ICH BIN EIN AUSLANDER
A Review of Michael Patrick Sullivan's THE AUSLANDER FILES
by Andrew Salmon
The debate has raged on since New Pulp first burst on the scene: what exactly is "new" about New Pulp? Should today's pulpsmiths be trying to recapture the style and tone of the great pulp yarns of yesteryear or should they be trying to re-invent the form for a modern audience?
Here's another question: what if you can do both?
THE AUSLANDER FILES by Michael Patrick Sullivan is the answer to that last question.
The premise is deceptively simple: a WW2 German agent wakes up in a hotel room in the US. He can't remember who he is and he has false identification for multiple identities. He calls himself The Auslander, the Outsider. He dreams of terrorist acts, espionage, sabotage and concludes that he is the architect of these pending crippling attacks on the US war effort. Yet his devotion to Nazism has been lost along with his name and identity and he must race against the clock, and around the country, to prevent the operations from taking place.
What follows from this are 10 punchy tales collected for the first time by Pulp 2.0, 10 sustained, machine-gun blasts of pulp action! THE AUSLANDER FILES is one of the best New Pulp releases of the year - hell, it's one of the best New Pulp books I've ever read.
Each tale kicks off in the middle of the action. The Auslander is on the scene and fighting not only his own people but the average citizen as well, trying to save the day while every hand is against him. Assassinations, abductions, sabotage, bombings... The Auslander frantically attempts undo the evil he himself has devised before it's too late. The tales are short, quick, addictive reads averaging out to about 10 pages a pop. Yes, they are formulaic but this must be overlooked in light of the fact that they were originally published months apart, which required some recapping of the overall premise. This minor stumbling point is easily sidestepped by the intense writing and pace of each actioner. The Auslander is a complex character and this is no small feat as we do not learn who he is by the end of the collection. What does come across is his willingness to do whatever it takes to prevent the destruction he has set in motion.
I enjoyed all of the tales in this collection. If I had to pick a favorite it would be "The Yellow Star of Antwerp" for its emotional resonance as well as how it depicts just how far The Auslander will go to prevent further bloodshed. Ultimately, all of the stories work very well. Very well indeed.
My only knock against the collection is the odd problems with tense and a typo or two. Jarring, yes, but not debilitating. Bumps along this roller-coaster ride do not derail the train. Trust me, pulp fans, you want to get on board The Auslander express. If you like quick, shot-to-the-gut action tales, look no further. If you like a tormented lead character, THE AUSLANDER FILES has your poison. A great read, start to finish, don't miss it.