In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.

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Issue 4 Is Officially Released

Broadswords and Blasters

Issue 4 came out in print last week, but the Kindle release goes live today, which means we’re officially live. We love these stories (as we loved all the stories in the first three issues), but this issue is momentous in that it marks the completion of one year of delivering a quality quarterly magazine that we are proud to produce. But if you need some more enticing, maybe the synopses below will wet your whistle.

“Commander Saturn and the Deadly Invaders from Rigel” by Richard Rubin. This yarn is a fun, retro look at space opera, in the vein of Buck Rogers. It comes with a wink and a nod to the genre and has a lot of fun while doing it. Two-fisted space action.

“Demons Within” by Karen Thrower. Bounty-hunting is a tried and true pulp storyline. In this tale, a demon is charged by Hell to track…

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Pulp Consumption: Swords Against Darkness

Matt discusses the latest iteration of the Swords Against Darkness anthologies, which collects stories from luminary writers of the swords and sorcery genre both past and present.

Also, Issue 4 of Broadswords and Blasters is available for purchase in print and pre-order in Kindle.

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I originally became aware of the most recent SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS anthology from browsing Black Gate[1]. Unlike the same-named anthologies put out in the late seventies edited by Andrew Offutt, this anthology isn’t concerned exclusively with what’s current in sword and sorcery[2], but instead acts as a crash course in speculative fiction over the decades.

Image result for swords against darkness

The anthology starts with a classic Conan tale “The Tower of the Elephant,” and moves through the decades of sword and sorcery. The editor, Paula Guran, does not stick with a strict publication, or even composition chronology when ordering the stories, but does divide the pieces into broad categories: Forging and Shaping, Normalizing and Annealing, and finally Tempering and Sharpening.

To be sure, if you are already well-versed in classic sword-and-sorcery, some of the material will be quite familiar. In addition to Howard, the Forging and Shaping section includes work…

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Pulp Consumption: Psych

Broadswords and Blasters

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

PsychOne aspect of pulp both Matt and I haven’t really touched upon is humor. Pulp is often thought of as being a serious genre, and since so much of it is focused on grit, violence, and noir that makes a certain amount of sense. But even the noirest stories often included humor, and some stories published in magazines like Amazing Stories were definitely funny. It’s in this spirit I’d like to discuss the USA Network TV show Psych.

The show centers around main character Shawn Spencer (played by James Roday), who uses his keen sense of observation, eidetic memory recall, and pure intelligence to solve cases as a consulting detective, sort of like Sherlock Holmes. He was raised by his father, Santa Barbara police detective Henry (Corbin Bernsen), to exercise these elements of his mental capacity in the hopes he’d become a police officer as well…

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Pulp Consumption: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country started out awesome, lost a little steam in the middle, fizzled at the end. Still, it’s worthwhile reading.

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In theory, Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff should be everything I want to read in modern horror – inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, but rejecting his outright racism. Maybe it would have, if I’d stopped reading after the first section. Instead, taken as a whole, the novel was merely okay.

Lovecraft Country, published in 2016, is the story of two black families living during the Jim Crow era, when the racist attitudes of much of America supported such awful ideas as sundown towns and anti-miscegenation laws. The main character of the first section of the novel is Atticus Turner. As the story opens, Turner’s father, Montrose, has called Atticus home from Florida, where Turner settled after ending his active duty service for the Army in Korea. When Turner gets home, after being accosted time and again by the white establishment, including being shot at by a police officer for violating…

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Pulp Appeal: Tales from the Crypt

Ah, Tales from the Crypt, my favorite HBO show that is nowhere to be found (legally) to stream on the internet.

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Tales-from-the-Crypt_1 Eeee hee hee hee hee hee hee heeeeeeee!

A couple years ago there was a rumor (which turned out to be correct) M. Night Shyamalan was resurrecting one of my favorite television series of all time: Tales from the Crypt. I was simultaneously ecstatic and revolted, as anyone who has followed Shyamalan’s career[1] has a right to be. I have a reputation among my friends and family of poo-pooing remakes and unnecessary sequels, but this is a series I would love to see revived, provided it is done correctly.

Before the era of the Comics Code Authority, comic books went through a growth period in which they embraced violence, blood, and horror, but no publisher pushed the boundaries of acceptability in four-colors further than William Gaines of EC Comics. After his father died, Bill took over and turned it from a fairly standard publishing house, Entertaining Comics, into…

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Pulp Consumption: Mad Max: Fury Road

Last week I wrote about Mad Max. This week Matt writes about Fury Road, a sequel released 30 years after the last movie in the series, Beyond Thunderdome.

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mad+max+fury+road+trailer Max and what’s left of his “Pursuit Special” 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT

In case you’ve been under a rock somewhere, Mad Max: Fury Road is the latest (as of 2015) installment in George Miller’s Mad Max series of films.

Yes, I know it’s another movie. Yes, I know it’s post-apocalyptic. Yes, I know it doesn’t fit into the “pulp mold”, whatever that might be.

Here’s why you want to watch it from a storytelling perspective.

The stakes are clear. If Max doesn’t escape Immortan Joe and his War Boys, he’s going to be bled dry as a source of clean blood. If Furiosa and Immortan’s brides don’t escape, Furiosa will be killed (most likely), and the brides will be subjected to sex slave status until Joe dispenses with them at which point the best they can probably hope for is being used as a milk source. If Immortan doesn’t…

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Pulp Consumption: Mad Max

I love the Mad Max universe. Though slow-moving for modern audiences, the first is still a great film. The more I think about it, the more I like Road Warrior best of all four movies.

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madmax Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray cover

In 1979 something incredible happened: I was born. But seriously, that’s also the year of some amazing cinema, including Alien, The Amityville Horror, Apocalypse Now, and The Warriors, but the one I’m most enamored of is Mel Gibson’s second major film, and the one that rocketed him to stardom, Mad Max.

mad_max_2_h2-490x388 Max during Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, arguably more influential and important to the look of Fury Road than anything in the original.

The Mad Max series rocketed back into cultural consciousness two years ago with Fury Road, but before Furiosa and Immortan Joe, before Tina Turner singing “We don’t need another hero,” before the ever-expanding desert and the gyrocopter and the weird kids-only cargo cult, we had Max Rockatansky, an Australian highway patrolman operating a pursuit vehicle at the ass-end of civilization as society breaks down around…

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Pulp Appeal: Zork, Metal Gear, Fallout, Bioshock

Matt’s post last week got me thinking about other video game franchises that take inspiration from pulp fiction.

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Matt talked about The Witcher last week, which got me thinking about other video game series that fit the pulp aesthetic. Rather than do a deep dive on one series, and because I am far more familiar with older videos than modern ones (LA Noire, for instance, is one that probably deserves a whole column, but I haven’t played it), I thought I’d do some capsule reviews of a bunch of different styles of games from various consoles and computer systems. No such article could ever hope to be even close to comprehensive, so I’m going to stick to four game series that I’ve played a lot of and loved immensely.

Zork_I_box_artZork[1] Series – Zork is an interactive text adventure game that was first published in the late 1970s. Although Colossal Cave Adventure is recognized as the first interactive fiction game, it is little more than…

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Pulp Appeal: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I went a little footnote crazy this week.

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clint-eastwood-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-spiros-soutsosA few weeks back Matt discussed one version of a character known in the west as “The Man with No Name.” Akira Kurosawa wrote and directed Yojimbo, starring B&B favorite Toshiro Mifune, about a nameless ronin who moves from town to town solving problems–or creating them, depending on your interpretation–wherever he goes. This character shows up in many other movies including the original Django spaghetti western and its many sequels, the Sergio Leone film Dollars trilogy starring Clint Eastwood[1], and the Walter Hill film Last Man Standing starring Bruce Willis. Although Kurosawa didn’t explicitly state it, film buffs and noir fans believe he got the original idea for the character and plot of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, a novel of his nameless character The Continental Op, about whom I’ve already written.

The Man with No Name, like his inspiration[2], had a…

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Pulp Appeal: Philip José Farmer

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philip_jose_farmer_1359741c Farmer died in 2009 at the age of 91. This image is from the Telegraph obituary.

As with Matt’s article about the Chronicles of Amber last week, no one could rightfully call Philip José Farmer a pulp writer. He definitely belongs in the movement known as New Wave, and was even published in Dangerous Visions, the defining compilation of New Wave short stories. The book was edited by Harlan Ellison, one of the most iconic members of the movement. That said, as with many of Farmer’s contemporaries, including Ellison, Michael Moorcock, Norman Spinrad, and Philip K. Dick, Farmer was deeply inspired by the pulps. In fact he was so enamored of the earlier fiction movement that he wrote some of the most well-known pulp pastiches, works like The Adventures of the Peerless Peer, The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, Tarzan Alive, and Doc Savage:…

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