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

‘The Land of the Changing Sun’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, January 8, 2018 in Pulps, Reprints, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

‘The Land of the Changing Sun’

'The Land of the Changing Sun'A couple of subgenres of science fiction I’ve had an interest in are utopian fantasies and hollow earth stories.

The first are usually about some society that is presented as better than ours. And often set in either an inaccessible location (a lost world of some kind) or in the future or some alternate reality. Some use it to push a certain political belief, many times some form of socialism. Others push a more refined spiritual society. Or a combination of both. There were many such works in the 1800s, less so in the 1900s and more recently.

Hollow earth stories are a specific subgenre of lost world fantasies, set either in the center of a supposedly hollow earth (usually with a central sun), or in an enormous cavern located below the surface. Examples of these works are Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Pellucidar series or Jules Verne‘s Journey to the Center of the Earth. These stories can be the setting for wild adventures in a world with prehistoric creatures, like in the Pellucidar series, or allow the author to showcase an unknown, but “advanced” civilization.

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The children of Burroughs

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, December 18, 2017 in Edgar Rice Burroughs, Reprints, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The children of Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs

It is interesting that while many artists and writers have children, few of those children follow in their footsteps. There have been a few comic strips continued by the sons and daughters of the creators, and not much else. At most you’ll have the children perhaps manage the estate of their parents.

An interesting example of this in the pulp world is found with the children of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He had three: Joan, Hulbert, and John Coleman.

Joan would marry one of the early actors for Tarzan, and she played Jane in a Tarzan radio show. Hulbert, as far as I know, pursued other matters, but apparently did get involved with helping with the business side of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. John Coleman got involved in his father’s work, but in a unique way.

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Burroughs’ Moon trilogy

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, November 27, 2017 in Edgar Rice Burroughs, Pulps, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Burroughs’ Moon trilogy
Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs is best known for Tarzan, and probably also his Mars novels with John Carter and others. But he set stories in a variety of locations including the hollow earth, Venus, and even the Moon.

The Moon series, usually referred to as the “Moon Trilogy,” consists of “The Moon Maid” (1923), “The Moon Men (1925), and “The Red Hawk” (1925). This trilogy first ran in Argosy All-Story, and may be available in one or two volumes (the last two stories are usually published as one volume). Bison Books has a single volume version of it, but I believe the most accurate collection is available from ERBville Press, which contains the original magazine appearances.

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John Taine’s ‘The Purple Sapphire’

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, November 13, 2017 in Pulps, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 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: 4 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: 5 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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