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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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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Armchair Fiction’s Lost World-Lost Race series

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, May 15, 2017 in Pulps, Reprints, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Armchair Fiction’s Lost World-Lost Race series

'Forgotten Worlds'Some may be familiar with Sinister Cinema, a company that has for years made various “B movies” available on VHS and now DVD. In 2010 they expanded with their Armchair Fiction series of reprints.

First it was classic science fiction, fantasy, and horror done in double novel format, similar to that used in the old Ace Double series, which they’ve just put our their 200th volume in their D series (and started the new E series). They expanded to Mystery-Crime Double novels (the B series) and have a few other series such as Masters of Science-Fiction (the M series), Horror Gems and Science Fiction Gems (the G series), as well as Science-Fiction Classics (the C series), which are single novels or collections. What they reprint is stuff that appeared either in pulp magazines or early paperbacks, and sometimes earlier works.

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Fanzine focus: ‘Pulp Adventures’ #22

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2016 in Comics, Fanzines, New Pulp, Pulps, Reprints, Review, Science Fiction Pulps, Sherlock Holmes
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Fanzine focus: ‘Pulp Adventures’ #22

'Pulp Adventures' #22Pulp Adventures #22 (Summer 2016) is the eighth issue of the new version from Bold Venture Press, and completes two years of this zine.  And I had just gotten out a review on the previous issue!

This time we get a collection of classic and New Pulp fiction (with some notes) and even some pulp comics, under a H.L. Park cover (a science fiction one). No Norman Saunders cover this time, gasp! There is a reason why, though.

In my view, this blend of new and old pulp fiction (with occasional pre-pulp and post-pulp) that doesn’t focus on one genre — we get science fiction, aviation, crime & detective, and a little horror in this one — makes this one of the best pulp-fiction fanzines coming out now.

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‘Cirsova’: heroic fantasy and sf magazine

Posted by at 10:00 am Wednesday, August 10, 2016 in Fantasy Pulp, Fanzines, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

‘Cirsova’: heroic fantasy and sf magazine

'Cirsova' #1A new magazine focusing on new fiction in the vein of classic pulp magazines like Planet Stories, Weird Tales, and Thrilling Wonder Stories is now out: Cirsova.

It launched the first and second issues with Kickstarter campaigns. The first issue you can obtain from Amazon, the second one is being produced and should come out soon. There is talk of doing a subscription option for the third and fourth issues. Number 3 will focus on pirates, and the fourth will be a double-size winter issue.

I got the first issue, and it’s an overall nice magazine. There is a novelette, 6 short stories, a poem, and an essay. Cover is by Jabari Weather, who also produced the cover for the second and third issues as well.

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Edgar Rice Burrough’s Venus

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, May 23, 2016 in Edgar Rice Burroughs, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Edgar Rice Burrough’s Venus
"Argosy" (Sept. 17, 1932) featuring "The Pirates of Venus."

Argosy (Sept. 17, 1932) featuring “The Pirates of Venus.”

The prolific Edgar Rice Burroughs had several series set in exotic locations: Mars, the Hollow Earth, the Moon, and Venus.

I have already looked at his Mars and Pellucidar (hollow earth) series, and his last extended series was set on Venus, or Amtor as the natives called it, though most refer to it as the Venus series or the Carson of Venus series. I read the series while in high school when I was reading almost all of Burroughs’ stuff.

The series is composed of:

  • “Pirates of Venus” (1934)
  • “Lost on Venus” (1935)
  • “Carson of Venus” (1939)
  • “Escape on Venus” (1946)
  • “The Wizard of Venus” (1964)

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