My Blog

As a twenty-year Army veteran, I served on the Korean DMZ under fire, as well as Vietnam. I have always been a voracious reader of many genres, and review books for numerous publishers. The main goal of PULP DEN is not only to showcase my books, but also to promote other writers and their books. I review Mystery, Science Fiction, Action and Adventure – and most everything Pulp. I do not read, review, or promote erotica, alternative lifestyle books, horror, vampire, zombies, or werewolves. Warning, if your idea of good writing is an over use of profanity, you will not get a good rating from me. Please keep that in mind. As a pulp magazine collector, I have complete runs of the major character pulps, and have read them all. I have been in pulp fandom since 1970, though a fan much longer. I publish my reviews on this Blog, Amazon, and in a print magazine I also write for. If anyone would be interested in reviewing any of my books, most can be found on Amazon – see the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. And contact me for pdf copies at fadingshadows40@gmail.com

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blaze of Glory

Blaze of Glory

Saving the world is easy for a superhero—unless you’re a fraud.

Jo Tanis is a superhero, fighting evil on the city streets, using her ability to feed off electromagnetic energy and fire off charges—and it’s all just a show. The Agency captures her and others like her when their powers begin to manifest, pitting them against each other in staged, gladiatorial fights. An explosive implant on the back of her neck assures she’ll keep right on smiling for the camera and beating up the bad guys.

When Earth comes under attack, suddenly the show becomes deadly real. Unable to deal with a real alien, the “supers” are falling in droves. Millions of innocent civilians are going to die…unless Jo can cobble together a team from among the fake heroes and villains the Agency enslaved. Including Hunter, who not only promises to show her how to deactivate the implants, but seems to know more than he should about how the mysterious Agency operates.

Forcing a rag-tag bunch of former enemies to work together is the least of Jo’s problems. The trick is determining if Hunter is friend or foe—and becoming the hero everyone thought she was before the world is destroyed for real.

Warning: Contains superhero in-jokes, Canadiana and large alien craft shaped like avocados. Really.

Blaze of Glory (Super Hero)
By Sheryl Nantus
ISBN #978-1609280123
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Price $13.50 Paperback
Price $4.24 Kindle
264 Pages
Rating 4-Stars

In this world of comic book super heroes, a government group called The Agency is looking for people with special powers. Somehow accidents cause these powers to surface in a person, and the Agency is made aware of them through a pro-cog in their service. Jo Tanis is one such woman with super powers. After a brick is thrown against her head, she suddenly finds that she can control magnetic energy, and send these waves out through her hands. Other people have different powers.

The Agency tests each individual for positive and negative potential, then classify them as either super heroes or super villains. Placing an explosive device in their neck to keep them under the Agency’s control, they then enhance their abilities with machinery and gadgets, and put the heroes and villains in fake battles for the television network. The fights are fixed, of course, to draw better ratings. All this changes when alien ships appear over every major city of the world, and one alien comes out of each demanding to fight their local Class A Hero. The aliens are winning, and killing the fake heroes. When the Class B heroes (not quite up to par with the A’s) refuse to fight the aliens and die, The Agency pops their heads off with that device planted in their neck.

Jo Tanis, known as Surf, escapes, and with help from civilian friends they block the detonator in her neck from exploding. She then gathers all the B Heroes and Villains together to fight the alien menace on their own, with their real super powers.

This was a fun read, though there was little characterization. I figure since this is an on-going series the characterization will slowly emerge with the stories. The danger didn’t feel real or threatening enough. Perhaps it lacked the visual of a comic book, and didn’t translate well to prose.  Metal Mike sets off a nuclear device in his robotic suit as he is dying, which destroys many city blocks in New York City, and kills hundreds of people, but it’s like this happens every day - it does in the comic book world. Thoughts of Mike dying pass through Jo’s mind every so often, after all they were living and sleeping together, but it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal. She even has feelings for a new guy right away. My main problem with the story was the heavy use of profanity. It really isn’t necessary. Profanity fails to show change in mood, shock, or danger if used constantly in normal conversation. I would prefer a turn of phrase or witty comeback to make a point instead of using profanity. The story would have been much better without it.

There is no great literature here. The story is told in good comic book adventure style, just missing the visual aspects. Comic book fans everywhere will find a lot to like about the story. After all, super heroes and super villains are what we grew up with.

Tom Johnson
Author of THESE ALIEN SKIES

Excerpt

The wave smashed into us, driving us back so hard I felt my fingernails dig into the lush green grass and lose traction, tugging dirt up under the exposed nails. Then the wave was gone as if it had only been a shared illusion.
The flagpole next to us wavered and then started falling. Without hesitation Slammer leapt into the air and brought it to the ground as softly as he could, his feet digging into the thick soil as he let out a loud huff.
The few windows in the buildings around us shattered, sending shards of glass flying outwards as the bells nearby began to ring, an off-tune melody of confusion that mounted as we watched the two men spin back and forth across the sky near the alien craft. Scrambling to my feet, I looked around and saw the others seemed to be okay. Hunter stayed close, his hands clenching and unclenching as he stared skyward.

The two figures danced back and forth across the sky like a pair of enraged hawks defending their territory. One would dart forward, let go with a series of multicolored bolts of energy that I knew had been stolen from the other supers, and then throw up a force field or a shield of some sort to catch and toss aside the other alien’s attack. It would have been a beautiful display of fireworks if the fate of the whole world hadn’t been hanging on the outcome.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Kid Turns 74

The Kid Turns 74

Tom Johnson was born at 5 AM, Friday, July 26, 1940, at his grandmother’s home in Seymour, Texas, 74 years ago today. Darn, I feel old. The above picture was taken in 1944 at age 4, 70 years ago. I was cute then, and cute now at 74 (lol). I had medical problems when I was born, and the doctor told my mother I would not live past the age of 20, yet I joined the Army at age 18, and spent twenty years in the military, and I’m still around today. I’m thankful for all my friends, all those that I have known, and those no longer with us. It’s been a good life so far, and I hope I can be around for a few more years yet. Below is one of my many memories as a child. I hope you get a kick out of The Day I Fought Frankenstein.
The Kid Today


The Day I Fought – Frankenstein!
           
It’s odd how something insignificant can force your mind to wander into the past on occasion. Recently, while taking my wife to the hospital in Wichita Falls in preparation for surgery, a loud voice drew my attention to a gentleman my age in a wheelchair. He was instructing a person where to wheel him. The man’s voice, and his features triggered something in my brain, and I was again on the San Jacinto elementary school grounds.
Our memories of childhood often reflect on some of the more frightening moments of our life. Though we try to recall the good times, like our first date, first kiss, or even that first bicycle or Red Rider BB Gun. At times other things are brought to mind that may not be all that pleasant. My childhood was filled with many such unpleasant memories.
I attended San Jacinto elementary school in Wichita Falls between 1947 and 1953; sometime around 1951, when I was about eleven, we had a boy in school that was much taller than the rest of us. Being bigger, he tended to be a bully, and pushed the rest of us around on the playground. So we knew to stay out of his way. This kid always acted like he was the Frankenstein monster, walking stiff-legged, with his arms outstretched as if to grab one of us. He took pleasure in seeing us scatter. One day he even stuck something that looked like bolts on both sides of his neck! He was his own Frankenstein monster.
I had a good friend I’d known about four years, since we moved to Wichita Falls. He was a little bit fat, and maybe somewhat awkward, but he was my buddy. It all started at recess one day, when something happened – I don’t know what – but suddenly the kid we called Frankenstein jumped on my pal and was hitting him. Sometimes I do things without thinking. I jumped on the monster!
We had just started swinging when the bell rang, calling an end to recess. We headed for the school building. Frankenstein threatened, “I’ll see you after school!”
I said something like, “Good!”
Unfortunately, I had the rest of the day to think about what this monster was going to do to me after school. It wasn’t a good thought. He would look at me from across the classroom, and snarl.
Time cannot be halted, however, and eventually the bell ending the day finally sounded, and I knew it was time for me to die. Frankenstein was going to kill me. But instead of running home like a sane person, I stopped outside the door and waited for the inevitable. Maybe I had a slim chance, I thought. My heavyset pal was nowhere to be seen, he was smart and got away from school quickly. He wasn’t about to wait around for the monster to tear me from limb to limb, and then start on him!
Well, I waited, and I waited. Just about all of the kids had left the building, and was headed home, only a few stragglers remained. The longer I waited the braver I got. Frankenstein is scared of me! I thought. Well, it was worth thinking anyway.  Just as I was sure the last kid had left the building, a boy came out who remembered about the fight.
“Hey, Frankenstein is waiting for you on the north side of the building!” he yells. “I’ll go get him!”
The north side of the building! Of course, the San Jacinto school building was built in a square, with four sides, four exits! While I had been waiting on the west side, the monster was waiting for me on the north side of the building.
Thankfully, I didn’t have much time to think about my predicament. In no time at all, Frankenstein came running around the building anxious to dismember me. I don’t know who threw the first punch, but we were quickly swinging meaningful headshots; we weren’t skilled fighters, as you can imagine. But I was giving as good as I was getting, and the monster was starting to cry. Maybe I was too. But we kept on throwing those headshots with hard knuckles, and neither of us had gone down.
Suddenly, someone yelled, “The principal is coming.” That ended the fight. Everyone scattered, included Frankenstein. I raced for home also.
I don’t remember if I worried about the monster that night, or not. But the next day school was normal. Frankenstein didn’t approach me. In fact, he never bothered my buddy or me again. Like all bullies, once someone stands up to them, they become less aggressive. But it wasn’t bravery on my part believe me. I had merely acted instinctively, without thinking. If I had had a second to stop and think, I would never have jumped on the Frankenstein monster that day!
There is something of an addendum to this story. In 5th Grade art class one day, our teacher gave us an afternoon assignment. Each of us was to draw a self-portrait of what we wanted to be as an adult. After we finished, she picked up the drawings and glanced through them, and then selected mine and Frankenstein’s to hold up in front of the class. I had drawn a sheriff with a badge on his chest, and Frankenstein had drawn jail bars with him looking out. What she said kind of chilled me. She said, “What you have seen in these drawing is what you will become.”
I didn’t become a sheriff, though I did become a cop for twenty years. I wonder if Frankenstein ended up behind bars? I don’t remember his name, except for what we called him, nor did I ever see him again after leaving San Jacinto school. There were other fights, some even more violent than the day I fought Frankenstein, but few that I remember as vividly.
Was the old man in the wheelchair my Frankenstein monster? I don’t know. I would have felt foolish going up and asking him. From the wheelchair, he posed no threat today, if he was. I’m sure he would have had many fights over the years, so our little encounter at age eleven would not have been something he was likely to recall. I merely watched him a while and remembered other times in my childhood with fonder memories.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Guide

The Guide

Is your fly fishing guide willing to die for you? Stony lives for fly fishing in the wilderness. It literally saved his life. After Stony massacred an entire village in Vietnam, addiction and PTSD almost killed him. Alaska, fly-fishing, and a woman and her wolves brought him back from the brink. He made a vow to her on her deathbed to always help people, and to never kill another man. Now he has a new lover, and is finally clean. So when he takes a seemingly ideal client deep into the wilderness of Rocky Mountain National Park, he never dreams that his most sacred vow will be tested to the breaking point. He will have to save his client from a serial killer, a murderer so devious he has managed to become a respected doctor-and his client's partner. It's taken Stony thirty years to disentangle himself from psychological hell. Now, hampered by all the dangers high altitude wilderness can throw at him, Stony must risk sinking into mental hell forever by killing an evil doctor-or risk losing not only his client, but his new soul mate.

The Guide (Murder Mystery/Adventure)
By Milt Mays
Published by Author
ISBN #978-0991329717
Price $14.95
373 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“Told In Rich And Descriptive Language.”

Dr. Jake Roberts is running from life and his partner. Thinking that he is dying from a cancer caused by Dr. Roman Johnson, who has been killing other patients through cancer injection treatment, Jake doesn’t want to put his family through the horror of his death. Hiring an unsuspecting guide to take him deep into the Rocky Mountains to fish during the late Fall, he hopes to die while camped in the wilderness. However, his partner, Dr. Johnson wants to make sure he dies, and hires an unscrupulous guide to follow them, planning everyone’s death in the back country.

Jake’s guide is Stony, an ex Vietnam veteran, trying to forget the ravages of war and live a sane and peaceful life doing what he loves. He knows the Rocky Mountains and the best fishing spots, and loves to be with nature and the elements. Guiding is his passion, and he has vowed to protect his clients from injury or death. Now with a killer after them, he’s afraid he might revert back to his Vietnam days and kill again, something he promised the woman he loved that he would never do again.

This was a fascinating story set in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains during the chill of approaching winter and snow, with the threat of wolves, grizzly and black bears migrating to new hunting grounds. Add to the natural hazards, there’s a poacher and killer tracking Jake, and Stony doing his best to keep his client alive. The author lives in Colorado, and relies on his background as a doctor and his experience with treating veterans of many wars, including those that fought in Vietnam. He also has a love for fly-fishing. Highly recommended for lovers of great adventure steeped in danger and murder.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Kindle Books Part Three

CRIME’S DARK STREETS: $0.99. Dark streets that lead to ebony alleys in the city’s immigrant district culminate in a spider’s web of fear when emissaries of evil abduct homeless children. When The Masked Avenger promises protection to the city’s unwanted children, can he keep that promise? Follow our paladin as he embarks on his second dangerous mission!


CRIME’S DEATH PLAGUE: $0.99. The trail begins in a Chicago orphanage, but when a boy is kidnapped, it takes The Masked Avenger to New York City where he must uncover the identity of a German scientist and stop him from releasing a deadly virus and killing everyone in New York. Can one man, even such as The Masked Avenger, succeed when America looks to be doomed?


THE DEATH TOWER: $0.99. What was a German agent after in America? During Secret Agent X's recovery at the Montgomery Mansion after the battle with Zerna's drug gang in 1937, Betty Dale falls
into a trap while following a suspect and is captured by a German Spy. Her
whereabouts are unknown, and indeed, it's not known if she's even alive. Agent hasn't fully recovered from his previous battle with the underworld, yet it's imperative for him to locate and rescue the
girl. For she is more precious to him than anything in the world. Should
 Betty be harmed, he will exact vengeance on those responsible!



HUNTER’S MOON: $1.99. The Moon Man in his best adventure since Frederick C. Davis. With the police closing in on Angel's hideaway, the
 danger for the Moon Man is escalating for Great City's Robin Hood. To
compound matters, tragedy strikes close to home. This time, he won’t be
 able to provide help to someone close to him. Sergeant Steve Thatcher, seeing the people struggling to survive, dons the mysterious garments of the Robin Hood thief to relieve the filthy rich of their ill-gotten gains
to be distributed among the poor by ex boxer Ned Dargan. When they come up against an illegal weapons manufacturer masquerading as a toy company, his fiancĂ© is taken prisoner by criminals and he must not only remove them of their money, but put a stop to their weapons sale overseas.


SEVEN MEN OF GREED: $0.99. When the Man In Purple uncovers an evil plot of massive greed, his team of rogues plan to remove their ill-gotten gain from their vaults, one criminal at a time, but he soon discovers that these seven men of crime are as vicious as any mad dog, and a wrong move on his part could easily end his young adventurous career. Follow the Three Rogues as they pit their brains and skills against the evil genius behind The Hooded Circle of 7.


THE SILENCE OF DEATH: $1.99. Colonel Jeremiah Custer's Wild West Show comes across murder in a small Texas town. A mystifying murder mystery ensnares the famous criminologist and sharpshooter when his
team encounters a young boy accused of mayhem. The lad cannot deny the
charges for he can neither hear nor speak. The scientific brain of the
greatest man hunter is put to task as he attempts to unravel this new crime! The ex intelligence officer puts his scientific brain to work to
prove that the deaf mute boy is not the killer. Follow Colonel Custer and
his aides as they unravel this deep mystery, and bring to justice this evil
murderer.


THESE ALIEN SKIES: $2.99. UFOs have been an enigma to people for centuries, but in the 20th Century they made their presence felt worldwide. MSgt Edwards experienced them first hand in the Air Force, when lights in the sky took control of a nuclear missile complex in North Dakota. After retiring, he joined AIM - Alien Intelligence Monitors, and now investigates sightings; is it possible an alien from outer space guides him with a message for Earth?



THE SUICIDE THAT WASN’T: $0.99. By Ginger Johnson.  A local small press publisher, who was also a collector of old Pulp Magazines, was reported to have committed suicide, but Joe and his partner, Amy are on the case. Following some clues at the scene led them to think that it had been murder instead.