Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#136) -- Contemporary Pulpin'

What are the advantages and disadvantages of contemporizing pulp characters and stories by bringing them into present day or placing them in future time periods?

Did I say Lone Ranger? I meant The Lone Federation Lt.
The biggest disadvantage is the one I mentioned yesterday. You're taking away the familiar element that makes readers comfortable. People who want to read about the Commando Cody want to read about him in the past, not in the future.

On the other hand, as a writer, something as basic as changing the setting or time period can open story opportunities you might not have considered, and if you can take the core of the character, SOME of them can actually translate well. Moving Sherlock Holmes from the Victorian Age to contemporary London might not have seemed like a good idea to some, but Sherlock sure is doing well for the BBC.

But many can't. Or don't. Take your pick. You're more than welcome to pitch a Lone Ranger in the year 2435 with a ray gun and a Martian sidekick, but you'd have one heck of a wall to get readers and fans to climb over. But could it work? Sure, as long as the core of the character isn't shot like a bullet off to the side and discarded. And if your way with words and characters is compelling enough to act as a ladder for the readers stuck at the wall.