The Sword-Edged Blonde - Alex Bledsoe It's funny, this genre mixing business. Sometimes it ends up being overwhelming, and sometimes, you kind of end up with nothing much. In this instance, it's a sort of pulpy noir meets pulpy sword-and-sorcery, but it's not terribly noir, not terribly S&S, and not even terribly pulpy.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the building blocks are all there - roads are dominated by random bandits who die really easily, the hero has a secret murdered-girlfriend past, bands of child-thieves dominate murky alleys, buying someone a drink at a tavern is the best possible form of intelligence gathering, all women are jaded yet salacious, and prostitution appears the be the chief economic activity of the entire planet. Sadly (sort of) all of it remains a little sketched-in and lifeless. To rise above utterly bland this kind of thing needs to be turned up to 11 with the pulpiness, or have something going for it with the genre juxtaposition or something, which this is really far too tame to deliver.

Part of it might be that it's really a little flimsy, plot-wise. Kind of feels like a computer game: travel to location A. Kill the monster and find the hidden scrolls that lead to location B. Repeat. Still, it's short, it moves along, the prose won't kill you and the use of totally modern language ("dude") and stuff (gay interior decorators) in a kinda-maybe technologically medieval society is occasionally novel, in a breathmint-in-the-morning sort of way.