The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 3

Posted: January 20, 2015 in Book reviews
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Edited by Mike Chinn

And so I do my first review of a book I’m in, though don’t worry I won’t say much about my own story. Promise!

Published by the Alchemy Press this book contains twelve stories with pulpish sensibilities, you know the kind of things, superheroes and hard drinking private eyes, smoky bars and the noir feel of a black and white film. I’m not going to delve into each story but I will make special mention of a few to give you a feel for the book.

There’s of course a link between pulp and old fashioned B-movies, but it would be a mistake to think that the stories contained within this anthology are at all formulaic or simplistic, and in fact at either end of the book there are tales that are very erudite in the telling.

Near the start of the book Kim Newman’s Angels of Music has an intriguing proposition whereby the concept of the 1970’s TV show Charlie’s Angels is instead played out in 19th Century Paris, with Irene Adler and two other notable 19th century female literary characters as the Angels, and the Phantom of the Opera in the role of the mysterious Charlie. It’s an incredibly imaginative idea, though it didn’t quite work for me, in part because it outstays its welcome, but also because I suspect a lot of very clever references went clear over my head.

At the end of the book is Emmett, Joey and the Beelz by Ralph Sevush, a tale borne out of religious legends which I’m slightly ashamed to say I started off thinking was rubbish, confused and obvious. All credit to Sevush then because it got more interesting as it went along, and did that rarest of things because it went in a direction I didn’t remotely see coming.

Some of the stories in between are funny, like Rod Rees A Helping Hand, whilst some are downright creepy, such as The Big Picture by Iain Grant that has the feel of an old fashioned horror film of the kind where things you aren’t meant to see are glimpsed in photos taken by a cursed camera.

My favourite story in the collection is probably Rayven Black in the City of Night by Tony Richards, not just because the story of a chunk of London transported to some dark alternate universe is interesting, but also because I liked his prose, it was a fun read.

And then there was the story set in an alternate Britain of the 1950s where the new king discovers that, with great responsibility comes great power…oh hang on, that was my story You’re Majesty, but I won’t say any more about that (except to stress that that the title isn’t a grammatical error!)

With any anthology you’re likely to get stories you don’t like, but the flipside is also true and if you like your heroes to feel like they’ve stepped out of the pages of a 1950s’ comic book, or something more recent like Watchmen or Sin City, I’d be surprised if you didn’t find something to tickle your palate here.

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