Saturday, 11 May 2013

ePulp Review of the Week - Dodge Dalton in the Shadow of Falcon's Wings by Sean Ellis.

The Adventures of Dodge Dalton in the Shadow of Falcon's WingsThe Adventures of Dodge Dalton in the Shadow of Falcon's Wings by Sean Ellis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

*Pulp Warning* All my e-reading is e-pulp related so my reviews are thus minded. Reader beware :) *Pulp Warning*

Overall: 3 stars (You might like it)

Although this story had all the classic pulp adventure elements it seemed to drag relative to other examples of the field. As a mainstream adventure story it does the job with plenty of the good stuff the genre has to offer but as e-pulp it seems to drag in an unnecessary way I found frustrating.

Pacing and Action: 3 stars.

This was a bizarre reading experience for me because while the story seemed to have everything I could want in a pulp tale it became really hard going by the halfway mark. The action was often described from a distance, the character perspectives were complicated by a timeline that would jump back and forth, even on cliffhanger chapter endings, and the characters seemed to be constantly reflecting on things and telling rather than showing. There also didn't seem to be any logical drive to the plot so things would drag out over chapters without any sense of where we were headed. The overall effect was bulky and wordy and I found it very frustrating.

If you're not especially pulp inclined then add another star as many of these things won't bother you. But I was expecting some high pulp and this wasn't really it.

Pulp Concept: 3 stars.

The pulp concepts were fairly simple with the stereotypical period setting and some whacky, fun pulp sci fi elements but the constant use of meta-style self referencing was a bit of a drag. I don't know if the writer was trying to say something or just so wrapped up in the pulps that his hero had to be a pulp writer as well but it caused some logic kinks that had me stopping to wonder if I was supposed to be reading something into this or not. Either way it slowed things down further and heaped on the frustration.

Again, if you're not pulp obsessed a lot of this won't matter but for me it was really disappointing.

Character development: 4 stars.

This wasn't too bad. The character is actually going on a journey and, while clunky at times, there ends up being a fairly solid cast of characters by the end. The story also plays some interesting kinks into the stereotype of the Doc Savage clone by making him a support character. It was an idea that had some interesting potential. But considering the protagonist's journey was the strength of the story it highlights that the style of writing was more your traditional prose writing than a more pulpy style or storytelling. Even if all the characters and setting etc were pulp sourced.

Production: 4 stars.

Good cover with its old-school adventure feel and good editting. One thing that stood out was the random use of some extraordinary words. Words like 'imprecations', 'bellicose', 'demesne', and 'coruscating' are all used and, thanks to my Kobos handy dictionary, I know they were all used in the right context. But they serve as a good illustration of how the writing style can be a bit flamboyant and dense at the expense of what is going on.

Series Potential: 3 stars.

I just don't see anything here that would warrant a series, beyond wanting more pulp to read. Although the setting and characters are certainly there and ready to go. And as there is already two stories in the series the ability to read on is available.

Wrap Up.

Certainly not my favourite reading experience of the past year but I think less fussy readers will get a lot more out of the story than I did. This story made me realise that, A, there is such thing as pulp snobbing and, B, I'm starting to do it while I read. I'm guessing this will make my reviews more discriminating but make it harder to look at myself in the mirror :(

Check this out if you need a quick Indiana Jones-style fix. But if you're a pulp afficiando there is better stuff out there.

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