As most folks who know about my character Doc Wilde are aware, Dr. Spartacus Wilde was originally conceived as a contemporary homage to the classic pulp hero Doc Savage whose exploits I, and quite a few others, grew up on. I like to think that Doc Wilde is his own man though, with my fond memories of Doc Savage as the foundation on which I’m building something very much my own. Sort of the way that Robert B. Parker started writing his Spenser novels pretty much as an update of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, then let Spenser grow and become a distinctive character.
Doc Wilde isn’t the first Doc Savage-inspired hero, and he won’t be the last. Heck, Superman, Batman, and James Bond were all influenced by him in significant ways. Race Bannon on Jonny Quest was a Doc Savage ringer. And there have been many pastiche versions of him of varying levels of authorial ability. I’m currently rereading one I read in high school, A Feast Unknown by the great SF writer Philip Jose Farmer, which basically pits Doc Savage against Tarzan and is as over-the-top a piece of transgressive, pornographic fiction as I’ve ever seen (and a pretty rollicking tale, if you can take the content).
There’s a new take on Doc out now that you need to know about. I’ve mentioned the Old Man stories by William Preston before, and in the time since, I’ve gotten to know Bill online and consider him a friend. The stories have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction and he is now offering the first two as an ebook on Amazon.
These wonderful stories are great science fiction with pulp trappings, written in a smart, literate style that far transcends the more juvenile style of the original Doc Savage tales. And they are stories which explore some pretty hefty themes, like redemption and the place of heroes in the post 9/11 world. The ebook is a scant $3, and you really owe it to yourself to read it.