Category Archives: pulp

In Defense of Guys with Screwdrivers

So earlier this month, Jasyn Jones made the statement in a blog post that John Campbell did not usher in a Golden Age of Science Fiction.  His thesis is that Campbell, when he became editor of Astounding, ushered in a golden age in which science fiction rose from being a genre of poorly written fiction with wooden characters and bad science to great heights.  Indeed, this is the general narrative.  Jones reasserts his thesis that this ain’t so in a followup post.

For those who are new to the field and think it began when you started reading it or shortly beforehand or have been around for a while and simply haven’t been paying attention, John W. Campbell, Jr., took over the editorial reigns of Astounding from F. Orlin Tremaine in 1938 and dominated the field for a dozen years until F&SF and Galaxy came along in 1950.  Indeed, Isaac Asimov says as much in the opening paragraphs of his introduction to his anthology of Pre-Campbell science fiction, Before the Golden Age (Doubleday, 1974).  Note to self: reread this book and blog about it.

Now, before I get started on this post, I want to say that I mean no disrespect to Mr. Jones and none of what follows in in any way meant to be a personal attack.  Furthermore, I think he brings up a number of valid points, and for the most part I agree with him.  My differences are more with some of the attitudes that have been expressed in reaction to the posts in question, as well as other posts in other places.  I’ve not had a chance to read all of them, so rather than post links, I’ll let you hunt them down if you’re so inclined.

But since I grew up reading a great deal of Campbellian SF, much of it in the Ballantine Best of series and DAW’s Isaac Asimov Present the Great SF, I’m rather fond  of the science fiction written by “guys with screwdrivers”, as Campbellian SF is being called.  So I’d like to express my admiration of it. Continue reading

Statistics Are Interesting Things

And no, this post isn’t going to be about math.  So come back here and quit running in terror.  The screaming is disturbing the neighbors.

Things have gotten rolling full speed at the day job, the offspring has gotten back into the swing of things, and I’m trying to juggle numerous (figurative) flaming chainsaws.

So while trying to kill time between interruptions at work this afternoon (there was too much going on to be able to shut the door and work on tasks that require extended concentration), I looked at the top posts for this blog.

It was rather interesting.  I didn’t compare or combine the numbers from when I was on Blogger, just looked at things since I set up my own domain.  I didn’t look at the other blogs, only Adventures Fantastic.  I ignored the most viewed page, which is the homepage, and looked at only individual posts, wherein a pattern quickly emerged. Continue reading

Three Classic Pulps Begin Publishing Again

argosy-front fall 2016There will be a review of a really good ghost story novel posted in the next day or so, but I wanted to pass this tidbit of information along to you.

Mike Chomko announced earlier today via his email list that three classic pulps, Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries will resume publishing next month.  Mike will have the first new issues premiering at Pulp Adventurecon in November.

Here’s the press release:

Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries will be returning to magazine format featuring NEW stories by Frederick Nebel, Paul Bishop, and Kimberly B. Richardson. That’s right! Three of the most historic pulp fiction magazines of the Twentieth Century are set to return to magazine format.

This November, Altus Press will relaunch full-length magazines of Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries in periodical format. These three pulp magazine titles were renowned for the high level of quality fiction which they published for decades.

blackmask-front fall 2016Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries will be composed of classic fiction from the backlog of The Frank A. Munsey Company, Pro-Distributors Publishing Company, Inc., and Popular Publications, Inc., along with all-new stories and articles.

The first issue of the new Argosy features an ALL-NEW story by Frederick Nebel, along with stories by H. Bedford-Jones, Berton E. Cook, Ralph R. Perry, W. Wirt, Murray R. Montgomery, and Norbert Davis. Argosy’s focus will remain primarily on adventure fiction.

The first issue of the new Black Mask is highlighted by a brand new story by award-winner Paul Bishop, as well as classic hard-boiled detective stories by Carroll John Daly, Frederick Nebel, Raoul Whitfield, T.T. Flynn, Merle Constiner, Richard Sale, and Norbert Davis.

ffm-front fall 2016The first issue of the new Famous Fantastic Mysteries is highlighted by a new short story by Kimberly B. Richardson. It’s rounded out by stories from G.T. Fleming-Roberts, Arthur Leo Zagat, Frederick C. Davis, Hugh B. Cave, Paul Ernst, Wyatt Blassingame, and Wayne Rogers, among others. Famous Fantastic Mysteries will focus on the weird fiction genre.

Each of these magazines enjoyed decades-long publications by a variety of publishers, comprising several thousand total issues. Now owned by Steeger Properties, LLC, these titles will be published on a regular schedule and in print format. These new magazines will be printed in black & white and each is heavily illustrated.

The cover price of each is $15.

Mike is taking orders now, so if you want to make sure you snag a copy, contact him at mikechomko at gmail dot com.

I’m hoping this venture is a wild success.  The magazines have a long and important history

I Wanna Be a Paperback Writer

Think of this post as what’s been falling out of the holes in my head lately.  I’m working on a story with a deadline.  Late last week I figured out why it had stalled and how to fix it; I’ve gotten a few thousand words done over the last couple of days.  I figure I’m about half done unless the thing goes in an unexpected direction (again).

But that means I’m not getting as much reading done as I usually do.  Lately my habit has been to read one novel in print form (usually a review copy) while reading something else on the phone’s ereader app (usually when I have time on my hands and am not at home), plus assorted nonfiction as I can fit it in.  I’m not making much progress on the current paper novel.

renegade or kregenI’m enjoying it quite a bit, but it’s rather thick.  So I’ve been thinking a lot lately, in odd moments here and there, about how things have changed since I was a kid.  (It’s a requirement for me to earn my Geezer Merit Badge.)  As a teenager, there were paperback books all over the place, for sale in a variety of venues.  Most of them were around 200 pages in length, if not slightly less.  I could finish one of them in a day or two.  They had bright, eye-catching covers and (although I hadn’t yet encountered the term) were full of all kinds of pulpy goodness.  (I’m looking at you, DAW books.)  Swords, monsters, NSGs.

And it wasn’t just science fiction  and fantasy, either.  There were plenty of mystery and thriller titles around (Fawcett Gold Key, anyone?), although I really didn’t get into those until I was an adult fully grown. Continue reading

Blogging Kuttner: A Gnome There Was

A Gnome There WasA Gnome There Was
Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore)
Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 276 pg., $2.50
Cover drawing by Ed Cartier

I’ve got about half a dozen posts I need to write, including one for another blog, but with the blizzard, we’ve been cooped up in the house.  That means between my wife watching TV with the volume up too loud and my son monopolizing the laptop everytime I have to do something responsible, I’ve not gotten much done as far as reading, blogging, or writing is concerned.  I’m typing this after everyone else has gone to bed.

I started A Gnome There Was just before Thanksgiving.  I tracked down a copy some years ago simply because I was trying to find a copy of the short story “Jesting Pilot”, and this was the easiest way.  Turns out there is another story in it that I discovered last night has never been reprinted since this book was published.  At the time I thought “Jesting Pilot” was the only story I hadn’t read.

Anyway, I was getting tired of some of the stuff I was being sent to review, something I’ll discuss in my year end post in a day or so.  I decided to revisit some of my favorite Kuttner stories (something like literary comfort food).  Since many of them are in this book, that’s the one I chose.   Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Margaret Brundage

Brundage WT Bat GirlMargaret Brundage was born on this date in 1900.  Brundage gain fame, some would say infamy, illustrating covers for Weird Tales in the 1930s.  She was born Margaret Hedda Johnson and was married briefly married to “Slim” Brundage, a painter with radical politics.  The had one son.  I guess that means the rumor I heard that she used her daughters for models isn’t true.

The best way to honor Brundage is to show examples of her work.  Since the illustrations won’t be to everyone’s taste, and some folks get offended waayy too easily these days, the illustrations will be after the “Continue Reading” break.  What follows may not be approriate for youonger readers and the uptight.  There’s a reason she’s been called “Margaret Bondage.” Continue reading

Brackett and Bradbury: “Lorelei of the Red Mist”

Planet Stories - Lorelei of the Red MistThis is a unique item.  The only collaboration between two great science fiction authors, Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury.  Here’s how it came about:

Both authors were living in the Los Angeles area in the 1940s, and both had been working hard to develop their craft as writers.  Both were regulars in Planet Stories at the time.  They were friends who had both been mentored by Henry Kuttner.  They used to meet once a week to read and critique each other’s work.

no good from a corpseBrackett had sold some detective short stories as well as one novel, No Good From a Corpse.  The novel caught the attention of movie producer Howard Hawks, who decided he wanted Brackett to work on the screenplay for his next project.  She was approximately halfway through a novellette she was writing for Planet Stories that was set on Venus (More about Brackett’s Venus in a bit.) when she got a call from Hawks, or more probably his secretary.  Which is how Brackett launched her screenwriting career by coauthoring with William Faulkner the script for Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.  How freakin’ cool is that? Continue reading

Weird Menace Volume 2 Now Available

Weird Menace 2 WebI know some of you bought Weird Menace Volume 1 when it went on sale a few weeks ago.  (Thank you!)  Well, the second volume is now available in both electronic and print editions. It’s a fine companion to the first volume.  And remember, the set makes a fine Christmas gift!

Here’s the announcement Rough Edges Press publisher James Reasoner posted last night:

The Shudder Pulps are back! In fact, it’s like they never left in this second great collection of new stories inspired by the classic Weird Menace magazines such as DIME MYSTERY and TERROR TALES. Those pulps may have ended in the early 1940s, but some of today’s top authors give us the same sort of pulse-pounding, spine-chilling tales they might have published if they had stayed around.

World War II casts its looming shadow in Mel Odom’s “The Spider-God of Nauru!”

Hell comes to a tropical paradise in Keith Chapman’s “Lust of the Cave Spirit”.

American GIs encounter a horror unlike any they ever expected in Michael Bracken’s “Attack of the Nazi Snow Warriors”.

Weird Menace mixes with hardboiled detective thrills in Paul Dellinger’s “Ghost Writer”.

The protagonist of John McCallum Swain’s “The Hades Mechanism” confronts a legendary, undying evil.

And Ray Lovato’s popular character Doc Atlas returns to face a new challenge in “Howl of the Werewolf”!

These action-packed stories are sure to entertain. Editor James Reasoner and Rough Edges Press are proud to present WEIRD MENACE VOLUME 2!

Weird Menace Volume 1 Now For Sale

Weird Menace 1 aJames Reasoner announced this morning that Weird Menace Volume 1 is now for sale.  Electronic copies are $2.99 and paper copies are $9.99.  Volume 2 will follow soon.  Look for an announcement here when it does.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction along with the table of contents.

The Weird Menace pulps flourished for less than a decade, from the mid-1930s to the early ’40s, but while they were popular, they delivered adventure, excitement, and spine-tingling thrills in quantities rarely seen before or since. Mad scientists, deranged henchmen, damsels in distress, and stalwart heroes raced through their pages in breathless, over-the-top, never-ending action. A good Weird Menace yarn really is just one damned thing after another.

Rough Edges Press asked some of today’s best authors of popular fiction to write Weird Menace stories, and they delivered. Settle back and let us spin a few yarns for you…

But keep an eye out behind you. You never know when something might be sneaking up on you.

Stories in this volume include:
“Bodies for the Brain Butcher” by John C. Hocking
“A Night on Madhouse Mountain” by Bill Crider
“The Curse of the Monster Makers!” by Scott Dennis Parker
“Farmhouse of the Dead” by Keith West
“The Hideous Blood Ray” by Robert E. Vardeman
“Blood Treasure for Satan’s Buccaneers” by James Reasoner

Weird Menace Volume 2 is Coming

Weird Menace 2 WebI’m not in this one, but if you’re interested in Volume 1, I suspect you’ll want to know about Volume 2 as well.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

“The Spider-God of Nauru!” by Mel Odom
“Lust of the Cave Spirit” by Keith Chapman
“Attack of the Nazi Snow Warriors” by Michael Bracken
“Ghost Writer” by Paul Dellinger
“The Hades Mechanism” by John McCallum Swain
“Howl of the Werewolf” by Ray Lovato

Unlike the first volume of Weird Menace, which contains period pieces, these are the type of story the weird menace pulps would likely have published had they continued past the early 1940s.

I’ll post a publication date when one becomes available.