2019 is the 50th anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon. But long before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on our celestial neighbor, writers did just that in the pages of the pulps. This collection includes 10 stories and two articles from the pulps envisioning what might be waiting for Earthly explorers on the lunar surface. Includes contributions from Jonathan W. Sweet, R.L. Farnsworth, Henry Kuttner, W.E. Thiessen, Frank Belknap Long, Noel Loomis, Oliver Saari, Victor Rousseau, Alexander Samalman, George Whitley, Charles E. Fritch and James Blish.
Our new release, The Beginner’s Guide to Pulp Fiction, is the #1 New Release in Mystery Literary Criticism on Amazon this month.
You can order from the link above. Here’s a sample of the introduction from the book:
What is Pulp Fiction?
Pulp fiction got its name from the cheap wood pulp paper on which most pulps were printed. (This is also the reason many pulps have not aged well – the pulp paper is even more susceptible than higher-quality paper to brittleness and other aging.)
The term “pulp fiction” was often used to denigrate the quality of the writing in the pulps as well, becoming a short-hand for cliché-filled, poorly plotted stories. While there were plenty of those, there was also some great work done in the pulps. Many writers who went on to greater fame (more on that later) got their starts working in the pulps.
Pulps typically sold for a dime, making them affordable entertainment for the average working man that made up the bulk of the pulps’ audience. The pulps were published from 1896 to the 1950s. They were mass entertainment at a time before radio and television, and continued through two World Wars, the Golden Age of Radio and the beginning of television.
The first pulp was Argosy, revamped by Frank Munsey beginning in 1896. Argosy had been published since 1882, but it was in 1896 that Munsey shifted the magazine to all-fiction content and the paper to cheap pulp stock. Street & Smith was next with The Popular Magazine in 1903. With the success of those two, other publishers followed suit, with pulps typically becoming organized around a type of story or character, such as detective, romance or western stories.
The covers also became increasingly important. Pulps were famous for their lurid covers, with the stereotypical cover featuring a scantily clad damsel being terrorized by some evil scientist or frightening creature. It’s worth noting, of course, that there were plenty of covers that were more sedate.
The pulps peaked in popularity in the 1930s, with many selling more than 1 million copies an issue. Some pulps lasted for decades; many lasted for only one or two issues. Some publishers published hundreds of different titles over the years.
Pulps began to decline during World War II, when paper shortages forced publishers of all types to cut production. By the 1950s, most pulps that survived had switched to the smaller digest format still seen in a handful of publications today.
After the pulps themselves faded away, the term pulp fiction was also often applied to the mass market paperbacks of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that essentially replaced the pulps. This guide focuses on the actual pulps, not the later incarnations.
The original pulps are still collected and some have proven extremely valuable for their rarity or inclusion of an especially high-profile author. Many of the pulps have also been reprinted, both in small paperback formats in the 1970s and 1980s and more recently in full-sized reproductions complete with illustrations. Several companies offer high-quality collections of the classic pulp stories featuring even obscure characters.
There’s also been a resurgence in pulp writing, with the “new pulp” movement. Several publishers, such as Airship 27 and Pro Se Press, are publishing large amounts of new stories featuring new stories of old pulp characters and original pulp creations. The best creations in new pulp are honored every year with the Pulp Factory Awards.
From comic books to the superhero movies that dominate theaters to the serialized shows we stream on Netflix, the impact and influence of the pulps can be seen throughout pop culture today.
By Jonathan W. Sweet
I’m not old enough to have seen the moon landing, but I was born when our trips there were a fresh memory.
As a child, I was enthralled by the space books I read that talked about the Apollo missions and how we’d soon be heading back there. I remember the vivid illustrations of our imagined space stations, our colonies on the moon and Mars. I just took it for granted that all of that was going to come true.
As we all know, that didn’t happen. There are a number of reasons and any group of people could certainly get into a political argument about the money spent (or not spent) on space over the last five decades.
But what most people can agree on is that it’s always good to dream big. And long before we actually landed on the moon, the pulp writers did just that in the pages of magazines like Astounding, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Amazing Stories and more.
We’ll be debuting a new collection of moon-related pulp at this year’s PulpFest, so check it out if you are coming to the show. If you’re not going to make it, don’t worry – the book will be available from Amazon and other bookstores. We’ll put up links when it’s live.
By Jonathan Sweet
Midwest Book Review gave us a nice a review of Minnesota’s 50 Greatest Baseball Players: From Town Ball to the Twins in the July 2019 issue.
(Reprinted with permission)
Minnesota’s 50 Greatest Baseball Players lives up to its title with a tour de force of the lives of Minnesota baseball stars throughout history. Here are the true life stories of Hall of Famers, star players from the Negro League, and many more legendary individuals. Aptly researched and enhanced with a bibliography, Minnesota’s 50 Greatest Baseball Players is a gem for baseball fans, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Minnesota’s 50 Greatest Baseball Players is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).
You can purchase the book directly from us at https://brickpicklemedia.com/50greatest/ or from all major bookstores in print or ebook format.