Home Forums Alternate History Pulp What is Pulp ?

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  • #136464
    Mike
    Keymaster

    At the risk of a fight breaking out….

    I class my 15mm fantasy as pulp as it is based heavily on Robert E. Howard’s world with a blending of The Lost World by ACD.

    I can see things like Indiana Jones, The Mummy, some of the Hammer Horror films and Flash Gordon as pulp amongst others.

    What do you think of as pulp?

    #136465
    Steelonsand
    Participant

    Now that’s a question to chew on !

    Strictly, of course Pulp is not what is written, but rather what it is written on…… i.e. cheap yellow paper newsstand titles / chap books / penny dreadfuls with titles like “Gorilla Grimes Boxing superknuckle Detective Adventurer versus the Pagan White Slavers from Mars….”

    and so on…..

    so is Pulp a lowest common denominator in the Literary sphere ?

    Well, yes, it was – but the best of it rises so far above that, and has retained an appeal and influence far beyond its humble origins…..

    It has no pretensions to be anything other than a rip-roaring, jaw-socking yarn, that will entertain the heck out of you, or I’ll eat my fedora…..

     

    #136466
    Don Glewwe
    Participant

    Yes, to what you said.

    I’m the least knowledgeable of all here (especially regarding spelling), but I wouldn’t blink if Indy showed up on Mars, because that’s what I would expect.

     

    Pulp, to me, is a genre that characterizes derring-do and odds-defying heroics.  The specific era and technology is irrelevant.

    https://brawlfactory.net/

    #136467
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    To me, “pulp” has many adjacent meanings, and in any situation where the term is used the meaning of it must (and usually can) be gleaned from the context, if it’s not explained outright.

    In one context, it means adventure stories set during the interwar period and adjacent time periods. This has porous borders with some other genres including gangster fiction, Victorian penny dreadfuls and old-fashioned westerns.

    In another but similar context, it includes Conan-style swords and sorcery (“pulp fantasy”), Flash Gordon-style retro sci-fi (“pulp sci-fi”), Cthulhu-style weird horror, and Zorro-style swashbuckling stories. The defining feature being that they all represent the culture of interwar-period pulp periodicals, novels, comics and films. Borders tend to be even more porous for this meaning, not least because these genres are also associated with other overlapping terms and concepts. For instance, Zorro is pulp but Captain Blood and Scaramouche are not quite, even though all are swashbuckling romances. Conan is pulp but Elric and Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser are not quite, even though all belong to the defining core of swords-and-sorcery fiction.

    In a somewhat different context, pulp is anything with an “airport paperback” sort of vibe. So, Tom Clancy, Anne Rice and whoever the Britcrime mystery writer du jour is, are representative of pulp fiction in this context.

    In short, use “pulp” as you will. People will get what you mean.

    #136473
    telzy amber
    Participant

    I class my 15mm fantasy as pulp as it is based heavily on Robert E. Howard’s world with a blending of The Lost World by ACD. I can see things like Indiana Jones, The Mummy, some of the Hammer Horror films and Flash Gordon as pulp amongst others.

    Absolutely this is all Pulp. Lots of SF is also pulp, as you write, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Indiana Jones, the Shadow, 1960s Batman TV. I love Pulp.

    #136478

    This thread has reminded me it’s time to roll the sleeves up past my steely sinews, kick off my cowboy boots, draw in a mighty, button-bursting breath, and dive deep back into the serial archives.

    #136497
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Thanks for the responses.
    I posted this question on a FB pulp gaming group with well over 1000 registered pulp playing members, and the replies here are better and more numerous in a fraction of the time.

    Yay you guys!

    #136619
    Darkest Star Games
    Participant

    Pulp, to me, is a genre that characterizes derring-do and odds-defying heroics.  The specific era and technology is irrelevant.

      This.  I also tend to see pulp as “2-fisted adventure”, often over the top and rarely realistic.  So also in this vein would be McGuiver, Tales of the Golden Monkey, a lot of the old kung-fu movies, The Saint (Roger Moore show) and maybe even Star Trek TOS.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #136628
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Any one definition of pulp is likely to accidentally exclude something that, if challenged, is hard to justify excluding. The “derring-do” definition, for instance, excludes weird horror (largely devoid of heroics) by the likes of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, who are among the defining writers of the golden age of pulp periodicals.

    But were I in a different mood right now, I might also go ahead and define pulp as derring-do, while separating out weird horror as just that: weird horror, a different genre. Pulp is hard to pin down as a definition, but the “core” of the concept is usually easy to recognise when you see it.

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