Edited by Mike Resnick (whom I have heard of), and Bob Garcia (whom I have not.) These are just my quick (less than 2 hrs spent reading the first half of the book) reactions to the stories as I went through them.
1. Tarzan and the Great War – Kristine Kathryn Rusch. KKR demonstrates a profound and fundamental misunderstanding of the character’s morality and, uh, character; and also fails in her handling of even the superficial, uh, characteristics of the, damnit, of Tarzan. How do you utterly strip Tarzan of charisma? KKR manages.
- Wow. KKR is not a good writer.
- BEIGE PROSE–that’s the problem. There is no narrative voice, and if there was, it wouldn’t match ERB’s color or tone.
- Lots of exposition
- no action
- Tarzan is only vaguely like himself.
- Ok, I read three whole pages. Time to skim.
- Tarzan would not torture anyone–even a German spy–for information. Lady, you fail; editors, you fail for allowing this idiocy into your collection.
- Last line: “The man whom they called Tarzan” ??
2. The Fallen, a Tale of Pellucidar – Mercedes Lackey.
- Ok–all honesty here, I don’t like the Pellucidar stories (they gave me nightmares), and I have a vaguely contemptuous attitude towards Mercedes Lackey’s oeuvre. Still, I guess this means I would be less inclined to have strong feelings of fannish betrayal for this story.
- Paragraph 1-2. Hm! A philosopher alone among a race of “barely sapient gorillas” is interesting, evocative! Let’s see where we go from here.
- Paragraph 3. He’s thinking about the difficulties of the marriage market in his situation. Ah well, at least my hopes were not that high.
- So, I at least paid attention to this story’s plot, and it doesn’t seem too bad: a sea monster attacks their boat, and then a girl falls out of the sky on top of them. This is good, as far as it goes…except not. Nothing else happens, story-time-wise, for long enough for said girl to teach Dek son of Kolk how to braid his hair. Then, some action again–
- –Ok, I will not criticize the action but rather give credit: the slowness of the narration of the action is suitable to a philosopher’s point of view–
- –and the story closes with smooches. (Not the philosopher’s.)
- This story was kind of pointless. Girl, Dek, and Ape don’t have personalities, nothing is risked and, more importantly, nothing is won by the battles. The thing about pulp fiction is that they move fast and the stakes are high. There is a sometimes (under poor handling) predictable danger–action–victory–danger–action–victory sequence to them. But what’s worse than predictability, unfortunately affects this story: dullness.
3. Scorpion Men of Venus – Richard Lupoff. I know nothing about the Venus books. This should be good.
- Non-beige prose! +1 star.
- It’s not very good prose! -1/2 star. Even with the gotta have a little cliche loophole.
- Being chased by (something), while hacking their way through carnivorous plants! In medias res beginning and immediate ecalation! +1 star.
- Pwahahaha. R. Lupoff thinks he knows what the pulps are about. (He almost does.) I am enjoying this story, adjectival clunkiness and all.
- +1 star for the mechanical dragonflies. That’s just cool.
- Serious Forbidden Planet vibe.
- + 1 star for a solid ERB-esque backstory.
- -1 star. Dude….maple-walnut syrup?
- Uhhh….well, Ok. Maybe Carson isn’t a one-woman man, unlike, I dunno, every other ERB hero ever?
- Rating: however many stars that adds up to.
4. The Forgotten Sea of Mars – Mike Resnick.
- 1963 you say?
- Funnily enough, I never found out what happened to Tan Hadron of Hastor, either. (I attempted to binge-read the Mars series several years ago, and made it up to A Fighting Man of Mars before tapping out. There’s really only so many times you can a) rescue the princess, b) fail to rescue the princess before it becomes….tedious.)
- Pwahaha, John Carter is not welcome in the (recently rebuilt) Zodanga, since he and Tars Tarkas were the ones who burnt it down…
- Mike wasn’t bragging when he said he copied ERB’s style faithfully. This is almost note-perfect.
- Yep, that’s an ERB-level twist there. (eyeroll.)
- 4/5ths of the mutineers fell overboard? Really, dude? You counted? Before or after?
- Ah, no. Dejah Thoris would not have given him up for dead. What, he’s only been gone on a suicide mission to the end of the earth for, like, a week, tops.
- ….You mention Carthoris a lot, but what about Tara? (wow, story has me actually invested in it!)
- …Unfortunately, M.R.’s mastery of the ERB style also demonstrates a key weakness of said style: that, no matter how tiresome the Rescue-The-Girl plots get, they are much less tiresome than the I-am-Imprisoned-By-Eeeevil plots.
5. Apache Lawman – Ralph Roberts.
- Well, I didn’t read The War Chief, so, let’s go into this one with an open mind:
“Me drink from that spring a little while ago.”
- We’re back to being beige. Not a good sign.
- Writers, please, for the love of God, never write that any weapon is “peeking” out from anywhere, unless it’s a gun and the place is a window, and the sodding gun goes off in the same scene. Thank you.
- Ok, 1 star just for this:
“Tonight I make Hungarian goulash. I have recipe. First add beans. Next, more beans.”
- However, the joke wears thin with Chinese beans = more pepper. The humor is funny, but not Burroughsian.
- Death Bringer should have won.
6. Moon Maid Over Manhattan – Peter David.
7. Tarzan and the Martian Invaders – Kevin J Anderson, Sarah Hoyt.
- Is that “Dune Prequels” Kevin Anderson? Oh boy. And Sarah Hoyt…well, I’ve only read Darkship Thieves, which, while fun, did not exactly blow my socks off. On we go.
- WHAT. The. Hell. [verbatim from my notes….not sure as to why]
- NOPE. Clothing description in paragraph 2. WHY DO YOU NEED A CLOTHING DESCRIPTION IN P2?
- Lady, do you need to grope your husband during daylight or is just a special occasion?
- Prose is a moderate yellow, tending to green.
- Dude, did you…not…notice the groping?
- Ragequit: that entire opening was COMPLETELY UNNECESSRY. The story should have just jumped directly to T gearing up for battle with aid/alerting of French/Brits/D’Arnot.
Part 2 to follow Sunday.