Review of Flying Sparks Vol 1.

Most folks who know us know that Jon Del Arroz & I are interweb buddies. But the dirty secret I have is that I really hadn’t gotten around to reading any of his books yet!

As an editor, I’m frequently swamped, and as a reviewer of old stories with a regular review column, most of my reading energies went towards those…

Well, I ended up backing the first Flying Sparks crowdfund to support Jon, but I only backed for the digital copy. I’m terrible about reading digital stuff, and just never got around to it [like the upward of a dozen Alt-Hero comics I may or may never get to].

This time, I backed for physical copies of both volume 1 and volume 2, and I’m glad I did.

flying sparks

Honestly, part of my procrastination was that Jon Malin’s cover for volume one was pretty uninspiring–it said nothing about the comic and looked like generic cape-stuff. [I prefer covers more evocative of the action within, and almost never go for character portrait covers if I can help it].

But Jethro Morales’ interior art and Shannon Ho’s colors are fantastic. Plus, Jon’s story is really good!  It’s well-paced and exciting. The story is something like a mix of My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but he’s able to pull it off without the campy cheese that a story like that lends itself to.

I’ll be reading volume 2 soon, and I’ve got to say, Flying Sparks is right up there now with The Terrifics in terms of new titles I’m excited about and looking forward to reading more of.

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Short Reviews – Action on Azura by Robertson Osborne

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Action on Azura by Robertson Osborne was featured in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.

Action On Azura Pic

Yes, ‘this fair and gentle world’ populated by giant armor-hided predators, spear throwing weasel-monkey-dog-rat things, bombardier birds, and folks with tentacles growing out of their heads…

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Short Reviews – The Wheel Is Death by Roger Dee

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

 

Ummm... Spoiler Alert!?

Ummm… Spoiler Alert!?

The Wheel Is Death by Roger Dee appeared in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.

More like “The Twist is Obvious”.

This is the only thing I’ve read in Planet Stories that I would say was terrible.  The Wheel Is Death is an incredibly short story (barely over two pages) that spends the bulk of its words pontificating on the evils of technology that destroyed man in the previous age.

The elder explains to a guy why his friend had to be killed—he invented the wheelbarrow.

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Short Reviews – Signal Red by Henry Guth

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Can you believe the guy on the right is the hero?

Can you believe the guy on the right is the hero?

Signal Red by Henry Guth appeared in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.

Signal Red is not a bad story; it’s just, much like the other stories I’ve read in this issue, not what I’d gotten used to from Planet Stories from just a few years earlier.

Humanity has outposts and travel throughout the Solar system, from bases on Mercury to mines on Pluto, however Uranus is at war with the inner planets and their fleets raid and skirmish the vessels travelling between those worlds.  Shano, a dying man whose lungs have been gummed up with crud from his days in the vanium mines of Pluto, makes it onto the last flight out of Mercury bound for Earth just before the general warning of a possible impending attack from Uranian raiders. Those who go out into space during a Signal Red do so at their own risk, but Shano doesn’t care; he just wants to make it back to Earth to see his homeworld one last time before he dies.

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Great Reviews of Cirsova’s Spring Issue by Jon Mollison

Jon begins with a review of the new Tarzan story, Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Tierney:

But the story…is it any good?

Of course it is.  Michael Tierney did the heavy lifting here to prepare the work for publishing, and his stitch-work comes off as invisible.

He also touches upon Jeff Stoner’s story, Atop the Cliffs of Ral-Gri:

In most anthologies published today, the ending would have been telegraphed from paragraph one.  Stoner sets up some inter-party rivalries among the Germans, and never lets you forget that these are the historical bad guys, but he also dangles the results of the encounter with the godling just out of reach until the last possible minute.  He touches on and eludes to the holocaust in a way that leaves the reader in doubt as to whether this is an Indiana Jones style story where our archaeologist learns just enough to pull back at the last instant, or whether it is actually an alternate earth where the events of the story lead directly to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Well played, Mister Stoner.

The Cirsova Spring issue is available in eBook, Paperback, and Hardback now.

Also, Michael Tierney’s new Wild Stars adventure, Wild Star Rising, is available for pre-order through IndieGoGo, along with the all new 35th Anniversary Editions of previous Wild Stars adventures!

Short Reviews – Captain Midas, by Alfred Coppel, Jr.

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Captain Midas by Alfred Coppel, Jr. appeared in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.

Captain Midas is another ‘tough’ story of the hard, grizzled men of space, but without some of the silliness of Ordeal in Space.  Let me start off by saying this would’ve made a great episode of The Outer Limits.

The story starts with the narrator doing the whole badass cynical ‘man of the sea’ bit, telling the story from old spacemen’s home.  He makes a point of noting that he’s old and dying, waiting for death to take him at last:

“My hair is gray and my face…my face is a mask.  The flesh hangs on my bones like a yellow cloth on a rickety frame.  I am old, old. And I wait for the weight of years I’ve never lived to drag me under and let me forget the awful things my eyes have seen.”

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Short Reviews – Ordeal in Space by Ralph Sloan

Ordeal in Space by Ralph Sloan appeared in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.  It is unrelated to the Robert Heinlein story by the same name.Planet Stories Logo

Ordeal in Space is a gritty story of a cop who’s walking a dangerous line between the law and his desire for revenge.  It’s a pretty ‘tough’ tale that’s only slightly marred by one of the sillier sci-fi elements, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Space Patrol Lt. Mike Logan approaches a prison cell with hate and revenge in his heart – he’s going shoot Edward Snyder, the criminal who murdered his brother.  Before he can pull the trigger, Logan is apprehended by one of the prison guards.

Logan’s punishment is to personally take Snyder back to Earth to be hung and see that he gets there alive and in one piece.

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