Modern Pulp Heroes is an anthology from Pulp Empire/Metahuman Press, and, yes, I appear in it.
Now, I try to be very honest when reviewing these books. If I like a story I say, but I will also say when I do not like stories (without naming said stories). Well, for maybe the second time ever, this is a book where I enjoyed every single tale.
I think what was most pleasing about the book was the fact that by delving into pulp (and putting that ‘modern’ twist on it), there were so many different branches of the old pulp magazines to choose from. And the editor – Nicholas Ahlhelm – made some fine choices across a a number of different genres, from superheroes to sports, from sci-fi to horror. And because of that spread of topics, it made the book easier to settle into. You knew you weren’t going to get twenty variations on the same theme.
Even my story – ‘Return of The Blade’, a masked vigilante type story (not horror or sci-fi or fantasy) – reads quite well amongst this fine collection of tales. And my only criticism of the book is occasional lapses in punctuation (end grammar Nazi mode).
But there are 2 stories I really want to highlight here.
The first is ‘To The Mountaintop’ by Jeff Pawlak. Even though I could see the ending coming from about two pages in, the way it is written sucks the author into the world of sports pulp (picture Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s boxing tales updated). With a main character thrust into the midst of the world of MMA, the writing style carries the reader along with Alan’s journey. The fight descriptions are well done, only occasionally going into insider-speak (e.g. “full-mount position”), and the cast of characters are believable. Great stuff.
The second is ‘Toybox Warrior’ by Teel James Glenn, about Deacon Furie’s encounter with a strange boy and his sister. A creepy horror/urban fantasy story, made all the more horrific by the realistic portrayals of war and war zones. There is little ton say without giving away the ending, but Deacon is a character that In wouldn’t mind reading more about.
This is not to say the other 6 stories were bad because they were all very good, it is just that these two stuck out as being just stunning. And even if I don’t make the cut for Volume 2, I am going to have to buy it just to see where Nicholas Ahlhelm’s ‘Domino Reborn’ goes.
Look, this is a great book to just sit down and lose yourself in. I heartily recommend it. Oh, and it is available on kindle as well.