Lansdale pays homage to the pulp writers who inspired him in this loving collection of stories.
Dedicated to both Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan and John Carter, and Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, this volume focuses on adventure stories, many with a touch of the fantastic. It gets off to a lovely start with the introduction, a brief memoir of the roots of a writer's imagination, in this case a boy who discovered pulp years after pulp magazines stopped publishing and movie serials when they were a staple of television trying to fill in programming hours in the early days. The influences here range from horror to 19th-century detective fiction to 20th-century noir. Many of the stories read as fan mashups. So, for instance, Poe's detective Auguste Dupin finds himself in the midst of a horror tale; Tarzan, in a story that was approved by his creator's estate and is the collection's best, finds himself in another Burroughs creation, The Land that Time Forgot. Even the stories that don't reference other characters have strange, imaginative touches—like a noir in which the beautiful victim, during a sweltering summer, is found encased in a block of ice. Throughout, there is a palpable affection for these genres and a palpable desire to entertain the reader.
This act of a writer's love becomes a show of generosity for the audience.