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There’s bit of a push right now for some of us to moderate our tone. The fear is that we’re going drive away potential readers… at the very time when this blog is having it’s best month ever in terms of traffic. The concern is that we might lose our rep for being builders… at […]

Campbellian Science Fiction stories—alternately “men with screwdrivers” or Blue SF—are provably inferior to the Fantasy & Science Fiction stories of the Pulps. Campbell is the Silver Age, the Pulps the Golden Age. This is not because the writers and editors of the Silver Age sucked. They had talent, skill, and imagination in abundance. Unfortunately, what […]

Strong opinions piss people off. Strong opinions, expressed forcefully, piss people off even more. To those offended, I say this: Campbell, confreres, and successors have—for seventy-nine years—pumped out self-serving propaganda that paints the Pulps as worthless. Constant recitation of a litany of calumnies has succeeded in erasing not only the virtues of the Pulps, but […]

Here’s the Great Myth of the Golden Age of Science Fiction: “Science Fiction sucked until the coming of John W. Campbell and the Big Three—Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. Together they swept away the puerile garbage of the Pulps and brought about Science Fiction’s Golden Age.” This is, not to put too fine a point on it, […]

WRIGHT ON: Lost Works The Real Buck Rogers II Let us visit the lost and neglected works of the golden age of science fiction pulps or the silver age of pre-Tolkien fantasy, and see the futures as once they were.  AIRLORDS OF THE HAN. by Philip Francis Nowlan is the second half of the seminal Buck […]

Here is the narrative: Science Fiction was a tiny genre, largely ignored by the general public, a niche of a niche, only appealing to teenage boys… until Star Wars. Then, it got big. Star Wars blew up so big, they had to coin new terms to describe it: summer blockbuster. It was so big, it […]

WRIGHT ON: Lost Works The Real Buck Rogers Inspired by the Appendix N columns of Jeffro Johnson, and by the gift by a generous fan of a complete collection of the Ballantine ‘Adult Fantasy’ line edited by Lin Carter, I would like to invite, in this and future columns, the readers here at the Castalia […]

Anne M. Pillsworth and Ruthanna Emrys over at Tor.com have covered A. Merritt’s “The Woman of the Wood” and their reaction is I think indicative of just how far contemporary fantasy has strayed from the older styles. They look at this story and they have no idea how to categorize it. It’s that different from […]

After reading “Through the Dragon Glass”, this one is a real disappointment. A. Merritt’s lush prose is completely appropriate in describing mysterious otherworldly women and strange, nightmarish landscapes. But the former is completely absent here while the latter is only given a brief treatment here. It’s compelling, though… and it’s stunning to realize that people […]

When I read The Moon Pool, Creep, Shadow, Creep!, and Dwellers in the Mirage last year, I noted such a difference between his first novel and his later ones that I mistakenly assumed that A. Merritt’s writing must have improved drastically over the course of the 1920’s. I could not have been more wrong. Everything […]

This story had the potential to be a masterpiece. The pacing, the cascade of hints that gradually snap into focus, and most of all, a character that really does come across as the “very apotheosis of hatred”– wow! As I was reading it I wanted to compare it to Edgar Allan Poe, even. Then I got […]

For all the flack H. P. Lovecraft gets for being a terrible wordsmith, the guy was not dumb. He knew exactly what makes for a good story. He not explained how to do it in a 1920 article for the United Amateur Press Association, but he also put his ideas into practice so well, he […]