INTRODUCTION By Greg Farshtey
Dhalshim a young boy in Cairo is fascinated by the old pulps his grandfather has in the attic much to his mothers disapproval. One day a violent storm comes and the next day Dhalshim finds that the world is changed. Gangsters roam the streets and the city is now under the control of Wu Han the Overgovernor of Dr. Mobius. Wu Han comes around and arrests his mother. Thus is introduced the realm of the Nile Empire. A land where 1930’s pulp fiction is real.
CROCODILOPOLIS By Matt Forbeck
Angel is a bootlegger of illegal booze in the Nile Empire. Secretly he runs guns to the NATO-Isreali forces that are fighting Dr. Mobius. One day the Pharaoh’s soldiers come gunning for him a Rick’s Cafe. Thus starts an adventure that takes him with his friend Omar to a secret facility at the old Roman city of Crocodilopolis.
STORM SHIFT By Douglas Kaufman
A group of Storm Knights are on a mission into the Nile Empire. A reality storm has temporarily shifted the area to Core Earth. Lead by a psychic Janya they are investigating a threat. They instead find a group of Sufis who are pacifist and living in peace. They also find out that the psychic vision is a trap and they do not have that much time before the storm shifts back to pro-Nile. Janya is from the Cyberpapacy and not a storm knight so it could be fatal if she is caught in a new reality. Her only hope is to sincerely convert to Sufism and hide from the coming Nile Storm Knights.
THE CHEKHOV STRAIN By Christopher Kubasik
Wu Han is the Overgovernor of Cairo and a typical stereotype of a ’30s pulp fiction Chinese. He has a Fu Manchu mustache and silken blouse with a dragon image on it. He has long fingernails and cackles evilly. When not planning some diabolical plan he designs and builds death mazes for his enemies. One day he comes up with a truly insidious plan. He kidnaps an actor troupe from L.A. doing a Chekhov play. He plans on distilling the essence of the play using the realms weird science and making a virus. The virus will turn people into a Chekhov play living in quiet desperation unable to act. The virus works too well and infects Wu Han turning him into a three dimensional character.
THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF THE SPIRIT CATS By Douglas Kaufman
A meeting at the Explorer’s club in Khartoum has Lord Cunningham narrate one of his adventures. The Pharaoh’s forces are using a weird science device to transplant their soldiers brains into cats for spying on the resistance. They are also using it to transfer the essence of the Black Jaguar a sort of Tarzan in this realm. This gives their men powers of the jaguar. Luckily Cunningham is able to destroy the device.
THE FACE OF JUSTICE By Kevin Stein
Effie is a secretary for C. Michael Sloan a pulp writer who also happens to be the Wraith a superhero. One day armed men come looking for him and this propels Effie on an adventure that turns her into the superhero Justice.
BILL By Ray Winninger
Bill Burns is a struggling novelist who works doing interviews for an entertainment magazine. He goes to the Nile Empire to interview Dr. Mobius. The realm changes him into a pulp writer.
THE LAND BELOW By Steward Wieck
A troop of the Nile soldiers go to the Land Below a sort of Pellucidar type world that has formed. They find it full of eternity shards but are foiled by the primitive savage Kord.
SHAHRAZAD By Christopher Kubasik
A woman whose father is murdered by a gangster takes the name Shahrazad and sets out for revenge. She manages through an elaborate scheme to steal all of the gangster Muggsy’s loot and redistribute it a la Robin Hood to the poor masses of Cairo.
An anthology about the Nile Empire of Dr. Mobius. A pulp ’30s reality that has invaded Egypt and North Africa. It is filled with gangsters, and superheroes and villains. Weird science, melodramatic behavior and stereotypical characters. This realm is probably the most interesting of the realms in the Torg universe but the quality of the stories were mixed.
Crocododilopis was a standard action story. Nothing really special. Storm Shift was boring. It was a sand storm filled with talk about how a girl must sincerely convert to Sufism. And that was about it.
Now the Chekhov Strain was my favorite. Using Chekhov to create some sort of debilitating plague was a unique idea. Personally I would have used a Pinter play but the story was a fascinating look at the psychology of the human condition.
The Strange Affairs of the Spirit Cats was also a fun good old pulp action story. It had a twist ending that was just hilarious.
The next three were somewhat boring. Face of Justice was a good idea but not handled in an interesting way. Bill was mostly incomprehensible. The Land Below is another good idea not handled well. Most of it is the Pharaoh’s men discussing how they will descend to the Land Below then another agonizing slow descent. Reminds me of the rock climbing scene from the movie Lost Continent.
Finally Shaharzad was an OK attempt. They had the funny gangster slang used which was over the top but made it mildly amusing.
So a mixed bag for their first anthology. Luckily they would improve with subsequent books.