Saturday, March 31, 2012

Deleted Scene #1


This is a fragment of what was planned to be a much longer story.  However, given the characters used in this I quickly realized the impracticality of using such a scene in my story.  However I felt it didn’t deserve to never be seen and since we’re all friends here and I don’t think anybody will turn me in to the Copyright Police….


1947
An Island Off The Coast of Spain


            The explosions destroying the massive underground complex shook the very bedrock of the small island some fifty miles off the coast of Spain.  The explosions were not as bone-jangling as the earlier ones had been, but the cache of weapons and other nerve gases and other more exotic and even more lethal instruments of death that had been secreted in vaults underneath the extensive complex absolutely had to be destroyed and none of the people who had participated in the exhaustive and horrendous battle of the previous night could take the chance that any would be left to be used against the innocents of the world.

            A man stood on a high hill overlooking the sight of an ancient castle burning to the ground.  An average sized man, he was garbed all in gunmetal gray with a holster strapped to his right thigh that held his only weapons: a long barreled .22 revolver and a slim, sharp stiletto.  The man’s face was very pale and strangely immobile as if it were not a face of flesh, but of wonderfully carven marble.  And while his hair was thick and virile, it was also the color of the purest snow.  Even standing in quiet repose as he was doing now, he had an aura of quiet, controlled power.

            He did not turn as he heard another man come up behind him. The man in gray could identify people by their very step as easily as could by looking at their face and he knew this was a friend and not a foe.  This man was a foot and a half taller, dressed in khaki pants, shirt and a battered, dusty leather jacket with a worn brown fedora pushed back on his head, allowing a cowlick of straight brown hair to fall over his forehead. A three-day stubble of beard covered the lower half of his ruggedly handsome face and he looked as if he’d been fighting in a pit full of alligators.  Considering the horrors he had been fighting the past night, a pit of alligators would have been welcome.  A holstered Webley .455 revolver and a well-used ten-foot long bullwhip dangled from his belt.

            “Benson!”

            The man in gray turned.  “How did the final sweep of the island go, Dr. Jones?’

            “We’re good.  Your people have rounded up the last of the Society’s grunt troops and they’ve secured the boats and planes.  Savage’s crew is setting the last of the explosive charges and handling the extra transport to take them to the States.”  Indiana Jones adjusted his fedora as he stood next to the man in gray.  “One hell of a night, I’ll tell you.”

            “So much death and destruction,” the man in gray murmured.  His pale lips barely moved as yet another explosion collapsed the south wall of the castle and it crashed into rubble, throwing a huge plume of belching flame into the dawning sky. 

            “Had to be done, Benson,” Indiana grunted, removing something from the leather satchel he had slung over a shoulder.  He held it up to the light and it glittered and glowed in the light of the flames.  “If The Society Of Seven had went ahead with the plans they had for THIS…well, who knows how much hell they would have caused on Earth…and this poor world has had enough the past eight years…we’re just coming out of a World War...the last thing anybody needs in a bunch of lunatics running around trying to manipulate governments.”

            The object the archeologist held was a necklace of a thousand tear shaped rubies interwoven in a delicate web of gold, silver and platinum threads.  The light that was reflected from the rubies was breathtaking in its loveliness.  The rubies were of various sizes with the smallest being no larger than a fingernail and the largest maybe an inch in diameter.  “I know how you feel about killing, Benson, but there was no way we could have let The Society Of Seven keep The Tears Of Blood and they weren’t about to give it up without a fight to the death.  They called they terms of this war.  We didn’t.”



            “Dr. Jones is right, Richard.”  Another man strode up the hill to join them.  He was the most physically impressive of the trio.  Standing an easy six foot six, his skin was tanned a golden bronze by tropical suns.  His eyes were a piercing gold that radiated intelligence.  He was dressed in riding jodhpurs and his khaki shirt was ripped to shreds, displaying an incredible musculature that bordered on the superhuman.  Just looking at him inspired a sense of awe because he gave off an air of command and power that few men on earth possessed.  His golden hair was cut short and came to a widow’s peak in the middle of his high forehead.  But his face was wrinkled and lined with an age beyond his actual years.  He was a man who had fought the forces of evil far longer than both of his companions.  He had looked into the very mouth of Hell during his long campaign to vanquish evil.  And while his resolve to continue the fight had not withered one iota, even he had been shaken by the monstrous plans of the organization he and his companions had smashed this night.

            The bronze man continued speaking in a vibrant, resonant voice; “We’ve all had dealings with The Society of Seven on a individual basis.  Dr. Jones first encountered them in Malaysia back in 1935.  You battled them in New York in the same year.  I’ve dealt with several of their agents even though I was not aware of the existence of the organization until I ran up against John Sunlight and even The Society disavowed him once they realized how truly mad he was.  And as for The Shadow—“

            “I have known of The Society of Seven for more years than you can know, Dr. Savage.”

            The voice that interrupted Clark Savage, Jr. was low and throbbing.  It was the voice of a fanatic.  A voice that carried power and purpose and it belonged to the last of this strange grouping.  A man who suddenly seemed to just…appear next to Indiana Jones, making the archeologist reach for his holstered revolver before he realized whom it was and relaxed.

            “That’s a helluva good way for you to get yourself killed, spooky,” Indiana growled.

            The new arrival laughed and each of his three companions involuntarily shivered.  They were all brave men and had faced more of their share of danger and evil…but that LAUGH…it was a laugh that could only belong to The Shadow and each of the three men had come to realize something during this mission…while they were each unique in their own way, The Shadow was something beyond human.

            His midnight black ankle length coat flapped in the sudden wind that had sprung up.  A blood red scarf covered the lower half of his face and all that could be seen was his hawkish nose and the pair of piercing, colorless eyes that glittered with inhuman will and purpose.  A midnight black broad brimmed slouch hat was pulled low over his forehead.  A large pair of .45 automatics were held in his gloved fists, still smoking from his night’s grim and bloody work.

            “We have done well, gentlemen,” The Shadow said in that tombstone voice of his…a voice that seemed to come from the bowels of a dark and deadly soul.  “The Society Of Seven has at last been crushed.  Save for a few strays that I shall meet vengeance to shortly.”

            “No you won’t.”

            The Shadow turned his glittering eyes on the man in gray.  “The weed of crime must not be allowed to take fresh root, Benson.  Trust me when I say that if we do not eradicate every last member of The Society Of Seven, they will rise again.  And they will flourish.”

            Richard Henry Benson turned to look at The Shadow, his pale, icy eyes burning with a fire that easily matched The Shadow’s.  “We all agreed to this partnership because we realized that we were accomplishing nothing fighting The Society on its own terms.  We were only eliminating its arms and never the brains.  We’ve even put aside some of our most cherished morals to accomplish this. But we’ve done our job.  It’s time to say enough.”

            The Shadow chuckled.  “And you call yourself The Avenger?”

            “And I have avenged.  And it is enough.”

            The bronze man stepped between The Shadow and The Avenger.  “Richard is right, Shadow.  We’ve broken the back of The Society of Seven.  We’ve got nearly five hundred of their agents and soldiers that I’ll be more than happy to send to my college for rehabilitation.  We have The Tears of Blood.  This is over.”

            The Shadow fixed Indiana Jones with his basilisk stare.  “And your opinion, Dr. Jones?”

            Indiana held up The Tears of Blood.  “I’ve got what I came for and I’ve helped save the world.  I’m satisfied.  You guys are the do-gooders.  Do what you want.  I’m done.”

            The Shadow’s voice was low and dangerous as he rasped, “Surely you do not think that we will allow you to retain possession of The Tears of Blood so that they will fall into some other evil hands?”

            Indiana’s hand dropped to his bullwhip.  “I’ve seen you do a few things, spooky.  But I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeve as well.  And I came along with you on this with the firm understanding that I was acting as an agent of the United States government to secure The Tears of Blood for scientific and archeological study and research.  You agreed to that.  Try and change the rules in the middle of the game and you’re gonna see just how spooky I can get.”

            “You’ve got your agreement, Dr. Jones and The Shadow will honor it.  Or he’ll have to deal with me.”  Doc Savage said with finality staring at The Shadow.  Colorless eyes locked with golden eyes for a long minute.

            The Shadow raised his .45’s.

            And thrust them into the oiled holsters under his armpits.  “You are honorable men and worthy allies.  I have trusted each of you with my life this past night and I would do so again.  I will trust you on this.”

            Doc Savage nodded and turned back to Indiana.  “You’ll be coming with my aides and me, Dr. Jones.  We’ll make sure you get to Washington with The Tears of Blood.  Shadow—“

            The Shadow was gone.

            Indiana shook his head.  “Damned if I can figure out how he does that.  I never took my eyes off him.”

            The Avenger shrugged.  “I’m of the opinion that he was never really here.”

            The three men watched as the last of The Society of Seven’s stronghold burned to the ground.

            “What have we really accomplished here tonight, Clark?”  Benson asked quietly.  “The lives that were lost…all this destruction…will it mean anything if The Society of Seven comes back?”

            Doc Savage laid a hand on The Avenger’s shoulder as he said; “And if they do, there will be other men who will take up our struggle and do their part, Richard.  They will fight and struggle and yes, they will die if necessary to make this a peaceful world.  And that is all we can hope for.”

            “Amen to that, brother,” Indiana Jones said feelingly and the three of them watched as the stronghold of The Society of Seven burned to the ground.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Derrick Ferguson Has THE CUTMAN In His Corner!



Back during the heyday of the Classic Pulp era there were magazines devoted to just about every type of genre you could think of or that publishers thought they could sell to the entertainment hungry public.  Most of us are familiar with the hero pulps, the western pulps, the science fiction pulps, the horror pulps.  But there were far more than that.  You had your spicy pulps which was the safe name for what was pretty much soft core porn.  There were gangster pulps, railroad pulps and sports pulp.  And a sub-genre of the sports pulp was boxing pulp stories.

If you’re at all familiar with the boxing pulp genre it’s probably because of Robert E. Howard and his champion boxer character Sailor Steve Costigan.  Even though Howard is best known as the creator of Conan, King Kull and Solomon Kane he wrote more stories about Sailor Steve Costigan. 

It’s probably inevitable that in the New Pulp Renaissance we’re enjoying right now that the pulp boxing genre should also enjoy a revived popularity and it’s a genre that’s well represented by the the Fight Card series of books in general and THE CUTMAN in particular.  It’s the second book in the series but you don’t have to have read the first one in order to enjoy it.  The books are credited as being written by Jack Tunney but that’s a “house name”.  The first book “Felony Fists” was written by Paul Bishop and THE CUTMAN was written by Mel Odom and it’s a terrific read.

First off, it’s set in Havana, Cuba during a period of history that fascinates me; the period when American organized crime worked hand-in-hand with the Batista regime, turning Cuba into a playground of illegal activity.  It’s here that the cargo ship Wide Bertha docks and it isn’t long until one of its crewmen, the two-fisted Irishman Mickey Flynn runs afoul of the henchmen working for small-time gangster Victor Falcone.  And this in turn leads to Mickey having a beef with Falcone himself who has aspirations of moving into the big time by currying favor with Charles “Lucky” Luciano.

The boxing angle comes into the story due to Falcone’s sponsorship of savagely brutal  backroom boxing matches which is dominated by his fighter, the human buzzsaw “Hammer” Simbari.  Simbari is a bloodthirsty sadist who derives extreme satisfaction from beating men half to death in the ring and the inevitable battle between Mickey and Simbari is written with a great deal of tension and suspense as we’ve seen what Simbari can do and so has Mickey.  And he’s not all that sure he can take Simbari.

Not that he has any choice.  In a series of plot twists I wouldn’t dare reveal here, the fate of Wide Bertha and her crew rests on Mickey’s exceptional boxing skills, skills learned from the legendary Father Tim of St. Vincent’s Asylum For Boys in Chicago.  Mickey’s got no choice but to climb into the ring with this near unstoppable fighting machine. 

THE CUTMAN has got a lot going on besides the boxing.  There’s a whole host of supporting characters that added greatly to the flavor and atmosphere of the story.  Colorful, delightful characters that reminded me of those great supporting actors in those classic black-and-white Warner Brothers crime/gangster movies of the 30’s and 40’s.  In fact, that’s exactly how THE CUTMAN reads, like an old fashioned Warner Brothers movie.  The crime elements are interwoven with the well written fight scenes and there’s even a romantic subplot with Mickey and a lusty gorgeous Cuban barmaid which doesn’t go the way romances in this type of story usually go.

So should you read THE CUTMAN? I certainly would recommend it.  It’s a solid page turner that does exactly what I think a pulp story should do; keep you asking; “what’s going to happen next?”  It’s very well written with snappy, slangy dialog and good descriptions of the fight scenes.  At all times we know exactly what’s happening and why.  I’m most certainly going to be keeping my eye out for future volumes in the Fight Card series which are available as e-books only and you should too.



Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 299 KB
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Fight Card Productions (November 11, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
ASIN: B0066E93MK


Monday, March 5, 2012

Derrick Ferguson Travels To The City of Bathos THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH




THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH: A TALE FROM THE CITY OF BATHOS
By Joel Jenkins
Pulpwork Press
ISBN-10: 1450505112
ISBN-13: 978-1450505116

I suspect a lot of you reading this that were around in the 70’s got turned onto the sub-genre of heroic fantasy called sword and sorcery the same way I did: The re-discovery of Robert E. Howard thanks to the Lancer Conan paperbacks with the exquisite Frank Frazetta covers. I devoured all the Howard I could get and once I was through gobbling all of his stories I quickly moved onto Charles R. Saunders, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance and Lin Carter. Carter was a little bit too slavish in his homage to Howard with his Thongor series, though. But still, at that age I didn’t care. If it was sword and sorcery, I wanted it.

Never got into J.R.R.Tolkien, though. To me, Tolkien was all about the world building and creating a mythology and he’s certainly done that as “The Lord of The Rings” is still going strong to this day. Not that I have anything against that kind of fantasy. I would just rather read about working class barbarians and warriors who hack and slash their way through the day and spend their nights wenching and partying.

Which is probably why my interest in sword and sorcery dropped severely once the popularity of Tolkien style heroic fantasy seemed to me to have taken over. Nobody really was writing meat and potatoes sword and sorcery and the trend appeared to have swung over to what I call, for lack of a better way to put it; more ‘literate’ high fantasy. None of which appealed to me as I simply can’t slog through 1,000 page books that really have just enough story and plot for 150/200 pages.

Knowing Joel Jenkins as I do I think he misses that kind of straightforward, testosterone laden sword swinging tale. And Joel’s the kind of guy who doesn’t lay back and wish somebody would write the kind of story he wants to read. He goes ahead and writes it himself. And in his two books set in the legendary City of Bathos that’s exactly what he’s done: write about blue collar, working class barbarians and warriors in “Escape From Devil’s Head” and THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH.

Both books, but especially THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH aren’t ‘novel’ novels. Instead, they’re like a sword and sorcery version of that old television series “Naked City” that always started off with the narrator saying that “there are eight million stories in the naked city”. I don’t know how many inhabitants of Bathos there are but they include courtesans, thieves, disgruntled godlings, out-of-work mercenaries, farmers, innkeepers, outlaws, priests, schemers, cowards, cutthroats and they all have their own stories to tell.

And by this method of telling various stories set within this city, with some characters occasionally crossing over from one story to another, Bathos itself becomes a character in its own right. A marvelously decadent city that at once and the same time is wonderfully sleazy as well as gorgeously thrilling.

A large part of adding to the City of Bathos taking on a life of its own and becoming a character is Joel’s lush descriptions and dialog. One thing that turns me off from a lot of modern day fantasy is that the writers will have the most amazing characters populating their stories but those characters talk as if they’ve been watching MTV and CNN for the past 10 years or so. Joel’s characters have a richness to how they speak and how they phrase their sentences that immediately let you know that you’re reading about people who live in a mythical place and time.

And these are people, no doubt about it. Nobody’s going on some impossible quest to save the world from an all-powerful wizard or to save the world from an ancient evil. Bathos isn’t that type of city and the people who inhabit Joel’s story are just trying to get through another day without getting killed. For the most part, a lot of the characters in THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH are minding their own business when they get caught up almost without knowing it into a wild adventure. And they rise to the challenge with an enormous amount of well written fight scenes in which Joel runs riot with the description. I strongly suspect Joel has just as much fun writing those scenes of carnage as I did reading them.

And Joel does go in for world building just as much as Tolkien or Stephen R. Donaldson or Robert Jordan. But he doesn’t give you these honkin’ huge pages and pages of back history or have characters relate what you need to know through info dumps. Joel weaves and integrates the geography, history and political dynamics of Bathos into the story and into the dialog of his characters. It’s an effective technique that I really like to see writers use.  All too often with a lot of fantasy writers the story itself is put on hold while the writer attempts to impress with how much effort he’s put into thinking out this imaginary world. And in fact, I’m of the school of thought that says if you’ve put enough into this imaginary world then the information can’t help but find its way into the mouths of the characters. Which is where it should be in the first place.

So should you read THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH? I don’t see why you shouldn’t. If you like Old School sword and sorcery like Robert E. Howard used to make then I heartily recommend this book as well as “Escape From Devil’s Head”. Joel has a sincere love and respect for this genre and if you’ve read Joel’s other books set in the modern day then here’s an excellent chance for you to experience another aspect of the marvelous talent of Joel Jenkins.

THROUGH THE GROANING EARTH is available from Amazon.com as a paperback or ebook for your Kindle or through Pulpwork Press http://www.freewebs.com/pulpworkpress/

Derrick Ferguson Is Trapped In Mike Baron's DOMAIN

Paperback:  342 pages Publisher:  Expanding Realms; 1 edition (July 23, 2017) Language:  English ISBN-10:  1944621164 ISBN-13:  9...