The PulpRev Sampler Anthology

The first “official” PulpRev anthology is now available. I can’t overstate the the honor it is to see my name on a cover beside the names of authors such as Jon Del Arroz, John C. Wright, Jon Mollison, and the inimitable Thomas Tubb Arkansas.

I’d like to thank our cover artist Todd Everhart, project head Jesse Abraham Lucas, our production guru Dominika Lein, our editing team (yours truly included), and all our contributors. Ladies and gentlemen who made this happen, share a rousing hurrah with me. We laid another stone in the SF&F palace of the future–and make no mistake: we are the future.

So let us tell you some tales to make you wonder, or to to grin and punch the air. Let us tell you some tales–of a battle fought between giant ships as they hang in the soundless void beyond the sky, of an alien god who binds the minds of all mortals into subservience, of a werewolf abducted by an extraterrestrial scouting ship, of a duel between faerie knights to uphold an ancient pact…

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Devil May Cry–Simple Virtues and Sincere Optimism

Image Credit: Steam

Some time ago I left a comment on the Castalia House blog about my love for the ending of Devil May Cry 4. Today I’m going to expand on that with a point-by-point analysis of the final scenes of Devil May Cry 4, from climax to denouement, and explain what it has that you will not see in western media today. Obviously, there are INTENSE SPOILERS henceforth.
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Signal-Boost for Alice: Asylum

I’m a big fan of American McGee, both as a personality and as a game designer, and I, like many others, have been waiting for years something to happen with the Alice franchise. So the recent (terse) announcement on McGee’s personal blog has left me tentatively overjoyed. Of course, nothing is official yet, everything rides on the grace of EA, and of all the games publishers in the world, this one–

Her Name Is Alice

–might actually consider tossing a small amount of cash McGee’s way with instructions to make them something artsy and cool and not too expensive. Two years ago I would have said such a thing was impossible, and for two consecutive E3’s I, along with others, have shaken my head at the indie segments of EA’s presser as a disingenuous and misplaced effort.
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The Novel of the White Powder by Arthur Machen–Review

Machen

This story was originally published in 1895, as part of The Three Impostors. Of the several Machen stories which I have read so far, I find it the most atmospheric and grotesque. I’m afraid that whatever the framing device of The Three Impostors may add, it will diminish these qualities in particular, so I am treating of it as a standalone work.

It’s a first-person account couched as a tale told to several other characters, and starting with a verbal autobiography of the narrator. If you’ve ever read one of Doyle’s Holmes stories, or one of W.H. Hodgson’s Carnacki stories or even certain works by Rider Haggard, you will recognize the device. It seems to be quite emblematic of Victorian literature. I am in the minority, I think, in finding this old-fashioned introductory device charming, especially among the #PulpRev crowd, who want things to happen on the first page. I would rather get “grounded” with a character first, and be given some reason to care about them, right at the outset. Stories that start in medias res tax my patience.

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The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile by Ska Studios–Review

“I had a perfect nightmare
On a starry, torrid sea
I am cast to prison
At a crippled demon’s plea”
—from the initial trailer

This is a sequel to The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, which was published on Xbox Live Arcade, and which I have not played. I downloaded the demo to Vampire Smile one evening, figuring that the sequel would be the better experience, and I was immediately blown away. I cannot overstate this enough—I was blown away. Within this maybe-ten-minute intro level I was not only sold on the game, but sold on the game so hard that I had to buy it on the spot.

In Vampire Smile, you play as either the Dishwasher himself, or his sister, Yuki (in an rather odd arrangement, the game tells Yuki’s story, with the Dishwasher playing through the same levels in her wake and arriving late to most of the major scenes, yet you have to play his story to get the better ending). Yuki is the easier character to play, as the Dishwasher feels slightly less responsive, but once you are used to him he plays with his own, perhaps more graceful, rhythm. Continue reading “The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile by Ska Studios–Review”

Jack of Shadows by Roger Zelazny–Review

I rarely read and am leery of reviewing anything that I consider to be “modern.” The style of prose itself turns me away, as well as a frequent sense of plotlessness; the works are feeble and desultory, all of them. I cannot quite say during which point in time this change occurs, there is no hard-and-fast date I can fix to separate “modern” fiction from the “real thing”, but if I had to choose, I would hazard a guess at the sixties or thereabouts. This is not to say that there might not have been earlier works in this mold; I am not suggesting that the change came about suddenly. But I feel safe in my assumption that the old prose styles were nearly eradicated (at least in genre fiction) by the sixties, and I lower my expectations accordingly.

So it is with some trepidation that I prepare to review Roger Zelazny’s Jack of Shadows, published in ’71. Zelazny has been spoken well of in PulpRev circles, and I am conscious that criticisms of the work based on such a nebulous and indefinable idea, which may merely be my own very personal eccentricity of taste, might be contrary to the aesthetics of the Pulprev. Nevertheless, here we go!

It is not my first outing with Mr. Zelazny’s work. I went through the Amber series recently, all ten books of it. I found them deeply flawed but mildly enjoyable, and I wanted to see how the author would do with a smaller, more self-contained story. My choice was Jack.

The prose feels midway between new and old styles. It reads like, if not contemporary, at least semi-contemporary work. It seems rather like the spare, somewhat sterile prose of today, coupled with the vocabulary of yesterday. Continue reading “Jack of Shadows by Roger Zelazny–Review”