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Tales of the Shadowmen 4: Lords of Terror Paperback – January 1, 2008
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Tales of the Shadowmen v4 is the latest volume of this eclectic anthology series from Black Coat Press. It makes use of a concept of Philip Jose Farmer that has various fictional characters set in the same 'universe', thus able to met and interact. Don't make the assumption that all the stories are linked. They often are not. Most are standalone, can usually be read in any order.
What can be daunting is that this series uses characters of popular literary culture (mainly written, but sometimes film and tv), and not 'high brow' characters. And the characters are taken from American, British, French, and other countries, so often if you're not familiar with those characters, it can be confusing. OR, it could lead you to start reading the original stories of these characters, which BCP does (such as Fantomas, Nyctalop, the Black Coats, Belphegor, Judex, and many more).
The stories in this collection are:
Matthew Baugh: Captain Future and the Lunar Peril starring Captain Future, Eric John Stark, Northwest Smith, St. Menoux.
Bill Cunningham: Fool Me Once... starring Harry Dickson, Fascinax.
Win Scott Eckert: The Atomos Affair starring Madame Atomos, UNCLE.
Micah Harris: The Anti-Pope of Avignon starring Solomon Kane, Fausta.
Travis Hiltz: Three Men, A Martian and a Baby starring Dr. Omega and a surprise guest.
Rick Lai: Corridors of Deceit starring Josephine Balsamo, the Black Coats, Fantômas, Mabuse.
Roman Leary: The Evils Against Which We Strive starring Sâr Dubnotal, the Shadow.
Jean-Marc Lofficier: Madame Atomos' XMas starring Madame Atomos.
Randy Lofficier: The Reluctant Princess starring Doc Ardan.
Xavier Mauméjean: A Wooster Xmas starring Hercule Poirot, Bertie Wooster.
Jess Nevins: Red in Tooth and Claw starring Rocambole.
Kim Newman: Angels of Music II: The Mark of Kane starring The Phantom of the Opera, Gigi, Eliza Doolittle, Rima, Charles Foster Kane.
John Peel: Twenty Thousand Years Under the Sea starring Captain Nemo, Cthulhu.
John Shirley: Cyrano and the Two Plumes starring Cyrano de Bergerac, d'Artagnan.
Steven A. Roman: Night's Children starring Irma Vep, Count Orlock.
Brian Stableford: The Return of Frankenstein (Part III of The Empire Of The Necromancers) starring Gregory Temple, Victor Frankenstein, Malo de Treguern.
At the end of the volume is information on the characters used and who created them, tho this may not help point you to wear they are from. (Wikipedia is most useful here!! along with Black Coat Press's French Wold Newton site and Cool French Comics site). The "Starring" lists the characters who appear in the story, "Co-starring" list characters mentioned in the story, "Also Starring" list placing and 'things' who appear or are mentioned in the story.
I purchased this book specifically because it had in it a Captain Future (my all-time favorite SF hero) story. As it turned out, the author really mangled not only Cap and the Futuremen, but all of the other SF heroes that he pulled in for crossover action; it was truly bad writing, not to mention poorly-researched ahead of time. That left enough of a bad taste in the mouth that when I went to sample the other stories in the book, I was less willing to put up with what is, at best, fanzine-quality writing. (No, not even that; I'm friends with fanzine writers who write _much_ more professionally than do most of the contributors to this volume.) Some of the stories are so badly-written that I couldn't make myself finish them, and I'm usually able to put up with pretty bad craftsmanship if the story's interesting.
A couple or three of the stories weren't badly-written (Brian Stableford's offering stands out), but the well-written ones held no interest for me.
Another of the Shadowmen anthologies also came with this one, and the writing hadn't improved. I was truly disappointed in the quality of the writing; I love old pulps and pulp heroes, and wanted very much to enjoy the Shadowmen books. Alas that the quality just doesn't justify getting any more of them.