After a couple of weeks of thinking about it, I’ve decided to spin off another blog, for reviewing (and whanot) fiction. Namely science fiction (SF), fantasy, horror, crime, detectives, mysteries, spy novels, thrillers, men’s action-adventure, etc., etc.
After I get done with the 30 Days of TV meme, I’d like to stick with the more gaming- and nerd-related stuff for Logic, and put all the fiction reviews I’ve meant to be doing on here. Needless to say it’ll be catch-as-cat-can, with a random assortment of posts whenever I finish reading something, where with Logic I’ve always tried to do three posts a week.
According to the professors who made me keep blogs during college (for topics as diverse and random as “literary responses to war and peace,” making me wonder if that blog’s still up), the first post is always supposed to be some kind of mission statement. That would be “I’m here to read old, obscure, campy paperbacks and vent my opinions on them.” Namely, those old books which are battered, tattered, yellowed, and/or creased, as old books are wont to be like.
To be honest, I’ve always been a hardback guy. Yeah, it’s kind of anal, and the mania probably dates back to loaning out my Goosebumps books in elementary school, but a good solid hardback will last for frakking ever, while most paperbacks will tear and warp and generally look like shit after reading it a couple times. If I buy a book I know I’ll re-read a bajillion times—George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series comes to mind—I want something that will hold up multiple read-throughs and still look good at the end.
Trades have always been the middle ground; cheaper like a mass-market, sturdier like a real book, something that’ll last more than a couple of re-readings. Something that justifies twice the price of a mass-market, besides having twice the cover space. Trades I can do, since it takes work to beat them out of shape.
But there’s a lot to be said for paperbacks, particularly the vintage kind. First off, these are things meant to be read through (and brutally, I might add), on the bus, at the beach, in the office during a smoke break, whatever. They weren’t intended to last long, which is why they were so cheap. And yet, they survived, and in limited formats, so they can be worth more than chump change. Even in godawful conditions, they can be worth a lot. And while they weren’t exactly high art, and were far from “literary,” they’re still a lot of fun to read. (Much like with comics, I don’t understand those book collectors who insist everything stay in little polypropylene bags, never to be read. Just read the damn things carefully.)
Pulps specifically fill this criteria: for a quarter (or less), you got roughly three to five “novels” (usually novellas or novelets), plus shorts, short-shorts, illustrations, a letters column, and a dozen or so ads for fake teeth and rupture corsets and other comically old-fashioned artefacts. Now, a pulp in meh condition can easily go for $10, and five or ten times that if one of the authors inside is someone recognizable.
Mostly I’m thinking of Ace Doubles here—that wonderful format of two books, hacked-down to fit the size restraints, bound end-to-end as a flip book and sold for $0.35 to $0.95—and the old Avon and Lion and Gold Medal paperbacks, which is what I figure to deal with most. I won’t avoid new books, however, especially if they’re pulp reprints or have awesome, retro-style covers.