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Not too long ago I finally got through Sterling Lanier’s Hiero’s Journey. Although it undeniably put forth some creative and inspiring ideas, I wasn’t overly impressed. Jeffro’s noted that the book was one of the primary influences of Gamma World, and though I’ve never played it, reading the basic description of the game’s setting is indeed evocative […]

In my weekly column, I usually examine good writing.  However, one can learn as much through the mistakes of others and what to avoid as their successes.  Certain aspects of bad writing have been with us for centuries.  Note how dreadful but eerily similar a piece of popular chick-lit from the 19th century, Dora Thorne, is to […]

My own column from two weeks ago got me thinking recently.  Has there ever been a good, nevermind great science fiction novel that did not feature a strong, unique hero?  We’re not considering short stories or novellas, as some don’t even have significant protagonists, but full-length works. At first, my mind couldn’t come up with an […]

Say what you will about the pulps, but even their most dogged detractor would admit they produced damn memorable heroes.  Tarzan is one of the most influential characters of the 20th century. Conan is still iconic and beloved to this day.  And a slew of others, like The Shadow, Red Sonja, and Doc Savage had […]

Leigh Brackett is something of a staple here at Castalia House and for the Pulp Revolution crowd at large, but I must admit it’s taken me quite a while to get to her stuff. I’ve seen Alex’s reviews, of course, and I’ve noted her constant exclusion by the “women have historically been excluded from SFF!!1” […]

If you run across one of Barry Sadler’s Casca books you could do worse than picking up a copy. Casca is a Roman legionnaire that had the misfortune to draw duty on the wrong day and was assigned to the crucifixion detail for Jesus and two thieves. His  losing streak continues with a low dice roll […]

We conclude our discussion of the influence of pulp on Philip Jose Farmer with a look at his Wold Newton family. In Tarzan Alive, Farmer links his favorite British lord to dozens of fictional characters, many from the pulps, including Sherlock Holmes, Bulldog Drummond, The Shadow, Sam Spade, Nayland Smith of Dr. Fu-Manchu fame, James Bond, Professor […]

Tarzan as imagined by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a vivid hero that epitomizes full-blooded adventure and influenced generations of writers.  The Tarzan of Jose Philip Farmer is better; the ultimate, indomitable hero and my favorite fictional character. As we noted in last week’s column, Farmer was utterly fascinated with Tarzan and wrote several different pastiches […]

It’s often been asked what later science fiction writers the pulp masters influenced.  I wager there were many, even when it’s not directly obvious from the works themselves.  For instance, the adventurousness of Heinlein’s stories and his classic heroes remind me strongly of the best pulp authors. But speculation aside, of all the great science […]

My series of conversations with Cirsova authors concludes with Michael Tierney.  Anyone doubting the abundance of great science fiction, fantasy and even horror needs to get acquainted with the Cirsova crew.  I wish I had more time to interview all of the Cirsova team but look forward to exploring the stories of the authors I missed. A […]

I don’t profess to be an expert on the excellent Robert E Howard.  In fact, it was over two decades after Conan the Barbarian became a favorite character of mine that I read Howard’s stories about the Cimmerian!  My first exposure to the pulp titan was in the form of Saturday morning cartoon Conan the […]

Last week, I wrote an observation about Lovecraft’s works.  In the comments, several readers mentioned The Shadow over Innsmouth, a tale I had embarrassingly not read at the time.  I rectified this error soon after. And wow, what an amazing story!  An imaginative gem from beginning to end, with steadily mounting tension, an inspired explanation to the […]