Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/07/29/book-review-deadlands-noir-memories-of-yesterday-savage-worlds/
Memories of Yesterday is the third “dime novel” (short story) released for the Deadlands Noir setting. The first two, Tenement Men and Blood and Roses, were released in February. I loved them, as they were fun little pieces of fiction and really helped set the tone for this new Deadlands setting. My only problem was the four dollar price tag, as you were getting less than two dozen pages of story in a day and age where you can get full novels for the same cost digitally. Still, they were great reads, and I’d heartily recommend them to anyone curious about Deadlands Noir or even people who don’t play tabletop RPGS but are looking for a good two fisted pulp short story.
Memories of Yesterday is a very different story. It’s not as spooky as previous stories, but it also ratchets up both the action side of pulp and highlights the prominent voodoo aspects of New Orleans – which is a must for Deadlands Noir, and it’s great to see that focus here. Your main character is Mac, a veteran of the Great War, who, like a lot of veterans that came home from that, is no longer right in the head. In Mac’s case, he appears to have been in a state of catatonia and/or shellshock when the story starts off. However, as it progresses, we learn the real reason for his mental state, and it’s both unexpected and very fitting for the Deadland setting.
Mac is brought back to the real world by the help of two people, O’Leary and Halloran. In exchange for restoring his mind, Halloran asks for his help against the Red Sect, a voodoo cult/gang who are running rackets against Halloran’s Teamster Union. Halloran doesn’t want to pay protection money and he feels that Mac, being an obvious muscle man and war veteran, could help him out in getting the Red Sect to back off, and he’s right.
What follows in a ton of revelations across the board. In Memories of Yesterday, nothing is what it seems – not O’Leary, not Halloran, not the Red Sect and certainly not Mac. There are double crosses, subterfuge and mystical mayhem as soon as the basic story hook is laid out. There’s a great fight scene in the story posing as a false climax, which I appreciated on multiple levels. However, just when you think the story is wrapping up, it hits you with more surprises and conflict. The story ends on a melancholic downer, but it does leave enough of an opening for a potential sequel. So instead of, “Rocks fall; everyone dies”, it’s more “Rocks fall; one guy lives but not in any state a sane person would call living.”
So far, the dime novels of Deadlands Noir have been fantastic, and I keep hoping for more, or, with luck, perhaps even an anthology of these once enough have been penned. I think Memories of Yesterday is slightly weaker than the first two stories, but it balances things out with a slightly lower price tag, albeit it one still higher than I think should be the sweet spot for these short stories to really sell. If you enjoyed the previous Dime Novels, or Deadlands Noir at all, than DEFINITELY grab this. It’s short and you’ll whip through the tale in under fifteen minutes, but it was a great read while it lasted. Again, these are a great way to test the waters and see if Deadlands Noir is for you. Hell, I’m not really a fan of The Wild West or Hell on Earth, but I adore Deadlands Noir. I realize $2.99 is a bit pricey for a PDF, when you can get full adventures or even a comic book for the same cost, but the Dime Novels ARE great, so if you have the money to burn, I strongly recommend picking this up.