sky in 1977. Hubbard had never gone out of style.

All the same, fans were eager for new fiction. Battlefield Earth marked Hubbard’s return to the world of popular fiction, and I recall with clarity the excitement I felt when I first read the book. I was flat broke and waited for that first paperback edition. Battlefield Earth never pretends to be anything other than what it is; a grand adventure story in the tradition of the stories Hubbard himself wrote during the Golden Age of the 30s and 40s. He dedicated Battlefield Earth to 87 fellow writers from the Golden Age, and introduced the book with an essay that clarified his thoughts on writing the novel.

In Hubbard’s words, Battlefield Earth is a work of “pure science fiction.” But he also makes it clear when he added that “To show that science fiction is not science fiction because of a particular kind of plot, this novel contains practically every type of story there is – detective, spy, adventure, western, love, air war, you name it.” Of course, this homage to genres is seamless, and Battlefield Earth kicks into high gear starting on page one. The publication of Battlefield Earth fulfilled a long held wish of mine to see LRH publish a new novel since I had first read that DAW paperback of Ole Doc Methuselah. All of these years later and readers are re-discovering Hubbard’s fiction through the Galaxy Press reprint series; and part of the celebration will include a new edition of Battlefield Earth sporting a Frank Frazetta cover. There will also be a comic book/graphic novel adaptation, all of which I was privileged to get a sneak peek of at last summer’s American Library Association conference in Chicago.

But what of the novel itself? What makes this book so appealing? First and foremost, Battlefield Earth is an adventure story. Perhaps we can even refer to it by that now archaic term “boy’s adventure story.” Battlefield Earth is subtitled “A Saga of the Year 3000” and “saga” aptly describes Jonnie Goodboy Tyler’s battle against Terl and all of that alien race known as Psychlos. Jonnie becomes the focal point in mankind’s effort to survive the evil mechanizations of the Psychlos, which puts Jonnie and his allies in constant jeopardy. All of the elements of popular adventure fiction that Hubbard had mastered in the 30s and 40s are evident on each chapter. Tyler has a horse named Windsplitter, a true love named Chrissie, and later, allies such as Robert the Fox, Angus Mactavish and many others. Their task is to defeat Terl and the Psychlos and save earth.

One of the elements that makes Battlefield Earth enjoyable is the unapologetic sense of fun and adventure that Hubbard puts into the writing. Jonnie Goodboy Tyler is a typical Hubbard hero, perhaps the best of them all. Tyler prefers to think his way through a problem carefully before taking action. He accumulates knowledge like a sponge, and at every turn represents the American idealism of hard work, fair play and common decency. He doesn’t let his mistakes crush him; rather, Tyler literally dusts himself off and lives to fight another day.

Hubbard was consistent throughout his career in creating characters that exemplified and celebrated the Common Man. Of course, his point being that none of us are common at all, as long as we’re willing to put a little elbow grease into our efforts. Looking at his classic stories such as Sabotage in the Sky, Trouble on His Wings, The Sky Devil, Black Towers to Danger or Twenty Fathoms Down, we are greeted by heroes that offer unabashed boyish enthusiasm and a willingness to stand against the tide of evil. So Jonnie Goodboy Tyler joins the ranks of fictional heroes that readers of each generation will enjoy time and again.

As a writer of adventure tales, L. Ron Hubbard’s fiction appeals to readers who love to wander down new trails, and who love the prospect of exploring wondrous new lands. He always expressed the assurance of our Manifest Destiny, instilling in his characters the very essence of the American personality. Cut from the fabric of modern experience, his characters are the epitome of our dreams and aspirations, and are embodied perfectly in Battlefield Earth as the life and legend of Jonnie Goodboy Tyler.

Battlefied Earth has been re-published in a special edition
with stunning cover artwork by Fran Frazetta.
This 21st Century Edition features:
·      The author’s never-before-published handwritten notes.
·      An exclusive author interview.
·      Original lyrics for the novel written by L. Ron Hubbard.
·      Cover art by legendary Frank Frazetta.
Battlefield Earth is available as:
Trade Paperback
1072 pages, Expanded content
1072 pages, Expanded content
44 CDs. 47½ hours
Audiobook Download
47½ hours
To learn more and order a copy,