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Adventure (v. 1)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 18, 2007
This handsomely produced volume (with excellent cover art) from MonkeyBrain Books purports to be the first in a series of annual anthologies. However, I would guess that the sales figures didn't merit a follow-up, or the publisher has since had better things to do.

It's supposed to be packed full of pulpy goodness, featuring heroes and insidious villains and plots from those low-grade magazines of yore with their two-fisted tough guys and the dangerous dames that loved them, but only a few of the stories seem to really belong in the pulp genre. (There's a bit of a feel here that the selections were based on which of the editor's friends, or friends of friends, had something to hand at the time.) Paul Di Filippo's "Eel Pie Stall" is a complete mismatch, since it's an epic tale of...a soul's karmic progress through Tibetan-style reincarnation. So, very little in the way of gunplay, fisticuffs, or scantily-clad women in need of rescue. Meanwhile, Michael Kurland's "Four Hundred Slaves" isn't really that bad, but it feels like it would've been better placed in a collection of detective fiction set in ancient Rome (a suprisingly crowded field these days). And "Paris Is Burning", by Barry Baldwin, while exceptionally well-told, just doesn't seem to belong, since it is a pretty straightforward summary (albeit in vigorous contemporary language) of the life of the famous Paris from the Trojan War.

Of those that better succeed in capturing the genre, Kim Newman's Victorian-era "Richard Riddle, Boy Detective" is an affectionate homage to the Boy's Own-style of thrilling yarns, and Michael Moorcock's "Dogfight Donovan" has quite the same feel but a WWI setting in which the good guys are much given to saying "Gosh" and "Gee" and are keen to give the Boche a sound wallop to the jaw. Mike Resnick, a past master at exactly this sort of thing, contributes "Island Of Annoyed Souls", his take on Doctor Moreau, and Mark Finn offers "Bridge Of Teeth", in which boxing meets Mexican sorcery.

Chris Roberson, the editor, includes his own story "Prowl Unceasing", in which his recurring protagonist, Abraham Van Helsing, teams up with a mysterious fugitive from India (who should be well-known to Verne fans) to fight jungle monsters in the historical kingdom of the White Rajah on Borneo. In a much more bizarre mode, Lou Anders proffers his "Death Wish", which was to have been the first installment in a serial novel set in some kind of post-Apocalypse Old West. I would've liked to have seen this play out further, but there's no indication that Part 2 of his story has been released anywhere.

I found Marc "Not the Beastmaster" Singer's "Johnny Come Lately" to be the best of the lot, although it is much enhanced if the reader has a pretty good knowledge of the lore of the Green Lantern from DC Comics. Dealing with the adventures of a superhero called the Silverglass, it's essentially his take on the much-maligned GL Kyle Rayner, the successor to the best-known GL, Hal Jordan. Very well-done and highly rewarding to the comic book fan.

Not the greatest collection ever, but there are certainly some worthy selections here.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
First of all, I am a voracious reader of pulp and adventure. When the two are combined, magic happens! Chris Roberson, thank you! I really enjoyed your Van Helsing story. Beware, there be tygers has never been truer...but then I love anything to do with mysterious jungles.

Going down the rest of the list:

Island of Annoyed Souls - Funny little piece that pokes fun at Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau. I enjoyed most the carefree adventurer-narrator and would look forward to reading his exploits in the future. The story didn't grab me so much as that.

Ghulistan Bust Out - One of the only stories I felt here that was really lacking. No real oomph

Lost Time - Science fiction entry I found had more interesting details than characters

The Mad Lands - Surreal and bizarre alternate-ish world storytelling. I liked the foreshadowing and although it's merely part 1, I like the direction of the anthology which provides snippets of stories much like old pulp mags would.

The Unfortunate Gytt - Wonderful time travel story! Kage Baker always pulls through. Rock em sock em mystery meets "oh by the way we're with a time traveller, old chap" story. Anyway, it involves ruins and a dash of steampunk.

Pacing White Stallion - Needed some oomph, too. Your in the desert and coming of age...yeah we get it.

Eel Pie Stall - Completely surreal and rather disturbing entry revolving around Buddhist concepts of soul journey, fate, and time.

The Bridge of Teeth - All right! Now this is what I came here for! Fights and jungles! That's right, it doesn't get better than this. Oh wait, Aztec gods you say? Well sign me right up, then!

Richard Riddle: Boy Detective - My favorite of all the stories. Wonderful children's book mystery meets historical fiction meets fantasy but with charming British wit/aplomb! Go go, kid evolutionist detectives go!

Silence of the Sea - Meh. Not bad.

Four Hundred Slaves - If Perry Mason lived in third century Roman empire and was surrounded by political intrigue. Marvelous.

Acephelous Dreams - I'm sort of up in the air about Neal Asher's work in general. On the one hand, neat ideas. On the other...I get the feeling of disconnection from all emotions in all of his work that I've read. It's disconcerting.

Ghosts of Christmas - Why yes, I would like some angsty horror, noirish, spooky house and poltergeist filled, knuckle dragging fight scenes. More please!

Dogfight Donovan's Day Off - Dang it, Michael Moorcock, since when did you write something I actually cared for? Okay okay, the Queen book you wrote was awesome. This rules.

Johnny Come Lately - Delightfully smarmy

Paris is Burning - The only reason I didn't read this was because of burnout on all the Troy stuff. It feels like everyone's doing it, Dan Simmons, Brad Pitt, Tad Williams. I'm spent, baby.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2006
I read Adventure, Vol. 1 about two months ago...and enjoyed it. It's hard to give a sweeping review of an anthology; particularly in this book where the stories cover just about every subject found in pulp fiction: sci-fi, horror, war, hero/adventure, even a superhero story. With that said, it is fair to say that there is something for every pulp fan in Adventure, Vol. 1. There is an odd tale or two that I just couldn't fathom, but that may be a product of my impatient/fast reading style and nothing to do with the quality of the story. All of the stories are written well by many authors whose names are very familiar to me as a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fiction.

My favorites, in no particular order are: "Richard Riddle: Boy Detective in The Case of the French Spy" by Kim Newman; "Silence of the Sea," by O'Neil De Noux; "Dogfight Donovan's Day Off," by Michael Moorcock; and, "Johnny Come Lately," by Marc Singer. "Richard Riddle..." is an excellent adventure/horror tale starring a trio of kids, told from their point of view, but nonetheless a gripping adult "nail-biter." "Silence of the Sea" brings to mind the writing style of Jack London...if he had written sci-fi. "Dogfight Donovan's Day Off" is quite similar to a G-8 or Dusty Ayres yarn, except that the degree of action experienced by the protagonist here makes both those pulp characters look like girl scouts pressing flowers. I would very much love to see "Johnny Come Lately" expanded in to a full length novel. In one, too-short story the author recites a very detailed mythos/back story and present plight for a superhero who far exceeds his four-color peers in dimension/depth.

Titling a book "Vol. 1" would suggest, to me anyway, that a "Vol. 2" was in the offing. However, looking at Monkey Brain Book's (the publisher's) anticipated 2006 releases on their website, I don't see an entry for "Vol. 2." That's too bad. I think Adventure, Vol. 1 is definitely worth a follow-up volume.

Respectfully,

Chris Yates
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
First, the pro-s: -

1. The introductory story by Mike Resnick was fabulous. It has been a long time since a pulp aventure was so funny.

2. Some of the stories made me wish for more works by the same authors, something rare nowadays.

3. The publication-features are superb, as in all other Monkeybrain books.

Now, the con:-

Despite the tall claims of Chris Roberson, this anthology contains several non-pulp high-brow items that fit more properly into Gardner Dozois anthologies, rather than into books claiming to be pulp-style.

However, in these barren times, I would definitely look forward to purchasing the 2nd volume next year. Maybe, there will be some more jewels!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a decent book (stories 3.47 average), but with an editorial flaw. Proclaiming, with a guns blazing cross between The Shadow and The Question on the cover to be pulp adventure, for some reason, everal of the stories most definitely are not.

Without those, the book would be better as far as the theme goes, and the rating woul be half a point higher, or going from decent to good if you want to put it that way.

Di Filippo for example, is not someone I would think of as 'pulp', quirky, sure, and an exellent writer, but not pulp adventure. Resnick's is a maybe, and Pacing White Stallion more of a kid's fable, and Paris is Burning a mythological reminiscence. None of them in the style you might expect. You could also say Neal Asher and John Meaney's pieces were fairly standard SF, but a bit closer. Four hundred slaves is a garden variety English style mystery in a Roman setting, and while a good mystery story, no adventure to be seen.

None of those are bad, just out of place.

Whereas there are some fine adventures, 'Ghulistan Bust-Out' you could see Mack Bolan enjoying. Dogfight Donovan's Day Off, by Moorcock, played with a wonderfully straight bat, likewise would have probably brought a smile to Robert J. Hogan's lips. Johnny Come Lately is a good superhero story and Mark Finn possibly wrote his tale while sitting in his Conan undies.

Adventure Volume 1 : 01 Island of Annoyed Souls - Mike Resnick
Adventure Volume 1 : 02 Ghulistan Bust-out - Chris Nakashima-Brown
Adventure Volume 1 : 03 Lost Time - John Meaney
Adventure Volume 1 : 04 The Mad Lands Part 1: Death Wish - Lou Anders
Adventure Volume 1 : 05 The Unfortunate Gytt - Kage Baker
Adventure Volume 1 : 06 Pacing White Stallion - John Edward Ames
Adventure Volume 1 : 07 Eel Pie Stall - Paul Di Filippo
Adventure Volume 1 : 08 The Bridge of Teeth - Mark Finn
Adventure Volume 1 : 09 Richard Riddle Boy Detective in The Case of the French Spy - Kim Newman
Adventure Volume 1 : 10 Silence of the Sea - O'Neil De Noux
Adventure Volume 1 : 11 Four Hundred Slaves - Michael Kurland
Adventure Volume 1 : 12 Prowl Unceasing - Chris Roberson
Adventure Volume 1 : 13 Acephalous Dreams - Neal Asher
Adventure Volume 1 : 14 Ghosts of Christmas - Matthew Rossi
Adventure Volume 1 : 15 Dogfight Donovan's Day Off - Michael Moorcock
Adventure Volume 1 : 16 Johnny Come Lately - Marc Singer
Adventure Volume 1 : 17 Paris Is Burning - Barry Baldwin

Dr Mirbeau's Circe-Moreau circus.

3 out of 5

Tv producer's El Borakian unknowing necromantic raid's forward observing.

4 out of 5

Freezing flashback failure succoured by snuggly sea monster?

3 out of 5

Lucky bloke escapes the noose via mechanimals and metal men.

4 out of 5

Secret society seeks marvellous metal.

3 out of 5

Gait suited to riding, but boys decide no arses should ever be astride this legendary beast.

3.5 out of 5

Prefer beef.

3 out of 5

Bad tempered brujah and a boxing spirits session.

4 out of 5

Dodgy priest happens to have one of those really good swimmers from Arkham in an oubliette.

3.5 out of 5

Heroic dogs, raptors and Rexes.

3 out of 5

A Roman investigator looks into the death of an administrator in what looks like a frame-up of a slave involved.

4 out of 5

British imperialism bad for weretigers, as a young Van Helsing watches.

3 out of 5

Abused religious cult murderer's execution given AI exchange for hive mind implantation and multiplicitous disintegration.

4 out of 5

Spine serpent man's resurrections not what he wanted.

3 out of 5

WWI ace hero can't fly new plane straight enough to hit German bomber zeppelin. Throws himself at it instead

4 out of 5

An affectionate Green Lantern homage as the last of the time powered Silverglasses meets his fate in an heroic manner.

4 out of 5

Trojan travails.

3 out of 5
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2006
Well, overall, I enjoyed it...or some of it. The compilation bills itself as a return to the pulpy days of high adventure, thereby conjuring up images of Indiana Jones. Some of these stories pull this off. Others don't. Some are much too "literary" in their form and some seem rather juvenile. Some fell short of their mark - "The 400 Slaves" comes to mind. Only one or two left me thinking, "Wow!" I might...just might...buy another volume (if one comes out) but I would have to think about it. Too much "modern short story" (pinkies out now) and not enough adventure.
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