Commentary

So a blogger recently talked about pulp fiction and the lack of what he considers “real pulp novels” being published today. You can read the entire thing here. I wholeheartedly agree with his premise that pulp doesn’t have to be set in the “Golden Age” of the 1920s or 1930s to be pulp. In fact, one of the gentlemanly disagreements I have with the Pulp Factory Awards is the fact that the only stories that qualify are those set before 1940 or in the far future. So all those Shadow or Doc Savage stories written in the 1940s? None of them would have qualified for the Pulp Factory Awards had those stories been written today. It’s arbitrary and, in my own personal view, narrow-minded. Pulp stories can be set in the 1940s… or the 1950s…. or today, all with equal skill.

But where I do disagree with the blogger is this statement:

So while it’s wonderful we have this resurgence of so many writers doing pastiches in the pulp vein, it’s unfortunate so few modern writers are actually doing real pulp novels ala Warren Murphy or the late Marc Olden or even the late Ian Fleming.

So few current writers are doing books with great, even salacious covers, breakneck speed, thrilling action, and larger than life protagonists in conflict with outlandish villains, set in a present/timely context. That is the definition of true pulp fiction, and true pulp heroes… and what we are in dire need… of more of.

First off, while there are guys doing pastiches, the majority of New Pulp writers who set their stories in the Golden Age are, in fact, writing historical fiction. We’re incorporating modern ideas and styles into stories set in the past. There’s also plenty of New Pulp set in the modern day.

I don’t like it when people tell me “this is what x means” and was one of the reasons why I had some problems with the whole “definition of New Pulp” that I took part in crafting. Pulp is like pornography — I might not be able to define it but I know it when I see it. If the blogger had said “it’s unfortunate that so few modern writers are writing stories that I, personally, would enjoy,” then I’d just shrug my shoulders. But please don’t tell me what I’m writing and reading isn’t “true pulp” or “real pulp” just because you like one kind of pulp fiction (modern day settings) vs. another (everything else).

Tell me your *opinion* — that’s cool. Opinions are like behinds — we all have ’em. But please don’t tell me that my work and my interests aren’t “true” or “real.”

One comment

  1. While I am a newcomer to pulp, through my love of audio drama/OTR, it seems to me that trying to force a definition on pulp works as well as trying to set limits on what a comic book can be. Pulp can be any genre, any setting, just like comics. To me, pulp is more about a writing style. When I think of pulp, I think of reading a story that evokes a cliff-hanger serial feeling of fun and adventure. That is not an all encompassing definition, but just the first thought that comes to mind when I think of pulp.

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