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Art work ©2013 by DeVito ArtWorks, LLC and Joe DeVito. All rights reserved.

Skull Island by Will Murray reviewed at SFSignal.com

My review of Skull Island, the new Doc Savage novel by Will Murray, was posted recently at the Hugo-award-winning SFSignal.com.
An excerpt:

REVIEW SUMMARY: Pulp legends collide as Doc Savage encounters King Kong shortly after World War I, augmenting the history of Doc Savage.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Called upon to take care of King Kong’s body after his fall from the Empire State Building, Doc Savage recounts to his aides the story of his first meeting with Kong, shortly after World War I when he and his father were searching the southern seas for Doc’s grandfather.

PROS: Adds to the origins and background of Doc Savage and features a younger, still maturing, more complex Doc; and it has Kong! And DeVito art of Kong!
CONS: Would have enjoyed seeing more of Kong; and more DeVito art of Kong!
BOTTOM LINE: Near the 80th anniversary of both King Kong and Doc Savage, this novel is a well-paced look at a younger Doc Savage, uncertain of his future, uncomfortable in his relationship with his father, and searching for a grandfather he barely knows. This “origin” story provides a more complex Doc Savage than other novels, and can be enjoyed by Savage zealots (guilty!) and neophytes alike. Kong’s portrayal is true to DeVito’s Kong: King of Skull Island, and more Kong is the main thing I would ask of this novel.

[For newbies: check out A Doc Savage Primer and this list of all of the Doc Savage novels]


In 1933, King Kong escaped his captors and climbed to the top of the Empire State Building, where warplanes repeatedly attacked him and ultimately toppled him to his death on the ground below.

In the same time period, Doc Savage was making his name, traveling the world with his five aides, battling evil and doing good. His headquarters was in a high floor of a never-named office building, which could have been the Empire State Building.

This review could have been titled When Two Pulp Legends Collide, but I wasn’t sure if readers would think the title referred to Doc Savage and King Kong or Will Murray and Joe DeVito. Murray is the most recent incarnation of Kenneth Robeson, the “house name” for the authors of Doc Savage starting with Lester Dent. He penned the last seven books of the Bantam series of Doc Savage novels in the early 90s and has most recently resuscitated Doc Savage with his “Wild Adventures of Doc Savage” series. Joe DeVito has illustrated many books and magazine covers in the worlds of science fiction, fantasy and pop culture, and is the creator ofKONG: King of Skull Island.

Together they have created not only a legend-meets-legend novel, but added more to the origin story and canon of Doc Savage, enough of a departure from the original Doc Savage series that instead of the normal “Kenneth Robeson” by-line, Murray’s name is on the cover.

Art work ©2013 by DeVito ArtWorks, LLC and Joe DeVito. All rights reserved.

Art work ©2013 by DeVito ArtWorks, LLC and Joe DeVito. All rights reserved.

The novel is a post-World War I story wrapped around events just after Kong falls from the Empire State Building. Doc is tasked by officials with the disposal of Kong’s body, during which time he reveals to his aides (three of the five Monk, Ham and Renny, as was the norm with many of the later Doc Savage novels) that he has known King Kong before.

The main story is told in three parts:

  • Doc and his father, Clark, Sr., as they sail the seas in search of Doc’s grandfather, the legendary Stormalong Savage;
  • finding and exploring Skull Island; and
  • Doc and the others encountering King Kong.

The “origin” facts alone (including the existence of Stormalong Savage) veer sharply from those set forth in the Philip Jose’ Farmer “Wold-Newton Universe” (which strives to link many fictional characters in a lineage started when a radioactive meteor landed in Wold Newton, England and caused mutations that affected a large cross-section of many fictional universes). If interested, see the Doc Savage Wold-Newton chronology here. There has been some interesting (and some less-than-interesting) banter in the various Doc Savage and Wold Newton Universe forums on which version of Doc is correct or should be considered “canon” (isn’t this like arguing which fiction is more…non-fiction?) Both are great world building, and, c’mon, there’s been so many Marvel and DC Universe’s that only uber-geeks can keep track (or want to). If push came to shove, I’ll listen to Murray, who has written as Kenneth Robeson and represents Lester Dent’s (the original Kenneth Robeson) heirs. Farmer also contributed to the Doc Savage world by writing Escape from Loki, (the original Doc Savage “origins” novel showing Doc in World War I, meeting his five aides for the first time) and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, a fictional biography of a fictional character.

And now, back to our story…

Read the entire review here.

Art work ©2013 by DeVito ArtWorks, LLC and Joe DeVito. All rights reserved.

Art work ©2013 by DeVito ArtWorks, LLC and Joe DeVito. All rights reserved.

The Civil War by Shelby Foote - V1.Chapter 5: Fighting Means Killing

The Civil War by Shelby Foote – V1.Chapter 5: Fighting Means Killing

As I’m reading Shelby Foote’s incredible The Civil War: A Narrative, these are my notes on the points I may have forgotten from before or new pieces I’ve learned. Any and all comments appreciated.

Previous post – Chapter 4

Volume One: Chapter 5

  1. Davis Frets; Lincoln-McClelland
  2. Valley Campaign; Seven Pines
  3. Lee, McC: The Concentration
  4. The Seven Days; Hezekiah

“The first national conscription law in American history”

  • From page 394: “Under the influence of Lee, Davis proposed more stringent measures on a larger scale. In a late-March message to Congress he recommended outright conscription, within the same age bracket throughout the Confederacy – to make sure, he said that the burden of fighting did no fall ‘exclusively on the most ardent and patriotic’. Congress debated hotly, then on April 16, after lowering the upper age limit to thirty-five, passed the first national conscription law in American history. They passed it because the knew if was a necessity but they blamed Davis for having made it necessary by adopting the ‘dispersed defensive’, which they said had dampened nation enthusiasm. His reply – that ‘without military stores, without the workshops to create them, without the power to import them, necessity not choice had compelled us to occupy strong positions everywhere to confront the enemy without reserves’ – did nothing to assuage the anger of the States Righters, who saw in conscription a repudiation of the principles for which the war was being fought.”

McClelland continues to frustrate Lincoln by his inaction

  • From page 414: “Amazed to find that McClelland had made mo provision for the capture of Norfolk, outflanked by the drive up the opposite bank of the James, the President decided to undertake the operation himself, employing the fortress garrison under Major General  John E. Wool….As things turned out, no push or support was needed. The Confederates had evacuated Norfolk the day before, leaving only a handful of men behind to complete the wrecking of Gosport Navy Yard.”

Robert E. Lee is given command

  • Johnston wounded in the battle at Seven Pines, Smith is sick “…not from any ordinary fear but from the strain of responsibility suddenly loaded on his shoulders.”
  • From page 450: “The two men road in silence under a sickle moon. Davis was making his choice. If he hesitated, there is little wonder. His companion was the obvious candidate; but he could easily be by-passed. David, knowing better than anyone how well Lee had served in his present advisory capacity, could as logically keep him there as he kept Samuel Cooper at the Adjutant General’s post….Nevertheless, by the time the lights of beleaguered Richmond came in sight David had made his decision. In a few words lost to history, but large with fate for the two riders and their country, he informed Lee that he would be given command of the army known thereafter as the Army of Northern Virginia.”

Stonewall Jackson rides again

  • To relieve some of the pressure on Richmond with a feint north
  • From page 464: “Application of these strategic principals, plus of course the blessing of Providence – particularly in the form of such meteorological phenomena as cloudbursts and hailstones large as hen-eggs – had enabled Jackson, with 17,000 troops, to frustrate the plans of 60,000 Federals whose generals were assigned the exclusive task of accomplishing his destruction. Four pitches battles he had fought, six formal skirmishes, and any number of minor actions. All had been victorious, and in all but one of the battles he had outnumbered the enemy anywhere from two- to seventeen-to-one….Mostly this had been done by rapid marching. Since March 22, the eve of Kernstown, his troops had covered 646 miles of road in forty-eight marching days. The rewards had been enormous: 3500 prisoners, 10,000 badly needed muskets, nine rifled guns and quartermaster stores of incalculable value. All these things he could hold and look at, so to speak. An even larger reward was the knowledge that he had played on the hopes and fears of Lincoln with such effect that 38,000 men – doubtless a first relay, soon to have been followed by others – were kept from joining McClelland in front of Richmond.”

Confederate artillery again no match for Federal

  • In the Seven Days. From page 512: “Half an hour was all the needed. By 2:30, with the whole Union position still billowing smoke and coughing flame – one six-gun battery near the center, for example, fired 1300 rounds in the course of the afternoon – not a single Confederate piece with a direct line of fire remained in action. What had been intended as a preliminary bombardment had been reduced to a bloody farce.”

Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo


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