The Ape Man's Brother
by Joe R. Lansdale
Cover Artist: Ken Laager
Review by Steve Sawicki
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596066182
Date: 31 January 2014 List Price $20.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Ape Man's Brother is Joe Lansdale's take on the Tarzan legend. Or it might just be that Lansdale is telling the true story that was then turned into fiction Or, since there are world references that most certainly do not match our own history line it is simply a tale from an alternate Earth. Regardless of which of the above you want to believe you should know that this is the story of a man, raised by ape-like creatures (or sub-humans) on a mist shrouded continent some few hours from the coast of Greenland or Iceland. The story is told by the Ape Man's companion, a missing link kind of guy who ends up becoming civilized and enjoying it.
If you know the Tarzan tale then you basically know this story. Only the details are different. And that is, perhaps, the point that Lansdale wanted to make--that all stories are the same except for the details. Or maybe that's just the point I want to make. Without historical references to compare to our own past no one will ever really know.
Joe Lansdale is not known for producing workaday tales. He's perhaps best known for horror but make no mistake about it, the guy can write. The story here is novella length, which works really well with the story that Lansdale wants to tell. And whether you want to call it Fantasy or alternate history or alternate universe really makes no difference although I suppose you could argue these points long into the night. What does make a difference is that Lansdale brings his brilliance to the work.
I like the writing of Joe Lansdale and I am glad that Subterranean Press brought this one back to light. I remember hearing about it when it first came out but not having the chance, then, to get my hands on a copy. I'm glad I was finally able to do so. Certainly if you enjoy Lansdale you will like this outing. This might also be the perfect introduction to Lansdale if you have not read him before. Either way you are in for a treat. Highly recommended.
And if you are a fan of Tarzan, in either book or movie form, you owe it to yourself to read this just to get a different take on the whole legend.