Category Archives: pulp
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”
Let’s take a trip back to 1994. Alec Baldwin was on the fast-track to action-movie stardom, following his role as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October. Penelope Ann Miller was a rising starlet, popping up in a growing number of films, the most famous probably being Awakenings and Carlito’s Way, though she was also the titular actor’s daughter in Chaplin. And some movie exec at Universal decided to cast them in leading roles for the expected blockbuster of summer 1994, a revamp of the old pulp hero The Shadow, certain to start an extended franchise of films and toy promotions and tie-in novels and etc.
How about a synopsis?
Like far too many action movies, this one starts with a lightning-fast pre-title-sequence rehash to get the audience up to speed. Alec Baldwin is ornery badass Yin-Ko, Mongolian opium dealer. He’s abducted by the Tulku, stock Tibetan mystic, who’s decided to make Yin-Ko redeem himself and return once more to the light. He apparently succeeds and teaches him psychic powers, because the next thing we know, Baldwin is The Shadow, dishing out vigilante justice to Mugsy and Joey Noodles in the New York City of the Stock Movie ’30s. (And by vigilante justice, I mean he screws with a guy’s head and sends him go confess his crimes.)
The Shadow’s alter-ego is Lamont Cranston, millionaire playboy orphan, nephew to the unsuspecting New York City police chief tasked with going after The Shadow. (Yeah, guess who Batman was ripping off? That’s right. The Spider. Er, I mean, The Phantom Detective. Er. Pulps in general.) Anyways, Uncle Policechief grousing about The Shadow gives Cranston a chance to show off his “clouding men’s minds” psychic powers—the lighting dims, shadows creep across Baldwin’s face, and he pulls the old Jedi mind trick on his own uncle. As their conversation continues, Cranston sees our female leading role: Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller), eccentric society girl whose beauty stuns him into taking her on a date. Whereupon she stuns him again by revealing she has telepathic powers, responding to questions he never asked.
Margo Lane also happens to be the daughter to Professor Reinhardt Lane, played by Ian McKellen back before he had attained nerddom cult status. He’s the typical absent-minded professor, too engrossed in his devices (he’s an atomic scientist, see) to pay attention to his daughter’s relationship woes. His atomic work for the government is designed to be the peaceful generation of cheap power, but he’s worried it’ll be used it to make weapons. Also, he’s colorblind; that’s an important fact that the film beautifully shows without telling. His assistant is a lecherous Tim Curry, which should say all there is about this assistant character.
This film needs a villain, doesn’t it? Cut to the Museum of Natural History, which has just received a Tibetan mummy sarcophagus. The two head scientists wander off to investigate this strange shipment, leaving behind a bumbling security guard, who happens to be there when… it cracks open! To reveal Shiwan Khan (John Lone), descendant of Genghis Khan and fellow student of the Tulku. Though, he failed at redemption and killed the mystic. Khan sets out to conquer the world, using his own telekinetic powers, and a special metal called “bronzium”… which could act as the explosive core for a theoretical atomic bomb. And guess which absent-minded atomic professor just went missing?
Under the hood
You can start to see why Universal thought this was the perfect film to make. Its main competitors of the time were the Batman movies, and The Shadow has a lot of similarities there with its exaggerated hero and villain, psychic powers, and retro-noir setting. Though, its Big Apple is a lot more stock realism than the over-the-top, retro-noir cartoon zaniness of Gotham City. Instead, Shadow can’t seem to figure out if it’s going for seriousness or comic. All of the people Shiwan Khan uses his mind-control on are dumber than sacks of rocks. Take the security guard, for example: they banter back and forth, with the security guard doing his best “Barney Fife post-lobotomy” impression, before Khan has him blow his brains out. Wait, what? You jumped from cheap kiddie laughs to brutal murder? Well then.
Oh, and speaking of zany: Tim Curry’s character has his own Bond-villain death building, some kind of airtight dome down by the bridge which is, again, airtight, has one exit, can fill to the ceiling with water, and has one of those circular-handled hatch doors (like you see on submarines or vaults) which are easily jammed shut with a simple lead pipe. Why? Who knows. Maybe it’s related to his work with beryllium spheres. (“Honey, I have to run down to my airtight death building to do some science!”)
To be fair, this was the kind of stuff The Shadow had to deal with back in the pulps; for vigilante superheroes the ’30s was full of random doofs just waiting to throw their lasers, murder-machines, and airtight death buildings into play. Heck, this film’s villain is trying to take over the world by blowing up New York; I’ll cut some slack for over-the-top villainy.
As for the acting…
Alec Baldwin does a damn fine job as both action hero and millionaire playboy, but I just can’t shake my preconceptions of him as Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock. Worse, I never got a real sense that he’d changed from the pre-title sequence; he spends the film “fighting off” his darker nature, but I never got a sense that a.) he’d lost said darkness, or b.) that this version of the character had it in the first place. Penelope Ann Miller, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to fit. There are some scenes she really shines in. Most of the time, her performance and characterization is annoying.
John Lone chews plenty of scenery with his erudite villain persona, which he does a good job at. I’m not sure if it’s the makeup or if he’s wearing contacts or something, but he has huge eyes, like anime-huge, which was just weird. Ian McKellan is underused, considering he’s made a bigger name for himself than anyone else (arguably excepting Baldwin) in the following decades. Tim Curry is, much as you’d expect, Tim Curry; I’m convinced the man is made of nothing but ham and cheese. Peter Boyle also shows up as The Shadow’s driver, “Moe” Shrevnitz; again, underused, though he gets a few killer one-liners.
And for the pulp fan?
For the most part, the film follows The Shadow’s history and attire well; he’s got his trademark trenchcoat, slouch hat, red scarf, fake nose, and chromed .45′s. And he’s got his trademark driver, and an army of minions working away to keep him informed. The big changes are slight; Margo is telepathic, for one. And “Lamont Cranston” was a real millionaire playboy that The Shadow, really Kent Allard, was using the name of; this complexity was smoothed over. On the downside: the movie kept the old pulps’ “yellow peril” vibes in the form of bad, almost racist Asian stereotypes. Gah.
What about the SFX?
The effects are all over the place. Expect bad early-’90s green-screens butting shoulders with some great matte-paintings, decent backdrops, and other physical effects. And there’s some okay to pretty good early-’90s SFX, namely fight scenes between Yin-Ko/Cranston and a psychic flying knife. (I have to keep reminding myself that Jurassic Park came out the year before.)
The sets can feel noticeably fake—namely the cardboard building backdrops—but in the same way movie sets in the ’30s feel fake. (To try again: things look like ’30s film sets, not ultra-realistic film studio sets of recent years.) To add to the noir feel, the film uses a lot of cheap lighting effects, putting Baldwin in shadow or darkening the area he’s in, to signify the use of his psychic powers. Which I think works pretty well, though it’s admittedly cheap.
The Bottom Line:
That’s the rub of the film: it’s admittedly cheap, it’s corny, it’s got a dated “yellow peril” vibe, it doesn’t know whether to take itself as a serious action film or a Saturday morning matinée. It tries to straddle both lines, and become the action-packed summer blockbuster to launch a franchise to boot. And it failed, bad enough to (reportedly) wrack the careers of its leading stars. It only made $48 million, making it a flop with its $40 million budget.
The Shadow isn’t that bad; it’s good, if you’re willing to let some things slide and take others into account later. It’s a flawed fun movie, a kind of gem of lost action franchises that could have been, plagued with problems and too under-defined to make it any more complex than “mindless entertainment.” Certainly underrated, though it falls short of “great;” there’s a reason its expected franchise didn’t take. But if you’re in the mood for a fun action movie, give it a spin; it won’t disappoint on that front.
Also, take note, Sam Raimi is rumored to head a new Shadow film sometime in the near future.
The latest in Paizo Publishing’s Planet Stories pulp reprint line is a trilogy of early Robert Silverberg tales, written for the digest Science Fiction Adventures, which was in turn looking back to the old Planet Stories pulp for inspiration. The first book, Hunt the Space Witch! (hereafter referred to as HtSW!), contains seven of his earliest stories; the next two each contain three novellas. These stories have been out of print since they were in Ace and Dell paperbacks in the 60s-70s (one of the Ace Doubles I own includes “Slaves of the Star Giants”).
Hunt the Space Witch! is pure pulpy science fiction goodness. Look at the names of the stories it holds: “Slaves of the Star Giants,” “Spawn of the Deadly Sea,” “Valley Beyond Time,” “Hunt the Space Witch!” If those don’t catch your attention, you’re barking up the wrong tree. These are fast-paced tales of adventure and intrigue, of horrific monsters and beautiful star damsels; don’t expect a lot of complex development and you’ll get a lot of pulpy fun. There’s post-apocalyptic vikings and star-spanning empires, interstellar spy games, and a pair of time-travel tales. Like most pulp tales, imagination often outranks complexity, but Silverberg is a solid writer capable of great imagery and tension, two things pulp fiction needs most.
The stories in HtSW! are all medium-short, around 30-40 pages each. This makes them short enough to read in one sitting, without overdosing on the pulp, like popping popcorn. Their short length also constrains them to the basic “introduction, development, ending” formula, so they’re a rushed and choppy at points. It’s also an exercise in watching an author mature: the later stories are better than the earlier ones, in terms of pacing and development.
“Spacerogue” is definitely my favorite, an interesting tale of revenge for the titular mercenary. “The Silent Invaders” is also pretty good, about two warring species of aliens seeding spies into Earth culture. On the other hand, the two time-travel stories, “Slaves of the Star Giants” and “Valley Beyond Time,” are roughly identical. Well, not exactly, but they have a lot of similarities in their basic premise and execution, and it was like reading the same story again. The former is more interesting for its creativity, while the latter is more developed, but far less interesting, culminating in a somewhat random encounter before an abrupt ending.
As with all pulp-era fiction, everyone’s tolerance level varies, but if you’ve picked up other Planet Stories books or have read a lot of ’40s/’50s-era fantastic fiction, you should be right at home. Personally, I’m glad to see Planet Stories branching out into more of the “ray guns and rocket ships” stuff; I’m a fan of their brand of planetary romance and swords-and-sorcery, but variety, as they say, is the spice of life. It’s also worth noting that this is a huge book; the last Planet Stories I found, the Before They Were Giants comp, was relatively huge compared to the rest of the line, and HtSW! dwarfs that by some 30 pages. Also, the price: the Planet Stories pricetag has fluctuated around $15.99 since the change in formatting, which is pretty decent, considering some pulp reprint collections of the same general page count (200-350) have MSRPs of twice that.
I have to say, that’s one of my favorite Planet Stories covers yet, done by the amazing Kieran Yanner; the girl-in-the-nebula is hella-slick, and the old-school primary colors rocket ships are a nice touch. Paizo also has a wallpaper version up. Sadly, the next two books in Paizo’s Silverberg trilogy look a bit different; they’re good, too, with heavy James Bond vibes, but for my money HtSW! is the best of the three.
I’ve been falling down on the job in terms of Hard Case Crime reviews—it’s not that I’m not reading them, it’s that I’m not reviewing them. It’s even more important considering the company’s recent publication woes; the company’s original publisher, Dorchester Publishing, was getting out of mass-market paperbacks.
Luckily, Charles Ardai was swamped with offers from publishers. The good news: Titan Books, based in the UK, is partnering with Hard Case to continue publishing. Titan has an interesting catalog so far, featuring a lot of graphic novel properties, also publishing novelizations for the BBC dinosaur show Primeval.
The better news: Hard Case returns firing both barrels. Those first two books next fall are brand new, one being Quarry’s Ex, a new installment in Max Allan Collins’ series about Quarry the hitman, the other being Choke Hold, Christa Faust’s sequel to her Edgar-nominated Money Shot. The covers are already out there, and they look great.
The worse news: Hard Case is moving towards a quarterly schedule instead of monthly, so Ardai can focus on his other projects… like Haven, the TV show on Syfy he writes and produces.
Also worth note is that Hard Case is coming out with its first hardcover: Getting Off: A Novel of Sex and Violence, by Lawrence Block. Definitely an attention-grabbing title, and Block has a great reputation in the genre… something to keep an eye on.
So, a lot of mixed news this last fall for Hard Case: they’re surviving, but cutting down the number of books. They’re also moving towards trades and hardcovers instead of just mass-market paperbacks. While I personally prefer trades, mass-market paperbacks are a staple of the genre; besides, switching formats constantly means my Hard Case library won’t match up on my shelves.
In any case, the current library of Hard Case work includes a lot of solid novels and the occasional true gem. I’m still chewing through them. For the most part, I have little complaint about the individual books and no complaints about the product line.
Read more for reviews: Hard Case revisits some of lost novels of the 1950s and 1960s with gusto and abandon. Truth be told, I got into Hard Case because of their classic reprints, though their new books have been great.
The spiritual successor to the pulp era came the digest years. After the pulps died, digest-sized magazines dominated the marketplace; while some continued on the pulp tradition of adventure stories chock full of action and scantily-clad space babes, the most popular and well-regarded of the digests had literary aspirations. And while fantasy and horror continued to have niche market shares, science fiction was the dominant medium: between the Cold War and the “Space Age,” science fiction managed to enter the popular vernacular through its strange tales and eerie predictions.
The 5 .5″ x 7.5″ digest-size magazine is now an anachronism; Reader’s Digest is the last surviving magazine in the format. Even TV Guide switched from digest format in 2005. Since most of the science fiction magazines of the 1950s used it as their format, the digest is now a flashback to earlier days. And with the “Space Age” boom of the 1950s, dozens of sf magazines popped up, many surviving for a half-dozen issues or less. These were the golden years of sf, when “science fiction” was becoming a household term, and magazines like Galaxy, Analog, and Worlds of If dominated the marketplace.
To put it simply—there aren’t enough cat-based monsters in D&D.
In the Pathfinder Bestiary, we’ve got lions, tigers (both of them), cheetahs, leopards, and… rakshasha, which now only look like cats, but are evil outsider spirits who screw with people. (Wait, demons?) If I pull out my 3.5 MM, I can use displacer beasts, and there was a coeurl in one of the adventure path modules to make up for it. Going over all of those, we can lump most of them under “great cats,” rakshasha, and “tentacled phase cat” (to prevent either kind of copyright infringement).
There are a number of snake-based creatures, frog-based creatures (including multiple playable races), spider-based creatures, and a bunch of dog-based creatures, an unnecessary number of lizard and reptile and dragon related things. Hell, reptiles even have turtle-based creatures to complete their trifecta.
Why the hate on cats?
A brief history of pulps and the pulp era, and a brief history of the major pulps which published speculative fiction: Weird Tales, Amazing, Astounding, Wonder Stories, and others.
What with the Hard Case Crime and Planet Stories reviews (and rampant fanboyism), it’s no big secret that I’m a huge fan of pulp fiction.
Stumbled onto this site, purely by accident, only to be highly entertained by its collection of retro-themed science fiction. Besides the generator, there’s some choose-your-own-adventure books in the ’30s pulp sf vein, which is the main focus of the site. It’s free, being funded by donations and purchases at their store. Great visuals, great theme, entertaining find.
My favorite results from the generator include “Robot that Caged the Swamp,” obviously an environmental morality play, “Twilight of the Streamlined Cat,” which just sounds intriguing, and “The Electrical Death Ray of History,” which is a greater threat for those who forget history than being doomed to repeat it.
Two (technically three) more Hard Case Crime books; Max Allan Collins lives up to his reputation, and I finally find a Hard Case Crime book I can’t glowingly endorse. (There’s always at least one.) Hard Case Crime continues to dominate the market for classic pulp/noir mysteries, crime, and adventure novels; they’re up to 67 announced books, including a number of big names in the field (Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, Max Allan Collins, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Ed McBain). If there was anything I would change about the company, I’d switch up their production to more than one book a month, but that’s just me being greedy.
As my local Bargain Books had a massive half off sale this New Years’ Day, I wandered in to pick up the Hard Case Crime books I’m missing. Besides the classic noir and mystery novels from pulp era writers like Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block, there’s also plenty of modern talent mixed in, including Stephan King and Max Allen Collins. There’s some fantastic page-turners in here, including a lot of books which can only be found under the Hard Case label.
Needless to say, I continue to read and shill their material like the rabid fanboy I am.
Honestly, I feel kinda guilty about buying these from Bargain Books for half off, but at this rate I may as well just sign up for a subscription directly, seeing as how I own 40 of the first 46 books.
From the first few pages, the novel’s dark atmosphere works as a strong hook, drawing you in through the pain-filled narrative of Joe Dunne, a narrative he relates to a passing American missionary who’s stumbled into the Mexican seaside village Dunne has “retired” to. The atmosphere is enhanced not only by Dunne drowning his sorrows on the lam, however; it starts with the back cover blurb about the plot.
Three young college students go missing in Mississippi while working on voter registration, and the father of one of them hires Dunne to find proof of their death, and then to bring back proof of their killers’ are dead. If that’s not a heavy concept I don’t know what is, considering the politically-charged implications of the real event which occurred just a few years previous. (To be fair, this is not as political as you might think; it’s a PI mystery/thriller through and through.) Dunne’s in this one for the big money, planning on retiring in Mexico after he finishes this job, and ends up taking his assistant Kirby with him as part of his cover. The fact Kirby comes from the deep south herself is a strong asset.
The book’s faults lies with its pacing—the mystery works at a snail’s pace, with clever and methodical planning eating up the vast majority of the story. When the action does come, it’s brief, almost anti-climactic, and the “shock ending” mentioned on the back cover is almost cruel in its random arrival. However, the writing is strong—incredibly so. The characterizations and Dunne’s monologue-narrative are brilliant, both tangible and interesting, a pervasiveness which drives the reader on to finish Dunne’s tale.
Rifkin’s writing, through the persona of Dunne, is amazing, drawing the reader in while introducing interesting new characters, something befitting the slower pacing. His attention to detail, and Dunne’s persona, are amazing as he runs through the PI setting up his investigatory plans and backup-plans. In short, while the mystery is thinly hidden, at least Rifkin’s engaging enough to make the drawn-out revelations palatable to the reader.
By comparison, 361 is a terse little book which hits hard and fast, and doesn’t let up until you’ve run out of pages. Ray Kelly gets out of the Air Force, and prepares to enter civilian life again. All that changes when his life is thrown upside-down; after his father arrives to take him home, a car drives up next to theirs and opens fire. Waking up in the hospital to find he’s lost an eye and a father, Ray and his brother Bill prepare to serve vengeance on the unknown killers.
It sounds so straightforward, but Westlake has plenty of surprises up his sleeve. Just when you think you know what’s coming next, the rug is pulled out from under you with a rapid surprise. In some cases, Westlake builds up the feeling of straightforwardness so expectations set in, right before he drops another surprise in your lap. Heck, the first chapter is a great example—things are going fairly smoothly, perhaps even a bit dully, until the last page, where Ray very calmly reports the car driving up and his father’s death. It’s a marvelous effect, keeping the reader on their toes and keeping the plot rapidly flexible.
This is what you should think of when words like “hardboiled,” “mystery,” and “thriller” are tossed around. It’s a perfect revenge tale, the story of a man with everything taken from him trying to get back at those who wronged him. The action doesn’t really slow down, as there are plenty of fistfights and gunfights, near-escapes and frightfully random twists, all at a breakneck pace. Westlake uses a lot of short, choppy sentences, which adds to the speedy pacing; it doesn’t hurt that it charts in at just over two-hundred pages.
It’s a grim story that doesn’t cut any corners, full of twists and turns. Not only is it a fast read, but it’s also highly enjoyable. It, like most of the other Hard Case offerings, doesn’t push any envelopes or expand the boundaries. But it’s a book that grips you and demands to be finished. And, really, who could ask for anything more.
While digging around the Bargain Books in the mall, I stumbled upon a couple of paperbacks with some amazing pulp-noir crime covers. There was just something familiar about them, I thought, as I hastily assembled a collection of the most interesting novels. These things really fit the bill—beautiful women, men in trench coats, guns, cars with fins. Even the fonts were perfectly retro, flashbacks to the ’50s or ’70s. They even had a little yellow logo with a pistol that reminds me of the old Fawcett Gold Medal line,.
After I arrived home with my sack of twenty of them, I remembered where I’d seen them before. Hard Case Crime really broke to the surface when Stephen King penned a new one called “The Colorado Kid;” with this star power behind them, Hard Case Crime gained enough media attention to pop into several Google searches for pulp novel covers I’d been making. While I’d somehow missed “The Colorado Kid” and some of the others I’d found while Googling, I’d re-discovered a growing underground publisher focusing on reprinting classic crime pulps and publishing modern noir-style talent. And man, was I glad I found them at the Bargain Books.
So far, I’ve only read through a couple novels out of the sack, though I’m pretty enthused so far. The cover price is $7 each, though the Bargain Books has them for $3, and Amazon has them on their 4-for-3 deal. There’s even an annual deal where you get a book a month at half off, and some books have ads for the first year’s run for something like $50. So there’s plenty of ways to get a hold of them. I’ll post more mini-reviews as I go through the things.
Dodge wrote “To Catch a Thief,” one of my favorite Hitchcock flicks, and the similarities show through the pacing and character development. All of the characters are well-rounded, especially the female characters, and you get a fairly good idea of all the characters as the novel proceeds. This combines well with the betrayals, as the protagonist ends up crossed and double-crossed at every twist and turn. The story is a tight-knit little yarn of priceless treasure hidden in the ruins of South America and the assortment of treasure-hunters out to find it. Detective Al Colby is hired to carry a parcel via ship from Chile to Peru, a cake-walk task since he has to hold onto the parcel for ten days and return it once the ship docks in Peru. Only his employer dies mysteriously on the voyage. Investigating further, Colby realizes that the parcel may not have been as innocent as was claimed. From there, it’s a mad chase through exotic scenery to see who ends up with the treasure, with alliances shifting and forming all the way.
Reading through the story is a joy. There’s a real sense of mystery here, and the narrative twists and turns its way around a skillfully complex plot as a myriad of characters, each with their own motives. Quick-paced and never dull, I found little to complain about with this one. There’s plenty of mystery, plenty of danger, and it’s all set in an exotic South American setting, complete with a firm authorial authenticity regarding the setting. Highly recommended, and a good start to things.
The setting to this one interested me most: reporter Sam Briscoe passes by Ireland en route to Switzerland to see his daughter, interviews an IRA leader for a quick St. Patrick’s Day piece, and agrees to pass a sealed envelope on to a barkeeper back in New York. Only, as the bar erupts minutes after he leaves, Briscoe finds that his life, and the life of his daughter, may indeed be in jeopardy. Following this is a rough-and-tumble chase through New York to uncover the truth, and save Briscoe’s daughter from harm, before these mystery bombers can finish whatever they’re doing.
To be honest, this piece had a fairly slow start, and didn’t really get off the ground until Briscoe returned to New York, despite some creepy stalkers following him and his girl in the Swiss alps. Hamill has a definite gift with his narration, which made up for the slow start, at least making things interesting. After the novel gets going, it gets going; Briscoe is quickly enmeshed in the plots, and there’s quite a bit at stake. Despite its small flaws, the book was enjoyable and a good, quick read.
Prepared and published after Spillane’s death by Max Allen Collins, this is more or less Spillane’s swan-song. The plot deals with a retiring cop whose home street and precinct are being demolished. However, he finds out that his fiance, thought dead in a botched kidnapping, is still alive in a retirement village down in Florida, so he goes to live there as her neighbor. She’s got amnesia, but deep within her mind lies the key to a larger mystery—namely, what her abductors were after when they grabbed her in the first place. At its soft nougat core, this is a love story, buried under the hard-boiled detective shell and the bodies stacked like cordwood.
This is a definitive return to the form for Spillane, and it feels like a modern-day parable for both Spillane and his older readers. While everything is updated to a modern sensibility (a computer subplot, use of cell phones, the killers wield AK’s instead of Tommy guns, etc.), there’s a definite theme of age in here. The older characters, love rekindling at retirement, the fact it also comes as a large-print hardcover, all makes it feel kind of like Cocoon for Spillane’s crime-novel readers. The characterization is surprisingly crisp, even though the plot’s not terribly complex or groundbreaking. There’s quite a number of hiccups near the end, most of which are related to the fact Spillane died before writing the last three chapters. I can’t blame Collins too much; his prose does fit Spillane’s style, while at the same time it’s notably more literate. It feels like Spillane wrote out notes for three chapters which wouldn’t fit within three chapters, so, it feels a bit uneven, bumpy, and rushed. All in all, it was enjoyable, a fluffy popcorn novel which didn’t push any envelopes and took no prisoners.
So far, I’m really liking what Hard Case Crime is putting out. A short while after I bought and read some of them, I stumbled upon a wire display stand full of old paperbacks in the basement of an antique mall, which included a copy of The Guns of Heaven. Honestly, I thought the Hard Case copy looked better, with its slick cover, amazing art, retro-style fonts, everything so perfect that the company’s creator, Charles Ardai, is reported to have even measured out the margins and leading to give things the right retro feel.
I have a lot of respect for Ardai; after making his millions with Juno Online Services (mostly known for the blue CDs you got in your mail ten years ago advertising an internet connection for $9.99 a month), Ardai went on to start up a small, independant book publisher focused on simultaneously reprinting and discovering pulp-noir crime fiction. I wish there were many more people like Ardai out there today. We need some more good ole trashy paperbacks.