Blog: Commentary from the den of a pulp super-fan

John Taine’s ‘The Purple Sapphire’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, November 13, 2017 in Pulps, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

John Taine’s ‘The Purple Sapphire’

'Famous Fantastic Mysteries" (August 1948)Scientists writing science fiction has been going on so since the genre started. But in the early years, some chose to use pseudonyms. One of the first was mathematician Eric Temple Bell (1883-1960) whose fiction appeared under the name John Taine.

His first novel was The Purple Sapphire, a lost-race novel from 1927. It was later reprinted in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1948. I got the recent paperback edition from Armchair Fiction, which has this as number six in their “Lost World-Lost Race Classics” series, and used the cover from FFM, as well as interior artwork by Virgil Finley.

An interesting tale, it’s about the search for an English general’s daughter who had been kidnapped 12 years prior in India. She was 8-years-old at the time, and the general’s servant Singh seems the likely candidate. He was a somewhat mysterious figure who seems very knowledgeable in certain subjects. Very strange for a native servant. But years of searching by the British Secret Service turn up nothing about Evelyn.

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‘Pulp Adventures’ #26

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017 in Adventure Pulps, Detective Pulps, H.P. Lovecraft, New Pulp, Pulps, Reprints, Review, Weird Fiction
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘Pulp Adventures’ #26

'Pulp Adventures' #26Bold Ventures Press is back with another new issue of Pulp Adventures, #26 for the Summer of 2017.  And we get another Norman Saunders cover.  Was wondering if he’s return.

As always, a mix of old and new pulp in a wide range of genres:  mystery, western, horror, adventure, pulp hero and more.  Some stories are almost a 100 years old!!

From classic pulp we get the following:

“The Doting Burglar” by Ben Hecht is a fairly interesting tale that appeared way back in 1917 in All Story Weekly.  The author, whom we learn more from the blurb is as interesting.  He was a journalist and writer from the 1920s until he passed in 1964.  Like many pulp writers he also wrote plays and film scripts, and even lyrics.  He got 6 Academy Award nominations.

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‘Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents #3: Fighting Crime One Dime at a Time’

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, October 18, 2017 in Dime Novels, Non-fiction, Pulps, References, Reprints, Review, The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

‘Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents #3: Fighting Crime One Dime at a Time’

Fighting Crime One Dime at a TimeEd Hulse and his Murania Press have put out a third Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents volume, this time focused on the pulp heroes: Fighting Crime One Dime at a Time.

(And, yes, there is a second volume in the series, The Penny-a-Word Brigade. I just haven’t gotten that one, and when I do I’ll post a review.)

As a pulp-hero fan, I recommend this volume, which has a whole set of articles on pulp heroes, all reprinted from previous issues of Blood ‘n’ Thunder. We also get a couple of pulp-hero comic stories from the golden age. Now, these are not your standard overview articles (though there are a couple of those). Several delve into some interesting topics, some have helped me with some of my postings here, and all are written by several pulp historians.

We get articles on many of the major heroes, and a couple of obscure ones.

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R.J. MacCready, a new science-thriller hero

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2017 in Pulps, Review, Thriller
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

R.J. MacCready, a new science-thriller hero

'Hell's Gate'As a fan of techno-thrillers, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting characters in this genre. I happened to stumble upon a new character that has two books out already. The second book first appeared in hardcover, so I guess the first one was successful enough to go quickly to hardback. Most new authors have to have several books out before going to hardback originals.

This new character is R.J. MacCready, created by Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch.

MacCready, a captain in the U.S. Army in the first book (not certain if so in the second), is a zoologist. And the books are set toward the end of World War II and just after. While technology isn’t the main thrust of this series, science (and some speculative science) is, similar to the works of Rollins, Gibbons, and a few others.

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Francis Stevens and ‘The Citadel of Fear’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, October 2, 2017 in Fantasy Pulp, Reprints, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Francis Stevens and ‘The Citadel of Fear’

'The Argosy' (Sept. 14, 1918)An interesting book I picked up recently was Francis Stevens’ The Citadel of Fear. Reprinted by Armchair Fiction as part of their Lost World-Lost Race series, this novel was originally serialized in The Argosy in 1918.

This particular edition had a short select of artwork from her other works (covers of their appearances in pulp magazines), as well as the wrap-around artwork for the Paperback Library reprint of Citadel. It also had a short bio of Stevens and it was interesting.

Francis Stevens was really Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1884–1948), an early author of fantasy and science fiction that some call the “woman who invented dark fantasy.” She actually dropped out of school after the eighth grade and later became a stenographer. Her first published work of fiction was a short story “The Curious Experience of Thomas Dunbar,” published in The Argosy in 1904. She later married and had a daughter, but her explorer husband died on an expedition. During World War I, her father died, and Gertrude had to help support her invalid mother.

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Meet Flash Gordon

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, September 29, 2017 in Comics, Movies, Pulps
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Meet Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon battles Ming the Merciless.A character that is often times trotted out as a pulp character is Flash Gordon. But he’s really not, as he originated in the comic strips. Created to compete against Buck Rogers, he has outshined Buck, and would later appear in comic books, movies and serials, TV, books, radio, and even a pulp magazine. I debated doing an article on him, but feel I must, because there are pulp-like elements.

Most people recall the basic parts of the storyline, which is your “planetary romance” mixed with space opera adventure. Earth is menaced by the rogue planet Mongo. Flash and Dale Arden crash near the lab of Dr. Hans Zarkov, and the three launch into space in Zarkov’s spaceship to put a stop to it. Crashing on Mongo, they find a bizarre world of people and races, ruled over by the despotic Ming the Merciless. Flash and company team up with others, including Prince Barin and Vultan of the Hawkmen, and lead a rebellion against Ming and overthrow him. This leads to further adventures by Flash, Dale, and Zarkov on Mongo (sometimes dealing with another attempt by Ming or someone else to take over), on Earth, and on other worlds.

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