Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Green Lama: Scions (Adam L. Garcia, Moonstone Books, 2014)

So this came up in my Facebook feed the other day from one of the "Pulp" groups I belong to, a new author providing an authorized continuation of a classic pulp hero.  I'd been vaguely familiar with the Green Lama; enough to know that he, more than figures like the Shadow, straddled the line between the pulps' Masked Vigilantes and modern Superheroes.  Crazy costume and some degree of mystical superpowers, but mostly a man trained to superhuman levels, he was also the world's first Buddhist superhero.  But that was all I really knew; I've got the collected volumes of the original Green Lama stories from the 1930s and 40s in my Amazon wishlist, but haven't gotten around to them yet.  Well, Adam Garcia's continuation novel, The Green Lama: Scions, was available for free on Kindle for a while (no longer, unfortunately, but still available at a more than reasonable price), and I thought to myself, "It's time.  Om mani padme hum."

Set in 1938, the book opens with two small-time crooks disposing of a body encased in cement, only to be disposed of themselves when their little rowboat is smashed to flinders on the bow of a runaway cruise ship that drives itself right into Liberty Island, almost crushing the Statue of Liberty's toes.  Once aboard, the police discover a scene that would make Hieronymus Bosch need to change his unmentionables, as all but one of the crew and passengers are torn to bits and splattered across every surface, the floors almost ankle-deep with blood.

Drawn to the scene by disturbances in the celestial ether, the Green Lama finds himself locked in mortal combat with a race of extradimensional horrors intent on re-staking their once-held claim on the Earth.  Yes, it's the Green Lama versus something that pretty closely resembles Lovecraft's fabled Old Ones, though given a luxurious, if such is the right word for such things, coating of body horror over top the cosmicism.

Even given the fairly limited amount of free time I have for reading, I tore through this book in under 24 hours.  It's a light, quick read, unburdened by purple prose or extraneous text.  Garcia gets right to the point in true pulp fashion, and does not linger long on material that doesn't grab the reader by the throat.  Every word is used to its maximum potential, and not a comma is wasted.  It is lean, mean fiction that truly earns the appellation "spellbinding."

Was it the best introduction to the Green Lama I could have asked for? I probably would have been better served by reading the original stories first, as I think Garcia assumes a degree of familiarity on his readers' part with not just the Lama himself, but his supporting cast as well, so I do feel like I was fumbling trying to get a feel for the character.  On the other hand, reading this has convinced me that I *do* need to read the original stories, and fairly soon.

I say, check it out.

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