Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brood of the Witch Queen

"I know you now," she said; "I know you, son of an evil woman, for you wear her ring, the sacred ring of Thoth. You have stained that ring with blood, as she stained it—with the blood of those who loved and trusted you. I could name you, but my lips are sealed—I could name you, brood of a witch, murderer, for I know you now."

Today's fable comes to us from Sax Rohmer, the creator of one of the most famous villains to cross the pulps, Fu Manchu. But rather than one of the entries in the Fu Manchu mythos I felt it would be interesting to delve into some of his earlier and more pure horror-oriented works.

Brood of the Witch Queen was originally serialized in the British magazine Premier for nine issues. It was later published under the title "The Witch's Son" in Mystery Magazine and finally novelized in 1918.

Brood promises to be a lot of fun, using the serialized nature to pass along several adventures leading into the tombs of Egypt. Though "ancient Egyptian evils" are old hat nowadays, in 1914-1918 it was a fairly new concept for the pulp world. I don't really have much more to say about it than that, so let's get going!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Secret Agent X

From nowhere hurtled that black death car. And from nowhere came its grisly occupants. They were not of the earth, for their human flesh was immune to bullets. They were not of the grave, for they manned the wheel and a blasting machine gun... Secret Agent "X" made a desperate maneuver to block their invasion of the land of the living. And in that weird terror trap, he came face to face with a man he knew - a man he knew had died five years ago.

Reading Paul Chadwick's weird detective series WADE HAMMOND has got me on a Chadwick kick. He has a clean style of writing that gets to the point by not being too florid, using terse and short sentence structure that keeps things moving, but still holds a lot of descriptive elements that makes this a very visually-inspiring prose.

His story telling goes down easy and can have a good pay off.

Some of his earlier short stories can have a nice setup but tend to peter out at the climax, but others are tight and brisk all the way through.

I've been reading reviews of the Secret Agent X pulps and have decided to give them a try. If you would like a good look at select reviews of the series I highly suggest heading over to Pulpfan and as always over at Doc Herme's place. I've ordered the first volume of the Altus Press collection which I believe is attempting to reprint the entire series in 9 volumes. The first volume includes Chadwick's The Torture Trust, The Spectral Strangler, The Death-Torch Terror and Ambassador of Doom.

Right now I'm reading one of Emile C. Tepperman's contributions to the series, The Murder Monsters. From what I've read so far, Secret Agent X seems to be an ex spy who after WWI is now financed by a star chamber of benovolent secret benefactors who want to stem the tide of a post war crime wave. The criminals that "X" fights are cut from the cloth of Norvell Page's THE SPIDER, being a rogues gallery of rampaging psychopaths using robots, monsters and costumed henchmen to wreck havoc across the country. The difference is that "X" usually has a protective layer of anonymity to shield him from crooks and cops alike using a broad assortment of expert makeups to disguise himself. Also the prose of "X" doesn't get quite as fever-dream and desperately hopeless like The Spider does, but keeps and even keel on the overall emotional structure of the stories.

This may make "X" a bit less intense than The Spider, but then there's not many bodies of texts that gets a gonzo as The Spider. Nevertheless this series looks like fun and I'm diving in. In fact while I'm reading it at home I'm going to listen in the car as well...

Today's experiment is a later tale in the series written by Chadwick called Legion of the Living Dead. This has great reviews from both Doc Hermes and Pulpfan. This is in print from Wildside Press so if you want a reading copy you might want to order it from them.

So let's give it a spin at!
Download the zip here!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dial P for Pulp podcast

This goes under the "why didn't I know about this before" heading. Dial P for Pulp is a website that has brought news and reviews and some audiobook readings to its listeners since mid-2007. There's a good mix of stuff in each podcast and there's 10 episodes so far, so you might want to check it out.
A detailed guide to each episode along with its download can be found here

What are you waiting for? Go download and listen!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Doctor Zero

Wade Hammond rises again!

There is a long and hallowed line of pulp detective adventurers who have come up against what was known as "Weird Menace". These were detective stories placed in the realm of either the occult, science fiction or horror. But usually they tended to have what I would call a "Scooby Doo" ending, where the supernatural elements are explained away as skulduggery created by some criminal element looking to scare a rich couple out of their mansion, take over a nice yacht or protect a nice pot of gold in an old house. Once in a while the culprits turned out to be bone fide monsters, ghosts and aliens.

Modern occult detectives seem more likely to come across real supernatural circumstances, such as TV's newspaper reporter Kolchak the Night Stalker and the book and TV series The Dresden Files. Dresden is actually a wizard who consults with the police and detectives on cases that have supernatural or unexplainable occurances involved.

But back to ye Olden Dayes of Pulp...

There are quite a few of these Victorian monster smashers out there; Seabury Quinn's Jules de Grandin, William Hope Hodgson's Carnaki, Algernon Blackwood's John Silence, Manly Wade Wellman's John Thunstone and so on. To a certain extent Tom Swift hit upon Weird Menace stories and even Nick Carter came across the occasional ghost caper.

Probably one of the longer running but lesser known of these detectives is gentleman adverturer Wade Hammond. He worked closely with the police on solving various weird menace capers through 40 short stories printed in two different magazines; Detective-Dragnet and Ten Detective Aces. Probably the reason Wade Hammond drifted off into obscurity is because he never got his stories anthologised back in the day, so the reprint and rememeber factor was slim. Also creator and author Paul Chadwick went on to overshadow Hammond with a much more popular character who got his own book series, Secret Agent X.

For the past couple of years Chadwick's Wade Hammond has started getting the omnibus treatment in a series of four collections called The Weird Detective Adventures of Wade Hammond being put out by Off-Trail Publications. Off-Trail is also reprinting the subject of my previous post - Arthur O. Friel's Pedro and Lourenco stories in Amazon Adventures.

I've ordered the first Wade Hammond collection and while I wait for it to arrive, wanted to get a taste of what these stories will be like. I thought I would share and if you enjoy this, please be encouraged to order the Off-Trail collections. They are available at all the online book outlets such as and ebay, etc.

Goto to listen now
listen to the m3u stream
Or download the zip file

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Pathless Trail

In Arthur O. Friel's jungle wilds, everything is out to get you. And he should know as he was a true life explorer and adventurer.

Much like H. Rider Haggard and Talbot Mundy, Friel knew what he was writing about as he "lived the adventure" tracking through the forests of the Amazon and Orinoco. This gives his writing a sense of groundedness that is hard to top outside of the likes of Mundy's African tribes, Haggard's Ivory Trails and William Hope Hodgson's sea tales. Hodgson rode the seas throughout his teen years, giving him a wealth of background to work into his frightening tales.

Friel's writing comes from the same type of pedigree. In fact Friel wrote many articles on his explorations and the book "The River of Seven Stars: Searching for the White Indians on the Orinoco" which is in a new print version coming out sometime later this year. From the product description you can easily see where he got the inspiration for his heroic pulps:

Arthur Friel, relentlessly curious, funded his own mission to find the white Indians of Venezuela. Along the way, he dealt with the severe tropical heat and humidity, diseases like yellow fever and beri-beri, and assorted vicious and deadly creatures packed so densely that they just about trip over each other--giant anacondas, jaguars, leaping spiders, fire ants, snakes of every description, and poisonous centipedes. Then, also, there were the Mayorunas, cannibals and headhunters who occasionally poison the streams because of "real or imaginary enemies." Friel found the white Indians, but they were not what he expected. He made it home and became one of the most popular writers for Adventure magazine during the 1920s and 1930s.

Of course he has inbued much pulpy goodness to his fictional adventures, pitting stalwart explorer heroes against jungle and river vampires, demons and sorcerers. Most of which appeared in the pulp magazine simply known as "Adventure".

About The Pathless Trail

Our experiment today is the first in a series of adventures featuring the soldiers of fortune trio Roderick McKay, Tim Ryan and Meredith Knowlton. They are on the hunt for a missing millionaire "lost" in the Amazonian jungles of South America. Along the way they meet up with Arthur Friel's popular and long running characters Pedro and Lourenco, along with headhunting Mayorunas and the even more frightening Red Bones tribe.

Use megaupload to download the 26 chapter .rar file.
Click here to stream from

Further Listening....
Bill Hollweg in his podcast OTR Swagcast brought to my attention a show I'd come across many times but had never really paid attention to. I LOVE A MYSTERY written and produced by Carlton E. Morse. In particular the serial Bill's highlighting, TEMPLE OF VAMPIRES, is very similar to Friel's Amazonian stories. ILAM is a series featuring three soldiers of fortune turned detectives who globe trot around the world looking for adventure. TEMPLE OF VAMPIRES along with other ILAM serials and even other Carlton E. Morse series such as Adventures By Morse many times feature South American adventures such as LAND OF THE LIVING DEAD and STAIRWAY TO THE SUN .

ILAM can be found at Most of the series is missing and only a few complete serials are believed to exist. For TEMPLE OF VAMPIRES I'd wait and listen to the restored episodes Bill is pushing out every Thursday.

Along with ILAM, other Morse series can be found as well such as the sequel to ILAM, I LOVE ADVENTURE which is the further adventures of the same characters, but with the stories told in total in a single episode form. It is also at

And lastly, Adventures By Morse which contains the South American adventure serial LAND OF THE LIVING DEAD, which is based off of the premise of the original ILAM drama STAIRWAY TO THE SUN. Also at