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I have been slowly making my way through the issues of Tales of the Magician’s Skull. Most recently, issue number four. 8.5 x 11 inches in dimensions, 72 pages, $14.99, published in 2020. Cover by Doug Kovacs for this issue. John C. Hocking’s Benhus returns in “Guardian of the Broken Gem.” Benhus is on a […]

Because the Night is the second in James Ellroy’s Detective Lloyd Hopkins trilogy. The Mysterious Press hardback from December 1984, the Avon paperback from October 1986. Ellroy had read Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon (1981) and “realized it was a far superior book.” Ellroy “wanted another shot at making Sergeant Lloyd Hopkins as great a character […]

Remember the Cold War? The potential for missile exchange with nuclear bomb tipped ICBMs, the Soviet Army blasting its way through the Fulda Gap, a dozen brush wars in the Third World? There was a time when the greater perceived threat was from People’s Republic of China and not the Soviet Union.  The Cultural Revolution […]

I have been reading some recent fantasy and it is time for a break. I remembered that I had an omnibus of three novels by James Ellroy, L.A. Noir. The omnibus contains three early novels featuring the detective Lloyd Hopkins. I picked this up used around 15 years ago. I remember seeing it at Barnes […]

A few years back, I wrote about Seabury Quinn’s “Roads” being my favorite Christmas story. My second favorite Christmas story is Manly Wade Wellman’s “On the Hills and Everywhere.” This is one of the John the Balladeer stories. Originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1956 issue and reprinted in Who […]

Science fiction writer Ben Bova died last week on November 29th. Cause of death was pneumonia and a stroke with Covid-19. Blood clots are common with Covid due to damage of of the lining of blood vessel walls. He was known as a science fiction writer getting his start in 1959 with the John C. […]

The survival novel is a subtype of the adventure story. The whole man vs. environment thing drilled into you in 9th grade English class. William Mulvihill’s The Sands of Kalahari was originally published in 1960 winning a Putnam Award. Mulvihill (1923-2004) had around ten novels from the late 1950s to the 1990s. You may have […]

Manly Wade Wellman’s last novel, Cahena¸ was published posthumously in late 1986. I got my copy, again from Weinberg Book in early 1987. This was another Doubleday hardback. The spine on the dustjacket has “Doubleday Science Fiction.” I remember getting sucked in and blowing through the novel. Cahena is an historical novel set in North […]

It is almost Halloween which puts me in the mood for reading some macabre/weird/horror fiction. I bogged down this week reading Richard Laymon’s The Traveling Vampire Show. Time for some short fiction. My favorite macabre/weird/horror collections include Carl Jacobi’s Revelations in Black, Joseph Payne Brennan’s Nine Horrors and a Dream, and E. F. Benson’s Night […]

Around fifteen years ago, there was an online magazine, Flashing Swords. One story that stayed with me was William King’s “Guardian of the Dawn.” The story stood above others in delivery. It featured Kormak, a member of an order that fights servants of darkness. “Guardian of the Dawn” was dark and moody with a strong […]

We are in the middle of a small press fiction golden age – Weirdbook, Tales from the Magician’s Skull, Storyhack, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly come to mind. It reminds me of the old D.I.Y. attitude in punk and alternative music in the late 1970s though the 80s. It is hard to believe that I reviewed the […]

             The concept of imaging past lives, reincarnation, wandering egos has been an idea going back over a century in fiction.                 H. Rider Haggard had the idea of past loves in She (1886). He returned with variations of the idea in The […]