The Penetrator #17: Demented Empire

The Penetrator #17: Demented Empire by Lionel Derrick
Pinnacle Books, 1976
Price I paid: 50¢

A crime and swindle operation syndicate has set up a weapons warehouse in Florida.

Five senior citizens are dead. They were conned out of their life’s savings on phony land deals and made the mistake of complaining. This mob is also distributing wholesale weaponry, ammunition, and drugs to any thief or psycho with money. Tony Rossi of La Cosa Nostra asks his old friend, Mark Hardin, to smash the Florida operation. And Mark is forced to help the Mafia against their non-Sicilian opponents because of their threat to innocent people!

Join the Penetrator as he wreaks havoc on organized crime: fighting from Florida to Guatemala to bust up the most insidious drug, gun, and swindle operation ever to threaten our national security!

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Grease

Grease by Ron de Christoforo
Pocket Books, 1978
Price I paid: It’s complicated, but less than a buck

GREASE IS FOR LOVERS

It’s the story of Sandy and Zuko, dance contests, graduation, drive-ins, and wishing the summer would never end; of fighting and thinking they mean it when all they really care about is making up.

GREASE IS FOR SWINGERS!

It’s the story of The Thunderbirds and The Pink Ladies, Greased Lightnin’, gang rumbles, Thunder Road, Rydell High, and the Class of ’59.

GREASE IS FOREVER!

Most of all, it’s the story of how great it can be to go with someone who’s crazy about you. Even if it’s a while before everyone knows it…even before you’re sure about it yourself.

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Bug Jack Barron

Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad
Doubleday, 1983
Originally serialized in New Worlds, 1967-1968
Price I paid: $7

“Bugged…Then go bug Jack Barron!” cries the vidphone announcer every Wednesday night to the more than 100 million viewers watching Barron’s call-in show. And bug him they do. If there’s a gripe to air, an injustice to rectify, a cause to consider, Jack Barron will listen to it—if you can get through his gauntlet of screeners—and straight to the top, then and there, on the air. Whether it be a business bigwig or the President himself, no one is “out” when Jack Barron calls. Not with the entire nation watching. And no one is safe when Jack gets really bugged…

But the powers-that-be know they have nothing to really fear from Jack Barron. Jack used to be a hothead radical leader back in the sixties, but he gave up the poverty-stricken life of the activist to enter show biz. Now, as the country’s biggest celebrity, Jack’s not about to blow his goldmine job by skewering some biggie on the air. He may slip in a few well-placed barbs, but he’ll always make time for a convincing rebuttal from the other side.

Until one night Jack runs a show on multi-billionaire Benedict Howards’ Foundation for Human Immortality, a privately owned cryogenic “freeze now, live later” project—a show that might endanger the Foundation’s chance at a federally-sanctioned monopoly. Howards is no man to cross. One of the richest and most powerful men in America, he is ruthless in getting what—and whom—he wants. And now he wants Jack Barron.

Much to Jack’s surprise, Howards tries to buy him off when he could more easily have crushed his career. Suspicious, Jack finds his long-suppressed activist instincts aroused. Soon he uncovers hints of sinister activities by the Foundation—missing children, unexplained deaths—and when Howards tries to use Jack’s continuing love for his ex-wife, Sara, to get at him, the billionaire finds he’s taken on more than he bargained for. This is no vidphone entertainer worried about his job. This is the old firebrand Jack Barron. And when Jack Barron’s bugged, heads roll.

Warning: Sexual content and language may be offensive to some readers.

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“Short in the Chest”

“Short in the Chest” by Idris Seabright
from The Metal Smile, ed. Damon Knight
Belmont Science Fiction, 1968
Originally published in Fantastic Universe, July 1954
Price I paid: none

“DO NOT FOLD, BEND, OR MUTILATE”

marked the beginning of our cybernetic society. How will it end?

The varied answers to that question have proved to be fertile ground for some of the greatest science fiction imaginations. But perhaps we shouldn’t look too closely into the future of cybernetics. It may be that the survival capacity of the thinking machine is greater than that of its maker…

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The Mercy Men

The Mercy Men by Alan E. Nourse
Ace Books, 1984
Originally published in 1968
Price I paid: *A picture of Ronald Reagan saying “I don’t recall, mommy”*

It’s the 22nd century and mass mental illness is reaching epidemic proportions. At the Hoffman Medical Center, illegal brain research is performed on living subjects. The victims come as volunteers, already mad enough to risk their remaining sanity for the high prices Hoffman offers. These new-age mercenaries go by the ironic title of—

THE MERCY MEN

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The Vampyre

Title page of the original 1819 edition/Wikipedia

The Vampyre: A Tale by John William Polidori
Gateway/Orion, 2015
Originally published by Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1819
Price I paid: 99¢

The Vampyre: A Tale is based on a fragment written by Lord Byron in 1816 during a gathering of author friends who, trapped inside due to bad weather, decided to write ghost stories. It was the first vampire story in English prose, and as such had a wide-ranging influence, almost single-handedly creating the now-popular image of the vampire as an aristocratic seducer.

Amazon.com, from the publisher
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Time Cat

The cover of the novel TIME CAT by Lloyd Alexander. A black cat with the title of the book has a very long tail that spans the rest of the cover, on which various scenes from history can be seen. The background is a whirlpool of dark and light green colors.
Cover image from isfdb.org

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander
Square Fish, 2012
Originally published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1963
Price I paid: Having fun’s not hard/when you’ve got a library card

He doesn’t have nine lives, it’s true, but Gareth the cat is far from ordinary. For one thing, he can talk. What’s more, he has magical powers that even Jason hasn’t dreamed of.

“Anywhere, any time, any country, any century.” Gareth tells Jason he can take them traveling through time. And in a single wink of the eye, he does. From ancient Egypt to Japan, from the land of young leonardo da Vinci to the town of a woman accused of witchcraft, Jason and Gareth are whisked from place to place and friend to foe.

Full of excitement, discovery, and a world of intriguing history, Time Cat takes the imagination on an unforgettable ride—into nine amazing adventures in life.

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After the Rain

The cover of the book "After the Rain" features the Statue of Liberty submerged in water up to her face. All that is visible is the torch and the top half of her head. The sky is dark and cloudy. The title and author of the book are in the top right corner.

After the Rain by John Bowen
Ballantine Books, 1965 (Second edition)
First edition published in 1959
Price I paid: 75¢

The British are a hardy island people. At least two aspects of this country are world-renowned—the astonishing number of high calibre writers they produce, and their climate.

AFTER THE RAIN is an impressive combination of both. In fact, Angus Wilson says:

“If you like cataclysmic novels John Bowen’s AFTER THE RAIN is as exciting as any deluge you can hope to find: but if you think deluges are twoo trivial, John Bowen has a surprise for you: his novel turns out to be a satire of the first order.”

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Bear with me please

UPDATE 9/18/19: I think I’ve found a good setup so things may stabilize. Is this more readable? It seems like every damn option WordPress has on offer is grey on gray unless I want to do some kind of negative mode with blue and yellow or some crap. Or picture backgrounds. It’s like nobody is expected to use this website for longform writing?

It’s been brought to my attention that my blog is not very accessibility friendly! I feel very bad about that, and I’m exploring options to correct the issue.

The most likely result is that I’m going to change the theme again. I know, that sucks and I just changed it and it probably was confusing enough the first time. I’m sorry. I’ll try to make this one stick for a little while, hopefully by means of not choosing one that sucks for people to read.

In the meantime you might notice the theme change and then change back, and things might move around a bit while I figure out what features are on offer and how best to use them.

If you have to blame anyone, blame me first and foremost, but also maybe blame WordPress for wanting to charge me forty dollars to add a little CSS. It’s like a 98/2 split.

Thanks for being patient with me, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to make this blog easier for you to read, or navigate, or anything else. My dinky little project might be niche, but it’s still for everyone.