In today’s Pulp Appeal, I talk briefly about Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason.
You can’t read pulp fiction, particularly gumshoe detective stories, without stumbling across Erle Stanley Gardner. The guy was such a prolific writer that the eighty, yes EIGHTY, novels he wrote featuring his most famous character, Perry Mason, don’t even account for half of his total bibliography. Holy crap.
Perry Mason is one of the most iconic lawyers in American pop culture. Fun fact: Ozzy Osbourne has a heavy metal song about the character. Before the original tv series run in the 1950s–60s, there were no filmed legal dramas. Of course, you say, because it was the 1950s and there were few tv shows. Yes, but nearly every trope of every legal drama that has come since was copied from the show and the novels upon which it was based. Perry Mason wasn’t just an iconic television legal drama; it was THE archetype for everything from Columbo to Law & Order
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In today’s Pulp Appeal, I briefly cover Zorro.
Millionaire playboy whose identity is known to only a few puts on a black costume and mask to parade around at night, ensuring that justice and peace is maintained as well as possible in the face of corruption, political meddling, and law enforcement incompetence.
No, not Batman. This is the story of Zorro, the fox, a thorn in the side of the early 19th Century Mexican government of California. But despite the parallels to the caped crusader, the story of Zorro more closely parallels that of the English hero Robin Hood and, more directly, that of Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel, created by Baroness Orczy about 15 years before the first Zorro story was written. Because of the existence of Robin Hood, you can’t really say that Johnston McCulley, creator of Zorro, stole the idea of the masked hero with the noble alibi from Orczy, but the parallels are…
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Today Matt shares his feelings of Elric, a character I have literally never read. I keep meaning to rectify that, but never do.
art by Robert Gould
I can pinpoint exactly when I first came across Elric, the doomed albino sorcerer-king of Melniboné. I was a freshman in high school, and there, among the rest of the science-fiction and fantasy books in the school library were two collections of Michael Moorcock’s most famous creation. In retrospect, that is probably the best and worst time to be exposed to that particular character.
Elric is brooding and introspective, at the same time sickened by the traditions he stems from while simultaneously a product of them. Unlike other pulp heroes, who conquer and strive for a kingdom of their own, Elric is born into nobility and abdicates that responsibility. He is the product of a decadent race in their twilight years, having gone from a world-spanning kingdom to being reduced to a single island. He spends as much time entreating sorcerous entities as he does battling…
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If you have been waiting for the print version of Broadswords and Blasters, wait no longer! Right now you have two options – Amazon or Createspace. The magazine will also populate to wider distribution networks, but that may take a few weeks.
In today’s Pulp Appeal, I discuss Lovecraft’s Randolph Carter.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft is a polarizing figure.1 His fiction lives on for us mainly because of the anthologizing and reprinting of his stories that was done mostly by August Derleth in the years after Lovecraft’s untimely death at the age of 46. While no contemporary can touch Robert Howard in the realm of prolific, Lovecraft was nearly his equal, publishing not just scores of horror2 stories but also nonfiction, poetry, and even some science, mostly astronomy. Because of his prolific and varying works, we’ve chosen to do as we did with Howard and Burroughs, and focus in on characters and arcs rather than try to nail a whole author in one swoop.
Which brings us to today’s topic: Randolph Carter. Carter is the eponymous main character of an early Lovecraft work titled “The Statement of Randolph Carter” and followed up with “The Unnameable,” The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,
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In today’s Pulp Appeal Matt explores the lasting appeal of Conan.
Trying to pin down when I originally was exposed to Conan, the world-travelling barbarian created by Robert E. Howard, is tricky. It might have been watching edited versions of Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer when I was a kid. I clearly remember one summer in a library, devouring the paperback pastiches put out by Lin Carter and L’Sprague DeCamp and, at the time, feeling frustrated by the discontinuity between the stories.
One of the most telling features of Conan is the recurring theme of civilization versus barbarity. Reading the Conan stories, it is clear that Howard truly believed that barbarism, while not necessarily superior to civilization, would always win out in the end. Frequently, Conan is able to better more educated swordsmen through natural talent, strength and speed. Fancy swordsmanship avails his opponents naught. But even when facing against other barbarians, such as the Picts in Beyond the…
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Matt speaks the truth. Although this is his blog entry, when it comes to what we are looking for in submissions to Broadswords and Blasters, we are of one mind. With one exception, we have tagged the same stories as accepted or rejected before talking about those stories. And once we talked about the one exception, we were on the same page there, too.
This week’s challenge was to write a story about the end of the journey. 1500 words. Like rolling off a log, right?
Yeah, well my first draft ended up around 2800 and it’s still sitting there in the back of my head, a bad itch that won’t go away. I’m thinking “Am I clear what the stakes are?” and “Is there more I can do to build up atmosphere?” and “Is there enough tension to keep readers interesting?” and yeah, there’s a bit there I want to tease apart, insert a bit more into.
And none of it is going here, because 3,000 words or so is a nice little sweet spot of a story to try submitting to markets. As of right now, I’ve got all of four pieces submitted for the year. So instead of fiction, you get to hear what I like to see in a story…
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Stand at the edge of a cliff or tree branch, take a rope in your hands, inhale a deep breath, and then leap out, shouting out a big ululating “Ah AW EEEH AW AW EEEH AWWWW!” You probably know where I’m going with this, but just in case, you’ve just completed the Tarzan yell. You don’t need the cliff or the rope (Tarzan does), but just about everyone I know has mimicked this joyful exclamation while preparing to jump down from something, often beating their chests with their fists while shouting.
There are few characters of the golden age of pulp fiction with the range and longevity of Tarzan. Hell, there are few characters at all with Tarzan’s ubiquity.
A creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan has been around for over 100 years, and yet film-makers and writers are still mining it for new material, including last year’s The Legend…
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That’s right folks, issue one is now available for preorder. Featuring work by Matt Spencer, R.A. Goli, Michael M. Jones, Dusty Wallace, Nicholas Ozment, Dave D’Alessio, Josh Reynolds, and Rob Francis. Cover art by Luke Spencer of Carrion House.
Tell your friends, tell your lovers, tell that random stranger sitting across from you on the bus.
Help keep pulp alive!
This week’s challenge was a list of one-word titles. I chose “Juniper” and I have no idea why. Started out sort of noirish, quickly morphed into urban fantasy, and ended with more questions than it started. There’s certainly more story I could tell, but I think I’m about done looking into the world of Johnson and Juniper. At least for now.
Story after the break.