Friday, August 24, 2012

New Blackthorn Review!

Blackthorn: Thunder on Mars edited by Van Allen Plexico 2011 White Rocket books.

Review By Brad Mengel- New Pulp Reviewers Round Table

I’ve long been a fan of the planetary romance; an Earthman travels to another planet and has adventures. Van Allen Plexico’s Blackthorn is a fun addition to the genre.

Plexico’s introduction tells us about the inspiration of the character, mixing Burroughs with Kirby to create a new hero with a contemporary twist.  John Blackthorn is a United States Army General who is killed in duty on a mission in Afghanistan, he and two of his men awaken on a post-apocalyptic Mars in new bodies through the magic or science of The Black Sorcerer.  Blackthorn escapes the custody of The Black Sorcerer and begins adventuring with two Martian companions Princess Aria and Oglok The Mock-Man (a sort of Lion-Human hybrid) .

The three travel around inciting rebellion against The Black Sorcerer and the other three First Men who ruled Mars as well as any number of petty tyrants and warlords.  This is concept that can be played out across any number of volumes as this future post-apocalyptic Mars has become a collection of feudal states.

The eight stories in this volume are exciting and interesting adventures. Series creator Plexico opens and closes the volume.  “Bastion OfThe Black Sorcerer” introduces John Blackthorn and his companions in a way that gives us all the information that we need to understand the stories and is still an exciting adventure.  The other story “Epilogue: Red Planet Blues” finishes the collection and hints at the direction that the series will continue if there are future volumes.

Each story manages to explore some facet of Martian society and coheres together with no detail in one story contradicting another story.  “Quest for the Eye” by Joe Crowe is the shortest story in the collection but tells a funny side adventure and “Ghosts of Acheron” by I.A.  Watson offers a major revelation about one of Blackthorn’s companions as well as a dangerous new enemy.   I like the fact that the series has the scope to allow for these different types of stories. 

Indeed the concept allows itself open to any number of books and stories with Blackthorn and his allies travelling Mars.  The fact that this future Mars has been terraformed makes me wonder if other planets in the solar system  have been similarly transformed and colonised  if so the series might travel the solar system.  I look forward to future books in the series.

Buy now: Amazon | B&N