A Column Explaining, Discussing and Exploring New Pulp
By Tommy Hancock
Definition is an odd thing. In a world where reality is supposed to be tangible, explainable, touchable and feelable, one would think that everything could be defined. That the rancid looking lunch special at the greasy spoon next to your office, the food sitting in front of you now, can be described and detailed in a way that tells everyone what it is. That the odd little knick knack your third ex twice removed picked you up on his/her only trip to Bali– you know, the one with the cavernous eyes and diminutive carved rock body that sits in the dark corner of your bookshelf– could easily be studied, analyzed, and then its exact properties detailed word for word so the entire world knows exactly what it is.
Man, wouldn’t that be a boring world to live in.
Some people would like to believe things are simply what they appear to be. That a rock is a rock. That the sky is blue due to some process concerning condensation and such. That everything around us can be clearly delineated. Fortunately in the plane of existence in which we all interact and collide with another, there is a variable thrown into the cosmic equation that keeps that black-and-whiteness from happening. An inconsistency that brings up the possibility that a rock may be actually a mystical creature lying in wait for just the right moment to assert itself. That the blue plate special you can’t decide if you should eat or trash may be crawling with nanites that will convert you into a metallic muscled automaton upon consumption. That the sky is actually only blue because the intergalactic zookeepers watching over our planet want it to be blue. Or that the little artifact hidden behind your unread copies of Twain and Dickens is actually an ancient goddess’ relic and some guy wearing a fedora and brandishing a whip could at any given moment explode into your living room, a dozen Nazi zombies behind him.
What is this variable? What is this grand inconsistency? Why, it’s you of course. And me. And all the rest of humanity. Yes, the very beings who on one hand feel the need to explain everything down to its tiniest microbe are the same people who can’t help but imagine that that microbe might contain a universe all its own. It’s also the same population that, regardless if they know it or not, give life to the stories, adventures, tales, and menaces that make up what some have called Pulp. And what some are now producing that we’ll gladly call New Pulp.
A column ago, I gave a definition of what Pulp is, as defined analytically and somewhat distantly by a group of New Pulp creators (What, you expect me to make it easy on you and reprint it here? No, this is self-advertising, go back and read my first column to get all the goodies!). The intent of providing that was to follow it up with a layman’s explanation of what New Pulp is, how it is the same, yet stands out from the age that fathered it. As I set out to do that, however, I realized something. Some, as I myself do, refer to Pulp as a genre. Others say it’s a methodology. Still others call it a style and some even say its more of a feeling, an emotion, something that just happens. So, although the previously printed paragraph explaining Pulp holds true, I believe, defining it in a nicely square box so a reader will clearly get it is an extremely difficult enterprise.
So, what to do? How does one climb this mountain of attempting to outline something that is a flaming butterfly to one beholder and a lit torch to another? Simple. You take the observers to the flame, offer what few words you can muster, and let them decide what to make of it. Which is what we’re about to do.
The passages that will follow are all paragraphs picked from various New Pulp publications available online and at bookstores near you now. Why are these New Pulp? Because they fit the definition of Pulp that I discussed before, yes. Because they are new stories written by modern writer, yes. But also because they have a feel, a link, a connection to the rapidly written, wonderfully imaginative tales written by the masters before them. You bet. So, here you are, New Pulpsters. I’ve given you stark, bare words to describe New Pulp…now let’s have the blood and guts, the life juices racing through literary veins and making the heart of imagination beat….
Written by Wayne Reinagel
Published by Knightraven Studios 2010
The two men clashed as steel met steel. Sparks flashed as razor-sharp arms sliced through the air and were deflected by the crowbar, Doc’s makeshift weapon. The intense battle continued for several long seconds before both men retreated. They slowly circled one another, searching for a flaw or mistake by the other. Once more, they sparred, slashing swords obstructed by the crowbar. This encounter lasted slightly longer and with a different outcome. One of the heavy swords had sliced through the chain mail vest, and a rivulet of blood traced down Titan’s chest.
Bast gave Doc Titan a knowing, over-confident smile. Titan swiped a bead of sweat from above his eye, prompting Bast’s attack. The assassin drove his left arm forward, hoping to impale his victim on the sharp end. Little did he know that Titan had planned his movement to entice this reaction from Bast, and allowed the crowbar to drop from his hands. Inches from his own chest, Doc stopped the point of the sword from advancing further by clasping the broad blade between his palms. Despite the fact that the men were nearly the same size, Bast could not force the sword toward his opponent. Titan held it in an unbreakable, viselike grip. Drawing back, the assassin brought the other sword forward, designed to pierce Doc’s abdomen. Titan released the first blade, allowing the second to pass between his ribs and arm. With a solid ‘thunk’, the blade firmly embedded itself deeply into the wooden frame that had supported the Seablade only moments earlier.
Before Bast could move, Titan gripped the first blade once more between his palms. The assassin struggled briefly before Doc released the sword and slammed his wrists together, one on either side of the blade, snapping the sword at the base. Titan then ducked below the arm and took one step forward, before driving his elbow into the other man’s neck, at the shoulder line. Bast’s skull smashed into the wooden upright timber with such force, the thick post was cracked in half. He slumped forward, supported solely by his entrapped sword arm.
Written by Andrew Salmon
Published by Airship 27 Productions
Available at iPulpFiction
Although the blow only fazed X for a second, it had dislodged one of the nose filters he wore against the gas.
For a lethal moment, X inhaled the knockout gas!
The plane continued to hurtle downwards. The windscreen was filled with patchwork farmer’s fields. F
ighting grogginess, his actions slowed, X fumbled with the controls. His vision swam, his limbs would not obey his commands.
The ground loomed.
From an upcoming work by Jeff Deischer
The “Scare Devil”, as it was called, had been haunting Weeping Hollow for as long as white men had inhabited the area. The place was so named for the weird, high-pitched moaning-like sounds that filtered throughout the area. The noise was reminiscent of a woman weeping. This, modern men would tell you, was caused by the wind. Locals had a different idea. They blamed the Scare Devil.
The appearance of the Scare Devil varied from account to account, depending on the teller. Some said he was a ghostly figure floating menacingly throughout the Hollow. Others swore that he had the countenance of Old Nick himself, replete with horns and hooves.
Written by Ron Fortier
Published by Airship 27 Productions
Walker knew he had to run. Looking down at Brother Bones, he was intrigued by the bone-shaped porcelain mask. More importantly what was hid behind it. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and looking around at the closed apartment doors, his curiosity grew. It would only take a second to lift it up and see what no one else in Cape Noire had ever beheld. Imagine the tales he could tell. The man who not only finished Brother Bones, but also unmasked the bastard. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Walker went to one knee and using his free hand, took hold of the ivory white mask. Odd, there was no string affixed to it. Strange. How did it stay on? He pulled it off and looked down at the face of Bones. The overhead bulb gave off just enough light for the true horror to be seen. A horror beyond comprehension, a rotting effigy locked forever in a process of eternal corruption.
Walker’s mind began to unravel, unable to deal with the abomination that was Bones.
“NOOOO…” he screamed. Then Brother Bones opened his eyes and Walker’s mind crumbled completely.
From Vampires Versus Werewolves
Written by Tommy Hancock
Published by Age of Adventure
Remus fell hard against the stage, a ribbon of curses flying from his fanged mouth as Romulus erupted from capture. In the seconds that Romulus leaped from the post holding him at his brother, eyes, both terrified human and mystified vampire, across the theater watched as reality shifted for them once again forever.
Romulus’s eyes narrowed, skin on his face pulling back tight as his nose and mouth contorted, words getting lost in barks and howls, a snout dominating his once handsome face. Hair rippled across his body like fire feeding on gasoline, thick, coarse fur springing up through his skin. His muscles and limbs throbbed with savage power, the already large form almost doubling in size in mid air. As he struck the stage where his brother lay, nothing remained of what had been Troy Romney, except a remnant of the slacks he wore still about his waist. Now nothing human remained. A massive beast, its sienna colored fur sleek and thick, ears laid back on its monstrous, yet noble head. No man remained. Only legend. Myth. Only Romulus, the Wolf King.
Romulus opened his mouth wide, his teeth ready to tear at his brother’s own rotted flesh. As he swiped at Remus’s neck, he choked, tasting nothing but acrid black smoke. Romulus sat back on his haunches, growling angrily at being denied due to his brother’s cowardice. He looked around furtively, his nostrils flaring madly. So much blood, sweat, fear, death and his entire body cursed to be attuned to it all, Romulus was drowning, awash in sensations both pleasurable and deplorable. And Remus was toying with him. Immaterial, vanishing as a gray fog. Nothing left, except ridiculing laughter and words to match.
By Nancy Hansen
Coming from Pro Se Productions
Roshanna saw her opening and yanked Fitch off his feet. He went down hard, temporarily knocking the wind out of him. As he pulled his knives and the sheriff drew his sword, she tossed the thick cloak over Fitch, dipping to bang his head with one heavily-laden bucket as she moved past, and that stopped his struggling for a bit.
She swung the full buckets back and forth at the sheriff, advancing as he retreated backwards toward the side of drawbridge over the moat. He lunged but she caught his weapon arm full-on with the force of the loaded left bucket, knocking the blow aside and splashing them both. He sputtered and cursed but Roshanna never paused. The next bucket swung across caught him full in the face, and he coughed and gurgled as streams and gobs of the foul contents dumped all over him, soaking his very expensive outfit. His nose bled all down his beard and shirtfront, adding injury to the insult.
“RUN!” she yelled to Brother Adrian, who had retreated further down the drawbridge toward the castle as first one and then the other spinning projectile full of putrid filth came his way.
By Chris and William Carney
Published by Wild Cat Books
Holt parked his armored black sedan in the alley behind the club. Slipping out from behind the wheel, he donned his black hat and crimson mask. He examined the rear door to the club, considering it as an entrance. He was gauging the chances of his acid solution eating through the lock when a faint staccato drumming from within the club reached his ears. His trained ear recognized the sound of gunfire from inside. He needed a faster entrance.
Deciding quickly, he scaled up a fire escape on the building beside the club, accessing the rooftop in moments. In the middle of the roof, he spied the huge skylight that formed part of the ceiling of the club below. Beneath the glass, he saw the flashes of gunfire, the crack of weapons coming louder now. He ran to the edge and looked down into a battlefield. Someone had found Louis Rosenthal before him.
There, a few scrapings and samplings from just the tip of what New Pulp has to offer. Take that with the definition discussed previously and you have the beginning of what New Pulp is. For the rest, return next week as I step off into that controversial chasm of ‘What New Pulp is, What it isn’t, and What it Might Be.’ And until then, enjoy our second chapter of our New Pulp serialized story.
And have faith- PULP NEVER DIES.
Come read Darkness, Spreading Its Wings of Black: Chapter II: Men of Power (An Adventure Starring Lazarus Gray & The Rook) written by Barry Reese on our companion Pulp Fiction section.
Tommy Hancock is a New Pulp author, publisher, podcaster,
convention organizer, and all around New Pulp supporter. A Partner in Pro Se Productions, Tommy has been published by various New Pulp Publishers and is currently at work on projects for Moonstone, Airship 27, and other companies. Tommy is the organizer of the New Pulp Movement and also is the Editor in Chief of All Pulp and the creator and one of the co-hosts on PULPED! The Official New Pulp Podcast