Once again, I’m returning to the Etherverse to look at another “dime novel” by Daniel T. Foster and Michael J. King. As with the previous products that I’ve reviewed from Art-Horse Studios, I think it’s only fair to mention that these folks are friends of mine, and although I’m going to try to be objective in my review, the idea that I could be completely impartial is LAUGHABLE, at best. With that admission behind us, let head back to Mars!
Daniel T. Foster & Michael J. King – Wyatt Earp: A Marshal on Mars (2017)
Wyatt Earp is the third book in Foster and King’s alternate history storyline, which they call the Etherverse. According to their version of history, a few industrious citizens invented electro-magnetic engines in the latter half of the seventeenth century, which were subsequently used to propel humans into space by the 1880s. In previous Etherverse titles, Teddy Roosevelt took his “Rough Riders” to Mars to fight against the Martians who rode on giant battle toads (in Martian-American War), then his daughter, Alice, investigated some alien presence that crashed to Earth in Russia in 1908 (as chronicled in Alice Roosevelt and the Tunguska Menace), and now Roosevelt sends a trusted confidant back to Mars to try to discover who killed a Jovian ambassador, which could end up sparking a Worlds War! Assisting Marshal Wyatt Earp is a young Eliot Ness, whose experiences help shape him into the lawman we all know and love from those classic holo-vids.
Foster’s storytelling style is right out of the pulps, as I’ve mentioned in the past, combining a sly humor with genuine suspense and rollicking action. There’s also a very clever meta-element to this tale, as when Eliot Ness, who is really just a kid standing in the presence of one of his heroes, asks Earp questions pertaining to the stories he’s read in dime novels about Earp’s adventures. The marshal says, “Don’t believe everything you read, boy.” It’s a nice touch. Having a fictionalized Wyatt Earp (on Mars!) telling one of his fans not to take these types of stories too seriously—perhaps a sly reminder to the READERS as well!
As with the previous books, King’s artwork is once again excellent. His detailed crosshatching and shading are spectacular, and I find that the black and white printing work exceptionally well with his work, especially on the cover, which you can see above, and which is obviously fantastic! And as a fan of weird fiction, I’m particularly fond of his Europan Ape-Man drawings, there were two in this book, which remind me of something I would have seen in a vintage, 1960’s Doom Patrol comic!
At twenty-four pages, this book is a fairly quick read, and is an excellent addition to the growing Etherverse line. There’s a strong element of mystery in the tale that I don’t want to spoil, so I’m not going much into the plot, but rest assured, it’s exciting and clever, as all of Foster’s stories have been so far. (I’m REALLY looking forward to the next book, which stars Harry Houdini!) Foster’s language is easy to read, and captures that vintage, “pulp” feel perfectly, and there are no cuss words or sexual content to worry about, although there is a bit of violence—though nothing that you couldn’t see on any network television channel these days. (Decidedly tame compared to Supernatural…or the news.)
One quirk I also have to mention is that these books are self-published and might be tough to get ahold of. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, the Art-Horse crew will be at Fantastacon 3 this Saturday in Lakewood, Washington, USA, (just south of Tacoma), and you can grab all kinds of Art-Horse swag from these guys in person AND probably get Dan and Michael to SIGN your books for you! (Dan has said that he’ll sign anything!) If you DON’T live in or near Washington State, you’ll have to order the books through their Etsy Store… As I’ve mentioned a million times, though, supporting independent folks is, ultimately, a positive act that makes society better, so show some love! If you’re looking for an exciting, well drawn, pulp-fiction, sci-fi, alternate history, action, adventure story, there are few sources better than Art-Horse’s Etherverse line!!!
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!