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ITS OWN THING…

Posted by on May 15, 2018

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!

Parallax

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)