Thursday, February 2, 2017

Seven Traits of the Pulp Revolution

In response to some misconceptions circling about the Pulp Revolution, I've taken it upon myself to write a few comments on the movement.

Disclaimer: This is my own perspective on the Pulp Revolution. Others with greater claim to the hashtag may have differing opinions.

1. Pulp Revolution is not New Pulp
They're doing their own thing. That's fine. We're not trying to claim their authors, style, or successes. At a basic level, New Pulp focuses primarily on the aesthetics of early 20th-century pulp magazines, while Pulp Revolution seeks to imitate the themes. I won't say more about New Pulp because I'm not trying to define them. I just want it clear that we're separate movements with separate goals and very little member overlap.

2. Pulp Revolution is not a Puppy movement
We are not Sad or Rabid Puppies. We're the people that saw what they were doing, and said, "less activism, more content." I don't care about awards, Hugo or Dragon, and while some authors/bloggers involved with PulpRev have had past connections with Puppies, we're all pretty tired of that now.

2a. Castalia House Blog is not Vox Day.
The bigggest PulpRev hub at the moment is at Castalia House Blog. While this may seem to contradict point 2 above, CHB is very much Jeffro's creature ever since the Appendix N series. Note the recent spate of articles critical of Campbellian SF, with a Submissions page on the same site that calls for a return of Campbellian SF.

3. Pulp Revolution is a Superversive movement

We want people to feel good. We're in love with happy endings and we're happy when characters fall in love. I believe there's meaning in our life and struggles, and as an author I definitely make sure there's meaning in my characters' lives and struggles. We want to make stories that make you feel a lot more than, "huh. That was something."

4. Pulp Revolution does not care what you write
We don't. Completely voluntary movement. Sure, we might mock what you write, and of course we'll produce things you can mock, and all of us will have good laughs. We're not particularly seeking recruits. We won't try to convince you that everything we write is particularly good.

5. Pulp Revolution is trying to rehash the good parts of the pulp era

What we're inspired by are the themes, heroism, romance, adventure; and the freedom, the genre-blindness. Ray guns and human aliens not necessary. We're inspired by the punchy style, the compulsive readability that made even formulaic stories interesting, and anyway, what could a modern author do that's more pulpy than creating a stream of hastily-produced, fast-paced short stories and novellas and self-publishing them on Amazon?
Anyway, pulp fiction drew on a wide, wide list of influences available at the time, and we're drawing on the even deeper fountains available to us. Many things we call PulpRev won't be immediately recognizable as such. Hopefully, they'll just come across as fun and satisfying.

6. Pulp Revolution seeks to polish forgotten gems as well as produce our own

Maybe you're intimately familiar with A. Merritt, Leigh Brackett, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. That's really neat if you are! We'd love to read your reviews of them. The blogger side of PulpRev, under His Sovereign Majesty Jeffro Johnson, is seeking new things to love, new vistas from which to view SFF. If you really have found things forgotten since 1980, make sure to let us know.

7. Pulp Revolution rejects sycophantism and triumphalism
We recognize the heavy need for criticism had by any literary movement. We're not part of any institutions bigger than Castalia House Blog, we don't currently have a literary journal, so we're the best critics we've got. An often-forgotten aspect of the pulps was their refinement of authors who became famous much later. And a lot of them had some fun, made some money, and never wrote again. Some of them rose to greatness.

I hope I'm from the second group. We all do. My great-grandfather was from the first. A family legend holds that he once sold a story to a cowboy magazine. I can't find any trace of it, but a family legend's better than nothing.

The bottom line is we want to write things that we'd want to read, and we're all pretty enamored of Appendix N and the pulp masters right now.


  1. Spot on. I'd also add we're generally too busy with pir own thing to spend much time engaging with other movements like New Pulp or the bowel movement that is pink slime fiction. Too busy making content and discovering quality old works to hang out with the downers and pessimists of other styles.

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  3. As someone who has been and is identified with the New Pulp, I'm interested in your distinction between Pulp Revolution and New Pulp. Your idea that Pulp Revolution is more interested in themes than aesthetics is interesting, and I can think of some New Pulp authors to which that observation applies. Speaking for myself, however, I'm very much interested in the thematics of good vs. evil, heroism, romance, and sacrifice for the greater good, and I like to think that is reflected in my work.

    1. What may be a more profitable to think of in terms of distinction is our lineage. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm getting a lot of comic book, action movie vibes from what little New Pulp I've pulled up on Amazon - could it be that you're more directly working in the pulp tradition? Whereas PulpRev is a movement of discovery, of people who followed science fiction and fantasy from where it went in the 80s, or just picked it up themselves from what was in the school library.

      Just throwing ideas around.

  4. Also, I might note that it wasn't until recently that I even realized there was a Pulp Revolution movement, which might go to support the idea that there isn't much crossover between the New Pulp and Pulp Revolution groups.