Review: The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes

In the tradition of The Shadow, The Bat, Doc Savage, The Spider; Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Detective Agency; Dusty Ayers & His Battle Birds; Sheena and K-Zar. Hard-boiled detectives, sinister vigilantes, bizarre villains: the staples of the Pulp tradition. Two-fisted heroes – and heroines – fighting for right and justice in the midnight city, foetid jungles or exotic, far-flung lands. Deranged villains for whom the world is never enough. Editor Mike Chinn collects seventeen writers who dive headlong into the world of pulp fiction, to tell us tall tales of daring do, of heroes and heroines and their villains. With stories by Mike Resnick, Peter Atkins, Peter Crowther, Adrian Cole, William Meikle, Joel Lane, Amberle L Husbands, Milo James Fowler, Anne Nicholls, Robert William Iveniuk, Bracken N MacLeod, Chris Iovenko, Joshua Wolf, James Hartley, Ian Gregory, Michael Haynes and Allen Ashley.
To some people Pulp is a four letter word, that invokes feelings of disdain, and shouts of “you’re not worthy”.  To these people I say boo, hisss.  I love pulp, but I hate the term.  I think it does a great disservice to a style of story telling that has held a special place in my heart since my first tentative steps into the world of reading.  So when a book wears its colours as brazenly on its cover as the The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes, then it had better be good.

If there was one person who would be up to this task, then it would be Mike Chinn, author of the fantastic The Paladin Mandates the brilliant Robot Kid.  Over the course of the stories held within the pages of this hugely entertaining volume, Mike Chinn covers practically every single base of pulp fiction.  From the opening story Origins by Mike Resnick, which in true Pulp fashion tells the origin story of one of the genres greatest heroes.

Eyes of Day, Eyes of Night perfectly captures the feel of those classic Saturday Matinee films, bursting to the seams with scoundrelous villains, square jawed heroes, piranhas and the search for some ancient relic, this story cannot help but be fabulous.

Ripples In The Ether by William Meikle, is another one of his excellent Professor Challenger stories.  This time our intrepid hero is tackling an otherworldly menace that is drawn to our plane of existence by the power of broadcasting.  Meikle perfectly captures the essence of Challanger in this fast paced short story.

Ivy’s Secret Origin by Bracken Macleod    is a refreshing take on the super hero origin story.  Where Ivy’s rise to her own personal super hero is told in wonderful style

Currier Dread and The Hair of Destruction  by Ian Gregory is a brilliantly funny tale about a special kind of super villain and there slightly crazy plan.

What anthology about pulp would be complete with out a tale about a down beat fighter trying to make good.  No Way, But The Hard Way by Michael Haynes, takes this genre standard and transports it to a gritty future world, where off world miner Leon is just trying to make enough money for the return trip home.  Haynes captures the fight scenes and the motivation of Haynes perfectly, transforming this well used story into a one, two three, knockout punch.

The Vogue Prince by Adrian Cole is perhaps my favourite story in this excellent collection, with shades of Dr Strange, The Shadow, and Sam Spade.  Cole’s story in my opinion captures the true essence of pulp, shady streets, shady gangsters, and the supernatural all mix together to create a truly satisfying read.

The final honorable mention must go to Joel Lane’s Upon a Granite Wind.  This story is the perfect example of why Pulp is not a four letter word, while the story remains true to the genre, Joel’s brilliant writing shows that Pulp is a genre and not a indication of the standard of writing involved.

The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes  is a spectacularly brilliant read, Mike Chinn, has brought together some great writers in this anthology.  He has also shown that the Pulp genre can be as diverse, satisfying and just as well written as any other genre out there.  Don’t be ashamed folks, go out and get yourself a copy of this book, and prepare to be entertained to the max.

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