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Book Review: The Best of Adventure, Volume 1 (1910-1912), Edited by Doug Ellis

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Adventure was a fiction magazine that ran for 811 issues from 1910 to 1971, and in 1935 Time magazine dubbed it the “No. 1 Pulp.” During its first two years of existence, Trumball White served as editor, and it is that period which is the focus of Volume 1 in what is a planned series to be presented by Black Dog Books. Author/researcher Doug Ellis is well versed in pulp magazines and he selected the 24 stories that came from the magazine’s first 26 issues.

Though hard to pick highlights, here are some favorites that reveal the variety of the work. Talbot Munday’s “The Soul of the Regiment” shows the power of patriotism in one British soldier serving in Khartoum, Sudan. Willett Stockard’s “A Soft Answer From the Kid” is a Western tale that takes an unexpected turn when the Kid uncharacteristically chooses to talk instead of shoot a man he has outdrawn. Set in 17th century England, Rafael Sabatini’s “The Pretender” has a great twist as the narrator tries to aid the King.

I was surprised and delighted to find George E. Holt’s “From the Book of Fate: A Tangier Tale,” a touching love story set in Morocco as Fatima the servant helps the Basha’s daughter attain a life she denied herself. James Francis Dwyer’s “The White Queen of Sandakan” is comedic take on affairs of the heart more in line with what is expected from an early 20th century male point of view.

I did have a little trouble with the conclusion of Frederick William Wallace’s “The Luck of the Annie Crosby.” While amusing, the conclusion seems implausible once it’s explained how Captain Crosby encounters his son in the same location he drowned six years previous.

On infrequent occasion, the book presents correspondence from the writers, which was included in the letters section of the magazine entitled “The Camp-Fire.” As enjoyable as the stories are, more material in this vein, if there were any, would have been appreciated to learn more about the contributors.

What’s fascinating about these stories is they present a window into the imaginations of writers from a century ago and other than the language at times appearing slightly formal, they are not much different than what would be expected from modern authors. For anyone looking for some Adventure, this book is a great place to start.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS