Thursday, May 28, 2015

Better Than Bullets - Theodore Roscoe

As part of my birthday present, Gina got me the first collected volume of Altus Press' release of Theodore Roscoe's stories of the Foreign Legion - specifically those featuring the elderly, tale-spinning Legionnaire Thibaut Corday.  Having finished Zanthodon, I dove into these next, starting with the very first story, "Better Than Bullets."

In this inaugural tale, Corday recounts to us the story of an unauthorized night out that turned into one of the strangest and somehow funniest fights of his life - garrisoned outside the shelled-out city of Casablanca, he and his friends Christianity Jensen the Dane and Bill, the Yankee Elephant (so called for his nationality and size) slip past the guard into the city to see what they can scrounge up in terms of food and drink.  They quickly find fifteen bottles of wine, which they proceed to drink, and two piglets that Bill plans to turn into chops the following morning.

Unfortunately, the house they're drinking in is soon surrounded by Muslim fanatics, and the three Legionnaires are without so much as a single bullet or knife between them.  What follows is a desperate siege of improvised weapons - empty wine bottles, boots, and beehives are all employed by the trio to fend off their attackers.  Astonishingly, they're successful, with Bill going so far as to capture the leader of the fanatics and turn the man over to the Legion for justice.  I won't tell you how, other than to say it's pretty delightfully politically incorrect in this day and age.

I'd previously read Roscoe's Corday story "Snake Head" in Otto Penzler's Big Book of Adventure Stories, which is where I got my first taste of Legion fiction and why Roscoe's work was in my Amazon wishlist in the first place for Gina to find.  I feel like between that story and "Better Than Bullets" I've got a pretty good feel for the Corday series now, and I like what I see - I like the blend of humor and action, and I like the narrative device of an elderly Corday telling stories of his years of adventure over wine in a cafe in Algeria.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see a Theodore Roscoe fan, and a reader of my blog to boot. You might want to grab a copy of The Complete Adventures of Thibaut Corday and the Foreign Legion (Deluxe Edition)

    It reprints all the stories in 1 book, including illustrations. It's layout replicates the original magazine layout, its a nice hardback and the price is the same as the 4 individual paperback volumes (or maybe a little less). What's not to like? Nothing, that's what, and i grabbed it when i heard of it.

    Keep reading and writing about pulps.