Is Pulp Fiction Making a Comeback?

It seems that I’ve been hearing an awful lot about pulp fiction, especially pulp sci-fi, recently!  All of a sudden it’s like everyone’s talking about it!  As I’ve mentioned, I’m doing some writing for the Tales of the Stellar Deep RPG, which is clearly rooted in pulp sci-fi and horror. All of a sudden people are discovering Conan, Andre Norton, and Edgar Rice Burroughs again.  Doctor Who is in a Renaissance of fandom.  Just today I discovered that Tor Books is doing a giveaway of an Allen Steele book on Goodreads, Avengers of the Moon, which is described point blank as “pulp-inspired.”

I think we may be tired of “grim for grim’s sake” in our literature; certainly there’s enough to keep us busy in politics and economics if we want grim things to discuss!  Perhaps just like people in the Depression and the War Eras, we’ve had so much of our fill of the grimness of the world that we’d rather take our minds off things for a while, and read about heroic deeds of daring-do, where we know the hero has to survive because otherwise would would happen in the next book?  Maybe we’ve had enough adventure in our lives now that we have finally gotten over the idea that “darker” means “more sophisticated” and therefore “better.”

I love pulp science fiction!  So many things that have become so important to the genre originated in those little pulp books!  I would love it if this were true!

5 thoughts on “Is Pulp Fiction Making a Comeback?

  1. I think the indie publishing market is the modern equivalent of the pulps, or the 19th century penny dreadfuls. Like those earlier markets, a lot of the material is pretty low quality, but some of it is experimental and groundbreaking, and just like many classic sci-fi stories came out of the old pulps, we’re already having some come from the indie market. ‘The Martian’ started as a self published book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had heard that! So did “Wool,” which, if you have not read it, is a marvelous post-apocalyptic yarn. Really different.

      I would not be surprised. I’m just beginning to get acquainted with the vast indie author community, and I’m learning so much! Like where all the erotica went. You used to see racks of it in bookstores; Harlequin Romances sustained many a second-hand bookstore. Now that market is all on Kindle. 🙂

      I like this idea, because once again it means that what gets produced is in the hands of *readers*. I like literary sci-fi, but every now and then I just want some good old-fashioned adventure escapism! And no one’s publishing it anymore. So, let’s publish it ourselves.

      The indie market is learning too. For one thing, people are beginning to learn the value of hiring a professional editor. That’s usually what’s wrong when there’s “low quality” in indie fiction; it’s because they didn’t. But it’s getting better all the time!

      Thanks for starting an interesting conversation. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love the fact that this market is basically just readers and writers, with all the traditional gatekeepers (editors, publishing houses, etc) out of the equation, except perhaps for taking up the better works.

        That said, it’s not perfect. Perusing the bestseller lists, you’ll notice a definite herding instinct among a lot of writers. For example, most of the Amazon Kindle space opera category at times seems filled specifically with military space opera, all with similar story lines.

        And professional editors can definitely help, but I’ve read some well edited books with weak plots and flat characters. Unfortunately, that’s the price of a system where anybody can publish.

        But if you want to do something innovative, experimental, or genre bending, this is the market to do it in. I think if Frank Herbert had written Dune today, given the long list of rejections he accumulated, he more than likely would have ended up self publishing.

        Liked by 1 person

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