Monday, November 9, 2009

Top 60 Novels of 2000-2009 Countdown: No. 52

The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont

I prefer getting my cultural history in fiction. This book seems to fit into yet another subgenre: adventure novels set during the early- or mid-20th century that mixes historical and fictional characters involved in a literary or pop-culture enterprise that the writer somehow loved. Included in these novels are the series about comics by Tom De Haven; "Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay"; "Carter Beats the Devil"; and, most recently, "Sunnyside." I'm sure there are more. Anyway, I particuarly liked this one because it had a rip-roaring, pulpy plot involving poison gas and magic, but also because it has great characters, many of whom are drawn from the ranks of real-life SF and pulp writers: particularly the men who started "The Shadow" and "Doc Savage." When I was in junior high, a few of my friends were into reading Doc Savage novels (at that point all I was really reading were plays), so I was familiar with the genre, particularly Tom Swift. books. There's a remarkable appearance by a "reanimated" H.P. Lovecraft and a hanger-on named L. Ron Hubbard who dreams of hitting it as big as Edgar Rice Burroughs. Also, there's one more character, introduced mysteriously, whom we learn later is in fact a very familiar name in SF. I have not yet readd Malmont's follow-up, "Jack London in Paradise."

No comments: