Category: #PulpRevolution

The PulpRev Sampler

Maybe you’ve been sitting on the fence, not sure whether these loud mouthed PulpRev guys really can back up their pulp talk with a little pulp walk.  No doubt, the crowd has an online swagger and confidence about their understanding of the pulp works and how to recreate the excitement and fun of the original pulps.  But can they really deliver?  You might not want to risk your hard earned cash on a full survey of the PulpRev works.  Maybe you’re already sold on the idea, but you don’t know where to start.  Either way, Jesse Abraham Lucas has your back.

Despite the lack of his name anywhere on the product – for shame! – he remains the central driver behind this tour de force walk through seventeen of the most exciting authors working today.  Generally independent, but universally fun and exciting, this anthology consists of seventeen short stories, each less than 2,500 words in length.  For less than a dollar on Amazon or for free when you sign up for the PulpRev newsletter, you can take these authors for a test drive.  But honestly, having read the book myself, I can tell you that this book won’t solve your problem.  Instead of wondering where to start, you’ll have a hard time choosing who to read next.  Because what each story lacks in length, it makes up for in punch!

From the otherworldy elven tournament on offer from N.A. Roberts to Jesse Abraham Lucas’ own tale of the lives of enchanted weapons to the weird alien-fantasy unlike any you’ve read elsewhere by Dominika Lein, you just can’t go wrong with any of these stories.  Give them a shot, even if they aren’t all your cup of tea, you’ll find a few gems and a few new authors to add to your won library.

Why PulpRev?

Late in the most recent episode of Geek Gab, the inestimable host asks (relative) newcomer to the PulpRev a very interesting question: Why Pulp Revolution?  Her answer  (at 35:00) is very telling:

“The enthusiasm.”

It was great to hear that question asked of Dominika.  Her first novella, I, The One, is an outstanding work of creativity and literary craft.  It reminded me of a number of the Hugo nominated works, but done right.  (By which I mean without all the navel gazing and axe grinding.)  Ever since reading her novella, I have wondered why Dominika – or anyone for that matter – would choose to associate with the misfit and unabashed gutter style prosesmiths of the PulpRev.

Just a few short minutes later, while wallowing in the mire of Twitter, a post crossed my feed in which a writer dropped a jokey little bon motte about why she had an hour to write and chose not to.  Those jokes are like weeds among most writer’s groups, and they are a big reason that I could never stomach the few writer forums that I visited in my ‘pre-writer’ years.  For some bizarre reason, most writers think making excuses is cute and clever rather than self-defeating and off-putting.

The guys that you follow in the PulpRev don’t do it.  I can’t think of a single example of a PulpRev writer treating not-writing lightly.  In those rare instances where they discuss a reduced out-put they treat the situation very matter-of-factly.  They admit to an issue that keeps them away from the keyboard, but focus on how to overcome that issue, or they focus on how long before they can put it behind them and get back to cranking out words.

You can call it enthusiasm.  I call it mindset.  The PulpRev crowd has a very output focused mindset.

They don’t dwell on process – except as it relates to output.  They don’t dwell on problems – except as it relates to finding solutions.  They don’t dwell on being unmotivated – except as  means to find motivation and get back to grinding out those words.

It’s different.  It’s refreshing.  It’s inspirational.

And it’s why I’m part of the PulpRev.


EXTANT! publishing announced its intentions back in June:

More than ever, there’s space in the market for new ideas and new voices – and that means there need to be plenty of dynamic new venues where the emerging writers can experiment and polish their craft. Where better than in the modern, digital equivalent of the pulps.

That’s what I want to do with EXTANT! Here I plan to publish the most amazing fiction I can, both old and new. I’ll be going back to basics, looking for exciting, energy rich stories to put in front of readers. And there are so many new authors popping up today that I’m sure the hardest part of my side of the job will be choosing them.

Springtime for fantasy and sci-fi readers continues to bloom, and one more flower is ready to open it’s petals and reveal…thrilling twenty-first century tales.  The author list includes writers whose work has already made me a fan such as Alexandru Konstantin, Misha Burnett, Schuyler Hernstrom, and Rawle Nyanzi , and a list of familiar names that I’m excited to see what they can do – like Nathan Dabney, Tomas Diaz, and Dan Wolfgang.  But this collection is just the start.

Last week, EXTANT! officially announced it’s first project, “a collection of stories that aim for the passion and drive of Radium Age action and adventure, but drag that energy into the modern age.” I’m happy to say that one of my own stories will feature in this collection, but I’m even happier to say that EXTANT! has plans for even more collections. Check out this line-up:

•Weird New World: Secret histories of the Americas (in planning)
•Karakuri: Action and adventure…with robots! (in planning)
•In Nomine: Dark forces – and the faithful who face them (in planning)
•After Us: Tales of adventure from a world after human civilization (in planning)
•Fair is Foul, Foul is Fair: The parallel world of the fae (in planning)

If that series of collections doesn’t get your heart pumping for a nice long reading sessions, you’re reading the wrong blog, buster.

The man behind EXTANT!, Kevyn Winkless, knows his stuff. When it comes to walking encyclopedias of knowledge about the original pulps, he ranks as one of my personal Big Three. (For the record, Cirsova and The Pulp Archivist are the other two members of the triumvirate. If none of those three have the answer to your burning pulp question, then it probably wasn’t a question worth asking.) Not only that, but his steady demeanor and solid analysis have talked me down from more than one clock tower of literary ranting.

Kevyn and I might never see eye to eye on Donald Wollheim*. But who cares? Kevyn has a keen eye for the written word and a excellent taste in fiction, and I trust Kevyn to serve as a phenomenal steward for this latest branch of the resurgent tree of pulp.  It’s an exciting time to be a reader, thanks to men like Kevyn.

* Don's later career notwithstanding, I find it hard to have much faith in a man who so fully embraced the Communist plots of the 1940s and 50s. Particularly given the predilection of those types for infiltrating society like termites to subtly undermine its foundations.

The Company He Keeps

Looking down the length of the barricades in the culture war on which I stand, I see nothing by faces I’m proud to fight alongside:

Makes me feel like one of the Gondorian knights standing behind Aragorn and Gimli and Théoden King at the Black Gates.  How the heck did I wind up standing behind these guys?  Eh, I survived the disaster at Osgiliath and Pelennor Fields.  I might be just a swordsman, but these guys can always use another writer at their back.  Every swipe at the enemy, every purchase denied the Narrativists, serves the cause of the alt-west, and I’m proud to stand among such luminaries.  There isn’t a name on that list I’d pass up a chance to read one of their books.

Dragon Awards – The Allied Vote

It’s award time for fans of fantasy and science fiction, and that can mean only one thing – DragonCon ballots are up and ready for completion.  The red fiery trophy is the new hotness that all the cool kids want to win, and my on-line social circle has a heavy presence on the ballot.  Fortunately, Kai Wai Cheah already put together a handy primer and list of this year’s best of the best, so I don’t have to. Go read his blog post for a complete breakdown.

Best Science Fiction Novel: The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier
Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal): A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day
Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel: Swan Knight’s Son by John C Wright
Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: Rescue Run by Jon Del Arroz
Best Alternate History Novel: No Gods, Only Daimons by Kai Wai Cheah
Best Apocalyptic Novel: Codename: Unsub by Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz
Best Horror Novel: Live and Let Bite by Declan Finn

It’s Research, Not Gravedancing

My morning commute has slowly evolved into the Diversity and Comics Roadshow.  For those not in the know, the nameless creator of this YouTube series talks comics.  Usually, he reviews a single issue of a comic book, but he also produces episodes on various subjects, many of which revolve around Marvel’s self-inflicted gunshot wounds.  Not only does he provide interesting historical background information, he spots trends, and calls out the good and bad of every issue.  From his analysis of the artwork itself, it’s obvious the man knows what he is talking about.  He is also a funny host with a dry wit and often a barely restrained rage that entertains even as it informs.

Most of the information that he provides in his autopsies of what doesn’t work does me no good.  The constant litany of SJW and barely past their teens writing mistakes are not the sorts of things that I need to guard against.  But it’s darn fun to be able to vicariously experience the dreadful writing and erratic plotting and clumsy left-wing preaching through D&C.  The guy tries to bridge a middle ground, but the egregious own-goals of Marvel are clearly pushing him hard into the welcoming arms of the alt-right.  His SJW takedowns and thorough and professional and hilarious.

The field of comics serves as a useful case study in the cancerous effects of SJW culture in general and feminism in specific.  Comic books themselves did about $1 billion in sales in 2016, compared to a global film market of $38 billion and video games market of $91 billion.  As a content creator in the literary world (the biggest of the four mediums at $127 billion), this serves as a powerful incentive to rein in any impulses you might have to sip from the SJW kool-aid.

With a smaller environment, we can more easily see the market effects of a little thing like erasing the biggest names in the industry (Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Spidey, etc.) and brown-washing them with brand new demographic placeholders.  Spoiler alert!  It’s not pretty on either the creative or the financial side.

Or take this classic example of what happens to the sales of a comic book as it’s main writer and intellectual shepherd continues to drink from the SJW kool-aid spigot:

That’s a drop off in readership of 75%, and you can make chin music about dying industries and the death of print media all you want, and you’ll still be left with a minimum 25% dropoff in readership due to the quality of the work produced.
While comic books are only directly analogous to literature, they are a powerful analogy.  All of the rules of plot, pacing, characters, personality, writer’s voice, underlying messages, and so on apply equally to my chosen medium as they do to comic books. 
The dearth of quality writer’s podcasts has long been a complaint of mine.  Oh, sure, it’s easy to find podcasts full of NPR’s “Writer’s Almanac” style wankery.  It’s easy to find writers talking about their own work.  Finding nuts and bolts analysis of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to stringing sentences together is a lot harder.  Luckily, D&C doesn’t just produce that style of critique, he floods the digital airwaves with it.
And my commute is all the better for having him along for the ride.

The Ideological Conquest of Science Fiction Literature

A must watch over-view that explains the ongoing revolution in science-fiction.  Much of this is old hat for the PulpRev crowd,  but it offers a nice, concise explanation and fills in a few gaps for the newcomers.

A Newcomer’s View of the PulpRev

Dominika Lein, author of, I, The One, posted an in-depth look at her experience with the #PulpRev.  It’s gratifying to read about her experiences, as this is exactly the spirit that I’ve been pushing within the community.  I’ve lifted a few choice quotes, but you should really go read the whole thing:

It’s been a little over a month since I emerged from lurking to larval wiggling about in the PulpRev trenches. Time flew fast.

In my time as an independent writer for the past four years, I’ve never seen support like I’ve already experienced in the PulpRev community. 

I would have never gotten that kind of support from a regular writing group or a place like NaNoWriMo…An aside: the only kind of support NaNoWriMo knows how to give is of two kinds; Rabidly cheerleadering “approved elements” to include in stories (you know) along with word counts regardless of quality and yet parroting the “proper ways to write” which ranges from mangled quotes of Strunk & White to Wendig blatherings to generic marketing/myths (which always includes “GIVE AWAY FREE COPIES …(so I can get it for free)”).

The #PulpRev has experienced phenomenal growth over the last six months, with no sign of let up.  We’ve attracted newcomers like Dominika and old hands as well.  In addition to serving as a ready-made fan base, the #PulpRev features some of the most supportive fans around.  We don’t just buy each other’s works, we do beta-reading, marketing, and encouragement, too.  At least for now.

One thing that I don’t have a firm grasp of yet is how well this atmosphere will scale.  As the crowd continues to grow, will we ossify into the NaNoWriMo self-absorption, or will we continue to show the same level of support for each other?  My guess is that it will scale perfectly.  As more writers of good will enter the lists, they’ll bring their own talents and time into the fold.  That will increase the amount of support even as the number of people who need support increases.  The overall level of support that any given writer receives won’t increase – you’ll still have two or three people beta-reading and reviewing and recommending your work – but the volunteerism will grow as the culture does.

The one thing to watch out for is the moochers.  The guys who always beg for help, but never offer anything up in return.  They will come, have no doubt about that.  It’s surprising that we haven’t seen any of them yet, or if we have, I haven’t seen them*.  Perhaps they fade away when they realize that the #PulpRev crowd isn’t stupid.  We notice the little things, and without question, those who don’t give shall not receive. 

My advice, for what it’s worth, is to continue welcoming new writers with open arms.  Be wary, but welcoming.  And start looking for ways to build up a stronger reader base rather than a writer base.  Our weak link right now is that the people most drawn to the #PulpRev are those who have thought about what modern literature is missing and set out to correct its shortcomings.  But there are throngs of readers out there looking for us who just don’t know we exist.  Once we crack that nut, you’re going to see a quantum leap in our profile.  Jon Del Arroz has been doing yeoman’s work to that end, but the movement as a whole has a long way to go.

Which shouldn’t be discouraging, but inspiring.  We’re going to be around for a fair few decades, even if it dwindles back to a few gaming bloggers writing stories for their own amusement.

Also, if you want to support one of the authors of this growing movement, you can do so by purchasing a copy of my latest #PulpRev novel, A Moon Full of Stars.  It’s post-apocalypse the way it was meant to be!

Comics Exposure

Comic book fandom is one of those things that I’ve accreted through sheer osmosis.  Love the concept, love the culture, but never had the time, never had the money, but always had friends with both.  Whether it was reading an issue or two left on a couch or thrust into my hands at a friend’s house, or catching up on trade paperbacks at the library (read: five years late), or just sitting back and listening to fans talk about the things, I’ve managed to keep up with all of the most important story lines.  Dark Phoenix Saga, Secret Wars, Supes punching reality in the face and rebooting the DC line, you’re talking to a guy who can at least ask intelligent questions about what’s up with the four color tales.

Now it’s the internet’s favorite complaints box, Twitter, that keeps me up on the latest dirt.  Or so I thought, until somebody passed me a link to “Diversity and Comics”.  It’s not what you think.  It’s actually a series of thoughtful and intelligent reviews of comics by a guy interesting and funny enough to be sitting next to you at the gaming table.  Just check out the title on this bad boy:

Not only is the narrator an experienced and thoughtful reviewer of comic books as a specific medium, he has phenomenal insight into storytelling, heroism, action, and the all the rest of the #PulpRevolution’s greatest hits.

Forget Game of Thrones, I’ll be binge watching this for the next few days.

StoryHack, Issue Zero

Bryce Beattie recently put out the first issue of his action/adventure magazine as a proof-of-concept.  As a contributing author, for me to write a review of the magazine would be a bad idea.
But I’m going to do it anyway!

First, thought – don’t take my word for it – download and read a copy for free.  Then you can decide for yourself whether the second issue KickStarter is worth backing.

StoryHack Action and Adventure has two things going for it:

1.  A central focus on action and adventure.  The contents cross genre lines with the first issue including pure fantasy, magi-tech, biblical fantasy, sci-fi, and even one story set in the contemporary real world.

2. Bryce’s own vision.  One issue doesn’t provide enough data to get your arms around Bryce’s tastes, but you can get a feel for it.  My guess is that, as with Cirsova, after a few issues are out, regular readers will be able to point to a story and say, “That’s a Bryce story.”  The edges will be fuzzy, but there will be a certain feel to the kind of story that might appear in StoryHack.  Based on the limited size of the data set, it looks like they will be fast, furious, and fun, with just a hint of deeper meaning or passion to them.

The decision to include stories from a variety of genres was brilliant.  As a ‘page one and straight on through til morning’ reader, it was fun not knowing what each kind of story was going to be.  You may want to take a page from Cirsova and include a one sentence teaser before each story.  I never read them, preferring to go into each story blind, but (particularly when you’ve got a cross-genre magazine) a lot of readers appreciate that little warning about what to expect.  The hard copy/pdf has a blurb in the table of contents, but you don’t have that in the Kindle version.

StoryHack: Year Zero also includes a few unexpected laughs in the form of Bryce’s own advertisements.  In a normal magazine, these would be considered filler, but in Bryce’s hands they provide a laugh, and more importantly, they provide a chance for the editor to engage directly with the reader.  What could have been wasted ink becomes a way for the reader to get to know Bryce a little better and begin establishing a relationship with him. 

That may not seem like much, but consider that most collections are a reflection of the editor.  The best magazines were synonymous with their editors, and you know from the editor’s name what kind of story you’re going to get.  Gernsback was pure pulp.  Campbell was men with screwdrivers.  Damon Kinght was lipstick smeared pigs in fancy ball gowns.   Both Gernsback and his stories were bold and daring.  Both Campbell and his stories were smart and technical.  Both Knight and his stories used pseudo-intellectualism to hide his incompetence. 

Pretty soon we’ll have Bryce Style fiction, and that fiction will be a reflection of Bryce’s personality. This is one reader that hopes those little injections of Bryce won’t disappear once every column inch is bought and paid for.