Showing posts with label Dire Planet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dire Planet. Show all posts

Friday, September 7, 2012

Derrick Ferguson Hunts Down The EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET





 Paperback: 256 pages
 Publisher: PulpWork Press; 1ST edition (September 15, 2009)
 Language: English
 ISBN-10: 0979732921
 ISBN-13: 978-0979732928


When last we saw Garvey Dire, he was doing pretty well for himself.  Oh sure, his mission to Mars had gone wrong, leaving him near death.  But then he was miraculously transported 47,000 years into the past.  And in that past, Mars is not a dying planet.  Indeed, it thrives with life including the Muvari tribe which is mostly populated by warrior women.  The males of the tribe are few and are guarded as they assure the continued survival of the tribe.

Garvey survives a number of harrowing adventures to rise to a level of prominence in the Muvari tribe as well as marrying the gorgeous and deadly Ntashia, the finest swordswoman of Mars.  Garvey even managed to prevent World War III back on Earth in his native time period and save the life of his best friend.  Salt-N-Pepa could very well have been talking about Garvey in their song “Whatta Man”

When we catch up again with Garvey Dire he’s facing an army of Galbran.  They’re a rival tribe of cannibals who have an old score to settle with Garvey and an older one to settle with the Muvari.  And while he’s trying to hold off this army in a remote outpost with but a handful of Muvari warrior women, he’s also trying to figure out how to handle the Muvari custom of a man having more than one wife.  It’s not as hard one might think since his first wife Ntashia has made the arraignments for the marriage and is actively encouraging it.  It’s custom, y’know and when on Mars, do as the Martians do.

It’s almost a relief for Garvey to discover that his old rival and fellow Earthman Arnold Stechter survived the events of “Dire Planet” and is alive and well.  He’s lost his memory of his life on Earth and doesn’t recall that he and Garvey are bitter enemies.  But Stechter hasn’t forgotten his ambition and desire for power.  He has gathered together outcast warrior women from a dozen different tribes and forged them into a savage, bloodthirsty army.  And with these EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET he intends to conquer and rule Mars.  But it’s a plan that has to begin with the overthrow of Ledgrim, the hidden Muvari capital city.  And it’s Garvey Dire who will unwittingly help Stechter achieve that goal…

If you’ve read and enjoyed “Dire Planet” then you’ll certainly want to read the sequel.  Not only does Joel continue to explore and reveal new layers of his Martian culture but he also gives us new layers of his protagonist.  Garvey’s naturally hesitant about entering into another marriage when he’s already got a wife he’s perfectly happy with.  Garvey Dire exhibits more maturity in this multiple marriage thing than you would expect from a hero in this genre.  Garvey’s still learning his role and place in this world and he sometimes wishes things would go a little slower.

One thing he’s not slow at is facing down the hoards of enemies thirsting for his blood in this one.  If this book doesn’t have the highest body count of any of Joel’s books, its right up there in the top three.  Just the first fifty pages of the book has a higher death rate than most complete novels.  And this is before Garvey finds out about Stechter and his army of exiles.

EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET is an enjoyable book but a demanding one.  Joel seems determined to give readers more bang for their buck and while he certainly does that it also means that there’s a lot more you to pay attention to attention to and keep track of.  The only complaint I have with the book is that in order to get in as much information as he can, Joel will occasionally have characters explain some aspect of Martian life and culture to Garvey, even during scenes where it seemed to me that concerning themselves with surviving whatever is trying to kill them should be of paramount importance.  Also there’s the character of Naegrik the Galbran.   While he provides Garvey with a sidekick who’s just as much of an outsider as he is, Garvey’s acceptance of his conversion from full-blown cannibalism to bosom buddy and lifelong pal is a bit too quick for my taste. But I liked how the other characters kept an eye on Naegrik when he was around and constantly reminded Garvey that hey, this guy grew up eating people.

But the main thing here is the adventure and Joel delivers it with great style and tight control over the half dozen subplots he’s got going.  And EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET ends with a cliffhanger that will demand that you get the third book in the series; “Into The Dire Planet” to find out what happens next.  And for my money that’s exactly what Pulp, whether Classic or New is supposed to do.  Enjoy.

For more information about Joel Jenkins please visit:

The Vaults of Caladrex  http://www.joeljenkins.com/
Pulpwork Press   http://www.pulpwork.com/

And Joel has kindly provided a Dire Planet Compendium that you can find at The Vaults of Caladrex if you go to the right side of the blog and scroll down until you hit the keyword ‘Dire Planet Compendium’

And if you buy EXILES OF THE DIRE PLANET direct from PulpWork Press you get a 20% discount by entering the following code: 5YRZ6A8W

Also, this same code is good for a 20% discount on all of Joel Jenkins’ titles and most of the other Pulp Work Press titles!

Derrick Ferguson Takes A Trip To The DIRE PLANET





 Paperback: 248 pages
 Publisher: PulpWork Press; 1St Edition edition (September 15, 2009)
 Language: English
 ISBN-10: 0979732948
 ISBN-13: 978-0979732942


Not being an historian I’m not sure if Edgar Rice Burroughs created the Planetary Romance genre.  But I am certain that he refined it into something so unique and special that all anybody has to do is say “John Carter” or “Dejah Thoris” or “Barsoom” and most everybody even remotely acquainted with Pulp will know what you’re talking about.  Planetary Romance or Sword and Planet as some like to call it is a wildly popular genre in its own right.  Burroughs having struck great success with his Mars books pulled off the same trick with his Carson of Venus books.   In the 1980’s I discovered other books/series in the genre written by Lin Carter, Michael Moorcock, Alan Burke Akers and even…sigh, the “Gor” books written by John Norman.

Suffice it to say without going into detail that some of them I enjoyed and others I shook my head in downright disbelief that they ever got published.  I can happily say that DIRE PLANET by Joel Jenkins is one that I’m glad got published as it’s a wonderful example of what New Pulp is about.  Joel embraces the conventions of Burroughsian Planetary Romance but it does it with a modern day eye.  As a result it’s a book that at once feels familiar and fresh.  Just when you think you know which way the plot is going to go, Joel manages to find another fork in the road that takes you someplace else.

The Earthman taken from his native world to the planet Mars this time around is Garvey Dire and he doesn’t get there by mystical means.  He gets there by spaceship, the NASA Mars Orbiter.  Garvey Dire’s mission is not just one of exploration and discovery.  His mission is one of vital importance to the continued security and safety of The United States.  China wants to establish their own base on Mars.  And so the race is on.

It’s a race that ends in disaster when Garvey’s ship crash lands on Mars.  With his leg broken, losing air and blood, it seems as if Garvey’s story is over.  But that all changes when he sees the image of a gorgeous green skinned swordswoman in armor.  And it’s because of that image his life is saved as he’s transported 50,000 years back into the past and to a Mars unlike any he’s ever dreamed of.

It’s all here; flashing swords against ancient super science.  Hideous beasts and their even more hideous masters.  Noble warriors battling against grotesque humanoid creatures of astounding cruelty.  Captures.  Chases.  Escapes.  Fates worse than death.  And romance.  Garvey Dire finds it all on ancient Mars.

But what really makes DIRE PLANET a cut above other Burroughs inspired Sword and Planet stories is the political element.  Once Garvey gets hurtled back to ancient Mars, Joel doesn’t forget the U.S./China conflict and indeed, the way he cuts back and forth between the two time periods is in true Burroughs tradition as he was expert at juggling two sets of characters, leaving one set in a nail-biting cliffhanger at the end of a chapter then bouncing over to the other set of characters for a chapter then leaving them in an inescapable trap then going back and-

Well, you get the idea.  It’s a good technique that never failed to work for Burroughs because it’s a surefire way of keeping the story going.  Joel even manages to resolve the conflicts in both time periods in a manner that while it’s clever it also involved just a little too much bouncing back and forth through time for my taste.  Not that I’m opposed to time travel, mind you.  But I think that Joel figured that the only way out was to pinball various characters back and forth between the two time periods.  It’s a little bit dizzying but hey, if you’ve hung on with Garvey Dire all that way, you’re going to go on to the end and you won’t be disappointed.

I can’t finish this review without mentioning two of my favorite bits in the book; Number one is the revelation of who The President of The United States. And number two is that Joel apparently is psychic because he predicted one of the most popular devices in use today way back in 2005 when this book was first published.

So should you read DIRE PLANET?  You certainly should.  If you’ve never read anything by Joel Jenkins this is the perfect place to start.  Joel has been writing what we’re now calling New Pulp as long as I’ve known him and we’re talking roughly around 15 years.  And in all that time he’s built up quite the respectable amount of work.  DIRE PLANET is one of his best.

For more information about Joel Jenkins please visit:

The Vaults of Caladrex  http://www.joeljenkins.com/

Pulpwork Press   http://www.pulpwork.com/

If you buy it direct from PulpWork Press you get a 20% discount by entering the following code: 5YRZ6A8W

Also, this same code is good for a 20% discount on all of Joel Jenkins’ titles and most of the other Pulp Work Press titles!

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