Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Pro Se Presents (Volume 1) Paperback – July 24, 2012
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
So when I came across this new print-on-demand magazine, I was interested. I picked this issue because I was familiar with Ron Fortier's work from the past, and I remember liking his stories. Well, that was then, and this is now, and I was in for a disappointment.
********The July 2012 issue contains a story in Fortier's Brother Bones series. Brother Bones was originally Tommy Bonello, a mob killer who found salvation, and withdrawing from his life as a hitman, he entered a monastery. This angered his brother Jack so much that he massacres everybody at the monastery. Tommy then comes back from the dead while Jack is torturing Blackjack Bobby Craddock. Tommy then saves Craddock when he possessed Jack's body to wreck vengeance on Jack's compatriots. And now Tommy, as the undead Brother Bones exists to wreck vengeance on Cape Noir's criminal underworld.
Brother Bones has appeared in at least one novel so far as I know, and in 'The Bruiser From Bavaria' Craddock has the hots for his casino co-worker Paula Wozcheski. Now, so he can get into her panties he's attending a boxing match between Big Bear Anderson and Lazlo Varkaine. Anderson starts out well, but he gradually loses steam until he comas, and loses the fight. One thing leads to another and after Paula's taken captive during Lazlo's post-fight party massacre, Brother Bones and Lazlo end up in the ring having to inanely duke it out to save Paula's life.
Nothing worked here. While Bones seems to be a cross between Marvel Comics' Brother Voodoo, DC's Deadman, and Mack Bolan's Executioner, all set in an alternate thirties universe, Brother Bones is easily the most unlikable hero that I've ever encountered. He's a cardboard character; shallow, unlikable, with him the end justifies the means, and he treats Craddock and others brusquely and like trash. Lazlo and his cronies, on the other hand, are just your garden variety pulp cliché vampires. Today's fiction has just passed these neo-pulp characters by, and the ending to this story is just a horrible eye-roller. Oh yeah, and how come salty water destroys vampires, but they have to drink salty blood? Meh, one star.
********The next story is 'Energy Siphon' by Kevin Rodgers, and it is possibly worse than the previous story. It all starts out with the wizard Saxines regaining some of his powers, and levitating to his prison window bars vomits on them to dissolve the bars. Just lovely. Then, after gaining his freedom he is on his way to destroy the orb that an evil wizard has used to imprison him. The dialogue here is lame ("You're going to die, die, DIE!"), the characters all act melodramatically, shrieking and shouting their dialogue, the monsters are clichés, and worse, are easily defeated. There is enough story here for a novel, and yet, none of it is well handled. The quote that opens this review comes from this story. Pleasant eh? Bad fan fiction that wouldn't have made the grade for most fanzines of the seventies, or for the worst pulps of the thirties. A sword & sorcery story written on the level of an Ed Wood movie, but without the good parts. One star.
********By now I was beginning to believe that I would have to stick sporks in my eyes to get any relief from the torture that is this issue. But, to stop reading would have given Don Thomas short shrift. After all, what if 'The Town That Demanded Recompense' was good, and his story was written off by being in bad company.
Well, I'm glad that I didn't stop. Thomas' story was gold in the slagheap. In an alternate middle ages universe Thomas gives us a story that takes place in both the story's present tense, and in the story's fifteen years past.
The initial and main story starts out when a traveling performer Nathaniel Dante wanders into the frontier town of Templeton Junction and makes friends with Jenny Ravensdale, while earning the ire of her boyfriend, the deputy sheriff.
The story will then shift back and forth between the story of Nathanial Dante's attempts at putting on a show for the town, and the story of the Tremere Travelling Carnival. The story of the entertainers of the carnival is, of course, directly tied into what is happening in the story's present tense. This secondary story deals with how the Tremere Travelling Carnival got started, how it operated, and how everything ended up going pear-shaped on the way to Templeton Junction.
There's no real mystery as to WHAT is going to happen in this story, the fun is trying to guess just HOW it's going to happen. This is a story that manages to cross the Dungeons & Dragons type of adventure fiction with either Clint Eastwood's "Hang 'Em High" or "High Plains Drifter", with a touch the tv show "Wild, Wild West", and all in a good way. Thomas' writing and plotting are simple and to the point, and he doesn't get in his own way in the telling of this fun and unpretentious story. I suspect that this story would make either a great graphic novel, or a fun DVD movie. Let's hope that there will be more in this series. Four stars.
Editor Lee Houston, Jr. deserves to be singled out for some really sloppy editorial work though. While I noticed some sloppy prose in the previous two stories (there is a "half-dress woman" in Fortier's story, for example), however, in the beginning of Thomas' story we are told that Jenny Ravensdale's father is SAUL Ravensdale, but later we are told that her father is QUINCY Ravensdale. Really?
I'd like to give this neo-pulp story more than three stars, but Fortier's and Rodgers' stories just drag the rating down. Still, worth reading for Thomas' fantasy-western tale of vengeance.