Review of The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane

December 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

The Savage Tales of Solomon KaneThe Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
By Robert E. Howard; Narrated by Paul Boehmer
Publisher: Tantor Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 hours, 30 minutesThemes: / pulp / fantasy / hero / short stories / Publisher summary:

With Conan the Cimmerian, Robert E. Howard created more than the greatest action hero of the twentieth century—he also launched a genre that came to be known as sword and sorcery. But Conan was not the first archetypal adventurer to spring from Howard’s fertile imagination.

He was…a strange blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan…. A hunger in his soul drove him on and on, an urge to right all wrongs, protect all weaker things…. Wayward and restless as the wind, he was consistent in only one respect—he was true to his ideals of justice and right. Such was Solomon Kane.

Collected in this volume are all of the stories that make up the thrilling saga of the dour and deadly Puritan: “Skulls in the Stars,” “The Right Hand of Doom,” “Red Shadows,” “Rattle of Bones,” “The Castle of the Devil,” “Death’s Black Riders,” “The Moon of Skulls,” “The One Black Stain,” “The Blue Flame of Vengeance,” “The Hills of the Dead,” “Hawk of Basti,” “The Return of Sir Richard Grenville,” “Wings in the Night,” “The Footfalls Within,” “The Children of Asshur,” and “Solomon Kane’s Homecoming.”

I don’t normally seem to enjoy older works of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and unfortunately, things were no different here. I was never a Conan fan growing, so I’d never read any of Mr. Howard before. The audiobook collection stars with an obituary or memorium written by H.P. Lovecraft with whom Mr. Howard apparently corresponded.

Mr. Howard is probably best known for his character Conan, but Solomon Kane is often credited as the first “Sword & Sorcery” character.

In this collection of stories Solomon Kane fights Pirates, Ghosts, Vampires, Sorcerors, Harpies and more. Solomon Kane wields daggers, pistols a sword, and in later stories, a magical staff. Sounds like it would be great! Unfortunately I was mostly bored. The best story of the bunch for me was The Children of Asshur, which was only a fragment and therefore ends somewhat abruptly. I would have liked to see where Mr. Howard intended to go with that story.

There are certainly things to like here. The writing isn’t bad and the adventures are certainly varied enough, but it just seemed like not much really happens most of the time. And then there is the racism. You can pull out the usual excuses, when the book what written, or the fact that the racism portrayed is probably accurate to the characters themselves. That doesn’t change the fact for me that it kept pulling me out of the stories.  It’s not in every story, but is present in most, especially those where Solomon Kane travels to Africa. Many times it seemed like an unnecessary aside, rather than an important plot point for or character motivation.

All in all, as I believe these stories are in public domain you might be better off picking one or two to check out rather than the whole collection. I think the best complete story was The Hills of the Dead, where Kane first gets his magic staff and fights a horde of vampires.

Review by Rob Zak.

Review of The Adventures of Doc Savage

August 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - The Adventures of Doc SavageThe Adventures of Doc Savage
Adapted from novels by Lester Dent
Starring Daniel Chodos as Doc Savage
8 Hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: RadioArchives.com
Published: 2010
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hero / Adventure / Pulp / Audio Drama / Skeletons / Chemistry /

Doc Savage is the strongest, smartest, most resourceful, best-looking guy you’ll ever meet. And he fights crime. Born in pulp magazines in the 1930’s, he’s also the subject of 181 novels, and a movie.

The Adventures of Doc Savage contains 13 half-hour episodes of audio drama that were originally broadcast on NPR in 1985. These episodes tell two complete stories that were adapted from novels written by Lester Dent. “Fear Cay” was published in September 1934 and “The Thousand Headed Man” in July 1934. The scripts were written by Will Murray and Roger Rittner.

Having never read a Doc Savage story, I was interested for historical reasons. I’ve run across these novels regularly over the years, but the pulp hero never caught my reading eye. I’m very happy, though, to have heard these audio dramas. They are very well done. They’re action packed, thoroughly entertaining, and as full of camp as you’d hope.

With the opening of “Fear Cay”, I learned that Doc Savage doesn’t work alone. He’s got a team around him that reminds me of Buckaroo Banzai’s crew. (Now, why was Jeff Goldblum wearing that ridiculous cowboy outfit again?) I now realize that Buckaroo had to have been influenced by Doc Savage. Savage also has a diverse team around him – from physical strength to electronic genius – and there’s nothing they can’t handle.

Still, Doc Savage is the best of them all. He’s not among equals. He can overpower multiple men at once, but he’s just as apt to talk himself out of a situation. And he’s got gadgets and/or chemical formulations for everything else that occurs.

In short, I had a great time listening to these dramas. They’re fun.

Find them over at RadioArchives.com.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson