Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Kirkus Review on “Tharn, Dawn Warrior”

Via Spencer Hart, we have a rare look into how the fine folks at Kirkus Review react to classic red-blooded, all-American adventure fiction:

This is typical pulp magazine stuff in book form. It is a story of Cro-Magnon man, packed with violence, suspense, brutality, horror and incredible speed. It certainly keeps you reading. But plot, dialogue and characters show amazing disregard for even the little knowledge we have of prehistoric life. The author thinks nothing of introducing a sent of Roman palace and social life into the midst of this prehistoric jungle, or a twentieth century love motif like “”He could not help but compare that fine, healthy well-rounded figure with the pallid, artificial women of his acquaintance!”” But the major outrage of the book — and it is outrageous — is the positively lustful “”love interest””. If this is a book intended for young people, and the jacket suggests it is, then the numerous “”hot”” passages are utterly unsuitable. That is putting it mildly. This is certainly something new in juvenile writing and highly offensive. The author evidently thinks he is creating another Tarsan series, for he ends with a promise of more to come. I devoutly hope someone will stop him before an outraged public opinion steps in to bar the sale of such a book for the young.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?


6 responses to “Kirkus Review on “Tharn, Dawn Warrior”

  1. Twila Price February 13, 2018 at 10:35 am

    React-ED. This Kirkus Review is from the original publication date (first book 1943). Certainly, the establishment at that time would not appreciate “spicy” content for adolescents.

  2. Twila Price February 13, 2018 at 10:39 am

    And you know darn well that the social mores of the 1940s and 1950s are things you claim to uphold (at least, so I infer from your impassioned complaints about modern mores and culture), so stop being quite so sanctimonious about a contemporaneous review of what was a potboiler even back then.

    (Cranky person is cranky because no tea yet.)

    • jeffro February 13, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      Eh, the mores I’ve been advocating were very much compromised by the 40’s and 50’s. Most people didn’t even know they couldn’t imagine them by the seventies.

  3. H.P. February 13, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    You would think they could manage to copyedit a one paragraph review.

    The actual pulps largely benefit from having to keep offscreen stuff that all too often resulted in cringeworthy passages in 1970s paperbacks. Browne was just ahead of his time.

  4. Spencer E Hart February 13, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    The story first appeared in Amazing Stories in 1942. It’s a rip-roaring adventure full of action, violence, and political maneuvering, but ”He could not help but compare that fine, healthy well-rounded figure with the pallid, artificial women of his acquaintance!” is about as “spicy” as vanilla ice-cream. I think there’s one attempted kiss in it as far as anything actually “happening.” The villain does however “lust after” the main female character and plots to gain his desire. The “hero” himself was momentarily overcome with her beauty after slaying a leopard trying to kill her, and did steal her away from her tribe (he is a “caveman” after all), but she is is turn stolen from him and he in fact only had that one attempt at a kiss. He then goes questing to find her and get her back from people far worse than himself.

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