Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Five Faces of Fear

Jay Eales The Five Faces of Fear (2013)
Darn - I really should have got around to this one sooner, and I'm not sure quite why I didn't. My general dislike of eBooks would be one significant factor. I find the whole Kindle deal unpleasant, and not really at all like reading a book as I recognise it; so with forty or more big, fat paperbacks stacked in a tall, sexy pile awaiting my attention, it's easy to forget I also have a specifically new arrangement of zeros and ones stored on that black square thing. Additionally I realise I have begun to resent these Señor 105 novellas by some peculiar psychological convolution of association.

Señor 105, for those who don't know, is a masked and vaguely supernatural Mexican wrestler who has adventures in the tradition of some of the weirder Luchador films. He was created by Cody Schell, and the plan was for one of these eBook novellas to appear every few months in the general spirit of a comic book or the pulp magazines of the thirties and forties - to which Señor 105's escapades allude to some degree. The thing which pisses me off, and which forms the core of my great big metaphysical ball of bad vibes, is the love and effort which has gone into this series in contrast with the general indifference which has greeted it.

So far as I am aware, the main Señor 105 sales drive has been on Gallifrey Base, an internet forum populated by Doctor Who fans. Señor 105 first appeared in an Iris Wildthyme story, Iris Wildthyme being a character created by Paul Magrs who turns up in some of his Doctor Who fiction; so I suppose you could call this a spin off of a spin off of a spin off, if your criteria is centred upon degrees of separation from the logo of a corporate entertainment franchise.

Gallifrey Base has about four million members, and there's a fair few of them hanging around in the section specifically concerned with books, which is the virtual arena in which our man has had some coverage. Señor 105 novellas are short - so they don't take too long to read - they're cheap, they're fun, and they're eBooks so it's not like the space they take up on a shelf is valuable space which could be better employed as home to The Brilliant Book of Doctor Who Sink Plungers and Plumbing Accessories or some other indispensable masterpiece; and guess what? Ignoring the fact of my having written one, they're pretty damn readable and pretty damn great.

Despite this, sales have been depressingly limited because - well, take a wild fucking stab...

—Here, take a look at this. You might like it.

Does it feature that mysterious traveller in time and space known only as the Doctor?

—No, but it's still pretty good.

I don't understand.

You do something nice for people. You spend an hour or so preparing chicken in walnut sauce, and they'll tell you it looks delicious but they're really in the mood for McDonalds, and would you like us to bring you back an Egg McMuffin, and oh you should try one - they're really nummy.

Anyway, to get to the point, The Five Faces of Fear is another hit, or should have been. Jay Eales writes tight yet breezy prose with confidence and the sort of attention to certain kinds of detail which make him a perfect fit for this sort of story. His Mexicana rings true, giving this the genuine feel of a written equivalent to Luchador movies with familiar Cantinflas types staggering in and out of the pulquerias in the background, and even that same peculiarly pensive pacing one sees in certain films of that era, and specifically films which saw no contradiction in wedding ludicrous slapstick to high drama, although this is probably unavoidable if one of your supporting characters is a sentient gas inhabiting a balloon.

Sheila was positively fizzing with excitement. Señor 105 had asked her to undertake a secret mission for him. For this vitally important escapade, she had decided to wear her most inconspicuous balloon, one that was the colour of sand. Rodrigo had done his bit to help by drawing a big curly moustache and sunglasses on it with marker pen.

Without giving too much away, the story is pacey and all very enjoyable, roughly speaking Señor 105's own version of the X-Men's Days of Future Past. It's dramatic where it needs to be and funny where it needs to be without pulling faces or planting whoopee cushions on your chair. It doesn't contain the meaning of life, but then it doesn't need to.

The Five Faces of Fear is another wonderfully written little gem which will probably remain ignored for no good reason whatsoever, and now I need to download the one by Stewart Sheargold.

Available from this site right now for peanuts. Just buy it.

No comments:

Post a Comment