what I did on my holidays

So the Gigantic Semi-Annual Booksale is on, and I had comp leave today (HR is apparently trying to decide whether or how much OT I get for last month’s patroling of the chicken-haunted wastelands.) God being merciful, I walked away with only ten dollars spent (the scifi/fantasy book section is downright skeletal these days.) But they were dollars well spent:

  • Tarzan: Lord of the Jungle & Tarzan & the Lost Empire – Edgar Rice Burroughs – I am slowly but surely compiling the Tarzan series in print.
  • First Aid for Horses – Eleanor Kellon, VMD (My childhood steed died of old age about two years ago, but….)
    • I almost got Marguerite Henry’s Stormy, Misty’s Foal for some of the schoolkids I know…but then decided that the brats wouldn’t appreciate it, anyhow.
  • A Stainless Steel Trio – Harry Harrison (A Stainless Steel Rat is Born, The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted, and The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues)
  • Son of the Black Sword – Larry Correia and yes, I do have it as an ebook; I just wanted a hardback copy. SotBS edged out Terry Pratchett’s Nation on account of costing a dollar less.

Down in the paperback section, I grabbed:

  • The Magician’s Nephew – C. S. Lewis
  • The Song of Roland – Translated by Robert Harrison and also with Guy Gavriel Kay’s name slapped on the cover for some reason.
  • Measure for Measure – Shakespeare
  • Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare, also.

The Shadow Magazine #156 – The Green Hoods

shadow_magazine_vol_1_156So, much has happened in the realm of the gangland-haunted, crime boss-infested, mad genius-harboring and only moderately competently policed 1930s New York. Some of it has to do with the remarkable return of the World War 1 hero aviator and explorer, Kent Allard, who after crash-landing in Guatemala spent twelve years ruling as the white god of a remote Indian tribe and now enjoys a similar celebrity status in modern civilization.

But, mostly, there’s crime.

So our tale begins with Kent Allard receiving an invitation, if he so wishes and is interested in matters of crime, to join The Green Hoods secret society as No. 13, RSVP. Hoods being expected makes it a little bit more believable that no one is going to ask pointed questions when Lamont Cranston (in full Shadow regalia) glides in to scope out the situation instead.

The Green Hoods are interested in crime–to prevent it. They are, it transpires, a group of talented or educated men who gather to share advances in crime detection or prevention….all, it transpires, save one of them, who produces a flashbang, blinds the group–and the spying Shadow–murders and steals the Truth Inducer from the group’s own founder. He gets away with it, too, leaving The Shadow to follow the clues he finds on the dead man’s body and the circumstantial evidence of the attractive but very worried brunette in the alleyway outside. The trail winds mysteriously, but which of the leads is true and which false? The Shadow knows, or at least figures it out well ahead of everybody else.

Mind you, this becomes less impressive when you realize “everybody else” consists of Commissioner Weston (who keeps being rather miffed that he never has the chance to introduce his friend Lamont Cranston to his other friend Kent Allard), and also the poker-faced ace of the New York detective squad, Joe Cardona (whom The Shadow proceeds to use as actual bait for the Green Hood, heh.)

So, the usual suspects periodically get their undergarments in a twist over the idea of non-Present Day fiction a) existing before the Present Day, b) featuring featuring damsels who c) may during the course of the story find themselves in distress. Entirely setting aside the fact that in the Shadowverse this role is in fact routinely reserved for Harry Vincent, it’s also a load of bunk as far as the actual damsels go. Gibson’s dames, whether they be socialites or secretaries, tend to be intelligent, plucky, and good shots with, at the very least, a .22. (Evelyn Rayle, the aforementioned brunette, uses a .32, and on at least one occasion a damsel has borrowed Cardona’s .38 to plug a gorilla.) Evelyn, the dead inventor’s secretary, not only wields her .32 with aplomb, she gets the drop on The Shadow twice, aids him as a temporary agent and reveals vital information to him and to the law in the process.

As mentioned before, one of the ways Gibson kept The Shadow stories always fresh and distinct was to vary the genre and formula as well as the characters. This one is rather light on The Shadow’s agents, as Evelyn Rayle helps out when needed; but it features a larger than usual dose of Weston and Cardona. Although there is a Sekret Society Of Geniuses angle, the plot is mostly a straightforward whodunnit mystery, albeit one complicated by the presence of a distinctive .28 caliber Baby Paterson revolver, an Italian stiletto, a Malaysian “creese,” a French medallion, an intialed watch-chain charm, a distinctive cigar band, and a typewriter that misaligns its and . ‘s.

Like I said, only The Shadow is equipped to see through it all.

Oh, and there’s also a rather cunning death trap, but it’s the kind of death trap that makes the reader start scratching their head and asking questions like, “if this was only set up less than forty-eight hours ago, where are the signs of obvious new construction and remodeling on the roof trapdoor?” “How come the floor was strategically weakened juuuust enough for someone to crash through, three separate times, but yet was able to support the people who worked on it to, y’know, strategically weaken it?” “Why didn’t The Shadow just try the back door, since that’s how the thugs and then also the damsel got in, anyhow?” It is, nevertheless, a cool scene and it’s one of the showcase reasons as to why The Shadow manages to be a consistently terrifying and eternally-dreaded foe to men of evil: because no matter what you do to this guy, there is no guarantee whatsoever that it will work and that he will stay down and even if you do plug him it was probably actually Mike and oh God he’s laughing now….!

Rated: Muahahahahahaha

open

When he reached that woman, he took her by the shoulders and looked down upon her; but there was that in her upturned face that caught the words in his throat. His gaze wavered, though hers did not.
She said in a low, dreaming voice: “Have you come for me, Jalra?”
“Yes.–Yes, I have come for you, Elissa.”
“Your father tried to make me queen. Shall I be your queen, Jalra?”
“You shall. You are! By your father’s word and will, you are his heir!”
“It is swords that decide. How many swords do you have now, Jalra?” And still her voice had lost none of its whispering, winsome, sweetness.
A pause. Then Jalra said hoarsely: “Where is the will, Elissa?”
She did not answer.
When he spoke, he shook her, to one side and then the other. “Where is it? Where is the will? Where is it?”
No answer, but she turned her head and her pale eyes towards the maidservant who crouched beside the bier; the girl clutched a painted jewel-box in both arms, to her chest, trembling.
Jalra pushed Elissa sharply away. He turned to the girl–who gave a faint, terrified cry–snatching the box from her hands. Ignoring her frantic dart aside, he fumbled with the catch and flung open the top.
There were no jewels in that box, nor letters.
Packed in salt, and snow, and its own clotted blood, Jalra the Younger looked down upon his own father’s head.

overheard/spoken

“I think, if Disney wanted to influence politics, they should have just done it the ordinary way–“[simultaneously] “–quietly.”

“Did that hateful tornado lady get her stuff done?”

“I had to take the kitten inside and bottle feed her while her momma was out whoring around.”

“It’s so much trouble when you shoot someone. You have to face the judge here, and you have to face the judge there.”

or spoken: ChAlLeNgInG edition

“As you saw, she gets a little bit…………….challenging…when she’s challenged.”
Mmm-hmmm.”

“Oh, so I may have gotten somebody who isn’t me in trouble. I’m excited. They might not—ehhh, they kinda deserve it.”

“I don’t mind getting rained on, it’s the lightning I’m scared of.”
“Yeah….and I’m taller than you so I have more to be worried about.”

“J lives in interesting times. Permanently lives in interesting times.”

“[….] So…I would give them a call. Someone should still be in the office and they’d be able to help you out better than I could. If not, give me a call back and we’ll try to get somebody’s personal number. Or if there’s something else that I can, y’know, also not help you with.”

Poetry Corner – Song of the Sons

ONE from the ends of the earth—gifts at an open door—
Treason has much, but we, Mother, thy sons have more!
From the whine of a dying man, from the snarl of a wolf-pack freed,
Turn, and the world is thine. Mother, be proud of thy seed!
Count, are we feeble or few? Hear, is our speech so rude?
Look, are we poor in the land? Judge, are we men of The Blood? 

Those that have stayed at thy knees, Mother, go call them in—
We that were bred overseas wait and would speak with our kin.
Not in the dark do we fight—haggle and flout and gibe;
Selling our love for a price, loaning our hearts for a bribe.
Gifts have we only to-day—Love without promise or fee—
Hear, for thy children speak, from the uttermost parts of the sea!

- Rudyard Kipling