Wednesday, January 28, 2009


By Diana & Michael Preston

This is a biography of William Dampier the 17th century explorer and naturalist. He also happened to be a buccaneer and pirate.

Dampier was a typical English lad, if a bit precocious and pompous in his youth. Yearning to get on in the world, he went to the West Indies in 1674. But a life playing second fiddle to a Jamaican planter did not suit Dampier. He soon drifted into the company of lumberjacks. In the West Indies, logwood men were a tough bunch. Like the boucaniers of Hispaniola, the logwood cutters were frontiersmen living on the fringes of the Spanish colonies. And like the boucan-hunters, the logwood men liked a bit of piracy.

Dampier joined in the freebooting about the time that the raiders were moving into Pacific waters. Dampier accompanied them as medic on pillaging expeditions about the Spanish Main as well as in the Pacific. He was an unusual sort of pirate, as interested in carrying off scientific observations as loot (though he did pretty well in the matter of plunder).

A Pirate of Exquisite Mind follows Dampier on his many voyages and offers a wealth of detail thanks to Dampier’s own extensive memoirs. The Prestons examine not only the world that Dampier moved through, but also the man and his reaction to it. Anyone interested in the history of pirates and pillagers as well as those interested in exploration and science will find this book quite readable and informative.

-Dave Hardy

Sunday, January 25, 2009


By Karl Edward Wagner

True confession, when the first Kane novel I read, Dark Crusade, did not impress me all that much. But I kept hearing from others just how good a writer Karl Edward Wagner was. So I gave it another try. I am glad I did!

Death Angel’s Shadow is some of the most hard-boiled Sword & Sorcery (KEW preferred to call it Epic Fantasy) that I have read. Kane is part Conan, part Elric, and I think part Charles Manson. Death Angel is a collection of three novellas where Kane tangles with cursed families, werewolves, dying cities, and the restless, hungry dead. Kane comes out on top, but only just.

The finest story here is “Cold Light”. A stalwart crusader pursues Kane into a remote wasteland. Kane’s multiple iniquities are never in doubt, but the hunter of monsters have an uncanny resemblance to their prey. KEW may not be a great stylist. I find his prose a bit too close to late-20th c. vernacular, it calls attention to itself when it should be silent and timeless. However, KEW manages a superb exploration of the razor thin line between good and evil that practically grabs the reader and slaps him across the face. I’m going to give Karl Edward Wagner’s stories more attention.

-Dave Hardy

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Also of note this week is the 103 anniversary o f the birth of Robert E. Howard, the fantastist, adventure writer, and poet of Cross Plains, Texas. For those of you who might be in that neck of the woods, there will be a birthday gathering at the Howard House and Museum this Saturday, the 24th.

Happy birthday, REH!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy 200th EAP!

Thanks to Steve Tompkins over at The Cimmerian I was notified that today is the 200th birthday of Edgar Allen Poe. We can all marvel at the longevity of Poe's works, as well as his amazing influence on children's television.

Pictured left to right, Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Poe.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Dir. by Larry Blamire

Larry Blamire is some kind of genius. Do you remember all those monster movies you watched on Saturday afternoons when you were a kid? The ones that later got the Mystery Science Theater 3,000 treatment? Well, Larry Blamire sure does, and I guess he misses ‘em ‘cause he done went and wrote his own.

Paul (Larry Blamire) is a Scientist who does Science about Meteors. Paul and Betty (Fay Masterson) head off to the cabin in the woods to find a meteor composed of Atmospherium! Alas, Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe) is looking for the Lost Skeleton of Cadavara in order to help it take over the world! Meanwhile, a pair of aliens, Kro-bar (Andrew Parks) and Lattis (Susan McConnell), crash-land. Wouldn’t you know it but the mutant cage that holds their mutant breaks. Millions will die! Oh well…

The assorted loose cannons go about their merry way scheming to get a hold of the Atmospherium (a rare radioactive substance that emits radioactivity) in that Meteor! Dr. Fleming also has a date with Animala (Jennifer Blaire); a beautiful woman made from several woodland creatures. The lot of them have about the funniest dinner scene on film since The Cook, the Thief, his Wife, her Lover (I have a very inappropriate sense of humor). In the end Earthmen find that aliens aren’t so bad, and aliens discover that Earthmen aren’t just filthy monkey-people.

Anyway, Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is a spot on spoof of Z-movies that left me gasping for breath I was laughing so hard. Watch it Earthling.

-Dave Hardy

JoygirlCommando here- I just wanted to add, this movie is wholesome enough to let the kids watch, but don't let that deter you!!! Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is to B SciFi what This Is Spinal Tap is to the Rockumentary.

Friday, January 16, 2009


By James Hynes

The Lecturer’s Tale is a satire on academia’s culture wars dressed up in the Horror Genre’s kit. Nelson Humbolt is a lowly lecturer in the literature department at a prestigious university. When he loses his job and his index finger on the same day, he seems to have hit rock bottom. But mysterious forces swirl about Nelson’s re-attached digit. He gains the power to control minds.

Nelson’s new found powers take him on an unlikely bulldozer ride through campus politics. Nelson’s principal object of interest, other than his own, is helping his office-mate Vita Deonne advance her career. But nice-guy Nelson has a running battle with angry son-of-a-bitch Nelson. Meanwhile, Vita’s dark secrets threaten to undo any altruistic good Nelson’s evil sorcery might provide.

I rather liked The Lecturer’s Tale, but I freely admit I find French Theory a lot funnier than many other folks. The comedy is broad, at times a bit much. But the spirit of satire and the demolition of pomposity and folly works in any setting, even one as odd as the ‘90s Culture Wars. A special treat is the synopsis of Elvis Presley’s lost cinematic masterpiece Viva Vietnam!

-Dave Hardy

Saturday, January 10, 2009


By Benjamin Wooley

An account of the life and times of Elizabethan England’s foremost philosophical occultist. John Dee was a scholar so cutting edge that he went a bit over the edge. A brilliant man who boldly followed his curiosity wherever it led, Dee explored mapmaking, calendar reform, and astronomy. He also investigated alchemy and astrology, two subjects that Dee’s contemporaries believed to be as scientific, if not more so, than odd notions like Copernicus’s belief that the Earth orbited the Sun. It was spiritual communications and glass gazing that proved to be Dee’s downfall.

Dee came under the influence of one Edward Kelley. This young man was a skryer, one who gazed into a crystal ball and revealed hidden secrets, in this case messages from angels and spirits on how to translate the language of Adam and to find hidden treasure. Wooley meticulously documents just how much of a fraud Kelley was, for Kelley was definitely a fraud who took Dee for just about everything he had including his good name. The tale is s sordid one involving greedy kings, religious zealots, spies and con-men of every sort. The Queen’s Conjurer is a fascinating look at the occult underworld in Elizabethan times.

-Dave Hardy