Timeline of my pulp adventure universe (updated 3/31/19)

gravediggerMajor Events specific to certain stories and novels are included in brackets. Some of this information contains SPOILERS for The Peregrine, Lazarus Gray, Gravedigger and other stories.

~ 800 Viking warrior Grimarr dies of disease but is resurrected as the Sword of Hel. He adventures for some time as Hel’s agent on Earth. [“Dogs of War” and “In the Name of Hel,” Tales of the Norse Gods].

1748 – Johann Adam Weishaupt is born.

1750 – Guan-Yin embarks on a quest to find her lost father, which takes her to Skull Island [Guan-Yin and the Horrors of Skull Island].

1776 – Johann Adam Weishaupt forms The Illuminati. He adopts the guise of the original Lazarus Gray in group meetings, reflecting his “rebirth” and the “moral ambiguity” of the group. In Sovereign City, a Hessian soldier dies in battle, his spirit resurrected as a headless warrior.

Continue reading → Timeline of my pulp adventure universe (updated 3/31/19)

All Kinds of News

The Second Book of Babylon is literally just days away – and I’ve already gotten a look at the cover, though I can’t share it with you just yet. Looking forward to you guys seeing this one – it’s been a little over two years since I finished writing it and sent it off to my publisher and I hope you think it’s worth the wait.

In addition, I’m expecting to finish writing the Liberty Guard novel for Westerntainment next week. I’m close to 50,000 words on it now. Hopefully they’ll like it and it won’t go through too extensive of an editing process.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do after Liberty Guard and I haven’t firmly decided but I’m anxious for something different. 

Young Doc Savage: A tentative chronology

Fraser Sherman's Blog

As I mentioned a few years ago, I’m fascinated by the missing years in Doc Savage’s life. The series tells us  almost nothing about the time between Doc meeting his five friends in WW I and the beginning of his career in The Man of Bronze. And what we do know seems contradictory. The Purple Dragon and Devil’s Playground establish Doc was busting crooks back as far as the late 1920s yet Man of Bronze states clearly that he and his friends are only now beginning their great crusade against evil.

An easy explanation for the contradictions is that both books were by Lester Dent’s ghostwriters, putting in their own ideas. Will Murray’s Writings in Bronze shows Dent was quite willing to rewrite his ghosts’ work to suit the series better but he might have missed the contradictions, given the several years between their books and Man of Bronze

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THE NYCTALOPE: NEGLECTED PULP HERO

Balladeer's Blog

nyctalope-1Balladeer’s Blog examines another Pulp Hero who doesn’t get as much love as he deserves. Science Fiction pioneer Jean de la Hire from France created the Nyctalope (“Nightwalker”) in 1908 but since many of de la Hire’s works were not translated into English for decades this fascinating cyborg Pulp Hero and proto-superhero languished in obscurity.

nyctalope-2This French figure survived a violent incident with the help of scientists who “had the technology” to give him yellow bionic eyes which could see in the dark and for long distances. In addition his saviors replaced his damaged heart with a cybernetic one, endowing him with superhuman stamina since that artificial organ slowed the buildup of lactic acid in his system. 

The Nyctalope’s serialized adventures were collected into novel form after each story ended.

man-who-could-live-underwaterTHE MAN WHO COULD LIVE UNDERWATER (1908) In the story which introduced the Nyctalope he was a supporting character to one of Jean…

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How Far Is Too Far?

 

I keep most of my New Pulp writing in the PG-13 range but I’ve been known to cross “the line” on occasion… some of you may remember when Sun Koh mutilated a rapist in an old Peregrine story, for instance. And my novel Rabbit Heart is basically a study in excess! Whenever I thought that I might be pushing the envelope too far in that book, I went ahead and tore it open.

But when is it *really* too far?

I’ve kept hardcore sex and violence out of Lazarus Gray, for instance, but there’s an element of subjectivity there, as with all artistic endeavors. When I wrote The Damned Thing, there was a scene early on that involved oral sex. To be honest, I’d forgotten about it by the time it saw print — it was just a brief character moment and believe it or not, not every scene sticks in the mind of the person who wrote it (I write a lot of scenes…). So when it came out, I had a reader who went on and on about that scene and how much it disturbed them. I didn’t even remember what they were talking about! See, for them, that was shocking and extremely memorable. For me, it was no big deal. So you never know how folks will respond.

But there are times when even I know that I might be going into territory that would be best left undisturbed. I’ve mentioned before that I started writing a sequel to Rabbit Heart — it was going to be titled Starstruck. In fact, I wrote about 12,000 words on it, meaning it’s about 20% complete. But even as I was writing the opening scenes of Starstruck, I knew that this probably couldn’t see print. Despite how far I’d gone with Rabbit Heart, I went a lot further into the disturbing territory with just the first 12,000 words on Starstruck. There is at least one scene in there that I think would be hard for people to get out of their heads when they thought of me… and I’m not quite sure I want to go there.

Nobody’s read Starstruck – not even people who’ve really begged & pleaded! I’ve thought about finishing it but it’s so dark and if I didn’t publish it, what would be the point? I’ve considered completing it and then sticking it in a box with a note to say that it could be published after I was dead & gone but then I’d miss the perverse pleasure of seeing people freak out!

On the other hand, I don’t want to tone the story down, either. If I’m going to write disgusting smut then by God, I’m going to write disgusting smut!

Anyway, I think that I’ll continue staying on the PG-13 path for most of my New Pulp work – I often try to craft stories that will appeal to adolescent boys the way that classic pulp did me when I was that age. A little titillation is fine but I try not to veer too far into adult territory. Of course, sometimes the characters demand their course of action (like Sun Koh did in that Peregrine story) and often what I consider PG-13 isn’t what someone else would. In fact, I had one lady tell me she’d never let her 15 year old son read my books because they contained too many “demonic” elements.

In the end, the work puts whatever restrictions on itself that feel appropriate. When I’m writing The Peregrine, there’s a certain feeling to the world that lets me know the basic parameters, even if I sometimes bump against the guard rails.

Captain Marvel!

Loved Captain Marvel! Great performances all around (Jude Law is always wonderful!). The film properly displayed Carol Danvers’ true superpower: the ability to get up after every time she’s knocked down and come back stronger than before. One of my two or three favorite Marvel movies.

Go see it and ignore the haters and trolls.

Musing about awards…

grave3So the Pulp Factory Awards nominee list was revealed today and, once again, it’s heavily weighted towards Airship 27. 18 of the 23 nominations went to Airship and the ones that didn’t still feature writers that also work for Airship. This is not surprising given that the only people that can make nominations are members of the Pulp Factory Mailing List, which is overseen by Ron Fortier, who just so happens to run Airship 27. Airship 27 membership is open to anyone as long as Ron approves them but I’d guess that at least 95% of its membership also does work for Airship. A few years back, I had a conversation with a fellow New Pulp writer about how the Pulp Factory Awards were basically the Airship 27 Awards and he had a lot to say on the subject… then he decided that the best way to get nominated was to offer to work on putting the awards together. Suddenly he was a regular part of the nominee list! It’s amazing how that happened… and now he is a staunch defender of the Awards themselves.

Look, I’m not saying that anyone is out to deliberately mislead the public… but it makes sense that a mailing list composed of people that primarily (or, at least, partially) work with one single publisher are going to skew the nominees towards that publisher. That makes sense — but it also means that these awards are not as “open” to everyone as you might think.

I confess that there are some sour grapes here. I’ve been writing New Pulp for nearly 14 years… I’ve won tons of awards… but it wasn’t until 2018 that I even received a nomination for an Airship 27 award.

And guess what?

It was for a Captain Action novel… that I wrote for (wait for it)… Airship 27.

IMG_2098This year, the final book in my Gravedigger series was one that I would have thought might have gotten a nomination – at least for the amazing cover by George Sellas. But all the covers nominated are for Airship 27. Likewise, Christ Batista did some amazing interior art… but, once again, all the interior artists nominated were for Airship 27 books.

Oh, well. I went and voted for the people I believe deserve to win off the nominees list. I just hate for anyone to look at that list and believe that they’re seeing a representative sample of what New Pulp has to offer. There are great things on there but there’s a lot more to be found, as well.

Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch)

A nice overview of my favorite Ghost Rider – Dan Ketch. I was a huge fan of the character in the 1990s and really wish Dan was given another chance to be the main GR.

officaldeadpool

Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch)

Past:

Daniel Ketch was born in Brooklyn, New York. One night, Daniel and his sister Barbara were attacked by gangsters; with his sister grievously wounded by Deathwatch, Daniel fled and hid in a junkyard, where he found a motorcycle bearing a mystical sigil. Upon touching the sigil, he was transformed into the Ghost Rider. This Ghost Rider was nearly identical to the previous, though his costume and bike had undergone a modernized tailoring. He beat the gangsters, but was unable to save Barbara, who had slipped into a coma as a result from her injury. She was eventually killed by Blackout , whom Ketch had acquired as a mortal enemy.

Ketch later learned the origin of Zarathos from the mystical dream lord Nightmare, who believed the entity to which Ketch was bound was Zarathos reborn and freed from the Soul Crystal…

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My History With Conan Pastiches; Plus: Conan the Bold

I’ve actually enjoyed a good many pastiche novels but none are as good as the REH originals.

Ryan Harvey

dkXDFgAM_1411161025501gpadd.jpgFans of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian have little affection for the Conan pastiches, i.e. any Conan story by another author. I can’t blame them—few of these short stories, novellas, and novels are much good. Howard was singularly suited to writing about the barbarian hero, and without his peculiar combination of skills and his relentless authorial drive, it’s tough to capture anything matching the same excitement. Non-Howard Conan is just another muscular fantasy barbarian who’s really good at splitting open skulls and drinking. That can be fun, but it’s not really Howard’s Conan.

But I owe some of where I am today to the Conan pastiche novel, specifically the long series Tor Books published from 1982 to 1997 (with one extra book popping up in 2003). I got my start as an online writer and book/movie essayist by writing about the Tor Conans—because nobody else apparently wanted to…

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