East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Pulp the Spanish way: The Island of Death

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imageAnd so it started: my first expedition in the uncharted territory of other people’s pulp, my first non-Anglocentric (?) pulp read is a free ebook published in 2013 by Dlorean Ediciones.
It’s in Spanish.
It’s steampunkish.
It’s part of a series.
And it’s called La Isla de la Muerte.

And c’mon – how can anyone restist a story called The Island of Death, and featuring a great cover graced by a scantly clad woman wielding two katanas, standing on the shoulder of a giant ape?

I admit a certain initial unease – this is after all the first feature-lenght fiction I read in Spanish, a language I can understand easily, but which I speak like Tarzan.
And yet, the impact with the language of Cervantes was less traumathic than I thought – and I went through the ebook in two evenings*.

The Island of Death is a meaty 90+ pages novella, written by Raúl Montesdeoca and originally serialized on the publisher’s website.
The ebook – which can be downloaded from the publisher’s website in a number of formats – is graced by a number of very good color plates by José Baixauli.

3But enough technicalities.
Is it any good?
Yes it is
And if the story opens with a distinctive steampunk feel – steam train, London, airships – it soon moves into pulp adventure territory: the action relocates to a not-so-lost island beyond Sumatra, filled with great apes, dinosaurs, and the home turf of a suitably sinister bad guy.

Mister Montesdeoca is quite explicit when it comes to his influences and personal heroes – and there is more than a strong hint of the Avengers (as in, Steed & Peel) in his main characters.
Growing up as I did on a steady diet of British TV, I can only appreciate the reference.
And yes, there’s a wink at Might Joe Young, and a number of lost world stories – subjects that are clearly close to the author’s heart.
Action scenes are handled convincingly, the dialogue is fun, the general set-up is quite interesting.
And it is interesting, and new, and refreshing, to meet an interracial/intercultural married couple of heroes.
It gives the story a dynamic that would not be there were the two main characters not so closely and intimately connected, and so different.

And the characters are indeed one of the best bits in this quite fun, action-packed story.
Admittedly, the steampunk angle was not something I was looking for – but I have nothing against the genre, and the mix of steampunk elements and more muscular pulp action works just fine.

As a first step in my exploration, this one seems to promise more wonders will come.

* Certainly my shaky Spanish caused me to lose some subtleties and what-not – it will be interesting to read this story once again in a few months, when probably my grasp of the language will be somewhat better through practice.


Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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