Saturday, January 04, 2014

Let's Play Violated Hero 4! part 2

This is a continuation of the Violated Hero 4 walkthrough started here.  VH4 is a sexually explicit hentai game.  As before, if you’re likely to be offended by such things or under 18 years of age, please deploy the back button of your browser and read no further.

Last time around we let Luka-clone attempt to take on the Tentacle Girl, Igin, by himself.  That did not go so well.  Tentacles might have been inserted in places we’d rather not have tentacles inserted.

Now for round two and an explanation of combat.  The combat options are the icons down on the bottom right.  They are:

Blue sword – Luka-clone’s attack (this seems very weak)
Violet star – Lilith’s attack
Pink heart – Special monster girl attack (we’ll get to that in a tick)
Green eye – Shows opponent’s remaining HP
Red boot – Escape (normal mooks). Selecting this against bosses is not a good idea.
Orange bottle – Use item.

The pink heart option is a new addition for VH4.  Select this and one of your monster girls will wank you off, get a facial and then reward you for your cum by blasting the opponent with a strong attack.  In this case it only takes 2 hits to take out Igin.

After the fight I jump up to level 3 and get the opportunity to increase my stats.  After the disaster of VH3 I take the wussy option and spread the 6 points equally.

After her defeat Igin decides to join the party as long as Luka-clone lets her use her tentacle arm to suck out some cum every so often.  This is presumably not a problem because Luka-clone is not a real human.  Like all VH protagonists he’s actually an ambulatory bag of concentrated semen shaped like a man.

Having the defeated bosses join the party is a nice change.  In previous VH games winning against bosses sometimes ended up with the sexy monster girl brutally slain, which took the buzz off for some players.

Ooh, cutaway scene.  It’s off to the Demon Lord palace.

It looks like VH4 is following VH2’s pattern of a Demon Lord with 3 generals.  In VH2 they were a lamia, slime girl and a very odd spider-crab thing.  This time around we have:

Anua – an Egyptian-themed dog centaur type thing
Makina – a machine/computer girl
Selena – an octopus girl with big bazungas.

Out of them I think I prefer Selena (I reserve the right to change this opinion if she tries to eat me).  None of them are a patch on Milfy, the lovable glob of goo from VH2.

Makina sounds angry about something.  All that metal must chafe the tits.

And then it’s time for the Big Bad to make an entrance.

Her name appears to be Sharia.  My translation software can’t seem to make out whether she’s a ‘genie’ or ‘malevolent spirit entity’.  I’m going to go with succubus.

Makina continues to be very angry about something.  I’m guessing she’s Insector (the crab girl general from VH2) ver2.0.  So far the plot looks like a rerun of VH2.  Sharia (clearly Xueli ver2.0) is bored and wants to let Luka-clone run around for a bit.

And it’s back to Luka-clone in the spooky wood.  Spooky wood section 2 has opened up, but before we go there we’ll go back to section 1 and clear off the squares we didn’t walk through last time.

This time I run into a girl riding a frog thing and rather embarrassingly it kills me.  Oops.  Luka-clone, you suck.

Ah that would be because the button I thought confirmed my stats upgrades actually cancelled them.  Sorry there, Luka-clone buddy.  My bad.

The other route reveals a chest.  A couple of run-throughs later and I’ve unlocked all the wandering mook types, jumped a couple of levels and found a bunch of potions.  I have no idea what any of the potions do.

Then I find out all those run-throughs were a waste of time as the first wandering mook I encounter in the next section is the one that took me about five run-throughs to find in the last section.  In fact all the wandering mooks look to be the same as in section 1 (goblin girls and frog riders).

Waiting at the end is boss 2 – an Alraune (Lorre).

As an interesting factoid, Alraune comes from German myth (It’s German for mandrake).  They were believed to grow under gallows from the semen released by hanged men.  It’s the title of a 1911 book by Hanns Heinz Ewers and the book has been made into a film multiple times.  I’m not sure where the modern incarnation of a pretty girl growing out of a giant rose first appeared (Castlevania? Disgaea?), but they’ve been a staple creature in monster girl circles ever since. 

I leave the fight mainly to Luka-clone and predictably he gets slapped down.  I’m starting to think the sword button is actually the ‘defend’ option (you know, the button players select when they want to lose slowly) for this game.

And it’s time to crash straight into the big fluffy airbag of Lorre’s boob for the Bad End.  Those vines look prickly, but I’m sure she’s a lovely girl really.  She’s talking about love and . . .

Oww.  Watch it with the thorns.

And now the description's talking about blood and . . .

Ow ow.

Cue lots of strangling sound fx.

Lorre H-scene 2 doesn’t look so bad.  It’s her straddling Luka-clone on top of her rose in the classic Alraune pose.  But . . .


Ow ow ow.

Again VH, again . . . ?


I did think about playing a game of ‘Can MEHydra match Violated Hero?’  But shockingly, despite writing a few stories about dangerous plant girls, I’ve never written one featuring a classic Alraune.  I guess that means VH takes this round.  Plus, THORN PUSSY!  Even I’ve not dared to go there, yet . . .

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find some sticking plasters.  Join us again for part 3 and hopefully a less prickly monster girl.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Let's Play Violated Hero 4! part 1

Violated Hero 4 is out.  Rather than play it through and write up a review (or fail to play it through and get owned repeatedly by one of the generals because I screwed up my stats placement as happened with VH3), I’m going to do something new for 2014.  I'm going to start a live-ish ‘Let’s Play’ walkthrough and see where it goes.  Obviously this isn’t going to be a proper ‘Let’s Play’ video because I’m strongly against censorship and any video I posted anywhere of a hentai game would last approximately ten pico-seconds before getting yanked.  Also I’m an ornery writer-type and we strongly believe people should read things otherwise we pop out of existence like unicorns.

So think of this as more of a ‘Text Play’ or ‘Let’s Blog’ with lots of screenshots.

Now onto Violated Hero 4.  This series has been running for a while.  The makers, Dieselmine, threw the first one together after seeing the popularity of Monster Girl Quest.  The main strengths of the series are the production values—the artwork is gorgeous and all main characters are fully voiced.  The main weaknesses are a nagging impression the creators don’t know what makes for a hawt monster girl eroge and are running off blind guesswork and what they’ve seen in other games.  Also, they really really like the ‘violated’ part of Violated Hero.  The monster girls in the Violated Hero series like to express the S in BDSM, which means some scenes are a little more effective at killing boners than growing them for a lot of players.  Seeing what bonkers stuff they throw into the H-scenes is part of the charm of the VH series.

Before we go any further I should throw in the obligatory disclaimer.  Violated Hero 4 is an eroge.  This means there will be scenes of a graphic and explicit sexual nature.  I won’t be censoring any screenshots as I’m strongly opposed to censorship.  If you’re easily bothered by such things or under eighteen years of age, please click the back button of your browser and navigate to safer internet waters.

So let’s fire her up.

If you were unaware of what type of game Violated Hero 4 is, the start screen should make it clear.  There’s the hero, splattered with cum and with a chain around his neck.  Crom would not approve (Strictly speaking, he wouldn’t care, but I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t care in a highly disapproving manner).

We start off at the edge of a spooky forest with Luka-clone about to set off on his epic quest to bring down the Demon Lord.  (That’s what he thinks.  In reality that’s what the villagers tell all suitable young men to do.  It’s easier than dragging them off to the woods and tying them down as a sacrificial offering.)

A succubus, Lilith, appears.

Okay, Lilith is hawt.  Can we forget the whole quest thing and go grab a hotel room?

BTW, this is the Japanese version.  Dargoth has translated earlier Violated Hero games.  If you want to wait for an English translation of VH4, keep an eye on his website.  In the meantime I’ll be using AGTH as a text hooker with Translation Aggregator for the translating.  For more information on how to set this up check out threads on hongfire.  The hooking settings I’m using for AGTH are: “/C /KF /V”.  Machine translation isn’t all that accurate, but it's worth it for the occasional hilarious mistranslations.

Now back to the game.

The hero, who I’m going to call Luka-clone, tells Lilith he’s going to take down the Demon Lord.  She’s so intimidated she makes him come in his pants with a glance.  This is not an auspicious start to our quest.

Fortunately Lilith takes pity on us and decides to follow us around to see what hilarity ensues.

Now we get some instructions.  Sadly, as a typical mono-lingual Englishman, I can’t read Japanese so we’re just going to have to wing it.

The game mechanics look very similar to those in the last game.  Exploration has been abstracted down to following a branching chain of events.  Moving to the next link triggers the event tied to that box.

It looks like we have four main areas.

The first area is the spooky forest and has three subsections.

And we’re off (presumably with Lilith a couple of steps behind giggling her tits off at our ineptitude).

The three buttons on the lower right are in order:

Map Overview

Status Screen

Here's a little more explanation on the status screen:

Top is summary of HP/SP/EXP.
Middle left button details the monster girls you’ve contracted.

Middle right button goes to item list.
The snow globe shows previously encountered enemies (it would be blank, but I’ve already done a quick untranslated run through to the second boss).

The box on the bottom right allows you to modify Luka-clone’s stats after levelling up.  They’ve simplified things from VH3.  There are only 4 stats this time.  The top 2 are HP and SP and I’m going to guess the bottom 2 represent physical and magical attack strength respectively.  (ETA – as Luka-clone doesn’t seem to have a magic attack, these might just be ATK and DEF stats.)

Item Screen

Lists what potions we’re carrying.  We start with a HP potion.  Anything else is going to take guesswork (and the occasional poisoning).

After falling Luka-clone down a pit we get to the first random encounter.

This is one of the weak points of the VH series.  They’ve never figured out whether to make the random encounters normal mooks or sexy monster girls.  Since VH3 they’ve fallen somewhere in the middle with ugly-cute gremlin types . . .

. . . which then look a little odd when the random monsters do the obligatory strip after half their HP has been removed.  I suppose it might turn someone on.

In another departure from VH3, what I thought was the magic attack button (the six-pointed star) is actually the button for Lilith’s attack (and later other monster girls in the party).

Oh boy, they’ve really set up Luka-clone as useless.  After flailing around ineffectually with the sword attack I give up and start using Lililth’s attacks.  She ends the fight in a couple of lusty blows.

After the battle I pick up a mystery potion and quaff the healing potion I started with.  This looks foolish when the following square has an event that heals Luka-clone.  Then it’s onto the first boss encounter – Tentacle Girl (Igin).

As the primary focus of Violated Hero is to see the crazy Bad Ends, I throw the fight.  The game makes this pathetically easy as Luka-clone is basically pathetic.  Most of our sword attacks either miss or do 0 damage.

Ah, VH you don’t disappoint.  Igin has a giant sea anemone for a hand and we get a very creative interpretation of a handjob.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) this isn’t a video 'Let’s Play', so you’re spared the squishy sound effects.

Not so bad so far.

Wait, doesn’t that bottom tentacle look like a . . .

Oh . . .

Yeah, I probably should have seen that one coming.  Ick.

As I said earlier.  They’re not messing around with the whole ‘violated’ bit.

This isn’t the end just yet as most of the bosses in the VH series have two H-scenes.  Tentacle Girl Bad End part two is a little weird as it looks like she swallows us and then joins us inside some kind of ‘meat pot’.  This is the more conventional fucky-fucky scene.  At least until she reveals she has tentacles inside her pussy and pushes one down our urethra, because . . . well, it’s Violated Hero, there’s no need for a because.

I hope you enjoyed this.  In part 2 it’s time to run straight into the big fluffy airbag breasts of the second boss – Lorre the Alraune.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monstergirls nearly take over Kotaku's GOTY

Haha, this is brilliant:

Monster Girl Quest 3 pipped to first place by only 24 votes.  Might have been an interesting article if that had been the other way around.

"And our reader's choice game of the year is . . .mutter mutter . . . a hentai game."

The author of the article blames 4chan.  I did see a post mentioning the poll on 4chan, but it was buried deep in one of the (many) Monster Girl Quest threads.  Ironically, the overall Monster Girl Quest series probably has a better plot and writing than most of the other games on that list despite being an eroge (as I mentioned when I reviewed it back here).

Funny to think that when I wrote this about two years back it usually came up as one of the first hits for anyone googling "Monster Girl Quest."  Not anymore.  Monster girls are a little bit more popular now.

This can only be a good thing considering what I write books about . . .  ;)

And the monster girl eroges keep coming.  Dieselmine put out the 4th installment of their Violated Hero series today.

Time to welcome our new monster girl overlords.


Monday, December 30, 2013

#52Books - 2013, End

And the final score is:


Um, yeah, pretty weak really.

It’s even worse when I think of all the words of stupid clickbait articles from newspapers like The Guardian I read instead.  Sigh.

I’m not disheartened as the aim was to read more books and the kindle (and Amazon) has been brilliant for this.  I’ll go for it again next year but I won’t bother with the blog posts and reviews.  They don’t get a lot of hits in relation to the other posts.  As I’m aiming to improve my writing productivity it’s better for me to spend my time writing 1,000 words on the latest story/chapter than scratching around on a two paragraph review of a fifty-year-old book.  I might throw up the occasional round-up, but they won’t be as detailed.

With that out of the way, here’s the last of the books I read in 2013.  Overall my favourite was Brian Keene’s Earthworm Gods and I also really enjoyed Shane McKenzie’s novellas.

#25: Shane McKenzie – Fat Off Sex and Violence

Another slice of fun’n’gruesome from McKenzie.  When I read the synopsis I wondered if this might be McKenzie’s version of a succubus story.  It’s not, although the feedlings are inventive and interesting demons.  As the title states, they feed off sex and violence and are very adept at causing both.

The protagonist, Gary, is indeed a real fucking loser—the start of the book has him caught masturbating in the toilet of the comic store he works.  He’s every negative geek/nerd/gamer/comic fan stereotype wrapped up in a soft, blubbery human shell.  It works because most people will know a Gary or three, or even been one themselves at some point.  It’s easy to feel pity for him for the first half of the book, but there are also plenty of hints that a lot of his problems are self inflicted or at least made a lot worse through his weakness of character (I liked the scene where a young fanboy gives him money so they can both have lunch and Gary unthinkingly orders a burger so expensive there isn’t enough money left for the other boy – sums the character up perfectly in a couple of lines).

The inevitable demon-fuelled roaring rampage of revenge, when it arrives, is satisfying (and gory!), even though you know it’s going to go horribly wrong for poor Gary (which it does).

26: Brian Keene – The Cage

Another short novella from Brian Keene packaged with some additional short stories.  It’s a good concept and gives the story a lot of pace as you want to read on to see what the not-quite-so-randomly-psychopathic antagonist is up to.  Unfortunately the ending is a little anti-climatic as the protagonists don’t really protag all that much.  Maybe Keene will come back to this one day and round it out with additional novellas in a similar way to what he did (to brilliant effect) with Earthworm Gods.  Disappointingly, the kickstarter to make this into a movie fell through.

#27: Lee Thomas – Ash Street

After the other high-octane offerings from Sinister Grin Press, this was a little bit of a surprise—a slower, multi-viewpoint tale of ghosts haunting a small town in the aftermath of a serial-killing atrocity.  Solid overall, but unspectacular.

#28:  Joyce Carol Oates – The Corn Maiden and other Nightmares

First time reading Oates.  Wow, the prose is good.  I wish I could write like this.  It’s not all style over substance either as, a few iffy endings aside, the stories are mostly solid.  The title story is the classic small town meltdown over a missing child and ends with some interesting questions as to who pulled whose strings.  It’s a shame the horrors are all of the mundane (non-supernatural, non-weird) kind, but I think I’ll pick up some more collections of hers for the prose alone.

#29: Edgar Rice Burroughs – The People That Time Forgot

The follow-up to The Land That Time Forgot is a bit too light on the dinosaurs and too heavy on the overly-simplistic politics between the various cavemen tribes.  An okay adventure story, but misses the tension the uneasy alliance with the Germans provided in the first book.

#30: Thomas Ligotti – My Work Is Not Yet Done

My first exposure to Ligotti, another name spoken highly of in horror circles.  For the first half of the book I was wondering if the blurb had been telling porkies as it looked like a simple revenge tale about a “good” man getting the shaft in a corporate environment and then going off the rails.  Then the supernatural elements kicked in and were followed by some highly imaginative and (mostly) deserved deaths.  The revenge fantasy is also cleverly subverted—karma is not in play here and the whole story is riddled through with cosmic darkness.

#31: Rick Hautala – Bedbugs

A solid collection of horror tales from the other horror writer from Maine.  Yes, it’s predictable in places, but I’ll take that every day of the week over a lot of the plotless, style-over-substance nonsense that abounds nowadays.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hentai Game Review - Monmusu Delicious -Lunch-

The epic Monster Girl Quest has concluded, but if you’re suffering from withdrawal symptoms a spin-off came out over the holiday season.  It’s a follow-up to Monmusu Delicious -Breakfast- (which I talked about here), this time called Monmusu Delicious -Lunch-.  Presumably there will be a Monmusu Delicious -Dinner/Dessert- at some point using characters from MGQ’s third chapter (where Black Alice probably vores everything).

Monmusu Delicious -Lunch- isn’t strictly speaking a hentai game.  It’s a collection of alternate Bad End scenarios featuring monster girls from the second chapter of MGQ.  As the title suggests, the emphasis is on vore and most of the protagonists end up in someone’s belly.  Most of the time that’s MGQ’s protagonist, Luka, although other characters are used such as Sylph, Camel’s Cecilia, the loli Vampire Girl, and ever odder choices such as the Slug Girl and Dullahan.  Pretty much every monster girl that had a vore Bad End in MGQ’s second chapter gets a scenario.  There are also vore scenarios for some of the non-vore monster girls such as Beelzebub and Lilith & Lilim.  Erubetie gets another opportunity to use her rather dubious de-aging power before slurping up a hapless Minotauress.  I expect it won’t be long before the paedoslime memes hit 4chan.

I'm not sure "It's okay, I'm eating them," is a valid defence, Erubetie.
This is vore, so if you thought that aspect of MGQ was icky and played the game with the vore endings switched off, this isn’t going to be your cup of tea.  If you like vore and enjoyed Delicious Monmusu -Breakfast-, Delicious Monmusu -Lunch- is more of the same.  It's currently in Japanese, but if you're patient and keep an eye on Dargoth's site, there might be an English translation at some point in the future.

Starfish Girl table manners leave a lot to be desired...
Last time round I pointed out they’d missed off the Sea Anemone Girl and wrote a little sex/vore tale to make up for it (a creature not unlike the Jellyfish girl also found its way into A Succubus for Freedom as well).  It was fun and I liked how the story turned out so I might do it again (and writing a simple ‘dude stumbles on monster girl – suck, fuck, slurp!’ story will be a good breather after the complex storylines of A Succubus for Remembrance).

Now which monster girl to have fun with.  Monmusu Delicious -Lunch- didn’t leave out any glaring omissions.  By my reckoning Alra Vore and two of the Canaan Sisters (the Venus Flytraps) didn’t get a scenario, but that section of the game is nicknamed the Forest of Nope! by fans for a reason.  The only other one, I think, was the Dragon Girl, but I always thought she was a little too much licky-licky and not enough fucky-fucky.

Anyway, at the moment I think I’ll be wandering into the Forest of Nope! to see what sexy plant girls are around.  This isn’t set in stone yet, so if there was a girl from MGQ2 you were disappointed didn’t show up in Monmusu Delicious -Lunch- let me know in the comments.  It's the holiday season so I might pick them instead.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hentai Game Review - Tokyo Tenma

Your blog hits have fallen through the floor.  Quick, give them a review of a mucky game.

Okay okay.  First off, the final part of Monster Girl Quest Chapter 3 has been translated to English.  You can find it here on RogueTranslator’s blog (and the actual game can be bought from here).  If you stumbled here by accident and are new to all this I highly recommend checking out Monster Girl Quest as it’s (still) the high benchmark for this type of game.

And so onto Tokyo Tenma.  I missed this first time around.  I like my monster girls to be bad and in control of the H-scenes and this looked more like a game where the hero shows the girls what for and builds up a harem through repeated use of his big “weapon” (Personally I have no ideological problems with that type of game – they just don’t stimulate my kinks).  Tokyo Tenma is a game where the hero does build up a willing harem of monster girls, but despite not featuring any Game-Over-Rape, the H-scenes are probably closer in tone to games like Monster Girl Quest and Violated Hero.

Fortunately, grabbing it later, after it was recommended on forums of Monster Girl Unlimited, meant I managed to miss all the game-breaking bugs that afflicted the game on release.  Most of that has been ironed out and it’s a pretty good game.

You'd be right to be concerned by those tails...

Plot- and mechanics-wise it’s very similar to the mainstream Shin Megami Tensei series.  A strange blackout hits Tokyo and both demons and angels show up for a ruckus.  You play a dude that posts the highest score in a mysterious game and gets a guardian angel or demon for a bodyguard as a prize (Either a Crow Tengu or Fenrir demon depending on how the player answers five initial questions).  The player can recruit other monster girls to their fighting team.  This is done through answering questions correctly, having the right inventory items to gift to them, or the right monster girl present in your fighting squad when attempting to recruit them.

There is no Game-Over-Rape (it’s not a sex battle game – let the girls beat you up and you get a simple “Game Over” screen to reward your uselessness).  The hentai elements are provided during the contract scenes when you recruit fresh monster girls to your team.  Meet the right conditions and you’re rewarded with two different H-scenes for each girl.  These can be skipped and viewed later (or re-viewed) at “Slave Rose” points on the map.  Oddly, given the method of recruitment and the “Slave Rose” facilities where recruits are “trained”, the H-scenes often have the monster girl in the dominant role (at least the ones I chose to view did).

Now who's the slave here again?
It’s also another hentai game with noble aspirations to be an actual game.  Each of the monster girls unlocks different skills as they level up.  As with most RPGs you’ll want to put together a balanced team (The sprite is quite useful for her healing magic).  At one point I thought the game might be a little too easy as it didn’t seem to matter how under-levelled the other girls on my team were.  Then in the later dungeons I ran into monsters with attacks (confusion, stun, sleep) that took my main (and highest-levelled) character out of combat.  Those fights didn’t go so well . . .

The artwork is fine.  One thing I liked is that the battle sprites aren’t completely static.  The animations are simple sprite transformations, but are very effective at giving the monster girl enemies a little extra – ahem! - jiggle and bounce.  Some girls will hit the spot, some won’t, and it will vary from person to person depending on their kinks.  There’s a good variety to choose from, so there should be something for everyone (although I was a little disappointed the pink slime girl in the tutorial fight doesn’t get a scene).

Sorry slime girl fans, she ain't available.
The game is a hybrid of top-down 2D RPG-maker type wandering about and pseudo-3D Dungeon Master-esque dungeon crawling.  As with most games like this you’ll have to struggle through some garbled machine translations to work out which quests unlock certain areas.  If you get stuck there is a helpful guide thread on the ULMF forums.

Overall the game isn’t up to the same standard as Monster Girl Quest and the artwork doesn’t match the lushness of the Violated Hero series, but if you’ve exhausted those games and want something new it might be worth a look.

And speaking of something new, I hope no one minds if I sneak in a plug for my brand new book, a tasty new collection featuring lots of delectably depraved succubus action.  If you like this type of game, you’ll also enjoy my books.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#52Books - Uh, sometime in 2013

Now that the last minute panic of getting A Succubus for Remembrance is nearly out of the way (there will be a print version - details here as soon as that's out) it's time to catch up on some of the other posts, such as the increasingly erroneously named #52Books.  I'm a little further along than books 21-24, but I'm still going to fall short by some way.  I'll try again next year with the additional resolution of not imploding like the England cricket team in Australia the moment a submission deadline looms.

Here's what I was reading just before that aforementioned implosion:

#21: William Hope Hodgson - The House on the Borderland

Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland is a fairly important weird text as he was one of the first to plough down that particular furrow, and The House on the Borderland is a very weird book indeed.  The majority of the book is the account of the un-named protagonist of the various weird things that happen to him within the eponymous house, which seems to be some kind of dimensional nexus.

Hodgson doesn’t waste any time as within the first few chapters his protagonist is under siege from hideous pig men.  He fights them off and then the book swings off into an audacious flight of cosmic weirdness where the man sees time accelerate all around him, eventually seeing the end of the solar system and travelling through some kind of rebirth that places him right back where he started.  The final segment switches back to more conventional horror as a more hideous entity than the pig men creeps up on both the house and the hapless narrator.

It’s an old book, so it’s not an easy read, especially as Hodgson seems to regard commas as caltrops to be sprinkled liberally through the text.  Despite that I never found it dull and the crazy inventiveness makes it easier to forgive the barely coherent plot.  It reads more like Hodgson is letting his imagination tumble out onto the page rather than cynically exploiting the “Insert Own Plot” con-trick much over-used by modern writers.  It can be picked up for free from the Gutenberg project and is worth a look for fans of old weird fiction.

#22: Brian Lumley - Hero of Dreams

Yay, for nostalgia.  Lumley is probably better known for his Cthulhu Mythos fiction and Necroscope series, but he also found time to pen this fantasy series set in Lovecraft's dreamlands during the eighties.  It's an unashamed fantasy romp and the main characters, David Hero and Eldin the Wanderer, are loveable dolts that would last about two seconds in modern GRRM-influenced fantasy, but who cares, it's fun.

I remember it mainly for the Eidolon Lathi, a sexy (until you find out what she is) monster girl queen that fired the imagination of my teenaged self in ways that were probably not entirely healthy.  If you want insight on where my ideas come from, some of the blame can definitely be left at Lumley's door. :)

#23: Shane McKenzie - Jacked

I really like Shane McKenzie’s novellas.  They move fast, have interesting ideas and don't faff about.  No insert-own-plot or look-at-how-clever-my-writing-is wankery here, just a simple idea executed very well.

Jacked features two employees trapped in a gym after weird green slime starts pouring out of the ground in a river.  Anyone caught in the slime is turned into a squishy, slime-spewing zombie and soon Sid and Gabe are besieged.  Unfortunately for them, also trapped in the gym with them is Crow—a monstrous, crazed steroid junkie—and it’s only a matter of time before being outside starts to look safer than being inside.

Fast and fun.

#24: Edgar Rice Burroughs - The Land That Time Forgot

Time to take another dip into the copyright-expired Gutenberg barrel to dig out another pulp classic.  I’ve always had a soft spot for monster movies and the 1975 Amicus adaptation was a favourite of mine while growing up.  The dinosaurs might look rubbery and immobile by today’s fx standards, but it’s always been a fun adventure romp.

The first half of the book is a masterclass in pulp adventure writing.  There’s the dastardly shelling of an ocean liner, the heroic capture of a German U-boat, betrayals and reversals, until both crews end up having to co-operate after fetching up on the mysterious and dinosaur-infested land of Caprona.  The film version wisely decided to give Von Schoenvorts’ character a little more depth.  In the book the dirty Boche are a fairly one-dimensional bunch of backstabbing assholes (understandable given the book was written in 1918).

Sadly, the protagonist, Bowen Tyler, ends up getting lost and isolated for the second half of the book and the book ends up getting lost with him.  After a wham-bam start the book peters out.