The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of an online bookseller
in Brooklyn, New York.

Epic battles in the Salvation Army

Homeric journeys to the post office

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Diary of a Nimpho (Nympho)

Title: Diary of a Nimpho (Nympho) (Late Late Book LL 201)
Author: Margaret Kelly
Artist: Unknown
Year: 1966

Categories: 1960s Sleaze and GGA

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Escape Into Vice

Title: Escape into Vice (Playtime Reading #611)
Author: Fletcher Bennett
Artist: Unknown
Year: 1962

"The city was wide open--as only a border town can be.....Sex circus shows were run as wide open as a Sunday School picnic."

Categories: 1960s Sleaze and GGA

Monday, July 21, 2014

Never Enough

Title: Never Enough (Evening Reader ER 781)
Author: John Dexter
Artist: Robert Bonfils (?)
Year: 1965

"No matter how much they sinned it was NEVER ENOUGH"

Categories: 1960s Sleaze and GGA

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sex on Fire

Title: Sex on Fire (Anchor WL 109)
Author: John Davidson
Artist: Unknown
Year: 1965

"When a man and a woman are thrown together in a jungle of emotions, animal desire boiled over to form a living volcano of lust."

Categories: 1960s Sleaze and GGA

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Motel Girls

Title: Motel Girls (Beacon B 314)
Author: Orrie Hitt
Artist: John Willis
Year: 1960

"Cleo was young and fresh from the farm; Julie made the beds--and used them; Ruby knew what a motel could offer"

Categories: 1960s Sleaze and GGA

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Link Roundup

Bookish stained glass windows (link via Book Patrol); the bookplate of Charles Stewart Rolls (co-founder of Rolls Royce) complete with a night-time classic auto race, a full moon, and ballooning (link via Jot101); Canadian public service info-graphic on the health and societal benefits of reading (via Book Patrol); 1913 photos of children on New York's Lower East side having fun (!) and my intro to the proto-pog street game "Skully" (link via The Bowery Boys)

Neko Case and Kelly Hogan's musical ribbing of nerdy man culture "These Aren't the Droids" (link via Consequence of Sound)

A behind the scenes of 1980s classic sf film, The Last Starfighter (link via i09); What if Nintendo's Metroid was a Saturday morning Hanna-Barbara cartoon (link via NintendoLife); Outside Xbox on why old video game manuals always told you a character's blood type

Greenpeace tweaks the Lego company's relationship with Shell by making a a slowed-down version of "Everything is Awesome" showing your favorite Lego toys drowning in oil (link via Onion AV Club, and find the Greenpeace petition here); Artist, Justin Lawrence DeVines's eerily-right mashup of Twin Peaks and the Muppets (link via AV Club); Oliver Wetter's Ancient Kaiju Project inserts giant monster into classical landscapes in a style matching the original paintings (link via AV Club)

That's all I got.

I'll be off the grid for a solid two weeks of reading and swimming. Here's my carefully planned (though admittedly overambitious) bookpile.

I've queued up entries for the Pulp Fiction Cover Gallery for the next two weeks so you'll hardly notice I'm gone.

The Seed of Violence

Title: Seed of Violence (Crest s182)
Author: Williams Forrest
Artist: Barye Phillips
Year: 1957

"Trapped by an insatiable fiend--caught in a torment of lust"

Categories: 1950s Sleaze and GGA, Mystery and Thrillers

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Big Cage

Title: The Big Cage (Popular Special SP46)
Author: Robert Lowry
Artist: Robert Maguire
Year: 1950

Categories: 1950s Sleaze and GGA, Hot Rods and Delinquents, Mystery and Thrillers

REVIEW: The Sorcerer's Ship by Hannes Bok (BAF Series)

(click on image for full wraparound cover)

Title: The Sorcerer's Ship (Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series #01795)
Author: Hannes Bok; Lin Carter (intro)
Artist: Ray Cruz
Year: 1969

The Sorcerer's Ship by Hannes Bok was published as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series in 1969 after initially appearing in a 1942 issue of Unknown Worlds. The BAF series included some of the first adult books to catch my eye as a kid, particularly the gorgeous Barbara Remington covers for Lord of the Rings and The Worm Ouroboros. This series also inspired me up my reading game enough to grasp the nearly impenetrable prose. I currently own about two-thirds of the series and I plan to collect and read my way through the entire run.

Because Hannes Bok as an artist was responsible for some of the most iconic and bizarre illustrations of the pulp era,

(and more Bok in this Flickr gallery)

I had hopes that his prose would compare favorably to the Gormenghast books (by another BAF author/artist, Mervyn Peake). Unfortunately Bok does not seem to have been as gifted a writer as Peake and the world in Sorcerer's Ship mostly feels like a low-grade Barsoom.

The book opens with a Brooklyn office worker named Gene being fished from an unknown sea after falling through a transdimensional hole in the ocean off Coney Island. The protagonist has no trouble believing this happened because it's just the sort of thing that Charles Fort writes about in his books of strange phenomena. He's been hauled onto a boat that's on a joint diplomatic mission between two warring kingdoms and he is quickly asked to choose sides. Nanich is a country that wants to educate and improve its entire populace (and just happens to be ruled by a gorgeous and available princess). In contrast, every citizen of Koph openly says they care only about money and personal power. Not a lot of grey area.

"Koph" and "Nanich" are also good examples of the author's lack of a gift for naming. Most of his proper nouns (Froar, Gogir, Kaspel, Orcher, Marza) were completely interchangeable--one or two non-memorable syllables without any flavor or consistency--and I quickly tuned them out.

For nearly the entire length of the book, the title ship is pulled back and forth between these two countries that we barely see. Meanwhile Gene and his dopey princess are pawns of two rival wizard advisors who are constantly trying to bribe, manipulate, or clumsily murder them. The proceedings have an enjoyable (though probably not intentional) slapstick quality.

There are a few real highlights in some of the descriptive passages, particularly around one location. A dusty abandoned city of gigantic proportions, populated by artificially animated clay figures and a chubby lizard man is highly evocative of Lovecraft’s cyclopean architecture in Call of Cthulhu. And the book's finale features a fleshy and grotesque monster that feels like something out of Akira or a Miyazaki film.

All in all Sorcerer's Ship is an interesting period piece and an earnest pastiche of elements from pulp-era authors that Bok undoubtedly brilliantly illustrated.

My copy of this book is a VG first printing and a duplicate which I'll happily trade for another BAF title not yet in my collection. Email me your trade list if interested.

Categories: Science Fiction and Fantasy