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YesterYear Paperback – April 12, 2011
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About the Author
Steeped in pulp magazines, old radio shows, and all things of that era’s pop culture, Tommy Hancock lives in Arkansas with his wonderful wife and three children and obviously not enough to do. He is Editor in Chief for Pro Se Productions, works as Promotions and Marketing Coordinator for Moonstone Entertainment, is the Editor in Chief of ALL PULP, a full news site devoted to Pulp and the Coordinator for PULP ARK, a creator’s conference/fan convention starting in 2011 in his hometown of Batesville, AR.
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"Yesteryear" is the first novel published by Pro Se Productions (or Pro Se Press). Up until now, Pro Se had been putting out "monthly" magazines, a total of three different titles. But now will go in a different direction. This is supposedly the first in a series of works set in this universe. I hope so.
The storyline is set in a world were "super heroes" and villains exist. While this work is supposed to be a "new pulp" work, my feelings are that most of the characters shown are more comic book like then pulp magazine like.
The 'mcguffin' of the story is a mysterious book that reveals the 'true' about the heroes and villains. Written by a newspaper reporter who was himself also a pulp hero, it contains his newspaper column and other additions. It had disappeared, until mysteriously being left in the hands of the protagonist, JC Smithenson.
So the book flips back and forth between the main storyline, set in the present, and exerpts from the book, which many times gives origins and stories of some of the heroes (tho not all appear in the main storyline).
To make it clear these changes, different fonts are used, to indicate newspaper columns, written notes, and the main storyline. Some of the other reviews complained about this. Personally, I didn't find an issue with it.
Now, I did have some issues of my own. Some of the material included in this book (some of the origins and side stories) saw print in Pro Se's previous magazines. That's fine. But I would have liked to have seen this information given somewhere in the book (say in the indicia area).
There are a few confusing parts in the book. One of the side stories is the original of The Night, a sort of Batman/Spirit like character. Later on The Night is one of the main heroes of the present day, who reveals his identity to some of the other characters. But he is shown to be a different individual from the origin. Considering when the origin was set, the implication is that this is a new individual who took over the identity from the original, but this not stated in the book. Another confusing point was some of the early stories tell of a sort of cartoonish character who later appears as a cold blooded assassin. How this character gets from there to what he is later shown is not explained.
And finally, we never learn what is the critical secret of the book that caused it to disappear for so long. Is this something that will be revealed in future works? That, too, is unclear. So what might have been a satisfying work is left a little frustrating.
I do hope we return to this world get the full reveal.
It's an interesting read, a rollercoaster ride all the way to the end, with plenty of surprises along the way. Just when you think you have it figured out, you're going to find you're all wrong. And that's the beauty of the book, because Yesteryear is at no time predictable. The fantastic cover and interior art both add just the right amount of zest to the mixture, giving you a page turner you are not going to want to put down, nor will you forget this one for a while. The deeper into it you get, the more it draws you down into the tale. The mark of any good book is getting lost in the story, and with Yesteryear, that is easy enough to do.
My only caveat was the choice of fonts. Being a person with poor eyesight, much of it was at times frustrating to read simply because of print that was very light or fine. I actually did like the break in style between journal entries, live action, and handwritten notes, but it could have been a lot bolder and would have been more comfortable for these often tired eyes. For that part of the experiment, I would deduct half a star, but that aside, this is a story that you don't want to miss. A worthy debut novel from a very talented man.