THE MONSTER FLY AND OTHER STORIES OF THE UNREAL BY CHARLES A. PIDDOCK

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Copyright 1974

THE MONSTER FLY

Sam and Charlie are hiding out from the police outside Yuma City. They see what looks like a plane crash and decide to get out before the police arrive. They drive to the crash site and find a giant ball that changes color. It releases white spheres from an opening. They hatch giant flies which attack them. Later the citizens of Yuma City are attacked by giant flies.

TO THE MIDDLE OF THE EARTH

Captain Leo Leopold is in a meeting with the President of the United States. Seems that Dassia is drilling to the center of the Earth to plant a bomb. They then can threaten to blow up the Earth unless their demands are met. So Leo is to drill down and leave a device that will neutralize the bomb. So he drills down and ends up in Hell with the devil waiting for him.

THE MEN FROM OUTER SPACE

Two aliens Kral and Gak land on a strange new world. They are attacked by a giant centipede. Then they are crushed by the foot of little Billy Cranshaw. The two year old makes sure no more visitors will ever come to planet Earth.

THE TIME MACHINE

Red and Billy are two bums looking for a warm place to spend the night. They come on a garage and see a guy who is building something leave. Going in they find that the thing he was working on is a time machine. They try it out and end up in 1944. The appearance of the machine causes a car to hit a ten year old. When the two go to help they find out it is Red as a child. They jump back into the machine and go back to the present. Only Red is not their. Billy goes to the police and finds out that Red dies as a child in 1944.

THE ZOO

Robert Harrison is upset at his family. They seem content with their lives. While getting drunk mechanical arms come out of the wall and restrain him. His family continue on as if nothing has happened. Later in the morning they join the neighborhood as they go out and play sports. A tram comes along with aliens to see the human exhibit. A voice warns not to feed the humans but the aliens do anyway. As his family go to get the food Robert cries.

NIGHT DRIVER

Cindy is driving home in a winter night in Kansas. A snowstorm causes her car to break down. Luckily a truck comes by and gives her a lift. The man seems friendly but mysteriously talks about saving a lot more lives. She is dropped off at an old couples home and finds out the man is a ghost. He died in a crash that killed a bus full of kids and now goes around trying to make amends.

THE SPIDER GOD

Captain Billy Joe Smith is with some South Vietnamese soldiers checking out a village. A building is still standing and they chase a VC into it. A fight ensures and Billy sees it is some temple. Filled with cages of spiders and an idol of a giant spider. Billy puts out his cigar in the eyes of the idol offending the Spider God. Years later in Denver him and his little daughter are attacked by hordes of spiders. Back in the village the idols eyes then start to glow signaling that the god has been avenged.

So this was a book that I checked out of the school library when I was in second grade. It is written for young kids and has illustrations on every other page to show what the story is trying to convey. The illustrations by Richard Maccabe are crude but effective in visualizing the story. I still vividly remember the drilling to Hell and meeting the Devil and the human zoo. The stories were quite effective on a young mind that I still remembered them after all these years and decided to search out this book. An enjoyable nostalgic trip back to my childhood.

HEROES BOOK III

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Copyright 1992.

ABLE TEAMSecret Justice by Dick Stivers(Ken Rose)

Able Team uncovers an operation run by a rich billionaire with help from elements of the Justice Department. Criminals that have been getting off on technicalities are being taken to a secret prison run in the Arizona desert. Torture, forced labor and executions are common in this extra-judicial concentration camp. Able Team is assigned to put a stop to this violation of the U.S. Constitution. So they manage to infiltrate the prison and cause a general uprising among the inmates.

PHOENIX FORCETerror in Warsaw by Gar Wilson(William Fieldhouse)

As the Berlin Wall was collapsing diehard Communists were planing to strike back. Under a KGB agent the group was known as Macka the Russian word for mask. This cabal would bid their time to undermine the fledgling democracies and bring back Communism. So years later the group is smuggling drugs into Poland and framing American businessmen. The drugs are tainted and killing people. Their ultimate goal to turn the people against the West. They didn’t count on Phoenix Force. The President concerned by the growing drug problem sends this elite squad to take on these Communists the only way they know how. With guns on full auto.

So the final book in the Heroes line from Gold Eagle was actually two books glued together. So we get an Able Team and Phoenix Book. Now both books were enjoyable. The first was a bit over the top with some kooky rich guy and his fascist plans to run a private concentration camp system in the U.S. That would be hard to hide and of course the book does show that. If you suspend some disbelief you get a fun action story.

The second was very much a plausible thing at the time. The Eastern European countries were just throwing off Communism and their was much concern that the resulting instability could destabilize this whole region. So evil unreformed Communists causing trouble was quite believable at the time.

The series didn’t last more than three books. It seems to originally envision three stories for Vietnam: Ground Zero, Able Team and Phoenix Force. Well the Vietnam story was dropped after the first book and by the third it was only two stories of Able Team and Phoenix Force. So I suppose that what sunk this series was several things. One was that the books are thicker than bricks. At four hundred pages plus that could have been a big discouragement. The other is the generic title and equally generic covers. Combined with the length and that most likely discouraged anyone from picking it up.

Now Vietnam: Ground Zero was completely dropped and never heard from again. Able Team and Phoenix Force were rolled into one series called Stony Man. That lasted until 2015 so much have been doing something right. So if you are a fan of any of the three series you should give this series a try. All the stories were top notch and enjoyable.

HEROES BOOK II

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Copyright 1992.

PHOENIX FORCEHell Quest by Gar Wilson(William Fieldhouse)

A U.S. spy satellite has gone down in Ethiopia. So the Phoenix Force is assigned the task of retrieving it. So they must now navigate a country in a civil war with many different factions. In addition teams from Israel and Libya are also there looking to retrieve the satellite and its valuable intelligence. Its a race to see who gets to it first.

ABLE TEAMDeath Lash by Dick Stivers(David North)

The Draculi were the most feared division of the secret police in Romania. Now that the Communist government has been overthrown the group must flee the country. They decide to set up shop in the U.S. and become a criminal enterprise. Selling stolen information to contract killing the group has ambitious plans. First they must steal a super computer from the government. Now Able Team must track down this rogue group and make sure they don’t establish themselves in America.

PHOENIX FORCEDirty Mission by Gar Wilson(Mike Linaker)

A new drug ring in Europe is targeting American soldiers. Washington is alarmed at the rise of the drug deaths and so sends in Phoenix Force to take care of it. They arrive and find that a Colombian cartel has infiltrated the police in Britain. So now Phoenix Force must take down this growing threat the best way they know how, with extreme prejudice.

So the second book in the series includes two Phoenix Force and one Able Team. These stories are a time capsule of the early nineties. The first involves the endless civil war in Ethiopia that was going on for decades and finally winding down after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The starving children dominated the news and inspired endless concerts and fund raisers. Well intentions but mostly useless as the aid ended up warehoused to rot due to the government withholding aid to their rebellious regions or selling it to prop up their military.

The second deals with the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and a rogue group of former secret police from Romania. That was fresh at the time and is a good idea for some villains for Able Team to battle.

The Final is one about the Colombian drug cartels which was also a big thing at the time. All three stories were excellent and enjoyable reads. Filled with wall to wall action and battles with Uzis and AK-47’s. Makes me nostalgic for the nineties.

HEROES BOOK I

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Copyright 1992.

ABLE TEAMRazorback by Dick Stivers(David North)

Hermann “Gadgets” Schwarz is part of the three man Able Team. A clandestine group that is part of the organization known as Stony Man. Gadgets was wounded on the last mission and has time off to recover. While visiting his old martial arts instructor he runs into an old comrade from Vietnam. He invites him over to his farm in Arkansas for some razorback boar hunting. He soon finds out his old buddy is in league with a corrupt sheriff. The sheriff is buying stolen military assault rifles from a white supremacist biker gang and selling it to Colombian drug lords. Soon he finds himself fighting for his life while waiting for his teammates to rescue him.

PHOENIX FORCESurvival Run by Gar Wilson(Mike Linaker)

The U.S. Secretary of State is kidnapped while visiting Saudi Arabia. The group Hammer of Allah is a radical Shiite group lead by the Iranian Abu Niad. The group plans to execute the secretary and broadcast it live on July 4. So Phoenix Force a clandestine group is assigned to rescue him. The search takes the team from Saudi Arabia, to Lebanon and finally an exciting rescue at the terrorists camp in Libya.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZEROZebra Cube by David Baxter(Nicolas Cain)

A high level prisoner exchange is taking place on the Cambodian border. Captain Tate and his squad are to oversee the exchange. Only problem is a renegade Arvin police chief Quac is against this exchange and attempts to stop it. The exchange is really a cover for the NVA to go after a high ranking prisoner General Tran. Tran has been imprisoned in the notorious Zebra Cube so named because of its black and white stripe paint job. A shipping container that is constantly moved. Now Tate and his men must stop the NVA from freeing this notorious prisoner.

So back in the early nineties Gold Eagle decided to merge three of their titles into this anthology series. I got this because it has a lost story from Vietnam: Ground Zero an excellent series. First they decided to give the series a whole new face-lift. A new house name was assigned to the author and new characters were created. It was assigned to the writer of the excellent Saigon Commandos series. He did an excellent job of this story. There was also a subplot about a member of the team returning home to Indiana to attend his parents funeral and getting involved with a Vietnamese stripper. It actually tied in to the main plot. This was also the last Vietnam: Ground Zero ever written. Why they decided to abandon the story I have no idea. Possibly by the nineties the Vietnam war craze was dying down and it didn’t hold much appeal anymore. Still an enjoyable take on the series.

The other two stories are spin offs from the popular Mack Bolan The Executioner series. It involved a clandestine organization called Stony Man that fought the various threats to America. Able Team handled domestic threats while Phoenix Force the international ones. I always wanted to try these series out and now I got my chance. I will say that they were very well written. I read the other stories in the next two anthologies and can say the quality was consistent as we will explore in future posts. I have no doubt that more books are in my future.

WORLDS OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS EDITED BY MIKE RESNICK AND ROBERT T. GARCIA

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Copyright 2013 except The Forgotten Seas of Mars 1965.

TARZAN AND THE GREAT WAR by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Tarzan is in the Kasbah looking for leads to his wife Jane who was taken by Germans. After meeting a man who had no information he is contacted by French intelligence. They want to use him in exposing a group of traitors selling secrets to the Germans. Soon after the head of intelligence is murdered and Tarzan is battling the traitors with the help of an Englishman who had come to strip Tarzan of his title and fortune for the war effort.

THE FALLEN A TALE OF PELLUCIDAR by Mercedes Lackey

A story told by Mok who is an intelligent Sagoth in the service of David Innes. Mok was experimented on by the Mahars and is the only intelligent Sagoth. While visiting Kolk the king of Thuria in the Land of Awful Shadow a woman with wings falls from the sky. She is an inhabitant of the Dead World. Her people are under attack by the Mahars who have fled to the moon after being defeated. Mok is the only one who can communicate with her since she uses the same language as the Mahars. They have an adventure with a storm and hostile island natives. The woman falls in love with the kings son.

SCORPION MEN OF VENUS by Richard A. Lupoff

Carson and Duare are under attack by scorpion men and flying snakes when they are rescued by a mysterious flying ship. It takes them to a complex run by Dr. Bodog and his daughter and son. Bodog comes from Earth and the continent that sank in the Pacific ocean centuries ago. He is also insane and plans to take over the Earth. He goes back with Carson and his daughter who Carson has fallen in love with and land in Los Angeles during a football game.

THE FORGOTTEN SEA OF MARS by Mike Resnick

The writer is in an Arizona cabin that was used by Edgar Rice Burroughs. He meets John Carter and convinces him to tell the story after he defeated Hin Abtol. So Carter starts the search for Tan Hadron who disappeared when mutineers took him. From criminals in Zodanga he learns of another underground sea at the north pole. In the city of Ayathor he finds Hin Abtol continuing his plans of world conquest with another large army of men frozen. He finds Tan Hadron and with another rebel manage to overthrow him.

APACHE LAWMAN by Ralph Roberts

Shoz-Djiji the Apache Devil has settled down in the white man’s world. He manages the ranch of his love Wichita Billings. One day Marshal Fast Sam Dawson comes and offers Shoz a job as a deputy sheriff. Seems another renegade Apache has learned from the white-eyes and plans to take over the territorial government. He manages to stop his plans.

MOON MAID OVER MANHATTAN by Peter David

The story of Nah-ee-lah when she came to Earth. At first she is a celebrity and hounded by the press. Later the Kalkars those commie moon men invade. When her husband dies while killing Orthis she and her young son hide out in Canada. They are pursued by Orthis’s woman and her son for revenge.

TARZAN AND THE MARTIAN INVADERS by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt

Tarzan is at his English manor when he comes across writing from his ancestor who sailed with Drake. He finds out that Martians are coming to invade in Africa where he was born and raised. He goes back and gathers the apes and other animals to fight these tentacled invaders who can control the minds of men.

THE TWO BILLYS A MUCKER STORY by Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens

Billy Byrne has made the ultimate sacrifice by leaving his love Barbara Harding. He soon after gets a message from her that her fiance was kidnapped. So Billy goes off into the Chicago underworld to get him back.

TO THE NEAREST PLANET as told to Todd McCaffrey

The author buys an old typewriter and Edgar Rice Burroughs used. It starts typing and tells the story of Tangor and his trip from Poloda to find another world free of Kapars. The first world they come to Tonos. This world was destroyed in a war and now run by a computer. The remaining people are dying off until he educates them on how to run the machines on the world.

THE DEAD WORLD as related by David Innes to F. Paul Wilson via Gridley wave

David Innes is visiting Thuria when a meteor strikes. It releases a deadly spore that soon takes over the Land of Awful Shadow and starts spewing poisonous gas. David with Perry and Koort the young son of the king of Thuria go by balloon to the Dead World. They find out that the moon is really an artificial ship created by ancient aliens that created Pellucidar. Now they are returning and terraforming Pellucidar. David and friend have to battle cleaning robots to stop the plan.

TARZAN AND THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT by Joe R. Lansdale

Tarzan is coming back from Pellucidar in the O-220 when a story blows the ship to the southern hemisphere and crashes into the ocean. The only survivors are Tarzan, Captain Zuppner and a young Pellucidarian girl named Zamona. The make it to Caspak and battle cannibals that fly pterodactyls. Zuppner and Zamona decide to stay as Tarzan searches for a way home.

This was a cool idea for an anthology. Getting a bunch of writer together and put out stories from the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs. They manage to cover all the base with not only Tarzan and John Carter but Pellucidar and Venus. They also get stories from Burrough’s lesser know works like the Moon Men, Apache Devil the Mucker and Caspak. They even had the continuing story from Beyond the Farthest Star. Many of the writers did a good job of emulating Burroughs. Even using the various first person narratives. Some like the martian invaders or the second Pellucidar story did not feel like something Burroughs would have written but were still entertaining.

The only story I didn’t care for was Lupoff’s Carson story. It was very un-Burroughs like to have Carson and Duare so quickly fall out of love. The romance that Burroughs wrote was one of the strong points to his writing and he just casually has them switch partners. It also just ended like it was only halfway through the story. I suppose there might be a continuation but I found it a complete waste of time. In spite of this story the others made this book a worthy effort.

PLANET OF THE APES TALES FROM THE FORBIDDEN ZONE EDITED BY RICH HANDLEY AND JIM BEARD

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Copyright 2017.

UNFIRED by Dan Abnett

A group of mutants is making a pilgrimage to the holy church in the east. They are lead by a mutant who is unfired i.e. surgically altered so he does not have his psychic power and can kill to protect the pilgrims. They deliver a recently discovered holy scripture the launch codes for the Alpha-Omega missile.

MORE THAN HUMAN, LESS THAN APE by Nancy A. Collins

A young Cornelius goes on an archaeological expedition. They are ambushed by a tribe of baboons. Cornelius befriends the leader and lives among them and learns their culture. An army of gorillas comes and massacres the tribe. Baboons are monkeys and not apes so there is no violation of the sacred scrolls.

BLOOD BROTHERS by Will Murray

From the TV series. Galen, Virdon and Burke are continuing their quest and come to the Napa valley. It is inhabited by Native Americans lead by a gorilla. The gorilla was raised by the tribe and is their chief. He is also the brother of General Urko. He defeats Urko and the fugitives continue on.

THE PACING PLACE by Bob Mayer

An alternate world in which Taylor and Nova are not captured by mutants. They found a settlement called Fort Wayne and teach the younger humans how to talk. The pacing place is the place that Taylor paced while waiting for the birth of his son. A tradition starts where all men pace when their women are giving birth. Taylor dies with a thriving human civilization started.

MURDERER’S ROW by John Jackson Miller

A TV producer for the Hexagon Broadcasting Network has a show that will make the network competitive. He will get the future apes Zira and Cornelius to do a variety show on Saturday also known as Murderer’s Row for the killer competition.

ENDANGERED SPECIES by Greg Cox

Years before the movie a young chimpanzee researcher named Janae is studying humans. She notices that they seem to suppress the ability to speak and decides to try and teach a human to speak. She is murdered by gorillas to stop this heresy.

DANGEROUS IMAGININGS by Paul Kupperberg

A brilliant chimpanzee in an alternate future where the Earth wasn’t destroyed finds the backpack of the astronauts. He uses what he finds to invent new and wondrous inventions. This causes Zaius and the science council to crack down because these inventions are inspired by human technology.

OF MONSTERS AND MEN by Kevin J. Anderson and Sam Knight

A young Zaius goes on a scientific expedition to the Forbidden Zone. It is attacked by lizard creatures and while taking shelter in an old museum learns the truth about humans.

THE UNKNOWN APE by Andrew E.C. Gaska

A story from the animated series. General Urko has taken control of the Alpha-Omega missile and plans to use it against his enemies. Then a mixed army of apes, humans and mutants are lead by the Unknown Ape. This ape is Caesar from the past. With his friends Virgil and MacDonald have traveled to the future to stop the destruction of the world. Caesar manages to destroy the missile by sacrificing his life. Peace ensues between humans, mutants and apes.

SILENCED by Jim Beard

A tale of a young woman who was Taylor’s girlfriend. She had his daughter who was a worker at Ape Management when Caesar takes over. Later a descendant is the queen of the last human city. Finally the last descendant is Nova who speaks just before she is killed.

WHO IS THIS MAN? WHAT SORT OF DEVIL IS HE? by Robert Greenberger

General Urko from the TV series is recovering from his injuries with his family. He tells them of a time year before when he killed other human astronauts that arrived.

STONE MONKEY by Greg Keys

In Asia a siamang is hunted by a gorilla warlord. The warlord wants to live forever and forces the siamang to lead him to the immortal stone monkey. Instead he lead him to a refuge for oppressed monkeys that kill him. It is revealed that the siamang is the immortal monkey from human experiments long ago.

MILO’S TALE by Ty Templeton

Milo is from an advanced chimpanzee society far to the south. He comes with an expedition to investigate the crash of an old human ship. While rebuilding it he meets Zira and Cornelius. While in the ship an army of gorillas arrives and forces them to launch. They witness the destruction of Earth.

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE by Dayton Ward

Galen, Virdon and Burke from the TV series come on the ruins of an old missile silo. Inside they find a message from a group of humans located at Area 51. They invite the fugitive and they manage to flee before General Urko arrives.

THE KING IS DEAD-LONG LIVE THE KING by Rich Handley

Caesar twenty years later is ruling a prosperous settlement. He decides he wants to make peace with the mutants and sends his son. The mutant ruler Mendez comes but Caesar’s son then kills his mother while the wife of Mendez kills her husband. The mutants leave and it is revealed that a mutant with mind control staged the killing because he was opposed to the peace.

BANANA REPUBLIC by Jonathan Maberry

A temple being built on the fringes of ape civilization uncovers a secret. The New Orleans Naval Reserve armory. Inside are stacks of assault rifles and grenades. An orangutan and gorilla decide to use the weapons against the growing power of the heretical chimpanzees.

An anthology of short stories from the original Planet of the Apes universe. Not only all the movies but the TV series and Saturday morning cartoon. What a great idea. Every story was excellent and there wasn’t a dud in the whole book which is rare for a seventeen story anthology. Obviously the level of writers and their passion for the subject helped. Hopefully there will be many more of such anthologies. A true must read for any Planet of the Apes fan.

TORG MYSTERIOUS CAIRO EDITED BY ED STARK

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Copyright 1992.

INTRODUCTION By Ed Stark

‘Square Jaw’ Nichols is about to be fitted with cement shoes and tossed into the Nile by some mobsters. He is saved by the intervention of Captain Cairo. A short little introduction to the world of Cairo in the Nile Empire.

KNOWING THE RULES By Ed Stark

Jack Reynolds is an expatriate American living in Cairo. Since the arrival of Dr. Mobius and his Nile realm he has now got a job as a private investigator. One day the wife of the notorious mob boss Max Burban wants him to find her missing husband. This leads him to a plot by a Japanese corporation to take over the Cairo underworld.

CARNIVAL VOICE By Bill Slavicsek

Angus Cage is getting drunk at a local bar when he is approached by Quentin Payne. Payne owns a shop of strange oddities. He wants Angus to help him resurrect a past pharaoh who is the doppelganger of Dr. Mobius. In exchange he will return to him his beloved Clemeta. Payne is stealing spirits from innocent people so Cage decides to end his plan.

THE SCARAB’S STING By Grey Farshtey

The Silver Scarab is a superhero who gets involved in a plot by the French resistance to frame the Mystery men for crimes against the Cyberpope. They hoped to get the Mystery Men in the fight on their side.

THE SANDS OF CHANGE By Steven Brown

Phillip Collington is a student from England who was affected by the reality storm that changed Egypt. He is now an expert in weird science and helps the Mystery Men with his expertise. One day he gets involved with the hero Sandstorm and his life gets some unexpected excitement.

CRY HAVOC By John Terra

A group of Stormknights are heading to Cairo. They heard rumors of Dr. Mobius developing some new weapon. The group consists of a Core Earth Journalist, a Japanese ninja, an Aylse barbarian woman, and a renegade Hospitaller from the Cyberpapacy. The plane gets shot down and they are rescued by Major Havoc a Mystery Man who carries twin .45s. They destroy a giant robot Sphinx that Dr. Mobius developed. This is what is depicted on the cover.

ICARUS DESCENDING By Greg Farshtey

Paul Bennington owns the Club Icarus. He also runs a criminal exchange that matches criminals to those that need such skills. He has to fight off a Japanese corporation and their ninja assassins who are trying to take over his business.

DEAD END By Shane Lacy Hensley

A young woman has become the superhero Raven to avenge her father’s death. She is ambushed by deadly assassins and is saved by The Shroud. Together the two stop a plot by Dr. Mangler from replacing the leaders of the Nile Empire with clones.

THE DREAMS OF MIDNIGHT By Bill Smith

A professor is assigned by Dr. Mobius to study the strange powers of a young English girl whose parents were killed in an accident. He finds out that the girl holds an ancient spirit and that spirit switches bodies with the professor.

The third anthology for the Torg series. Once again they decide to go back to the Nile Empire. I thing this was the best of their anthologies. They decided to concentrate on what makes this realm so interesting. Namely the superheroes and villains. The weird science and pulp gangsters. They also had some interaction with other cosms. While some stories were better than others they seemed to be on the right track in their stories.