Book Review: Werewolves of Mass Destruction

Werewolves of Mass DestructionSo I was sitting in Taco Bell munching on a double decker taco, sipping a wild-cherry Pepsi and reading Joshua Unruh‘s Werewolves of Mass Destruction on my Kindle, when suddenly I had an epiphany.

It happened right about the time our hero Ajax Stewart took on a squadron of super-enhanced zombies that were equipped with jetpacks and cannons. Out-gunned and out-numbered, Ajax had nothing to rely on except his superior physique, genius mind, indomitable character and a mysterious bag of tricks.

In that moment I was a kid again, and my inner child was having a party. Sure, I probably shouldn’t be eating and drinking that stuff at my age, and certainly not owning up to it. And for sure I shouldn’t be reading pulpy “trash” like Werewolves of Mass Destruction. I could just hear some adult from my past wailing “It will ROT your BRAIN!”

Too bad. I was having fun. I was happy. Once in awhile, indulging in junk food is good for the soul. It’s even possible to rationalize that at least SOME of the ingredients are healthy, even though they probably aren’t.

Except Werewolves of Mass Destruction isn’t junk. The short story is very, very well written. At around 56 pages and priced at 99 cents (less than the cost of a Hershey bar), it’s action-packed, amazingly inventive action/fantasy with a retro vibe (think Doc Savage mashed up with a grown-up Tom Swift).

The author actually did some homework. Not just to bring a nearly-forgotten pulp genre up to 21st century standards, but in the world-building and the selection of character names. The story is loaded with Easter eggs.

Ajax Stewart rescues perky/plucky blogger Verity Sooth from a fireball-manifesting archdruid and his minions, disrupting their wicker man ceremony. (Incidentally, Burning Man was going on in the Nevada desert at the time of reading, so I’m not the only one with an “over-active imagination”. So there.)

The manly hero immediately tangles with an ax-wielding ogre, and before you can say “Thule Reich,” the duo are tracking down the infamous Nazi mad scientist/wizard Baron Totenkopf.

Cue super-enhanced zombies and jetpacks. The werewolves come later, and are kind of a let down, compared to the mad Baron, who inexplicably doesn’t crave “One Million Dollars,” or even world domination. He’s a maniac nihilist who plans to liquidate humanity altogether.

Yeah, he’s got to be stopped at all costs, and you can bank on Ajax Stewart being the only guy in the world who’s up for the task. With a little assist of course from Verity Sooth, who besides being plucky and perky, is also scrappy.

I’ve heard there’s a trend in fiction, especially blog-based fiction, of serializing stories into a meta-narrative. End a chapter on a cliff-hanger. Change settings and adversaries frequently. And make the action non-stop.

Werewolves of Mass Destruction isn’t a serial, but it could be, except that the transitions between scenes are nearly seamless. If this puppy is ever fleshed out into a full-length novel, that’s how it will be done. In its present form the story is lean, nimble and thrilling adventure/fantasy fiction.

I prefer my delicious, comforting, inexpensive junk food in small portions (no one wants a stomach ache, after all), and Werewolves of Mass Destruction fit the bill perfectly.

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