Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer


Chuck Dixon Bad Times Cannibal Gold

Buy At Amazon: Cannibal Gold (Bad Times)

Chuck Dixon can write an adventure story. I’ve been reading his comics work for years, enjoying his run on Batman, the Punisher, Robin, Nightwing, and the creation of The Birds of Prey. Dixon excels at putting down action, of introducing larger-than-life heroes, kicking them through the door into a big mess, and having them sort out a situation in a flurry of martial arts moves and big guns.

I didn’t know he’d stepped into writing prose fiction except for a Lone Ranger story he did that was in the same Moonstone anthology that I’d written a story for. It was actually really fun for me to realize I was in the same book as Dixon. Sometimes I forget I’m not just a fanboy, I’m also an actual writer.

But I’ll always be a reader. I stumbled across the first of Dixon’s new novel line, Bad Times: Cannibal Gold, and discovered that he’d also written a five-book series about SEAL Team Six, so I gotta pick those up too. Where SEAL Team Six looks like it’s pretty much military action, Bad Times has got a science fiction element.

Four ex-Army Rangers get hired to go back in time to rescue a scientist’s brilliant sister. When I read the synopsis of the book, I was reminded immediately of DC Comics’ own War That Time Forgot, which originated in a 1960 issue of Star Spangled War Stories and got revisited in 2003 in Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier, and again in 2008. I loved those stories of soldiers fighting dinosaurs.

You don’t get the dinosaurs in Bad Times: Cannibal Gold, but you get some early missing-link cavemen types who are definitely dangerous. They’re cannibals for starters, and they aren’t much evolved past the point of animals.

Dixon’s military heroes are pretty thin character-wise. You get to know enough about them to be interested, but that’s about it. The characters are enough to hang the story on, though, and that’s all that’s important. This story is pure pulp, the kind of thing I grew up on, the kind of tale I still turn to when I want some comfort reading.

There’s enough scientific razzamatazz to satisfy most science fiction fans (at least, it sounded realistic to me), and there’s a smattering of history/anthropological stuff too. However, I do have to mention that I don’t see how a community of hunter/gatherer types could exist of the magnitude Dixon portrays. There must be thousands of the hominids in this community, but most anthropologists tend to agree that the groups weren’t any larger than 150 people at a time because they had to move fast and live off the land. Thousands of people couldn’t have done that. (For an excellent book that covers that subject, I recommend Robin Dunbar’s Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language.)

I enjoyed Dixon’s story immensely and it ended on a cliffhanger that left lots of unanswered questions. I hope the second volume comes along soon.

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