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The Journal of Pulse-Pounding Narratives #2 by Project Pulp
Review by Colleen Cahill
Project Pulp Zine  ISBN/ITEM#: REVJPPN2
Date: March 2005 / Show Official Info /

The sad introduction lets us know that this is the last Journal of Pulse-Pounding Narratives because the "pressures of fame and notoriety" created by the first issue "broke" the editors. This tongue-in-cheek intro fits in well with the tone of the stories, many of which will bring a smile and even a giggle. The opening work by Scott Edelman, "This is where the title goes," is a splendid anatomy of a pulp tale, narrating from the first sentence to the last, the perfect story. Certainly it is far more informative that most English class descriptions of opening, climax and ending of a story; in fact, it should be read in every beginning writing class. Nor are any of the following stories traditional pulp: Lori Selke brings us a combination of cloning and art in "The exquisite hairpiece," where questions of nurture verse nature are tested with some facial hair of Salvador Dali. Gavin J. Grant presents a dark mood with his "Information exchange: null," with a focus on the madness of a prisoner who has been held for years, but does not seem to have any knowledge of his parent's revolutionary activities. In contrast is James L. Cambias' "Apocrypha," which I think of as "New Testament Punk," as Joshua bar-Joseph and his super powered followers try to do good in the corrupt city of Alexandria. "Dubious in Dublin," by Peter Hagelslag, got several giggles from me, as an alien hires Manuel, a Spanish Ph.D. candidate in physics. The alien is unaware that Manuel's day job of International Operator is not about espionage and sabotage, but more about drudging as a computer "help desk slave." Jetse De Vries' "The Philistine detectives" also has a light-hearted feel as two hippy time cops are sent to an alternative time line where Joe McCarthy is President and the Summer of Love seems to have been shut down.

Not all these tales are upbeat, some look at the darker side of humans and in the case of Jay Lake's "Twilight of the odd," the Gods. His examination of last battle between the Norse Gods in small town Texas is a cross between an epic and a folk tale, combining good old boys and Earth shaking powers. The blackest story in the collection, "Sunk," by Paul Finch, explores the panic, desperation, and eventual recompense of a murderer who has to keep killing to cover each previous crime. "Lachrymose and the golden egg," by Tim Pratt, follows Larry who spends most of his life in a drug-induced fantasy world with weekly trips for blood donation that pay for his lifestyle. Larry has a disease that will kill him, but his blood serum has properties that will cure Parkinson's and control epilepsy. When his dream world begins to overlap with reality, he finds there might be a cure for him, too. The last story is "Giant Land" by Jeffery Ford, which has the feel of a fairy tale, starting with two men and a woman being held by a giant. To gain their freedom, the men try to persuade the woman to marry the giant. The woman proves to be smarter than the men and the giant, succeeding in her own escape and starting an adventure that is fascinating and unique.

There is not one bad story in this entire collection and it is a steal for the asking price of $5.00. I ordered this online at Project Pulp and it was rushed to my door. For the great writing, the captivating tales, and the surprising plots, I encourage you to get The Journal of Pulse-Pounding Narratives, No. 2.

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