Monday, July 7, 2014

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #293 -- New Pulp, Right and Wrong

What is New Pulp doing right? What is New Pulp doing wrong?

Doing right? Consistently bringing new authors to readers, even if the pool is smaller than we'd like it to be. Keeping great characters alive and reviving them in some cases.

Doing wrong? Relying so heavily on nostalgia. Refusing to grow and accept the expansion of pulp that went into hard-boilded into Noir into spy thrillers into etc. Instead of retreading, we should be using the vibe of pulp and going new places with our prose, our characters, our stories, our tone, our very how and why were are publishing pulp. Embrace the action-packed, tight story-telling and get rid of the nostalgic baggage.

I believe pulp should embrace the kind of storytelling it used to, from horror to crime to costumed vigilante to sci-fi. But our sense of nostalgia is giving us publishers who refuse to do anything that doesn't meet a fairly strict definition of "pulp" that limits it to the costumed vigilante or some other kind of vigilante (jungle, etc.). Where are the freaky horror tales? Where are the Bradbury-esque and Asimov-esque sci-fi adventures that don't feature swash-buckling space heroes? Where are hard-core crime thrillers where good and bad get mixed up and the heroes are as dark as the villains they have to take down? And why are publishers not running the gamut of what pulp can be (in any era, not just the old days) and embracing all kinds of story-telling. Granted, a very few publishers of pulp have opened themselves up to the wider definition, but so many still limit themselves and their writers with a purely nostalgic line of clear cut good guys in masks vs. clear cut cookie cutter bad guys.

Of course, the reason a lot of New Pulp publishers focus on the vigilante fiction could be that every other pulpy genre (horror, thrillers, sci-fi, etc.) has "grown into its own and already has an outlet in the publishing world at large, so "new pulp" is getting relegated to that kind of vigilante story in the eyes of a lot of publishing and reading folks, because that kind of story has nowhere else to go but to New Pulp publishers.

So I guess I should change my "doing wrong" to this: What New Pulp is doing wrong currently is not being able to claim and build on the audience based on the genres that fall outside the masked vigilante to increase the audience throughput into all kinds of New Pulp work. In other words, we could be a uniting force for lots of genre fiction instead of bickering about what is and isn't pulp.

Of course your mileage may vary. Just my opinion.