Every creator has a project they believe could be a success, should be a success and would be a success if only (fill-in- the-blank) happened. I’ve had several like that, but here’s the tale of the one I think really coulda-shoulda-woulda.

In 2004, I created a new novel series for Gold Eagle called OFFWORLD OPS. 

The main reason I did so was to ameliorate some of the problems endemic to Gold Eagle’s revolving door contract writer system on most of their series. Continuity errors had reached ridiculous levels, particularly with Deathlands and The Destroyer.

Deathlands was by the far the worst offender,  with some characters who didn’t seem to remember what had happened two books before or what kind of weapons they used or even how old they were. One Deathlands scribe dismissed criticism about the major breaches of continuity by responding, “Gold Eagle pays me to write Deathlands books, not read them.”
Granted, he had a point but in lieu of anyone in editorial acting in the capacity of a continuity cop, I felt it behooved the writers to keep themselves abreast of developments as best they could.

OUTLANDERS was fortunate in there had been only a couple of fill-in writers, one of whom I worked with closely. As for the other fill-in writer…well,  his books drew a lot of harsh criticism. The reactions his novels garnered were almost uniformly negative, some of them downright hostile.

The guy was by no means a bad writer but he was certainly turning out bad OUTLANDERS books, due to majorly off-model characterization, a fundamental misunderstanding of the series itself and glaring continuity issues–most of which should have been caught by the editors. Regardless, his books had a serious impact on overall sales…which in turn impacted my livelihood.

There were other problems with this writer–one of which was his intent to use OUTLANDERS to launch a series of his own–but the primary bone of contention lay in his apparent disinclination to maintain continuity with what had been established for years.

It reached the point where there were two different continuities within the series…the primary one, created by myself, and this other guy’s, which was like some alternate world version.  Readers did not like his version, nor did I but I understood it was chafing for a writer with his own ideas to work within the parameters as laid down by another creator.
Still, rather than complain about it (which I did, I admit) I decided to do something.
I spoke to the then-senior editor of Gold Eagle about developing another action-adventure series specifically designed to accommodate the revolving door writer system. He responded with interest and suggested I put something together.
So I crafted a premise for a new series titled OFFWORLD OPS. It was about a military and scientific expedition made up of United Nations personnel dispatched in a prototype spaceship ( Aimstar One) to deflect the asteroid “Nemesis”, set to collide with Earth in the far-flung future of 2012. 

Except, Nemesis wasn’t an asteroid but the legendary 10th planet, Nibiru. The world was inhabited by colonies of the lost civilizations of Earth—Atlantis, Lemuria, the Toltecs, the Rama Empire, Sumeria and several others.

The ship crashed on Nibiru but the mission of the expedition remained—to keep the planet from colliding with Earth.

Although I intended to write the first book–Nemesis–the umbrella concept was for other writers to choose characters from the proposal or create their own from the 50-member crew of military and science specialists.

The books would feature the crew exploring the various ancient Earth cultures on Nibiru and trying to solve the mystery of how they got there. Each novel would be a stand-alone so no one writer would tread on the toes of another as long someone in editorial kept track of the lost civilizations that were visited (in retrospect, that might have been a utopian expectation  ).
The framework of OFFWORLD OPS was one of exploration and action-adventure, featuring my trademark combo of monsters, exotic lands and beautiful women.
There would be no locked-in rules. The writers would have a great deal of freedom in how they worked with the premise. I thought it would be fun and encourage writers to extend themselves beyond the usual Gold Eagle A to B story-telling formula.

I sent the complete, very detailed (with pichurs, some which you can see here!) proposal package to the editor who received it enthusiastically and promised to get back to me ASAP. I figured since I had created Gold Eagle’s only successful series since 1986, I could take him at his word.

The next thing I heard about a new Gold Eagle series was a year or so later…only it wasn’t OFFWORLD OPS but a Witchblade knock-off called Rogue Angel. I didn’t exactly hear about it ASAP, either.  No one at Gold Eagle ever spoke to me about OFFWORLD OPS again…which really didn’t help to lessen the strain our relationship.

Although Rogue Angel was well-received in the beginning–with the unprecedented amount of promotion money Harlequin threw behind it, that’s no surprise– complaints about the inevitable lack of continuity between the books written by different writers began cropping up in short order.  Whether those complaints hurt sales, I don’t know… but I imagine they didn’t help, just like they didn’t help the sales of OUTLANDERS.

Regardless, after HarperCollins bought Harlequin in 2014 and killed the Gold Eagle imprint, the issue was rendered stupendously moot. Obviously, I think OFFWORLD OPS would have made a better series…but after all of this time and the Gold Eagle imprint only a memory, I’ve relegated it to the Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda Department.

All for now! More later.

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We were very busy during our first year here in Ireland…establishing our legal residency, setting up a new household, familiarizing ourselves with the area, buying a car and all those attendant complications were a just a few of the things we had to deal with.

During that time, I made a return creating comics, writing two anthology titles for PKMM, a start-up company: A horror title, TALES OF FEAR and EDGE OF INFINITY, an SF comic. It was enjoyable returning to the shorter form for the first time in decades. As a kid, CREEPY and EERIE were two of my favorite magazines. I bought both faithfully for many years and they were a great influence on my work as a comics writer.

Working with some very talented artists to create horror and SF stories in the classic mold was a real hoot! I forgot how much I enjoyed working in comics.

I really don’t know the release date of either book. Once I do, I’ll post an announcement here and on my Facebook page.

Also during that first year I finally finished OF DIRE CHIMERAS, the first book in the new PARALLAX PRIME series, a continuation of my OUTLANDERS series. Published for over 18 years by Gold Eagle, the action-adventure imprint of Harlequin, it came to an end in 2015. The imprint itself ended as well, after 35 years.

After a forced sabbatical from OUTLANDERS, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to return to it. I still harbored anger over the circumstances that led to the sabbatical. But as I posted in other blog entries, OUTLANDERS wasn’t like any other series published by Gold Eagle which I had written, such as The Executioner and Deathlands.

For one thing, I created OUTLANDERS. For another, it was much more legitimate SF. Epic in scope, the series featuring a cast of characters who had senses of humor, flaws and personalities a bit more layered than catch-phrases (“Hot pipe!”).  If not for the introduction of Brigid Baptiste to blaze the trail, there wouldn’t have been a Rogue Angel, which featured Gold Eagle’s first female lead character.

I told a lot of different types of stories in OUTLANDERS. The characters, conflicts and setting evolved over a period of time. I spent many years crafting, expanding, and fine-tuning the whole thing. So, I decided I’d put too much work and energy into building both a cohesive universe and a readership to abandon my creation because of a long-ago injustice.

After I made that decision, I found myself very eager to dive back into the giant toy box where I’d stored my characters and concepts and start playing with them again.

Although there are plenty of beloved pop culture icons I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over the years ( Doc Savage and Mack Bolan to name but two), I much prefer kicking around with My Own Guys like Kane, Grant, Brigid and Domi…not to mention all of the recurring and secondary characters and places.

The surviving Rogue’s Gallery will also return in PARALLAX PRIME…from the diminutive but scheming Sindri to the ambitious Eric Van Sloan to creepy Colonel Thrush…



As well as new adversaries, such as the monstrous Chimerii and the mysterious Terra Archeus organization, led by the reincarnation of Ramses II.


More than anything, I enjoyed doing something different with a format that had, over a period of nearly 20 years, become rather static and formuliac.

Coming up with a new Big Bad—Abraxas The Master Breeder—was a lot of fun, too. Heroes are only as strong as their adversaries, so I created a powerful villain whose origins are rooted in the backstory of the OUTLANDERS/PARALLAX PRIME universe, but who has his own apocalyptic agenda…and he gets a kick out of furthering it.

Although future novels will build on everything I created for OUTLANDERS, PARALLAX PRIME will be anything but “Outlanders: Phase II”. It’s part of the OUTLANDERS continuity, but none of the books released during my sabbatical are included in the chronology.

In the official timeline, OF DIRE CHIMERAS picks up about four years after the end of OUTLANDERS: WARLORD OF THE PIT but new readers don’t have to be familiar with the earlier series. 

PARALLAX PRIME is a fresh start but not a reboot. I was never influenced in the creation or execution of OUTLANDERS by all of the postNuke series popular in the 80s and early 90s. I felt I had to put those kind of survivalist elements in the early books due to writing as “James Axler” but over the years as the series built its own following, I deliberately diminished them. PARALLAX PRIME continues that practice. It is definitely its own thing.

Novelist Rex Stout is credited with saying, “If I’m not having fun writing a novel, no one will have fun reading it.”

In case you can’t guess, I had a WHOLE lot fun writing OF DIRE CHIMERAS. So that means…

Well…take a look for yourself!


And speaking of fun books…


Will (Kenneth Robeson) Murray’s latest WILD ADVENTURES OF DOC SAVAGE entry actually contains two novels…the cover-featured MR. CALAMITY and VALLEY OF ETERNITY. Of the two, MR. CALAMITY is more of the traditional Doc supersaga, prominently featuring his impulse-control impaired cousin Pat and the irascible electrical engineer, Long Tom Roberts.

Long Tom has inherited a remote ranch in the desolate badlands of Wyoming and he decides to make it his laboratory. It’s not long before Pat Savage shows up, asking if she can use the ranch as a home base for prospecting forays into the hills.

During her first trip, Pat sees a man is apparently swimming in midair high in the sky—and that is just the beginning. Within a short period time, Pat meets the masked man calling himself Mr. Calamity and his gang.

In short order Long Tom, Renny, Johnny and Doc are embroiled in a no-holds barred scramble to control an element that cancels out the specific gravity of anything or anyone within its effect radius. Veteran readers of Doc Savage will know that element by name.

The Wyoming badlands are vividly realized as are the colorful cast of saddle-tramp criminals who work for Mr. Calamity and go by such names as Bobcat Face, Flat Nose and Jerico—who turns out to be not quite the man he seems to be. After a series of gunfights, captures, escapes, chases and fistfights, the true identity of Mr. Calamity and the nature of his nefarious scheme is exposed.

MR. CALAMITY is very entertaining, with echoes of an earlier Doc saga set in the 1930s west, THE RED SKULL.

THE VALLEY OF ETERNITY is shorter and quite a bit different than MR. CALAMITY or any other book in the saga. On his birthday, Doc learns to his horror that as part of his legacy left to him by his father, he must marry within the year.

He and his crew—Pat included—fly to the Valley of the Vanished in Central America where the lost Mayan tribe has been supplying his crusade with gold for the last couple of decades. There he learns that the gold vaults are empty and that Princess Monja, whom he had set his cap upon marrying may have different plans.

Both stories are fast-paced and filled with color and adventure, seasoned with the right amount of screwball humor. They are classic Doc Savage.

Mr. Calamity

That’s all for now…back soon!

(art featured here by Jeff Slemons, Canaan White, Darryl Banks and Joe DeVito)



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Catchin’ Up!

Due to various and sundry issues—the least of which was a technical glitch which made it impossible to update my site or post a new blog entry—there is a considerable amount of catching up to do.

In our last episode (“Wearin’ of The Grin” December 3rd, 2016), Mark (“James Axler”) Ellis announced that he and his lovely bride Melissa (“She Who Must Be Obeyed”) Ellis had sold their home of 20 years in Newport RI and were shortly absquatulating for the wilds of west Cork, Ireland.

As we pick up the story over sixteen months later, we find our protagonists firmly and fully planted in the Republic of Ireland. 

Uprooting ourselves and our household to embark on an international move was quite probably the hardest thing Melissa and I have ever done as adults…not necessarily the most stressful–although there was plenty of that ingredient in the mix.

It took me longer than it should have to face up to the fact that our 100 year old home in Newport RI was not getting any younger and neither was I.

In reality, moving to Ireland had been been Plan A over twenty years ago. Moving back to Newport was  Plan B…not that it was a bad choice at the time. Twenty years ago, Ireland had yet to become part of the EU nor had we gotten our citizenship.

During the packing up in January of 2017, both Melissa and I contracted the flu bug which ravaged the Northeast that winter and so working while sick–and I DO mean working and I DO mean sick–could have made the whole experience nightmarish instead of just grim.

(I also came to the unhappy realization during the process that after decades of what I called “collecting”, I was barely *this* side of being a hoarder and so I swore…never again)

Quite fortunately, our angels cleared the path for us and sent even more angels to help us achieve our goal–our dear friends Wayne Quackenbush, Susan Corkoran, Carolyn Dipasquale, Susan and Clifford Kurz, Carol Martins and Elizabeth Bell Caroll were true godsends.

Just when the going got the most Sisyphian and we didn’t think we’d ever manage to pull it off, even more angels appeared…some of them in the most unlikely of guises.

After a stretch of working 10 hour days, seven days a week, on January 19th we finally pulled it off…got the house cleared out and sale finalized. After we sold our car a day or so later, we enjoyed a week of badly needed R and R in Florida at the home of daughter Deirdre and son-in-law John.

Then it was back to New England for a day and then onto Ireland, flying out from Boston.

So, for the last sixteen-plus months, we’ve lived in a beautiful house in a breath-takingly beautiful part of Ireland, rich in history and ancient myth.

Like I’ve said for years…in Ireland, the past has not stopped breathing.

We encountered some challenges, particularly during the first couple of weeks while we groped our way through the Draconian rules of the Irish customs division. But it all worked out fine in the end. We’ve learned that almost everything works out fine in the end here, if you rein down your American-bred impatience for a bit.

It’s said you bring your happiness–or unhappiness–with you where ever you go. Fortunately, we were able to carry most of the happiness of our years in Newport with us here, as well as the things that make houses homes.

We’ve been blessed to have met some great, supportive people here who helped ease the transition enormously.

To sum up…we’re happy and healthy and feel better overall than we have in years.

Now that my site and blog are back and up and running thanks to daughter Deirdre, I’ll be making more regular posts.

Plenty of stuff has happened, both on the personal and professional front. In my next entry—hopefully within the next few days— I’ll be posting about my most recent comics work, my most recent novel, Parallax Prime: Of Dire Chimeras and a review of Mr. Calamity, the latest Doc Savage novel by Will (Kenneth Robeson) Murray.

Be here!

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Wearin’ Of The Grin…

As we inch toward the end of another year, there’s no way to ignore the tides of change.

On the professional front over the last few months I’ve been involved in a couple of time-consuming creative projects that I couldn’t really talk about due to pesky non-disclosure agreements. But here’s a little visual tease:


I’ve also been writing PARALLAX PRIME: OF DIRE CHIMERAS…the first novel in a new series featuring the characters and concepts of my creation that appeared in 18.5 years worth of OUTLANDERS novels.


It’s been slower going than I hoped—I’m still amazed I wrote four to five 90K word books per year under the James Axler pen name for nearly 15 years—but since a new setting was created, the backstory somewhat reframed and the canvas expanded, the process has taken longer than I anticipated…not mention, it’s a big epic adventure. I promise it is worth waiting for.

Speaking of epic adventures…the character I’m most associated with—other than the OUTLANDERS crew—is making his return…DEATH HAWK!


Thanks to the support and patronage of Laurence Keith Emery, the ever-awesome Jeff Slemons is completing the final chapter in the Soulworm Saga, started way back in 1988 by Adam Hughes.


It’s been a long time a-coming but judging by Jeff’s gorgeous art, well worth the wait!

Partly due to the tragic and untimely death of Caliber Comics’ founder and publisher, Gary Reed, the original DEATH HAWK TPB is no longer directly available from Caliber or any bookseller…that goes for the two MISKATONIC PROJECT TPBs and well as MR. HOLMES & DR. WATSON: THEIR STRANGEST CASES.

All of them will be re-released as new, revised editions most likely with new covers next year along with a few others under the Millennial Concepts imprint. DEATH HAWK: THE SOULWORM SAGA will be complete in one volume.

On the more personal front—within the next month or so, Melissa and I are relocating to Ireland. Although we’ve lived in Newport RI for 20 years, moving to Ireland was always our intention. In fact, 20 years ago when we escaped from Florida, it was Plan A, our first destination.

Instead, due to various factors, we decided to move back to Newport, a New England community where we lived in the early 80s. It was a wise move. For the most part our life here over the last two decades has been happy and helped us to heal from severe physical and psychological injuries we suffered during our last three years in Florida.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of Melissa, we gained our Irish citizenship over a decade ago…and so now, our long-deferred relocation to Eire will finally come to pass. The move has been in the planning stages for well over a year, so the recent election had nothing to do with our decision…except to strengthen our conviction it’s the right one to make.

Because the move is taking place during the holiday season, we’ll probably have a pretty UnMerry Christmas.  We’ll miss Newport and many people here, but we won’t miss the nearly daily challenges. After all, we are Irish citizens, so it will feel like coming back home…all things being equal…it’s a case of the “Wearin’ Of The Grin.”


And speaking of grinning…

I grinned almost all the way through what is hopefully Will Murray’s  first entry in THE WILD ADVENTURES OF PAT SAVAGE: SIX SCARLET SCORPIONS.


Although an integral part of the Doc Savage Saga since her debut in 1934’s BRAND OF THE WEREWOLF, Patricia Savage has only rarely been featured in adventures of her own—the last was a one-shot comic book put out by Millennium Publications in 1993.


Pat, like her cousin Doc Savage, has the same gold and bronze coloring of hair, eyes and skin. Like him, she has talent for sniffing out trouble in the unlikeliest of places and circumstances. Unlike him, she is reckless and has a hair-trigger temper.


In SIX SCARLET SCORPIONS what begins as a straightforward trip to Oklahoma to scout out promising oil well sites in which to invest quickly turns dangerous—and very strange. Monk Mayfair comes along since he’s an Oklahoma native and understands the process of oil lease brokering.

They’re barely in—or over —Oklahoma before a sabotaged rental plane nearly ends the trip. The crash is the just the beginning of wild adventure over the length and breadth of the central Oklahoma oil fields.

Pat and Monk shortly encounter Ben Nansen, an emaciated man suffering an extreme case of anemia, due to an agent that if not supernatural, is very bizarre—especially considering a blood-red outline of a scorpion mysteriously appears on the man’s face. Nansen is suffering from an illness akin to polio. The illness is spreading throughout the region and seems incurable.

The strange scorpion mark is associated with a group of hooded and robed terrorists and/or Native American activists called the Seven Scarlet Scorpions and they are apparently led by man with the improbable but memorable name of Chief Standing Scorpion.

Tumultuous events swirl around Pat and Monk and it’s not long before bodies begin piling up. When they find themselves fugitives from the law, they seek out legal help. The only lawyer Monk knows—and halfway trusts—is Ham Brooks, who he very reluctantly calls in from New York. Ham obligingly brings along Monk’s pet pig, the remarkably intelligent Habeas Corpus.

SIX SCARLET SCORPIONS is a complex story but it is also a lot of fun, holding elements of the screwball comedy/mysteries that were so popular among movie-goes in the 1930s and 40s. Monk Mayfair is the comic relief, the foil and reliable sidekick throughout the novel.

Pat Savage herself is an engaging heroine. Short-tempered and acerbic, prone to gun and fistfights, she’s definitely not as reserved or as methodical as her famous cousin, but that makes her attempts to solve the mystery of the scarlet scorpions even more compelling. The “Gentle Savage” she ain’t!

is a fast-paced, action-packed novel, full of extreme characters populating a headlong narrative that is alternately funny and chilling. Writing as Kenneth Robeson, Will Murray’s latest entry in the Savage Saga is one of his most original and entertaining…and that’s saying something!

You can order the book from Amazon here:


More later…most likely in the New Year from the Emerald Isle!



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Summer Breeze—Blowin’ Through the Something-Something In My Mind


This blog kinda wafts around, full of  announcements and reviews, much like a summer breeze.

First up is an announcement: the long-promised second book in THE SPUR series, HELLDORADO is now available, both as an ebook and an affordable paperback!


It took me long enough since the release of the first book, LOKI’S ROCK, but I became sidetracked by various and sundry creative projects from THE JUSTICE MACHINE to KING SOLOMON’S MINES and a couple of other deals. In case you don’t know, THE SPUR is an action-adventure series, combining elements of spaghetti westerns with SF. One reviewer referred to the first book as “Firefly crossed with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

You can order both the paperback and ebook edition here:



If you missed the first book, LOKI’S ROCK, don’t fret…I’m running a special promotion to celebrate the release of HELLDORADO…from June 24th to June 26th, the Kindle edition of THE SPUR: LOKI’S ROCK is  the low, low price of –FREE! That way you can pick up both ebook editions for only  $2.99!


Now for some reviews–




Partly what made this film so painful was the fact there was a germ of a good idea here. But the germ was very quickly buried by sloppy shovelfuls of over-the-top special effects, dim lighting throughout, ham-fisted direction and a total misunderstanding of both title characters.

Henry Cavill’s bleak and bland Superman is about as far from Christopher Reeve’s definitive portrayal as it’s possible to get and still be the same character….especially when he allows a bomb to destroy the Capitol building and kill Godknowshowmany people while he’s standing about six feet away from it. After the smoke clears, he looks kind of embarrassed, as if he’s fallen for a very obvious practical joke.

Even if you could accept Batman still being enraged by the cataclysmic events of MAN OF STEEL three years before,  portraying him as an obsessed psychopath who spends almost the entire movie plotting the brutal first degree murder of Superman shows just how profoundly director Zack Synder misjudged why these pop culture icons have lasted for over 70 years.

Yeah, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was the best thing about this movie but she couldn’t come close to saving it. Nothing could save a movie so thematically, fundamentally flawed. And yes, Ben Affleck was probably the best screen Batman…too bad he had to make his debut in this thing.



In direct counterpoint to DC/WB, Disney/Marvel Studios continue to knock their movies out of the park. CAP3 is an incredibly rich movie, full of life, color, surprises and raw emotion. The conflict between the two factions of The Avengers is believable within context and perfectly fits with the Marvel Comics tradition of heroes who don’t always see eye-to-eye.

Spider-Man’s brief appearance was a jolt of unnecessary adrenalin, but presented so well any sense of ennui about yet another Spidey movie in the future was completely replaced by anticipation.

CAPTAIN AMERICA 3: CIVIL WAR is a great film that totally lived up to the hype while remaining faithful to the spirit of the source material…and is the polar opposite of Dawn of Justice.




Although not made by Disney/Marvel, Fox’s sixth entry in the X-Men franchise was a very solid, very enjoyable chapter in the film series. Although it doesn’t have the delirious energy of CAP3—or the emotional undercurrent—X-MEN: APOCALYPSE was exceptionally well made and even fun, particularly the sequence with Quicksilver using his super-speed to save the students of Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters from an exploding bomb (a stunt Henry Cavill’s Superman was unable to duplicate) and of course, the cameo by Old Man Logan, although not unexpected was definitely appreciated.



Glare of The Gorgon, Will Murray’s latest book in THE WILD ADVENTURES OF DOC SAVAGE  series is another celebration of the iconic character and the 1930s pulp milieu from which he sprang.

When a man dies literally on the doorstep of Doc’s Manhattan headquarters, there are few clues as to what happened to him—other than green silhouette of a serpent-haired woman impressed into the wall and the fact the man’s brain has apparently been turned to stone—by none other than Medusa.

Investigating the man’s death leads Doc, Monk Mayfair and Ham Brooks to Chicago to meet up with another of their crew, electrical engineer Long Tom Roberts. Long Tom is one of the speakers and exhibitors at the Scientific Exposition which becomes an important setting for many of the pivotal moments of the book.

Glare of the Gorgon has a large cast of colorful characters, many of whom are weird like corpse-faced Malcolm McLean and Dr. Warner Rockwell …and some of whom who are vile like gangsters Duke Grogan and Joe Shine—who is OCD about keeping his shoes buffed to a high shine.  All of them, even the distressed damsel Janet Falcon are suspects at one time or another.

As the novel progresses, fear of falling prey to the Gorgon is pumped up, echoing a similar growing terror in the Doc Savage adventure, The Annihilist.

The Annihilist

Glare of The Gorgon takes place only a month after that book, so between eyeballs popping out of people’s heads in The Big Apple and brains turning to stone a few weeks later in The Windy City, Doc and his pals have a pretty grisly time of it. No wonder Doc looks so grim on the cover.

As in The Annihilist, the line-up of suspects are slowly winnowed down but the exposure of the mastermind still comes as a surprise…as does the explanation of how human brains are transformed into the consistency of stone—and it’s not quite as off-the-wall as you might think.

Glare of The Gorgon is a headlong plummet into everything that makes pulp—well, pulp…sneering gangsters with flaming  Tommy-guns, car and motorcycle chases, fistfights, submersible cars, a plot full of twists and turns and a deadly, killing force that cannot be explained…at least at first.

This book is a showcase for more great work by Will Murray—he is to be commended for almost single-handedly maintaining Doc’s profile as a pop culture icon…I tend to think that without his efforts over the years, a new, big-budget Doc Savage movie would not now be in works.

All for now—don’t forget THE SPUR: LOKI’S ROCK ebook giveway from June 24th to the 26th!The SAINT

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Milestones and Memories…

The problem I have with writing blog entries is that I tend to wait until I have something momentous –subjectively speaking, of course—to write about.

As many of my creative-type colleagues will attest, sometimes there’s really nothing all that interesting on the work front.  Currently, I’m involved in a couple of projects, both of which I can’t really talk about until they’re close to completion…so, there’s not much news there.

On, the other hand, as I write this—April 20th—I’m observing something of a milestone. According to my unreliable memory and notes, it was 20 years ago this week I began writing Exile To Hell in full-blown earnest—the first novel in my OUTLANDERS series.


I’d been working on it sporadically since the previous December, but I was already contracted to write three other novels for the Gold Eagle imprint and those needed to be finished first.

Spring of 1996 was an odd period of dislocation and transition for Melissa and I. We were still recovering from a devastating car accident less than a year before. We lived on an isolated horse ranch in Central Florida and I recall the daily routine as filled with heat, sweat, a lot of pain, the smell of horse poop and long hours sitting at keyboards or scribbling in notebooks.

In retrospect, I suppose the isolation was a good thing. Except for Melissa, I had far more interaction with horses than I did with humans. Which was okay. ..I didn’t need the distractions.

I certainly I didn’t realize at the time that OUTLANDERS would turn out to be one of the last of the mass market paperback “men’s adventure” series which had once ruled the publishing industry’s midlist. Nor did I realize just what a complex and long-running saga I was in the process of creating with that first book.

I most definitely didn’t expect OUTLANDERS to last eighteen and a half years…particularly since I had been front-loaded by the Gold Eagle senior editor not to be disappointed when the series was cancelled after the first year, which had been the imprint’s drill for the previous decade.

Very few of the ongoing mass market paperback series were consecutively published for as long as OUTLANDERS…they can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. Granted, as I mentioned elsewhere such an accomplishment isn’t likely to get me featured in a historical retrospective, but it’s interesting when you consider the mind-boggling number of MMP series published between 1970 and 1995.

The majority of them are long gone and forgotten—most of them deservedly so—but matters of taste aside, those kind of series supported the publishing industry for decades. That’s a dollars and cents fact.

As I’ve posted before, in crafting the OUTLANDERS milieu and characters I wasn’t influenced by other post-nuke novel series, like the execrable Ashes or the developmentally-challenged Guardians series. There were still plenty of those pulp redneck power fantasies filling up 7-11 spinner racks and I had zero interest in adding one more to the pile.

Other than an eleventh hour, back-door connection to Deathlands (a series which of course I’d written for), the whole so-called survivalist trend in men’s adventure fiction had little impact on OUTLANDERS except in the most tangential way.

nightmare passage

Although the OUTLANDERS backstory went through a couple of different incarnations, the basic premise and core cast of characters and concepts I created always remained the same.


True, as OUTLANDERS continued for years and years, it went in directions which it definitely should not have. There was considerable damage done to my concepts and severe injury inflicted upon my characters…intentionally, I have reason to suspect.

I’m happy to report the characters and concepts of my creation are healed and repaired.

More on that later.


(Jeez, even I find that tease irritating)

In the interim, those of you who enjoyed THE SPUR: LOKI’S ROCK and who’ve been asking me about the second book in the series…well, the Kindle edition of THE SPUR: HELLDORADO is now available for pre-order from!


I apologize for taking so long, but other projects occupied most of my creative energies over the last couple of years.


Here’s the description:


Colonel Quentin Crockett and his Offworld Operations team learn that the bloodiest way possible when they defend the isolated settlement of Crowbait Crossing from the murderous horde of the Red Cadre.

Responding to another plea for help, Crockett and his crew enter a hidden valley where the descendants of Loki’s First People are one with Nature.
But hidden deep in the valley is an awesome power, a force that will heal the planet…or utterly destroy it…

On Loki, all life is locked in savage combat—and there can never be a winner.

If you’re not familiar with THE SPUR, check out this link:

Get Ready To Rock–

And of course the first book, Loki’s Rock, is still available as both ebook and paperback!


HELLDORADO is full of my trademark blazin’ action, bad attitudes and as Boyd Crowder of Justified once famously declared  “I may not know a hell of a lot but one thing I do know is how to blow shit up!”



In June, once THE SPUR: HELLDORADO is out—in ebook and paperback—I’ll make another announcement.

Until then–






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Doc Savage, Satan’s Spine and Spectre!

This is probably my end-of-the-year blog post…and it comprises a book and movie review.


Although I enjoy the Doc Savage novels featuring super-villains with their infernal machines, I have an abiding fondness for the “weird mystery” plot with gangsters and other criminal types as the main antagonists.


Several of my favorite Doc Savage novels are in that vein such as The Lost Oasis, Fear Cay, Quest of Qui, Land of Always-Night, Murder Melody and  The Red Skull. Will Murray’s The Secret of Satan’s Spine joins that list of favorites.


Set during World War II, a cash-strapped Monk Mayfair decides to take a consulting job with the British government. He’s not happy about it and he’s even less so when  blonde bombshell Davy Lee asks for his help in dispossessing some unsavory types from her father’s ranch in Louisiana.

Monk, being Monk, decides the blonde is a more attractive option than a sea voyage to England through German U-Boat infested waters. Unfortunately, Davy is kidnapped, sending him off on a futile rescue mission whereupon he’s kidnapped himself.

When Doc and Ham come into the situation, they reach the conclusion that someone doesn’t want Monk to sail to England—at least not on a small liner named the Northern Star.

Not surprisingly, Doc, Monk and Ham get aboard the Northern Star and find themselves locked in a battle of wits, fists and guns with a vicious gangster who calls himself Diamond. Add to that, a strange sculpture that looks like a black hand with the fingers making devil horns as well as a crystal with that the attributes of invisibility.

Diamond and his gang of gunmen hijack the ship and set a course for a little island in the Bermuda Triangle known as Satan’s Cay—which is only a way-station for their final destination…a place called Satan’s Spine…and from there, the book gets even weirder and more entertaining.

The relentless pacing and growing sense of dread as the Northern Star sails ever closer to Satan’s Spine makes this book the classic page-turner.

Full of blazing action, mystery and even a vividly described howling hurricane, The Secret of Satan’s Spine is my favorite book (so far)  in The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage series.

Will Murray has set himself the unenviable task of topping this one—but if anyone can do it…he can!


Spectre, the fourth entry in the rebooted James Bond franchise, falls flat compared to the previous three films.

Although I appreciated the homages to the original series–scenes and touches reminiscent of Thunderball, Dr. No and From Russia With Love–the screenwriters hang the success of the story on an unconvincing and flimsy contrivance.

Apparently, the SPECTRE  organization has been the evil guiding force behind everything Bond has dealt with since Casino Royale...not only that, Ernst Stavro Blofeld turns out to be Bond’s kinda-sorta brother…when Bond’s parents died, he was taken in by a kindly man whose biological son was so consumed by jealousy, he killed his dad and then dedicated the rest of his life to making Bond’s life miserable.


Presumably, he even created SPECTRE  just so he could get in last licks…an adolescent “Dad Always Liked You Best!” resentment taken to a fanatical degree.

Smothers Brothers - Mom Always Liked You Best 1965

Unfortunately Blofeld recast with the same basic motivations as Tommy Smothers doesn’t work…nor does the forced familial connection, which as others have pointed out, is basically the same denounement as Austin Powers and Dr. Evil.


Combined with an unmemorable theme song by Sam Smith and an uncomfortable title sequence full of giant, slithering octopus tentacles, Spectre is the weakest of the Daniel Craig Bonds…certainly not a bad movie in of itself, but trying to combine the enhanced realism of the Bourne series with the fantasy touches of 1960s Bond movies isn’t a successful mix.


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How I Spent My Summer (un)Vacation

I didn’t really have a vacation this summer but I did enjoy a few summer type activities…watching movies and reading books…some of which I’ve been meaning to review for months.

Movies first:


The Avengers: Age of Ultron was slightly less impressive than the first entry but I loved it nonetheless.  Intelligently written, with a fascinating cast of characters and of course mind-blowingly spectacular special effects combined to make this THE epic movie of the summer.



Ant-Man was right up there with Age of Ultron …smaller in scope (pun unintended), but a very enjoyable, engaging film. A witty script, great special effects combined with very likeable characters made this movie another home-run hit in Marvel/Disney’s winning streak. Michael Douglas made a surprisingly believable Hank Pym (the first Ant-Man, in case you don’t know).


Mad Max: Fury Road was a major disappointment…it came off as a bloated redneck male power fantasy blended with the worst (or best) elements of Wacky Races.


I found it very inferior story-wise compared to Road Warrior and Beyond the Thunderdome.  Why the director recast Max with the robotic Tom Hardy remains a mystery…Mel Gibson reprising the role that made him a superstar might not have saved this movie but he certainly couldn’t have made Fury Road any more ridiculous.

Now onto the printed page (so to speak).


Will Murray’s latest entry in his Wild Adventures of Doc Savage novel series is one of those “event” type books—in The Sinister Shadow, Doc Savage meets for the first time his rival in pulp crime-busting: The Shadow!

Doc/Shadow crossovers have been done in the comics versions of both characters, when DC and Dark Horse respectively held the rights but this is the first time the two characters have actually met in their original milieu—good old fashioned prose. And if the paper is no longer pulp, it definitely reads like it.

Using discarded chapters and scenes from a 1930s Shadow manuscript penned by Lester Dent (the original Doc Savage writer) as the foundation, Will Murray constructs a complex mini-epic. The Shadow, Doc and their respective aides find themselves in a dark criminal conspiracy overseen by a mysterious super-villain calling himself The Funeral Director. He has his own network of aides called Undertakers.

The story takes place fairly early in the careers of both Doc Savage and The Shadow and like later takes on the Superman/Batman dynamic, there’s a great of deal of mistrust for the other on the part of both heroes.

Doc doesn’t like The Shadow’s penchant for direct, violent action or his single-minded ruthlessness. The Shadow is impatient with Doc’s more reasoned, cooperative approach.

Upon learning they both share the same goal, they work together.

What makes The Sinister Shadow even more enjoyable is that Will Murray shifts the style between the Shadow and Doc sections of the book, effortlessly echoing the “voices” of Water Gibson (the primary author of The Shadow pulp stories) and that of Lester Dent.

You receive the distinct impression that the two writers actually collaborated on the book.

The Sinister Shadow is a long novel, but The Shadow and Doc Savage have never teamed-up before, so the length is justified—not to mention, there are bits of legends and lore about both characters scattered throughout which should make fans very happy.

This is a pivotal book in the long histories of Doc Savage and The Shadow but The Sinister Shadow more than stands on its own as a fast-paced, action-adventure classic.



Over the last six months I’ve been re-reading—and some cases reading for the first time—the entirety of Leslie Charteris’ THE SAINT adventures through Thomas & Mercer’s ebook editions. Reading the 17 novels, 44 novelettes and at least two dozen short stories on my Kindle has become something of a bed-time ritual. I enjoy the humorous forewords contributed by various writers, actors and other professionals, including those penned by Saint expert extraordinaire, Ian Dickerson.

Although the character first appeared in the late 1920s, like most people my age I was introduced to Simon Templar through the six seasons of the TV series starring a young and dashing Sir Roger Moore.




As dated as some of the episodes seem to be now, Templar as portrayed by Moore was a very unusual character for series television—witty, urbane, dangerous, sometimes ruthless, with no real background or apparent means of support, The Saint was an amoral moralist.


(This is the cover of first Saint book I ever read—which is actually the third one in the series…I still have it)

As others have pointed out, unlike the vast majority of British thriller heroes, Simon Templar was an outsider. He could move easily among the moneyed circles of society, charm the landed gentry and play their elitist games, but he wasn’t part of their world—nor did he care to be.

Saint coversm

Although this trait  wasn’t always emphasized on the TV series, the literary Simon Templar definitely didn’t play by English public school rules. He was often just as ruthless as Mack Bolan. He had no qualms about killing his enemies with knives, guns or simply giving them a nudge off rooftops.

Also, unlike most series characters, Simon Templar was not trapped in one specific setting—he could be dropped into any kind of plot…from a farcical crime caper, to battling a criminal mastermind intent on world conquest with a Doomsday Weapon to solving a locked room mystery at a manor house.



Regardless of the plot, big or otherwise in scope, he still remained The Saint. That quality is ultimately the genius of Leslie Charteris.

The summer before last, I reread most of the James Bond books and I have to say now that Leslie Charteris was a superior writer to Ian Fleming in almost every way—as a wordsmith, as a plotter, a dramatist and a master of engaging dialogue.

With a few exceptions, Mr. Charteris’ villains didn’t have the ambitions of James Bond’s adversaries but by the same token, there are some very memorable evil bastards in The Saint’s Rogues Gallery—vicious, sadistic and even monstrous…particularly Rayt Marius who Simon faced on numerous occasions and who might be considered his version of Blofeld. Bond never went up against giant mutant ants or the Loch Ness monster, either. Some of the human grotesqueries made appearances in the Saint newspaper strip.

The Saint sample

For at least three decades, The Saint was a pop culture icon due to a series of nine movies throughout the late 30s and 40s, a long-running radio program and a comic book series.

Avon-Saint-4-Comic-1948-799196 (2)

Partly because of those many years of exposure, Simon Templar has been taken granted. Over the last few years, The Saint has been dismissed as an old-fashioned and lightweight gentleman adventurer, rather than as the template for James Bond and his ilk. Simon even carried around his own little gadgets, like exploding cigarettes in his silver case. This was long before such items became commonplace among secret-agent heroes.

Suffice it to say, I highly recommend The Saint saga, lovingly repackaged by Thomas and Mercer—hard copies or digital. You can get them here:


Also, if you’ve never seen the Roger Moore TV series, I highly recommend it, as well. Sir Roger plays Simon Templar to complete perfection. Leslie Charteris apparently took issue with some of the episodes, but he never criticized Sir Roger’s portrayal of his character.


And by the way, since I’ve been asked about it on a nearly daily basis for the last couple of months…yes, after 18 years of consecutive publication, my OUTLANDERS series comes to an end with the book out in November. I’ve updated and tweaked the page on my site devoted to the series to provide a more concise overview of the entire thing. Check it out here:


All for now…but like Simon Templar, I will return. Watch for my sign.


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Kreegah! Tarzan Returns In A Big Way!

I’m not sure, but I think my first exposure to Tarzan was TARZAN THE MAGNFICIENT,  starring Gordon Scott as the Lord of The Jungle.


Being very young , I don’t recall being overly impressed by the film—maybe because as one of the later entries in the long-running series, the tone was dark and Tarzan presented as basically a policeman in a loin cloth.

Although I grew to appreciate this film much more in later years, it wasn’t until the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies were a staple of pre-cable TV that I became a fan of the character. I definitely preferred the “family unit” incarnation to all the others.


It took me awhile longer to become a fan of the character as written by his creator, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

In the early 60s, although Tarzan was enjoying a revival due to interminable TV airings of the old movies—and new theatrical films were also being released—the literary Tarzan was difficult to find.

Many local libraries had removed the novels from their shelves due to the idiotic misconception that Tarzan and his wife Jane made for poor role models. They lived without benefit of marriage in a tree-house with an illegitimate son and a chimp, see…

In the early 1960s, Ballantine Books, a small paperback publisher managed to secure the literary rights and began a very successful reprint program, repackaging the novels as a numbered series. I’m sure I was only one of many kids who were introduced to the original Burroughs Tarzan through those editions.


I don’t need to examine the vast divide separating the Burroughs Tarzan and the character as portrayed in the movies…suffice it to say, the original Tarzan became a pop culture icon for a reason.

However, unlike a lot of other pop culture icons, there have been only a handful of authorized Tarzan novels written by others…Fritz Leiber’s Tarzan And the Valley of Gold, Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Joe Lansdale, Dark Heart of Time by Philip Jose Farmer  and now, Will Murray’s Tarzan: Return To Pal-Ul-Don.


As much I enjoyed the outings by Leiber and Farmer, Will Murray’s epic novel feels much more like the real thing—completely authentic  in all things Tarzanic and Burroughsian.

Readers familiar with the Tarzan canon know that Lord Greystoke, John Clayton AKA Tarzan of the Apes joined the RAF during WWII. What they don’t know—until they read this book—is that the Lord of the Jungle found himself trapped in the savage and bizarre land of Pal-Ul-Don for a second time.


In Tarzan The Terrible (considered by many to be the greatest of the original novels), Tarzan, searching for Jane, tracks her to Pal-Ul-don and encounters tailed humanoids and survivors from prehistoric epochs, such as smilodons and carnivorous triceratops…locally known as Gryfs.

Boris Vallejo - 1978 - Tarzan the Terrible

Now, twenty years later, Tarzan is given the mission of finding a British intelligence officer and in the process of doing so, crashes his plane into a hitherto unexplored section of Pal-Ul-Don.

It doesn’t take long before Flying Officer Clayton reverts to type—stripping off his uniform and boots, sniffing the wind and making friends with another lost soul…an elephant who wandered into Pal-Ul-Don and is promptly attacked by a prehistoric crocodile. Tarzan saves his life and the two become companions throughout the rest of the adventure.

As any reader of Tarzan knows, he and elephants (Tantor in the language of the mangani) share a special affinity and rapport–a characteristic Will Murray depicts very believably.


Two parallel plot-lines run throughout  the novel—the search for the missing officer and freeing this particular part of Pal-Ul-Don from the terror of the very creepy  “spiderlings.”

These half-human/half-arachnid creatures are Will Murray’s invention, yet they definitely fall within the Burroughs tradition of freakish life-forms encountered in Pellucidar, Barsoom and even on Venus.

The struggle with the spiderlings—and the ultimate reveal of their origins—is both fascinating and repulsive.

Tarzan: Return to Pal-Ul-Don is the book  hard-coreTarzan aficionados have been waiting for. Will Murray captures not only the voice of Edgar Rice Burroughs but also his pacing and overall structure.

It’s a colorful and action-packed novel which, despite its length, keeps moving forward. The rich detail and scattered references to earlier Tarzan books grounds the novel, making it feel like part of the original canon.

The only Burroughs element I missed was any of the mangani cavorting on stage, but Torn Ear the elephant more than makes up for the lack the usual cast of animal allies.

Tarzan: Return To Pal-Ul-Don is quite the achievement—which is really saying something when you consider Will Murray’s impressive body of work as a journalist, pulp scholar and prolific novelist.

The trade paperback edition can be ordered through Amazon and all other online booksellers or through Altus Press.


A hardcover edition with a wraparound cover may be ordered here:





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Cryptozoica…The Monster (Book) That Refused To Die!


It’s no secret I’ve written a lot of stuff over the years…from comics to graphic novels to a whole lot of regular ol’ novels.

I suppose when you get right down to it, CRYPTOZOICA is my favorite book…and apparently it’s the favorite of a lot of other people, regardless of all those books I wrote in the OUTLANDERS and Deathlands series. It’s certainly been the best-reviewed of all my work.

In fact, CRYPTOZOICA was consistently ranked in the Top 20 of all ebooks on Amazon for the last couple of summers.

Since Jurassic World opens this weekend, the first outing in the film franchise in nearly 15 years, it’s an appropriate time to revisit my own version of “The Monster That Refused to Die.”

CRYPTOZOICA is my ode and homage to all the giant monster and Lost World books and movies I loved growing up, with my own unique spin on the whole thing.



Like the great Edgar Rice Burroughs reprints from the 1960s with the stunning Frazetta covers and interior illustrations, CRYPTOZOICA features stunning art by Jeff Slemons, in the grand tradition.

Stinky2 IIa

It’s funny now–funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha–how CRYPTOZOICA was almost one of the first hardcovers put out by a start-up publisher called Variance…then almost became a casualty of the mainstream publishing’s industry-wide meltdown in 2009.

I could go into more detail about being misled and outright lied to by the so-called editor of Variance when he cancelled our agreement basically on the eve of going to contracts…but suffice it to say, Variance is long gone, not fondly remembered and the so-called editor was, not long ago, cruising the internet and begging for work.

But–as the saying goes–I digress.

When my agent first shopped CRYPTOZOICA around, a couple of reasons given by editors for its rejection was its similarity to Jurassic Park.

Even if that assessment was true–which it wasn’t– I couldn’t see how a perceived similarity was a detriment…but this was a little before The Crash… and before the avalanche of Twilight and Hunger Games knock-offs became not just a publishing practice but a policy.

After the Variance debacle, I determined that rather than struggle through the smoking rubble of the publishing industry, I would choose a path I had heretofore sworn I would never walk…to self publish.

Like a lot of professional writers, I viewed self-publishing as vanity publishing…a last resort option for people too untalented to have their work accepted by the so-called “gatekeepers” of traditional publishing.

By 2010, this was no longer the case. Quite a number of my fellow mid-list novelists had seen their own careers seriously damaged by The Crash…and rather than take jobs flipping burgers, some of them decided to take matters into their own hands and self-publish.

When I made that decision with CRYPTOZOICA, I also decided to publish the book the way I wanted it to be–which meant it would be the kind of book I would love to have–with beautiful interior illustrations a great wraparound cover and lots of little grace notes.


I saw CRYPTOZOICA as a hardboiled kind of thriller, not the current military/techno/thriller type. I wanted it to be a little more primal, a little less point A to point B and a little more hands-on so I returned to an earlier school of thriller writing—Richard Prather, Donald Hamilton,  John D. MacDonald and even Milton Caniff.

Book covers


I wrote CRYPTOZOICA as if I were writing it for the old Gold Medal paperback original line—tough and hard-hitting characters…a story about greed and violence, of riches and sudden death and even of redemption. But cool…very jazz-cool. If the book had a soundtrack, it would be by Miles Davis.

When it came to the two main male characters, Tombstone Jack Kavanaugh and Augustus Crowe, my mind kept returning to a blurb from a sadly under-appreciated hardboiled detective film written by the late Robert Culp, called Hickey and Boggs. The blurb was: “They’re not cool, slick heroes…they’re worn, tough men. And that’s why they’re so dangerous.”


One of the problems with today’s so-called thrillers is that the heroes are often flatline in the personality department—almost generic, regardless of their ethnicity. They’re about as colorful as cold dishwater.

Some writers graft problems onto their protagonists which in my opinion makes them come off as a trifle ridiculous—“I may be a Ninja and an astronaut but I’m tortured by the fact my father is a gay rodeo clown.”

Those kind of superficial problems derive from watching too many After School Specials and they don’t define characters …they’re mere wrinkles. Long-time fans of my Outlanders series will recognize the basic template of the CRYPTOZOICA characters—

“Tombstone” Jack Kavanaugh, his partner Augustus Crowe, Bai Suzhen AKA Madame White Snake, Dr. Honore’ Roxton, Aubrey Belleau and of course the little gun-totin’ Maori “wild child” by the name of Mouzi, who seems to be everyone’s favorite.


It’s certainly a proven template…Outlanders has been consecutively published for over 18 years, a life-span shared by very few mass-market paperback original series.



CRYPTOZOICA is a lengthy book with a loose epic sweep. I’ve been working on a sequel for the last couple of years, but it’s not been easy topping myself.

So, rather than go into it more detail, check out these links:

Book trailer:


My particular favorite is the rockin’, fast-paced book trailer, created by the beautiful and talented Melissa Martin-Ellis which features most of the awesome Jeff Slemons art that appears in the CRYPTOZOICA trade paperback edition.

Most book trailers that I have seen are rather sedate affairs with text floating around uninteresting backgrounds. Not this one, boy!

If you haven’t yet read CRYPTOZOICA, this is the perfect summer to do it, if I say so myself.

And I do!







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