cover image Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories

Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories

Joe R. Lansdale. Subterranean, $40 (384p) ISBN 978-1-59606-993-0

These five delightful novellas from Lansdale (More Better Deals) demonstrate a playful willingness to shift moods from tragic to boisterous and back again. The title novella shows a nameless vagrant forced to lead an expedition to capture an aquatic dinosaur that strayed from inside the hollow Earth. He is surrounded and manipulated by heroic characters from old pulp magazines, including Doc Savage and the Shadow, though their moral orientation has shifted. Tarzan’s next-of-kin narrates “The Ape Man’s Brother,” expressing his love for the vine-swinging “Big Guy” and lingering resentment over having been recast as a chimpanzee in the movie adaptations of their lives. Black cowboys face racial discrimination in the Wild West in “Black Hat Jack”; the burial detail on a prison island must cope with a golem that won’t stay in the grave in “Prisoner 489”; and in “Sixty-eight Barrels on Treasure Lake,” murderous desperados have a bloody encounter with Bigfoot. A master of the genre mashup, Lansdale convincingly slips into a variety of laid-back, down-home personae. Readers with a taste for cheerful butchery will revel in these free-spirited yarns. (Nov.)