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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 […]

In the far-flung grimdark future, the Emperor of Mankind sought to unite the fractured and isolated colonies of humanity under his rule. To help in his plans, he created twenty sons, the Primarchs, genetically-engineered demigods who would serve as enlightened governors and inspired generals. To each, he gave a legion of space marines, medically augmented […]

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 […]

Last week was #SpaceOperaWeek, so I’m a bit late to the party. Still, any time is a good time for space opera! Being a relative newcomer to both Appendix N and the pulps is a mixed bag. On the one hand, oh man – what an embarrassment of riches! Of what I’ve been able to […]

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 […]

After pulp fiction died out in the United States, other countries continued the tradition of publishing cheap and entertaining stories of adventure. In France, the pulp spirit contributed to bande dessinée comics such as Valerian and Laureline. Japan married the manga art style to pulp adventures aimed at adolescents and created the light novel. In China, pulp-style […]

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 […]

The Last Kingdom is a historical fiction series based on the Saxon Stories novels by Bernard Cornwell. The first season was produced by BBC, with Netflix co-producing the second. Set in the 9th century during the viking invasions of the British Isles, the story follows the exploits of a fictional noble Saxon taken by the invaders […]

Like most here, I’m a fan of HP Lovecraft’s stories.  The imagination is astounding and the description vivid and memorable.  However, when I first read these tales a few years ago, I was most impressed by Lovecraft’s technical writing prowess.  He had a better, more articulate command of language than many serious dramatic writers possess, […]

Appendix N entry Hiero’s Journey by Sterling Lanier is one of my favorite books.  A thrilling masterpiece of fast-paced creativity and high adventure from start to finish. Its protagonist is Hiero Desteen, a powerful telepathic Christian warrior riding a “morse”, a mutation of a moose and a horse, in a post-nuclear wasteland filled with oddities, horrors, and […]