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Virtual Pulp: Tales of High Adventure, Low Adventure, and Misadventure Paperback – October 13, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Men's fiction/retro-pulp writer Henry Brown has been a voracious reader for most of his life. In addition to devouring fiction of most genres, he has been a history buff from a young age, and a WWII afficinado by the age of 17. Dude-lit, action adventure and pulp fiction topped his reading list for many years. He entered the military upon graduation from high school and volunteered for an elite unit. Upon his return to civilian life years later, he earned a degree in the arts, but spent most of his college elective credits on military history courses. His passion for dude-lit led him to create the Two-Fisted Blogger web log, where he plans to help reawaken an interest in fiction for men.
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The first story, "The Bloodstained Defile," depicts how three powerful mercenary warriors, paid to fight for a king who invades a neighboring country, are drawn together and develop a common bond based on their code of honor. There's plenty of action in this one, plus a sorcerer who tries to use the three heroes for his own evil purposes.
"Barbarian Nation" is a post-apocalyptic thriller about patriotic Americans with their souped-up primitive weapons battling against the overwhelming forces of the new world order that controls most of the world. I couldn't help but think of The Terminator, but there's no Sarah Connor around to save the world this time. The good guys are on their own.
"Radical Times" is historical fiction based in the American South during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. The Union victory freed the slaves, but is the South ready to accept that the former slaves are truly free and equal? An interesting and poignant story of a white man who loves a black woman, and how others will resort to any means to destroy them.
"Thus Spake the Bard" is a splendid retelling of the Robin Hood and King Arthur legends and how they developed. It's both fascinating and funny, and who knows, there could even be some truth to it.
"Fever Dream Nemesis" is a sci fi/fantasy satire that's like a bad acid trip. Really, you have to read it for yourself, there's no way I can describe it!
There are no throwaway or "filler" stories in the anthology. I enjoyed each story on its own merits, and I read the book straight through with few interruptions. The stories have such interesting storylines and characters that each of them could have been developed into a full-length novel, in my opinion. I especially enjoyed the author's notes after each story that delved into the background of the story and how the author was inspired to write it.
The writing quality of Virtual Pulp was first rate, including the realistic dialogue. I also found very few typos or formatting errors.
All-in-all, Virtual Pulp is one of the best short story collections that I've read in a long time. I was so impressed with Virtual Pulp that I've already purchased another one of Mr. Brown's books for my Kindle.
Henry Brown has a great love for action-adventure and serves up a varied and interesting collection of stories including:
- "The Bloodstained Defile"- A sword and sorcery tale that owes a lot to both Howard and Cook's 'The Black Company'
-"Barbarian Nation"- Listed as Post apocalypse, I would actually consider it air adventure
-"Radical Times"- Historical fiction set in Reconstruction South. Most serious of the works presented.
-"Thus Spake the Bard"- Medieval knight's tale
-"Fever Dream Nemesis"- Surreal sci-fi.
All the stories work to varying degrees. The author clearly loves historical fiction and has done his research. Nicely plotted, the variety of the stories is a great plus. You don't get the same story with different characters over and over again. Also, the author provides little notes on each story- A real personable touch.
The only thing keeping me from giving this 5 stars is they could have used a little polishing. Some of the character names seem too generic- in "Defile" I kept getting thrown out of the story by all the button-mashing, two-syllable fantasy names- Not to mention"The Cemarians". I'm sure that's an homage, but still...
So for $.99 you get 5 solid and entertaining adventure tales in various subgenres and a couple author notes. very much worth your time to check out.
The stories in this collection are united by battle: mythic on the fantasy frontier (with shades of my old favorite Michael Moorcock); almost steampunk with mis-matched airplanes in a dystopian future; historical in the civil war; and fought with legend and chivalry in the heyday of royal England--plus the one at the end that's unplaceable and gripping and odd. The characters are a pleasing blend of depth and surface detail, actions sketching in past or future or both with no unnecessary soul-searching. Events are bigger than the people involved, and people matter more--each tale wholly different and enjoyably satisfying.
In old Britain I found myself listening too closely to the choice of words--my English ear searching for mis-steps in my native history I suppose. And in civil-war America I enjoyed learning my adopted country's tale. But each story ends with a truly fascinating description of where it came from. Henry Brown's research is almost as interesting as his telling. He certainly knows history, legends, and the evolution of ideas. And he knows stories.
Some of these characters leave the reader eagerly asking for more, particularly after learning that the author meant them that way. Perhaps Virtual Pulp #2 will be released soon to satisfy curiosity, or perhaps there'll be a series of tales of the Honor Triad, Rebble Rouser or the very mysterious Zombies.
Disclosure: I received an ecopy of this book from the author and I offer my honest review