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Dead on the Bones: Pulp on Fire

Dead on the Bones: Pulp on Fire

by Joe R. Lansdale

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Needing to “dig directly into that pulp well in my head,” Lansdale (the Hap and Leonard series) unleashes eight tales of two-fisted action that invoke the spirits of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard. Heroes (“determined”) and villains (“evil-faced”) square off in exotic locales (Venus, Mars, east Texas). One is pursued by an ice shark through a lost Martian city while on a humanitarian mission (“King of the Cheap Romance”); another reenacts the revenge plot of Hamlet, this time with zombies (“Dead on the Bone”). Estate-authorized pastiches (“Tarzan and the Land That Time Forgot”) nestle next to authentic genre mash-ups that pit Poe’s detective Dupin against Lovecraft’s cosmic horror (“The Gruesome Affair of the Electric Blue Lightning”) or put murder victims literally on ice (“Naked Angel”). Lansdale downplays (but can’t entirely escape) the blatant racism and sexism of the original pulps, so the weeping heroines can be powerful warriors too. Readers who succumb to the adolescent charms of straightforward storytelling with a twist of noir will be entertained, but despite or because of Lansdale’s fondness for the pulps, his voice is muted here, and even his fans may not be enthralled. (Dec.)
Kirkus Review
Sept. 7, 2016
Lansdale pays homage to the pulp writers who inspired him in this loving collection of stories.Dedicated to both Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan and John Carter, and Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, this volume focuses on adventure stories, many with a touch of the fantastic. It gets off to a lovely start with the introduction, a brief memoir of the roots of a writer's imagination, in this case a boy who discovered pulp years after pulp magazines stopped publishing and movie serials when they were a staple of television trying to fill in programming hours in the early days. The influences here range from horror to 19th-century detective fiction to 20th-century noir. Many of the stories read as fan mashups. So, for instance, Poe's detective Auguste Dupin finds himself in the midst of a horror tale; Tarzan, in a story that was approved by his creator's estate and is the collection's best, finds himself in another Burroughs creation, The Land that Time Forgot. Even the stories that don't reference other characters have strange, imaginative touches—like a noir in which the beautiful victim, during a sweltering summer, is found encased in a block of ice. Throughout, there is a palpable affection for these genres and a palpable desire to entertain the reader. This act of a writer's love becomes a show of generosity for the audience.

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Subterranean Press
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6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Joe R. Lansdale (b. 1951) is the author of more than 40 novels and numerous short stories in a range of genres, including Western, horror, science fiction, mystery, and suspense. He has received the Edgar Award and eight Bram Stoker Awards, and several of his books have been adapted into films. He is best known for his Hap Collins and Leonard Pine mystery series, set in the fictional town of LaBorde in East Texas. He lives with his family in Texas.

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