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The Pulp Magazines Project Rules

If you paid really close attention, you might have noticed that I added a new link earlier in the week to a fascinating little website: the Pulp Magazines Project. Their goal is to digitize and preserve electronically as many pulp magazines as possible, along with essays, history, print runs, and anything else of interest to pulp magazine enthusiasts. Best of all, the pulp magazines they’ve digitized are available in .pdf format, as well as an online virtual flipbook, which is pretty fun to page through.

So far, they’ve got a good selection of the basics on there, 23 pulp magazines (as of this post) with more on the way. They’re starting out with the important basics, such as Argosy, The Popular Magaine, and All-Story Weekly, before expanding into the niche magazines or going into full print runs. There’s a decent beginning to the genre-pulps, with the three heavy-hitters of science fiction—Amazing, Astounding, and Wonder Stories—along with Adventure, Western Story, and Frontier Stories for westerns and action-adventure, Detective Story for crime/mystery, and Air Stories for the aviation pulps. (If you haven’t guessed, most of the early pulps had a variant of “story” in the name.)

I’m hoping they have a long and productive website free from copyright complaints and lawsuits; so far they haven’t dealt with the big-name magazines (Weird Tales, Doc Savage, The Shadow) that might raise these complaints. Given how it’s shaping up, the site could easily become the go-to reference for pulp history in the next few years.

Armchair Fiction – Science Fiction Reprints

I’ve also just come across another pulp/paperback reprint company, this time focusing on ’30s-’60s public domain science fiction: Armchair Fiction. They have a nice selection of single novels, double novels, and short-story collections, all of which come in the 8″x5.25″ “large paperback” format (e.g., trades). And their design is a point-blank attempt to replicate the early Ace Double colors and layout. Like most pulp reprint companies, two things are standing in my way of purchase:

  1. The price. $12.95 for a 216-page double or 200-page single isn’t that out of the ordinary, and $16.95 for a 320-page collection is comparable to other indie small-print companies, but buying those en masse is way outside my price range. (As with most other small-press reprints, there’s no Kindle/e-reader edition. Not that I have one.)
  2. They’re all public domain, so I’ve already read several of them as they’ve been digitized by Project Gutenberg. So if you have a Kindle, or don’t mind reading things on your computer, you can get a bunch of the same stories for free. With original illustrations. (To be fair, the majority of Armchair Fiction’s novels haven’t been digitized on Gutenberg yet.)

And some more Hard Case Crime

I haven’t been reading much mystery/crime lately—that will change—but I have been keeping up on Hard Case’s lineup for the coming months. In April there’s a Robert Silverberg mystery from the ’50s being reprinted, Blood on the Mink. I’ve been reading a lot of his science fiction lately; I’m interested to read his crime/sleaze novels.

In May, Hard Case returns to hardcovers, doubles, Robert McGinnis, and Lawrence Block, to publish Strange Embrace/69 Barrow Street. It’s a pair of Block’s earlier sleaze paperbacks, bound as a hardcover double, with new McGinnis art. Again, I’m a sucker for doubles, though I still need to get Block’s first and most recent Hard Case hardcover, Getting Off.

In June, there’s a new Joseph Koenig novel, the first in twenty years: False Negative, about a photographer working for Real Detective magazine who stumbles on a murder everyone wants covered up for some reason…

Last, and most interesting, is August’s novel: The Twenty-Year Death. It’s written in three parts, set in 1931, 1941, and 1951 respectively, which follow three separate plots, each telling another piece of a larger mystery. And they’re written in the style of a famous author from each decade, too. It sounds downright fascinating, and if its author Ariel S. Winter can pull it off, I’ll be rightly impressed.

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