After slogging through a few less than stellar attempts at pulp and a pair of Hugo worthy novelettes, it feels fantastic to soak up some Schuyler Hernstrom. It isn’t just palette cleansing, it’s soul cleansing. It’s writing so rich that I find myself stopping just to prolong the pleasure.
I had completely forgotten that Cirsova 5 included The Last American, a story by Herstrom. Here’s the heroism. Here’s the hope. Here’s the nature red in tooth and claw and one man struggling to save his woman from powerful enemies against all odds. When it comes to moments of transcendence, there are few better than Hernstrom. Take the moment of the barbarian’s departure from The Last American:
He took a knife from his belt and cut away the flag with a length of cloth from the sleeve and turned to Tyur. He tied the thing to the hunter’s thick arm. Tyur looked down in awe.
“But I am not of your blood…”
“All who fight tyranny are of my tribe.”
This is the sort of thing that I look for in my fiction. This is why I’m a proud flag waver in the Pulp Revolution.The preceeding story, The Queen of Shadows was pretty darn good too, but it’s the story of a hive mind alien slaughtering humans, from the hive mind’s point of view. Although a fine story, “hive mind hurting humanity” also describes all of the Hugo worthy works approved by the puppy-kickers, too (Zing!). In all seriousness, it might have been better to have read The Queen of Shadows after reading The Last American. Hernstrom brings the heat on the threat of the hive mind just fine without the savagery of The Queen of Shadows.