About six months ago I started on a pretty obsessive pulp kick, set off by the purchase of about 35 Doc Savage reprint novels from the 70s. While I had been a fan of work that had originated in the old pulp magazines – Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Dunsany, RE Howard, Chandler and a huge number of others – I’d never really gotten in to the “pulp heroes” branch. The closest I’d come was being a monster fan of the Phantom (which was a comic strip character, not a pulp hero) and the Rocketeer (a 1980s character that spun out of the serials of the 1930s/1940s, in much the same way that Indiana Jones and Star Wars did).
As I worked my way through (and was continually disappointed by) the old, yellowing Doc Savage novels I picked up, I began to look around for more to read and came across the existence of the “New Pulp” movement. Being a rather voracious reader (4-5 novels per week), I quickly snapped up as much of the material as I could find to help soothe the Doc Savage pain I was forcing myself through. What I quickly found was a lot of really well done pastiches or homages to what had been done back in the original pulps – aviation heroes, “pulp” heroes, John Carter, Solomon Kane and Conan clones, even a number of public domain “pulp” and Golden Age comic book heroes were being revived. And I have nothing against the urge to do that – in fact, I enjoy it the better ones ones, such as “The Rook” from Barry Reese (great stories – go pick them up!)
A lot of the work was well written, some of it not so much, but the majority was familiar and comfortably put together in a style that felt like it had been inspired by a limited number of authors or properties from the days of the old pulps. For that reason, when I opened up the PDF for “Four Bullets for Dillon” by Derrick Ferguson, which featured a fantastic cover by Anthony Castrillo, I expected to find yet another Doc Savage copy.
I have never been happier to admit I was completely wrong!
Although my first exposure to the adventurer, Dillon, “Four Bullets for Dillon” is actually the third book featuring the character. Luckily, this is a stand alone volume and a new reader gets everything they’ll need in the first story of the collection of four Dillon tales.
What I found starting with the first short, “Dillon and the Bad Ass Belt Buckle,” was a thoroughly fun and action-packed style of storytelling that had far more in common with the blockbuster action films of the 1980s than with an author trying to ape the work of Lester Dent, and a pretty darn cool lead character to boot.
I’m going to avoid doing a full, story-by-story review, but here is my quick synopsis: I enjoyed three of the Dillon stories in the collection, with the aforementioned “Dillon and the Bad Ass Belt Buckle” being my favorite. One story, “Dillon and the Escape from Tosegio,” felt like the first chapter of an unfinished longer story and, in my opinion, should not have been included. Nice solid writing on the part of the author and, in another surprise, better editing and proofing than you’ll find in most indy-published books.
With that out of the way, what I do want to talk about is how the author, Derrick Ferguson, has absolutely captured the spirit and essence of what I think the New Pulp movement should be, and he did it by writing in a voice that was all his own. New Pulp should be focusing more on tales like this and less on attempts to mimic the characters or authors of the past. In “Four Bullets for Dillon,” Ferguson has given us an incredibly fun pop adventure story that is easily accessible by all audiences. Anyone who has ever watched an action movie starring Arnold Shwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Will Smith, Jean Claude Van Damme, The Rock or Wesley Snipes will enjoy the heck out of Dillon’s adventures. In fact, “Dead Beat in La Esca” is the prose equivalent of “Tango & Cash” and I’d love to see a full length story with Dillon and Sly Gantlet!
In my opinion, Derrick Ferguson and Dillon have captured the soul of what the Pulps were by doing something different and all his own….and I LOVE that he’s got the volume reasonably priced at $9.95 for print and $2.99 for Kindle!
“Four Bullets for Dillon” is a book I highly recommend for anyone who is a fan of action and adventure stories with strong, exciting heroes.
-Mat Nastos, Super Genius