Sunday, April 25, 2021

Bringing Pulp Fiction Back to Life

Pulp fiction was quite popular through the 1940s, when pulp magazines generated millions of sales. Unlike literary works, pulp fiction was considered "cheap," both literally and figuratively. Pulp magazines were printed on less expensive pulp paper and the topics were often racy, characterized by a lot of action. The stories were appealing to an audience eager for adventure.

Pulp magazines, which had been the nation's single largest outlet for short stories, collapsed in the 1950s on the heels of post-WWII paper shortages. Lately there has been a resurgence of interest in pulp. But, with those magazines out of print, the stories are no longer accessible to readers. 

Enter Michael Tierney and Robert Allen Lupton, two pulp historians who have launched an impressive kickstarter campaign to resuscitate The Cosmic Courtship, a work of pulp fiction. The book is notable because it was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne's son, Julian. 

Tierney and Lupton hope to bring Hawthorne's  swashbuckling space adventure back into print. If there is enough interest and support to turn this into an ongoing project, they will work with pulp archivists to rescue these nearly lost works and make them available both in print and digitally so that they can be preserved and enjoyed by future generations.

From the website:

Julian Hawthorne was an incredibly prolific writer in his own right. Julian wrote on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from literary analysis of his father's works to poetry to period romances and adventures. Late in his career, Julian even dabbled in the emerging genre of Science Fiction [Hugo Gernsback had only recently coined the awkward term "Scientifiction" when this story was first published.]

The Cosmic Courtship was serialized in Frank A. Munsey's All-Story Weekly across four issues, beginning with the November 24, 1917 issue and running through the December 15, 1917 issue. While this story has been in the public domain for some time, it has never been collected or published elsewhere until now.

The foremost goal of this project is to get an exciting, essentially lost, classic pulp story back into print and into the hands of scifi fans, pulp aficionados, and readers in general! What do we mean by "essentially lost"? While The Cosmic Courtship is a work in the Public Domain and part of the world's common literary heritage, there's virtually no way for anyone to read it! It has only ever been printed in now very expensive and hard to find pulp magazines. Even if cost were not an object, availability often is. 

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