Well, I finished reading "Zeppelin Tales" by Jim Beard and I.A. Watson last night. I have to say it was a wild ride, indeed. Breezed through this read over a couple of days, and absolutely loved it. A very well written, and downright fun entry in the New Pulp genre. This release consists of two stories, 'Death Seeds the Clouds' by Jim Beard, and 'Airship 27' by I.A. Watson. In the opening short story we are introduced to Jim's hero, Tracer Talbot. Tracer ( so nicknamed by his father, who developed a new type of tracer bullet for the Allies) makes his living as an air courier working along the Canadian border. Possessing a genial personality and a penchant for breaking into song when the mood strikes him, he travels the skies in his trusty plane Anna Lynne. When a mysterious new client arrives, Tracer takes to the skies. After he (literally) runs across a massive zeppelin (The Silver Cloud) and loses his airplane in the process, the adventure truly begins. What is the purpose of the The Silver Cloud, and who is it's shadowy master, Captain Dusk? Where does his client, Miss Smith fit in the proceedings, and is she at all what she seems? I have to say that the author perfectly evokes the feeling of another time and place with this story. It is easily something I could have read in the original pulp magazines of the era. The story is largely driven by the hero, and Mr. Beard creates a likable, come hell or high water character in Tracer. The story is very fast paced and streamlined. My one complaint, and it's not much of one, is this; the story reads as an opening salvo in a collection of shorts. It left me wanting more entries with Tracer, and I definitely hope to see more stories featuring the character. An excellent story. Moving on to to the second entry (which is novella length), we are presented with 'Airship 27' by I.A. Watson. I'm familiar with Mr. Watson's work on Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, and must say that I'm a fan. We are introduced to Harry Finian, a former U.S. Naval meteorologist, now disgraced and discharged from the service. Currently languishing in the drunk tank after a night of boozing and brawling, he is surprised when he is bailed out. Enter Verity Castlemere, who is one of the focal points that brings Finian out of his decline. Offered a job working for Verity's employer (and fiance) Senator Nickelhouse on a top secret project, Finian jumps at the chance. Presented with the experimental zeppelin Airship 27, and an oppurtunity to travel the skies chasing a rather strange atmospheric phenomenon, Finian finds his next lifeline. Throwing himself into the project with a will, he is soon back to himself. After being filled in on the snake-bitten history of the project, and witnessing (and foiling) an attempted act of sabotage, he realizes there are more players involved than originally thought. Cue an entirely entertaining adventure, full of action, romance, political machinations, double crosses, and ultimately, redemption. Mr. Watson's writing style is highly detailed, which I greatly appreciate. His characters, down to the most minor, are well formed, having genuine personalities and emotions, and articulate themselves well. The technical details included also lend an air of verisimilitude that pushes the story over the top. All told, an excellent tale. I really hope to read more about these characters one day. Lastly, I'd like to say that the cover art, by Mike Fyles, and the interior illustrations, by Pedro Cruz, are excellently rendered. The afterwords by both authors are well worth reading, and the closing statements by editor Ron Fortier should be read as well. To sum up, two great authors, two heroes who deserve the name, and two highly enjoyable stories. 5 out of 5 stars, highly recommended.
|interior art by Pedro Cruz|
|another example of Mr. Cruz's interior art|
Here's some links for the author's sites.
Airship 27 home page Zeppelin Tales on Amazon Jim's blog Jim's fan page Find out more about I.A. Watson here