Showing posts with label Joel Jenkins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joel Jenkins. Show all posts

Thursday, April 27, 2017

50 New Pulp Books To Get You Started

I get asked a lot of questions due to my affiliation with New Pulp and I'd have to say that the #2 question I get asked about it is: “Where do I get started? What should I read first just to see what it's all about? What writers should I be reading?”

I can understand the confusion. More than you know. There is a whole lot of New Pulp out there. Some of it is excellent. Some of it is downright astonishing. Some of it is good, some of it okay and a seriously depressing amount of it just plain flat out no good at all. And those of us who write/read and/or review New Pulp feel the crush of recommending books and writers to those of you unfamiliar with the genre but are desperately eager to know more.

That's why back in June of 2014 I put together a list of “25 New Pulp Books To Get You Started.” The purpose and intention of the list was simply to give New Pulp virgins a place to start getting their brains wet and see if they liked these waters.

Since then, a lot more New Pulp books have been written and I saw the need to add more books to the list and so I did, continuing to add to the list each succeeding year, with assistance from my Advisory Board consisting of Lucas Garrett, Barry Reese and Andrew Salmon. My intention is to keep adding to the list until I get up to 100 and then call it quits. After all, if you can't find something worth reading in a pack of 100 books then maybe you just don't like to read.

Again I feel compelled to remind one and all that this list is not intended to slight anybody as many of you have egos as fragile as spider webs (you know who you are) and are more than capable of taking it as a personal insult that your book isn't on the list. Such is not my purpose or pursuit. This list is intended only to be a helpful starting point for those who have no idea where to start reading New Pulp. And if there is a New Pulp book that you feel should be on the list feel free to contact me at DerrickFerguson@gmail.com and what I'll do is hold onto your suggestion until this time of year in 2018 when it is once again time for me to add to the list.

Okay? We clear on that? Good. Then let's get on with it. If you've never read any New Pulp and are anxious to find out for yourself what it's all about then here are 50 NEW PULP BOOKS TO GET YOU STARTED:





HELMET HEAD by Mike Baron
SGT JANUS, SPIRIT BREAKER by Jim Beard
FIGHT CARD: FELONY FISTS by Paul Bishop (writing as Jack Tunney)
LIE CATCHERS by Paul Bishop
THE REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST by Kevin Paul Shaw Broden
ADONIS MORGAN (NOBODY SPECIAL) by Frank Byrnes
NICK NOMAD AND THE HAMMER OF LEMURIA by Myles Campbell
THE MYTH HUNTER: THE LOST CONTINENT by Percival Constantine
DOC ARDAN: CITY OF GOLD AND LEPERS by Guy d'Armen. Adapted by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier
DILLON AND THE VOICE OF ODIN by Derrick Ferguson
BROTHER BONES by Ron Fortier
TAURUS MOON by Keith Gaston
GREEN LAMA UNBOUND by Adam Garcia
THE GREEN LAMA: CRIMSON CIRCLE by Adam Garcia
YESTERYEAR by Tommy Hancock
TALES OF THE VAGABOND BARDS by Nancy Hansen
TO BATTLE BEYOND by C. J. Henderson
HUGH MONN-PRIVATE DETECTIVE by Lee Houston, Jr.
DIRE PLANET by Joel Jenkins
THE BONE QUEEN by Andrea Judy
SILENCED by Nicole Kurtz
SIX DAYS OF THE DRAGON by Roman Leary
GHOSTS OF MANHATTAN by George Mann
MYTHICAL: HEART OF STONE by C.E. Martin
PROHIBITION by Terrence McCauley
CREEPING DAWN: THE RISE OF THE BLACK CENTIPEDE by Chuck Miller
SNOW FALLS by Bobby Nash
FIGHT CARD: THE CUTMAN by Mel Odom (writing as Jack Tunney)
ONCE UPON A TIME IN AFRICA by Balogun Ojetade
THE STEIN AND CANDLE DETECTIVE AGENCY Vol. I by Michael Panush
HAWK: HAND OF THE MACHINE by Van Allen Plexico
SENTINELS I: WHEN STRIKES THE WARLORD by Van Allen Plexico
THE OLD MAN Series by William Preston
THE PEREGRINE OMNIBUS VOL. I by Barry Reese
RABBIT HEART by Barry Reese
PULP HEROES: MORE THAN MORTAL by Wayne Reinagle
THE VRIL AGENDA by Joshua Reynolds and Derrick Ferguson
THE WHITECHAPEL DEMON by Joshua Reynolds
THE LIGHT OF MEN by Andrew Salmon
DAMBALLAH by Charles Saunders
IMARO by Charles Saunders
SUN-KOH, HEIR OF ATLANTIS by Arthur Sippo
THE AUSLANDER FILES by Michael Patrick Sullivan
BASS REEVES, FRONTIER MARSHAL VOL. I by Various Authors
BLACK PULP by Various Authors
DOCTOR OMEGA AND THE SHADOWMEN by Various Authors
HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD by Various Authors
LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION by Various Authors
ROCOCOA by Various Authors
THE RUBY FILES by Various Authors



Thursday, October 2, 2014

15 Months Later With JOEL JENKINS

It’s been a while since the original Kickin’ The Willy Bobo Interview with Joel so I thought it about time we caught up with what he’s all about and what he’s doing 15 MONTHS LATER..

Derrick Ferguson: Have there been any major changes in your life since we last talked?

Joel Jenkins: Most of the major changes are family oriented. I've got one twin daughter going to the University of Washington now, and another heading out for an 18 month mission in San Antonio with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And I've got a son who is now driving not just my car but the cost of my auto insurance to astronomical levels.



DF: Tell us about SKULL CRUSHER

JJ: Skull Crusher is a continuation of a short story I wrote a couple of decades ago, and which was published in Pulp and Dagger. This short fantasy story featured Prince Strommand Greattrix, a great warrior who is seduced, drugged, and captured so that he cannot bring his great sky ship, The Skull Crusher, into play to defend against the surprise attack against his city and family.


The short story ended with Greattrix plunging off the side of the enemy's sky ship. The novel includes this short story and follows Greattrix as he swears an oath of sobriety and celibacy until he can gain vengeance and retake his realm.

Strommand is a very powerful warrior, but he also has a high estimation of himself and a weakness for women. Besides all the sword fights and bloodshed, writing the story was an interesting journey. I was curious to see if Strommand could keep his baser instincts in check or if he would again succumb to the folly that had caused the downfall of his kingdom and the death of his clan.

DF: How do you feel your writing has developed since we last talked?

JJ: I think I've been letting the stories go to some darker and grittier places than I have in the past. I'm tackling protagonists with greater flaws and letting them suffer the consequences of their poor decisions.

DF: Do you think that you have found an audience? Or has your audience found you?

JJ: It's more like a cult following than an audience. Maybe I'll hit critical mass after I write another 18 books, or so, and I'll gain enough readers to call them an audience.

DF: Have any of your attitudes about your work or your style of writing changed complete or modified in any way?

JJ: Yes, I've been able to nearly double my productivity by keeping a tighter focus, and having a brief outline to guide me through the day's writing (and by day, I mean 2 hours each morning before my work day begins). As a consequence, I've got two Barclay Salvage space opera novels written for release in 2015. I've also finished 72,000 words of Sly Gantlet/Dillon team up stories for release in 2015 with Derrick Ferguson's much anticipated “Dead Beat in Khusra”.

DF: Hollywood calls and says that they’re going to give you 500 million dollars and the director of your choice to adapt one of your books into a movie. What book do you choose and what director?

JJ: I would see if it can be done on a lesser budget. The expectations of a big budget movie are so outrageous that they're almost impossible to fulfill. Maybe I could get John Woo to film a Monica Killingsworth film. That would be cool.

DF: Recommend a movie, a book and a TV show.

JJ: I happen to be of the opinion that the PulpWork Press stable of authors include some of the best in the world. I'd recommend trying The Vril Agenda by Josh Reynolds and Derrick Ferguson or Dragon Kings of the Orient by Percival Constantine.

The last movie I saw was The Expendables 3 and you couldn't wipe the grin off my face. It was everything I loved about 80's movies, just with a few more lines and creases in the faces.

As far as TV, any recommendations I might proffer would be 3 to 5 years out of date, since I don't even have an active TV feed coming into my house. I enjoy watching a handful of series, but since I detest wasting time on commercials I wait until they are on DVD, pick them up and watch them at my own leisure.

DF: What are you working on now?

JJ: I just started a Damage Inc. story called “The Madagascar Hole”. With this and the previously published novellas “On Wings of Darkness”, and the infamous “Sun Stealer”, I should have enough to publish a Damage Inc. collection next year.

For those not familiar with Max Damage he is my take on Doc Savage...if Doc Savage had a flaw for every magnificent ability. Max Damage is incredibly strong and heals quickly, but his metabolism is so fast he has to eat like a horse. He has amazing eyesight, but bright light blinds him, so he must wear sunglasses any time he is in the daylight. He has a photographic memory, but he is dyslexic. With his cohorts, the genetically engineered Minnie Zhinov, and the diminutive accountant Seth Armstrong, they encounter all kinds of strange doings--mostly on account of Max's dead father and his vast and shady business dealings.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?


Joel Jenkins: Check Amazon later this month (October 2014) for The Coming of Crow, which features the Native American supernatural investigator and gunfighter Lone Crow. Anyone who thinks that a mélange of Western and Horror sounds interesting, might enjoy this collection of stories.








Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Favorite New Pulp Heroes




Daggone that Barry Reese. You may recall that awhile back Barry posted over at his blog a list of his 10 Favorite Classic Pulp Heroes. Me being a blatant copycat I quickly followed suit with my own list.

Well, now he's done it again but this time it's a list of his 10 Favorite New Pulp Heroes. And quite naturally I again have followed in his illustrious footsteps and done the same.

Some of you might nitpick about my placing Captain Hazzard on this list as he was created back in 1937. My argument for that is this: there was only one story published and with his four Captain Hazzard novels, I consider Ron Fortier to have sufficiently re-imagined the character enough for him to qualify as a New Pulp hero. If you think I'm wrong, feel free to let me know and we'll jaw about it. Okay? Okay.

And I also have a special shout out of my own to Joel Jenkins who made my list twice. So without further delay here's my list of my Favorite New Pulp Heroes:


10: The Imposter (Created by Richard Lee Byers)
9: The Merkabah Rider (Created by Ed Erdelac)
8: Captain Hazzard (Re-Imagined by Ron Fortier)
7: The Pulptress (Created by Tommy Hancock)
6: Damage, Inc. (Created by Joel Jenkins)
5: The Gantlet Brothers (Created by Joel Jenkins)
4: Elisa Hill (Created by Percival Constantine)
3: The Black Centipede (Created by Chuck Miller)
2: Lazarus Gray (Created by Barry Reese)
1: Mr. Brass (Created by Joshua Reynolds)

More information about Mr. Brass can be found here and if you haven't yet read any of his adventures, I heartily suggest you do so.




Monday, September 23, 2013

Keepin' Stuff Straight

Hey, there!  Welcome back and thank you for stopping by once again to see what’s going on in my precious little corner of the world. This time I hope to clarify the purpose of the collection of blogs and Facebook pages I have or am affiliated with as some people have emailed me or contacted me via Skype or IM to ask me exactly how many blogs/FB pages I have and why I have ‘em. So without any more delay...

First there’s my Personal Facebook Page. I used to just dump everything here but I found that after a while even I was getting confused as to what was posted on there and when and why and important stuff like new book releases and movie reviews was getting mixed up with personal stuff and whatnot and it just got to be an unholy mess (is there such a thing a holy mess?)  So gradually I’ve been steering my personal FB page back to what it should be: a personal page. Oh, you’ll see announcements about new books I’ve got coming out and new movie reviews and such as those spheres of interest tend to overlap but I’m going to try and keep my FB personal page personal.  At least that’s the idea.  Moving on…

Usimi Dero.  This Facebook page is named after the birthplace of my most popular character, Dillon.  This is where I’m going to steer most of of my writing business/interests to.  Slowly but surely, but yonder lies The Promised Land and we’ll all get there eventually, I promise. The emphasis here is not only promotion about my work but that of others. So if you’ve got something you’d like to promote, (within reason of course) feel free to sign up. Discussions about anything and everything to do with writing is also encouraged. Digressions into other topics are not only welcome but encouraged.

The Better In The Dark Facebook page is one I administrate/maintain along with Thomas Deja, my On Air Partner, Our Musical Director Kelen Conley and Our Webmaster Kelly Logue. It’s the main method of communication by which Tom and I stay in contact with those with those who listen to and enjoy our podcast, Better In The Dark.  Here’s where I dump all my movie reviews, old and new and where we discuss movies, TV shows, animation, pop culture and a whole buncha other stuff along with our 193 members. If you like movies then this is the place to be.  We’ve got a wonderful and knowledgeable crew of movie fans and I can guarantee you’ll not only be entertained but educated as well.  

And finally the Dillon Facebook page page is alive and well. I actually began that because it was suggested to me by some pretty influential people whose opinion I trust and value me that Dillon should have his own FB. Hey, it doesn’t cost me a thing to maintain and so far it’s been fun interacting with folks who have read the books.

That covers the Facebook pages. Now mind you, I’m not that much of an egomaniac that I expect you to be interested in or join with up with all of ‘em. But if you’re interested in what I do, now you know which ones cover which particular aspect of my career.  Okay? Okay.  We continue onto the blogs…

BLOOD & INK is where you are now. Here is where I cover everything that isn’t Dillon or movie related.  Here’s where I  do the essay thing when I'm in the mood, throw in book reviews now and then, provide you with updates on what I’m working on or what I’ve got coming up.  I also do a series of interviews with writers, artists and various creative types I call “Kickin’ The Willy Bobo With…” mainly I do ‘em as a sneaky way of getting to know more about people I’m interested in.  And there are a lot of folks I know who are doing some serious cool stuff I want to share with you and others.

The DILLON blog has in-depth information on Dillon and his universe.  There are essays written by talented writers such as Percival Constantine and Brent Lambert, reviews of the various books and stories, behind the scenes stuff.  In short, if you’re at all interested in Dillon, this is where you should be. I regularly add to pages such as the Casting Call where I indulge in casting actors as the various characters and pretty soon I’ll be putting up a comprehensive chronology of the order in which the stories and novels should be read.

THE FERGUSON THEATER is where I house all my movies reviews.  I think I’m up to around 400 now.  Or pretty close to that in any rate.  Why movie reviews? Well, people constantly ask me my opinions of movies so I figured if I started writing reviews I could just simply point them to the review. It’s also good for me as a writer, I think. Writing reviews of movies (and books) are an exercise in taking apart a story and finding out what makes it click for me. Taking apart the stories of others helps me take apart my own stories and figure out what works and what doesn’t work.  It’s also just a lot of fun to write about movies.  And if you do drop by to check out my reviews and find them fun and informative there’s a handy dandy Paypal link (“Tip Jar”) by which you can demonstrate your appreciation with filthy lucre.

And PULPWORK PRESS is the imprint under which most of my work has appeared in print. So it's someplace you need to bookmark and stop by there for information on where to purchase not only my books but those written by my extraordinarily talented partners, Joel JenkinsJoshua Reynolds, the aforementioned Percival Constantine and Russ Anderson,


And I leave you with my second favorite quote from my twenty-first favorite book just because it’s my blog and I can. Until we get together again, read some good books, watch some good movies and get plenty of rest.  Peace!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: JOEL JENKINS

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Joel Jenkins?

Joel Jenkins: I'm a husband, father, ordained elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, writer, musician, and firearm enthusiast.


DF: Where do you live and what do you tell the IRS you do for a living?

JJ: I am a resident of the heron-haunted and misty-mountained Great Northwest.

The IRS doesn't much care what I do for a living, they just want their increasingly exorbitant cut, to support an unwieldy central government that has unconstitutionally usurped authority over welfare, health care, and education. According to the Constitution, these are powers which are NOT designated to the Federal government and reserved for the states, if they so choose to exercise them. By usurping these powers the federal government becomes unduly influential over the states, and the citizen has less ability to effect change—not to mention the fact that the federal government absorbs much of those tax dollars just to support its corpulent bureaucracy, and a relatively small portion actually returns to the people for which those dollars are designated.

DF: How long have you been writing?

JJ: I started writing shortly after I learned to read. At age eight I sent my first manuscript into Highlights for Children. It was a story of time travel and dinosaurs. I received a kind and encouraging letter back from the editor explaining that manuscripts should be typed instead of handwritten.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?

JJ: First, I want to tell an imaginative, rousing and vivid story that entertains. Second, even if the protagonist has few or no redeeming qualities, I want to illustrate that good will triumph over evil. Sometimes this may be illustrated by showing the long term consequences of evil actions, even though it may seem that evil has temporarily won the day. I hope to inspire people to good and selfless action through my writing.

DF: When it comes to genre there’s no way to pin you down. You’ve written westerns, blood-n-bullets action adventure, children’s books, heroic fantasy…is that a conscious choice or do you just write what you like?

JJ: I've made a conscious decision not to limit myself to any specific genre. Other than that, I write where my muse takes me, and she takes me in any number of odd directions—some of which I never anticipated.

DF: You wear several hats; small press publisher, writer, editor…which one brings you the greatest satisfaction?

JJ: The hats of small press publisher and editor stem from, or facilitate, writing.  I enjoy these other hats, but if they take too much time I start to resent that they are stealing away from time I could be writing something.

DF: You were writing New Pulp long before there was a New Pulp Movement. How does it feel seeing the explosion of pulp influenced writing and characters springing up in recent years?

JJ: It used to be that a reader who enjoyed highly imaginative fast-paced, and action packed stories had limited options in modern fiction. Now, we are seeing a wealth of options, and a lot of great fiction is coming out. I think it's a great thing.

DF: The organizational structure of Pulpwork Press is somewhat unique. Can you describe it and how it works?

JJ: I can't describe it great detail because some of the shadowy figures behind Pulpwork Press are actually members of the Twelve Unknown Men, who for reasons known to them alternately work for nefarious and noble purposes.

DF: There are plenty of New Pulp publishers out there now but Pulpwork Press was around long before some of them were even thought of. Do you feel that sometimes Pulpwork Press gets overlooked by the community and readers?

JJ: The New Pulp community is an awesome group of creative individuals, but there's little point in getting competitive or jealous about getting the lion's share of attention within a relatively small community. The key is to attract readers from the market as a whole and the New Pulp community, including Pulpwork Press, has a lot to learn as to how to accomplish this.

DF: Where do you see Pulpwork Press in five years?

JJ: On the run from the law and uploading our latest manuscripts via encrypted connections.

DF: Let’s talk about your work now…in particular, Lone Crow who has been showing up quite a bit in recent years. Who is Lone Crow and why the fascination with him?

JJ: Lone Crow is an infamous Native American gunfighter who roamed the wild west earning respect with his pistols. In my stories, he tends to encounter the weird, strange and supernatural, and he's been one of those characters who I haven't been able to stop writing stories about. Next year we'll see a book called Lone Crow Collected, which is a collection of quite a number of those stories which have been published elsewhere, and a good chunk of them which have have never been seen before.



DF: Tell us about STRANGE TRAILS.

JJ: Strange Trails is the brainchild of James Palmer, the head editor at Mechanoid Press. He decided to gather a group of weird west adventures and asked me to contribute a story. I wrote The Steam Devil, where Lone Crow finds himself in the company of the much-feared lawman Bass Reeves. They explore the wreckage of a derailed train and find more than they bargained for.

DF: Tell us about THE WEIRD WORLDS OF JOEL JENKINS

JJ: This is my most recent book and is a collection of short stories and novellas that range over nearly a 25 year period of my published writings. We've got western gunfights, vampire hunters, ghost impersonators, the rock vocalist Matthias Gantlet taking on the heavyweight champion of the world, the assassin Monica Killingsworth doing an interview, and even an audacious sequel to a post-apocalyptic romance story that you wrote. Before each story, I provide a bit of background information, just in case the readers might find it of interest.



DF: There have been PULPWORK CHRISTMAS SPECIALS for the past two years. Are we going to see one for 2013? And is this going to be an annual event we can look forward to?

JJ: Since we give away the Pulpwork Christmas Specials for free, we depend upon the charity of talented and in-demand writers. They have to be willing to contribute work that normally they would be getting paid for doing. Thus far, in the tradition of Christmas, they've been very magnanimous and have offered top-notch Christmas fiction.  I've completed a quite lengthy Monica Killingsworth tale for this year's Christmas Special, and I hope to be receiving some further contributions soon.



DF: ONE FOOT IN MY GRAVE is a book you’ve lived with for a long time. Tell us about the background of the September Peterson character and why this novel is so important to you.

JJ: September was a friend of mine since my youth. He suffered from a lung condition called cystic fibrosis, which makes life hard and generally short. On his death bed he requested I write his life story … and he had quite an action-packed story to tell.  So bringing this project to fruition had a very personal meaning to me.



DF: Tell us about THE GANTLET BROTHERS: SOLD OUT.

Sold Out will be published later this year and is the third in the Gantlet Brothers series: the first being The Nuclear Suitcase, and the second The Gantlet Brothers Greatest Hits. The Gantlet Brothers escaped across the Berlin wall in the 1980's and proceeded to become one of the world's premiere metal bands, but they also had a penchant for violence and it seemed that trouble often crossed their path … either that or they went looking for it. My regular readers know that I've never shied away from killing major characters, and they'll likely see at least one major character meet a grisly end in this thriller.

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Joel Jenkins like?

JJ: I like to get up early, eat, write, hit the punching bag and lift weights before heading to work. This summer we've had particularly good weather and a few mornings I've been able to write while enjoying the sunshine on the balcony.  Things have been slow at the day job, so I've had extra time in the morning, making it a particularly lazy summer. As a result my writing output has more than doubled.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?

Joel Jenkins: I've already divulged far too much for my own safety.




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!

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/