Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Exciting News from Pro Se Productions


Pro Se Productions, Publisher of New Pulp books, anthologies, and magazines, announces today that the October issue of its magazine, PRO SE PRESENTS, will be a special issue featuring the novella, THE HUNTER ISLAND ADVENTURE by well known New Pulp author Wayne Reinagel.

Never before in print, THE HUNTER ISLAND ADVENTURE features characters from Reinagel's INFINITE HORIZONS Universe and his PULP HEROES trilogy.  "Infinite Horizons," according to Reinagel, "explores the secret lives and revealing the unrecorded adventures of the greatest heroes and villains to ever walk the Earth.

"In the worlds of Infinite Horizons, the question is explored, what if the Victorian and Pulp era adventures actually occurred in our universe. And taking into account all of the events that have happened since that time, how would this have altered the pulp heroes from the 30’s and 40’s? The answers to these questions are presented in the first trilogy of Infinite Horizons novels entitled Pulp Heroes.

"Pulp Heroes is an epic adventure, spanning two centuries in time and linking the incredible lives of history’s most popular Victorian Age adventurers of the 1800’s with the greatest action heroes of the Pulp Era and an assortment of well-known, real-life figures."

THE HUNTER ISLAND ADVENTURE is a story about Pam Titan, Doc Titan's cousin and an adventurer in her own right, and three associates who end up on a wild adventure all their own.  Although available in ebook form, this will be the first time that the story has appeared in print.

"We are more than honored," Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions says, "to be the home for Wayne's novella.  Known for his epic storytelling and adventures that span decades, even centuries, full of his own creations as well as reinterpretations of real historical figures and literary characters, Wayne also proves he's extremely capable in telling gripping tales in a short form.  And you an find out how capable in PRO SE PRESENTS #3 in October."

More information will follow as the release date nears for PRO SE PRESENTS #3 in October!

Pro Se Productionshttp://www.proseproductions.com


Monday, September 26, 2011

Four Bullets for Dillon (Now available!)

Four Bullets for Dillon is now available!

From Dillon's own blog:
"A lost city in the Cambodian jungles run by a pint-sized tyrant wearing a gem-encrusted belt buckle; Beautiful women who lure Dillon and his rival, rock musician Sly Gantlet, into a clash of alpha males and a deadly set-up; a deceitful queen and a backstabbing friend; a quest for an evil artifact linked to the betrayer of Christ. Four Bullets for Dillon includes four hard to find and never before seen stories ripped from the life of global adventurer and instigator, Dillon."
Four Bullets for Dillon  includes the story, Dead Beat in La Esca, that was co-written by Derrick Ferguson and Joel Jenkins and features Dillon's first encounter with Sly Gantlet. It is a hilarious cross-over not to be missed!

And remember that with proof of purchase of Four Bullets for Dillon you'll also get the 10 page illustrated "Dillon And The Escape From Tosegio." Details can be found here.

Get it at Amazon.com
or 
Get it via Pulpwork Press.


Just get it.

Reprint: The Lost World (Old Books)

The following article is reprinted from the Old School Heretic blog. It might have some bearing on a possible New Pulp-oriented project or two. The original still available article is here: http://oldschoolheretic.blogspot.com/2011/04/old-books-lost-world.html

Shifting this article over here to Pulp Magnet from Old School Heretic is the first step towards establishing a new feature focusing on Penny Dreadfuls, Dime Novels, Old Books and the like, with an especial focus on their connection to the New Pulp movement.
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An interesting book by an even more interesting author. The Lost World takes you from London's more fashionably scientifically-oriented drawing rooms and smoke-filled Explorer's Clubs packed with hunting trophies and testosterone, and drops you right in the midst of the Amazon on a plateau (not Leng...though one does wonder...) where the dinosaurs still roam and not a discouraging word is allowed as all must maintain a suitable stiff upper lip. And a loaded high-powered hunting rifle.

When you first look for Sir Arthur's novel, should you ever decide to go do such a thing, you'll find that there are quite a few other entries for Lost World out there. The Lost World page at Wikipedia is rather useful for a jumping-off point to go hare-ing about looking into all the various other forms and versions of the Lost World concept/trope. In fact the Lost World theme is an entire genre unto itself. And it's a very fun one to go exploring as a reader and literarily-excavating as an exercise in data-mining and research as an author/game master/game designer as well. There is also a list of Non-Fictional Lost Worlds at Wikipedia, which we only discovered by chance. That might come in handy down the road...

The Plateau within the Amazon where the Lost World takes place might have been inspired by Mount Roraima, or the tepui or table-top mountains found in South America. It is interesting, and potentially useful to a worldbuilder to take a look at the page on Table (landforms) at Wikipedia in order to get a feel for all the options that are available for developing these sorts of terrains and geographies in a fictional or game-oriented setting. There are such things as tuyasmesaspotrerosbuttesplateaus, and Fluvial Terraces to consider, many of which we've been adapting for use on Riskail. Plateaus have a lot to offer in terms of creating isolated communities, pockets of lost civilizations or lost races, providing niche ecologies of monstrous survivals from primordial epochs, etc. They're well worth considering in your setting. Look at Blair's excellent Iridium Plateau at Planet Algol for an example.

For $30 you can get your hands on Bradley Deane's article: Imperial Barbarians: Primitive Masculinity in Lost World Fiction via Cambridge Journals Online, or you could save the beer money and go over to Jessica Amanda Salmonson's amazingly erudite and wonderfully useful site Aunt Violet's Book Museum and click on the links she provides to her compilations of reviews and notes regarding various forms of antiquated literature including her very handy Lost Race Check-list, her excellent essay A Meditation on Lost Race Literature, and her piece on Mr. Machen is rather interesting as well--though we'll be getting to Machen soon enough in another post, probably several.

Ahem.

Professor Challenger, the star of the show in the novel The Lost World is one of those daring, dashing, intrepid two-fisted  Man Of Science who also happen to be very handy with a rifle. Claude Rains played Prof. Challenger in the 1960 movie (directed by Irwin Allen and including a lot of his infamously  over-recycled footage from his various TV productions), John Rhys Davies took up the role in the 1992 adaptation, and Bob Hoskins took over in the 2001 version. The character is right up there with Alan Quartermain, Carnacki, Sherlock Holmes and Lord Greystoke.

Here is how Professor Challenger was described initially in The Lost World:
His appearance made me gasp. I was prepared for something strange, but not for so overpowering a personality as this. It was his size, which took one's breath away-his size and his imposing presence. His head was enormous, the largest I have ever seen upon a human being. I am sure that his top hat, had I ventured to don it, would have slipped over me entirely and rested on my shoulders. He had the face and beard, which I associate with an Assyrian bull; the former florid, the latter so black as almost to have a suspicion of blue, spade-shaped and rippling down over his chest. The hair was peculiar, plastered down in front in a long, curving wisp over his massive forehead. The eyes were blue-grey under great black tufts, very clear, very critical, and very masterful. A huge spread of shoulders and a chest like a barrel were the other parts of him which appeared above the table, save for two enormous hands covered with long black hair. This and a bellowing, roaring, rumbling voice made up my first impression of the notorious Professor Challenger.
Now that's one heck of an initial impression. They don't build them quite like that anymore. Perhaps they ought to. Haven't we suffered through enough morally ambiguous whiny weaklings? Where's the great grand-daughter of Professor Challenger? What's she up to these days? Is anyone writing about her adventures? They ought to be. We'd read them. In a heart-beat. Hey, whatever happened to Section Zero--there was a female descendant of Professor Challenger in that super-group...too bad Gorilla Comics folded...maybe we should further develop a few other descendants of the good Professor, possibly as special or Displaced NPCs for various nefarious gaming purposes...the idea does have a lurid sort of Wold Newton allure to it.


You can find out more about the further adventures of the original Professor Challenger, as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the following links: The Poison BeltThe Land of MistWhen the World Screamed, and The Disintegration Machine.


You can read these stories by clicking over to these sites: The Poison Belt at Ye Old Library or Project GutenbergThe Land of Mist at Classic Literature LibraryWhen the World Screamed at the Classic Literature Library, and The Disintegration Machine, again at the Classic Literature Library site.

The handy Wikipedia page on Professor Challenger also has a lengthy list of Other Author's uses and abuses of Sir Arthur's bombastic master of the direct application of scientifically correct brute force that you can examine and use to rationalize your own use of the guy--or his offspring--in your own stories or game scenarios. He is in the Public Domain, so the issue of canonical depictions and authorized interpretations are not only moot, they're spurious and silly. Anything past Doyle is open to question and completely disposable and eminently dis-regardable.  None of it is necessary nor required to be adhered to, nor adopted. It's all subject to your personal veto or emendation, or adaptation depending on how you want to deal with other people's potentially copyrighted sub-creations and spin-offs. Personally, we tend to opt to ignore everything past the original source materials and forge ahead along our own lines, in our own direction. You decide what works best for you.

The Lost World is an amazingly fun romp through the jungle-like backwash of discredited scientific theories that were once taken seriously by very, very earnest authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a great example of how to further elaborate and expand upon out-moded and exploded, spurious or superceded scientific theories such as the perennial Bierce-Machen-Lovecraft crowd-pleaser about primordial survivals, PreformationismAristotelian PhysicsLuminiferous Aether,  or the Hollow Earth, amongst a plethora of other debunked and discarded theories left lying broken and abandoned along the minefields of scientific orthodoxy and its rigorous enforcement of conformity, compliance and circumspection.

Crack-pottery and pseudoscience can be a writer's and a game designer's and a game master's best friend. All you need is a good guide like Professor Challenger or his grand-niece to lead you through the dense undergrowth to some of the Lost Worlds that have been just waiting to be re-discovered and explored. Just be sure to pack plenty of extra ammo and don't forget your tooth-brush.

There are a lot of other Old Books out there worth taking a look at--and we've just gotten started...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reprint: Gladiator

'Picking Seeds From the Pulp: Gladiator' originally appeared at the Old School Heretic blog on April 22, 2011. It has been reprinted here from Old School Heretic as it appears to have some bearing on a few different New Pulp projects...
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Gladiator is a pulp novel first published in 1930 by Philip Wylie. Yeah, that Philip Wylie -- the guy who also wrote When Worlds Collide. Gladiator was Wylie's third novel (a drastic revision of his first, Titan, actually)  and came out nearly eight years before Siegel & Shuster invented Ubermensch Superman for National/DC. In 1940 Wylie threatened to sue DC & Siegel for infringing/plagiarizing Gladiator, and even though Siegel had reviewed Gladiator in 1932 for his own fanzine, he claimed to not have been influenced or inspired by Wylie's character in developing Superman. Siegel even signed an affidavit to that effect. Whatever the truth of the matter, the case never went anywhere and Wylie seems to have dropped the matter. Speculation is that he did so because both Siegel & Schuster were in the midst of other lawsuits and in financial straits. Maybe that is so. The whole mess faded from public view fairly quickly. Most people forgot all about the brouhaha. But others haven't. Many believe Wylie's novel to have been the original impetus for Siegel & Schuster's very popular (and very litigious) character. This entry over at the Superman Story site is a quick example of someone still carrying the banner of the Gladiator's lost cause forwards into the modern day. They also have a very quick description of Gladiator's Hugo Danner that'll make it fairly obvious that Superman had a predecessor in print eight years his senior. Just saying...


So who is Hugo Danner? Good question. Philip Wylie was quite a bit ahead of the curve in 1930 (or 1926 when he later claimed to have first written the manuscript for Gladiator...). He had Hugo's papa, the not so mad scientist Professor Abednego Danner of Colorado invent a serum that he then injects into his pregnant wife. Really. It's another bit of science fictional spousal abuse just like in The Inmost Light all over again.


The serum doesn't kill the unborn child, nor the wife. Which is probably a darn good thing as it would have led to an investigation and some serious questions regarding Professor Abednego Danner's sanity and highly unethical methods, to say the least. Fortunately for little Hugo Danner, he is born with the proportional strength of an ant and the leaping ability of a grasshopper. Oh and he's bulletproof the way that Achilles was invulnerable to blades, etc., and that's without getting dipped in any smelly old river, and without the whole vulnerable heel thing either.


At first he seems like a lucky, lucky bastard...



...but in truth Hugo Danner is one morose, depressed and frustrated guy. He lacks confidence, has no real direction in life and to be quite frank, he's a real waste of superpowers. But then that was Wylie's intention. He wasn't interested in the colorful tights nor the super competent crime-fighters like The Shadow, Doc Savage, etc. He was looking at things from a more humanistic angle--how possessing such powers would remove a person from the commonplace in a way that might make it difficult for them to adapt, or to find their place in the world.

When some costumed schmuck starts prattling on and on about how they'd like to lead a normal life--it's partly Wylie's fault, and more importantly unrealistic bullshit bad writing, but it's what the unwashed masses expect, so the same old slop gets tossed out to them by the bucket-full.

Hugo Danner has a few modest adventures, most of which you see revised and made a bit more colorful and exciting or at least interesting in the early run of Superman.

In the end Hugo goes up on a mountain top and asks God in a weirdly snivelly manner for some advice and gets struck dead by a lightning bolt.

Boom.

Dead.

Wow.

What a harsh bit of feedback indeed.


But Gladiator's Hugo Danner hasn't quite gone quietly into the good night. There is a very good website at the  Hugodanner.com domain, devoted to Gladiator essays and seems to be one of the best possible resources for all things Gladiator out there. You can read Wylie's Original Introduction, read Will Murray's thought provoking essay on Gladiator, check out a very cryptic inscription in Wylie's own hand, or view a gallery of Book Covers for Gladiator's various editions. There's an amusing Q&A page as well, but we're not sure if the site is still offering $5 for Gladiator essays. But if you're really interested in doing something along those lines, please do contact them--might as well get a $5 check than not...

You can acquire a free copy of the full text of Gladiator at Many Books or Archive(dot)Org -- it isn't old enough to show up on Gutenberg just yet.

A Few Gladiator Links


Perhaps more ignominious than just being ignored, plagiarized paid uncredited homage to, would be having the text converted into a B-grade comedy. This actually happened to Gladiator. They made a comedy out of the Gladiator novel starring Joe E. Brown in 1938IMDb can give you some more details, if you're interested. You just can't make this stuff up.


In 1976 Roy Thomas adapted Gladiator for Marvel Comics in Marvel Preview #9 as 'Man God.' Then Thomas developed "Iron Munro" for DC as a Retcon-doppleganger for the editorially-erased Golden Age Superman. Iron Munro was one part the classic Street & Smith character and another part Wylie's Gladiator, but went on to become fairly well ignored as his own character. It turns out that Hugo Danner (Wylies' Gladiator) was Iron Munro's estranged father. Which was a very nice little precedent to be setting...

It was also very cool of Roy Thomas to have Iron Munro encounter Georgia Challenger in the course of his efforts to locate and learn what happened to his father, the ill-fated, whiny and supposedly lightning-blasted Gladiator, Hugo Danner. That's right. Arn, Iron Munro, meets a living, breathing, beautiful and butt-kicking grand-daughter of Professor Edward Challenger while investigating a secret government project (like one of those other projects all those scientists might have been working on in the secret underground complex featured in The Time Tunnel perhaps?)

Roy Thomas is so much fun.

Howard Chaykin and Russ Heath teamed-up to revise/adapt Wylie's Gladiator in the Wildstorm comics 4-part miniseries which might still be available at eBay for around $10. There isn't much available on this series, even with Chaykin & Heath having been attached to it. The mini-series just seemed to drain away into obscurity, which is very strange given the major talent involved in its creation.

Hugo Danner, the Gladiator, is a flawed, bungled and botched mess of a guy who just happens to have gained superpowers because his daddy was an unethical prick who injected his mother with an untested, experimental serum while he was still in the womb. The guy is a walking victim and a real sob sack, despite being invulnerable. He joined the French Foreign Legion and didn't really gain much in the way of honors or recognition, despite serving in WWI. You'd think that a guy who is bullet-proof, super strong and able to outrun a train just might have found himself making an impact on the battlefields of Europe in 1917. At least you'd think he might. But not this guy. Nope. He's conflicted, emotionally constipated and totally at a loss for what to do with himself.

It's a good thing that he gets blasted with a lightning bolt at the end of the novel.

But then maybe he survives the thunderbolt and goes off to reinvent himself. He was part of the whole Lost Generation, which really, really begs the question, at least for me, why the hell didn't a guy like Wylie who was one of the founders of The New Yorker write a more Upton Sinclair or F. Scott Fitzgerald sort of novel out of this stuff? Hugo Danner could have been a cross between Odd John and The Great Gatsby--and that would have been infinitely cooler than what we were given...

Maybe someone needs to really go back over this stuff and write a sort of pseudo-Regencypunk revision of Gladiator that merges it with Stapledon and Fitzgerald. That would be very, very cool...with or without flying monkeys...or vampires...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Interview with Walter B. Gibson

This interview with Walter B. Gibson is simply one of the best, and most motivational things that I have found in my digging about in the Pulps so far...