Posts Tagged With: pulp fiction

From Callisto to Deep Beneath the Earth

I have finally finished my review of the old-fashioned adventures of Lin Carter. First was the Conan-inspired Thongor. Then we flew to the Green Star, where a man trapped by his circumstances on Earth, founds himself in endless adventure in a distant star system. Now, in the Jandar of Callisto series, we follow Johnathan Dark to the moon of Jupiter, where rapid-fire, breathless adventures await.

This is one of Carter’s best, on par with Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars and Carson Napier of Venus epics. Escapist like the rest, but why do so many seek to escape into such books? Are the unhappy with reality? Perhaps, but some do so for fun or to relax. It’s no different then sports or television, though certainly more engaging then the latter. For others, it is more deeper (and maybe they don’t even realize this).

Maybe society, or jobs, or other people, have defined their lives or killed their souls. Carter’s books, and others like it, often start with some disaffected earthman being swept away to another world. There he finds his true self, his purpose, his Story.

Carter continues this thread in his Zanthodon books — his answer to Burroughs’ Pellucidar. In some ways, Carter’s is better — not as drawn out and more focused. The hero, Eric Carstairs finds himself in a lost world underneath the Sahara. There he also finds the beautiful Darya, woman of the bronze age. Darya is realized as a strong female character that stands above the stereotype of pulp fiction. Even she, though, is painted as a contrast to the controlling society miles above — free from what shifting winds there try to define women as.

So take the leap, fly to another world, or go deep below, and perhaps you’ll find that ember inside waiting to burst into fire and flame.

thon

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Fly to the Green Star

Man is dissatisfied with his life. The never-ending, ever-repeating, events of daily life threaten to kill him with boredom

Then he finds himself on another world, in one peril after another. And nearly always, he encounters a woman that was meant for him and he must fight for her by conquering unimaginable dangers.

This is the classic foundation of the stories perfected by Edgar Rice Burroughs in lost worlds, hidden jungles and on faraway planets. He managed to keep each creation fresh and exciting, as did Otis Adelbert Kline who followed in his footsteps. Another is the underrated Lin Carter, who’s creation of Thongor we have already reviewed. Now, travel to a distant world in the Green Star series.

Here a crippled man finds a way to send his soul to a faraway world. There he enters the dead Chong the Mighty, and later Karn the Hunter, taking his place in this tropical world where the races live in towering forests. Soon he encounters Niamh the Fair, a princess, who he quickly falls in love with. However, and this is no surprise, before he can forever be her mate, five books full of death-at-every-turn adventure must be overcome.

Why have such stories, so often derisively called “pulp,” endured for decades? They all have the underlying theme of being fed-up with conformity, the status quo and what society has decided life should be like. Sure, they are often told from the perspectives of men, but the women they meet are not fragile flowers.

The desire to be better, to find one’s purpose, is a call that never goes quiet. These are tales of earthlings finding and doing what their own world won’t allow. As I have written before:

Read to be entertained. Read to get lost. Read to be inspired.

thon

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Hunt for Adventure

James Bond. Doc Savage. Indiana Jones. MacGyver. All guys who seemed to have unlimited resources and unlimited adventures. All owe something to the pulp action stories of yesteryear — with Doc Savage being one of the icons of that era.

Now we have Gabriel Hunt.

The Gabriel Hunt series is an attempt to bring back the pulp action hero by the folks at Hard Case Crime who have almost single-handedly brought back this genre (now published by Titan Books). With a premise of Hunt being “backed by the resources of the $100 million Hunt Foundation and armed with his trusty Colt revolver,” how can you go wrong?

The series is fast-paced escapism as Hunt travels the world in search of lost places, deadly ancient mysterious and Bond-esque villains at every turn. And, of course, Hunt is quite the lady’s man.

Unfortunately, the series only went six volumes. Recently re-released (although not with the original pulp-art covers), maybe the Hunt Foundation will return? Perhaps Hunt can save us from too much “heavy handed message fic” — not that we want to check out from the issues of society, but sometimes escapist fiction can teach us a thing or two.

Like that we need a few more Hunts, Savages and MacGyvers in the world.

mcpic

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“Heavy Handed Message Fic” Doomed?

Virtually every book ever written has some sort of message or messages. Even the escapist pulp variety once so popular — and now making a comeback — has some insights for us. What about books that go to the other extreme — authors who wish to overwhelm us with their commentary (and authors who think that’s what books should be)? Are these losing favor? Author Mike Duran seems to be leaning in that direction:

The more I grow as an author and a reader, the less I am interested in “heavy-handed message fic.” Of course, stories have messages. And writing stories for the “betterment of the world” seems like quite a noble endeavor. Nevertheless, when such an intention becomes the over-arching agenda and leads to “heavy handed message fic,” I’m checking out. I read to be entertained, inspired, disturbed, and moved. Nit-picking over an author’s race or gender, the number of ethnicities represented in their books, or the sociological or environmental issues they manage to tackle, seems like a wrong-headed approach to story-telling. Give me good, old-fashioned pulp over pretentious preaching any day.

Entertaining books. What a concept!

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Finding Sexism in Fiction…A Modern Witch Hunt?

There seems to be a trend of searching through books and find reasons to label them sexist. For example, The Lord of the Rings is sexist because there aren’t enough women characters and the ones that are there aren’t doing enough important things. This leads me to ask:

What is the proper woman character quota for novelists? Is the role of someone like Eowyn fighting the Nazgul at a critical moment in the story not important? If a book or film is overwhelming centered on women, is that sexist?

See the overreach of certain critics? We also can suspect that some are looking to push an agenda by convoluting whatever book, film or television show they can. Take a recent criticism of the new show Supergirl in which it was called “sexist” because of her name (girl) and the fact she seem concerned by such things as relationships with men. The show itself smartly ridiculed the problem with the name and shouldn’t the world’s most powerful women be allowed to pick the relationship she wants? When we are oft told to be tolerant and inclusive of everything, only to be told certain relationships are not okay. Is this not a red flag for someone’s agenda? The ultimate irony is that apparently a woman who can do anything is not woman enough.

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