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The Auslander Files Paperback – January 17, 2013
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And therein lies the premise of the Auslander; a word that translates in German to mean alien. With this enigmatic character, writer Michael Patrick Sullivan has created a truly original hero but with all the trappings of traditional pulp action. This little booklet contains ten very short tales, each approximately 3,000 words in length that are quickly put forth, filled with frenetic pacing that never lets up. Obviously being so short, there is no room for wasted exposition which is what makes each a gem of pulp fiction.
Sullivan also writes with a modern sensibility devoid of the melodramatic romances of the early pulps. The Auslander kills, both the guilty and the innocent, to accomplish his missions and foil the saboteurs. It's a morally ambiguous line he is willing to cross time and time again.
Kudos to publisher Bill Cunningham and Pulp 2.0 for collecting these stories in a terrific paperback you don't want to miss. This reviewer is hoping we haven't seen the last of the Auslander.
Here's another question: what if you can do both?
THE AUSLANDER FILES by Michael Patrick Sullivan is the answer to that last question.
The premise is deceptively simple: a WW2 German agent wakes up in a hotel room in the US. He can't remember who he is and he has false identification for multiple identities. He calls himself The Auslander, the Outsider. He dreams of terrorist acts, espionage, sabotage and concludes that he is the architect of these pending crippling attacks on the US war effort. Yet his devotion to Nazism has been lost along with his name and identity and he must race against the clock, and around the country, to prevent the operations from taking place.
What follows from this are 10 punchy tales collected for the first time by Pulp 2.0, 10 sustained, machine-gun blasts of pulp action! THE AUSLANDER FILES is one of the best New Pulp releases of the year - hell, it's one of the best New Pulp books I've ever read.
Each tale kicks off in the middle of the action. The Auslander is on the scene and fighting not only his own people but the average citizen as well, trying to save the day while every hand is against him. Assassinations, abductions, sabotage, bombings... The Auslander frantically attempts undo the evil he himself has devised before it's too late. The tales are short, quick, addictive reads averaging out to about 10 pages a pop. Yes, they are formulaic but this must be overlooked in light of the fact that they were originally published months apart, which required some recapping of the overall premise. This minor stumbling point is easily sidestepped by the intense writing and pace of each actioner. The Auslander is a complex character and this is no small feat as we do not learn who he is by the end of the collection. What does come across is his willingness to do whatever it takes to prevent the destruction he has set in motion.
I enjoyed all of the tales in this collection. If I had to pick a favorite it would be "The Yellow Star of Antwerp" for its emotional resonance as well as how it depicts just how far The Auslander will go to prevent further bloodshed. Ultimately, all of the stories work very well. Very well indeed.
My only knock against the collection is the odd problems with tense and a typo or two. Jarring, yes, but not debilitating. Bumps along this roller-coaster ride do not derail the train. Trust me, pulp fans, you want to get on board The Auslander express. If you like quick, shot-to-the-gut action tales, look no further. If you like a tormented lead character, THE AUSLANDER FILES has your poison. A great read, start to finish, don't miss it.
The stories came from Astonishing Adventures Magazine, and as such have some repetitive reminders originally meant to bring old and new readers up to speed for each issue. Other than that, these stories each have a life of their own as the amnesiac Auslander bounces around the country reversing his own Nazi saboteur plots against a WWII era United States.
You've got to like a series that understands the inherent pleasures in its own story and continually delivers. This is a good introduction, but I hope it becomes the continuing series they want to make out it.
This current Pulp 2.0 edition, containing the original Auslander stories from the pages of Astonishing Adventures Magazine and brand new material, is a pristine publishing package - lovely to both hold and read. More please ...