East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Last book of the year: Jess Nevins’ The Pulps

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51frd3a577l-_ac_ul320_sr214320_One last purchase before the festivities, The Pulps by Jess Nevins has been an impulse buy – I was looking for something completely different, and Amazon’s evilothers also bought function revealed to me the existence of a Nevins book I knew nothing about.

The Pulps is a brief history of the pulps, written by a man that can be only described as a research powerhouse. Yes, I’m a fan: I have a few of his titles here on the shelf, and they are part of my go-to reference library on genre fiction, and quite a lot of fun to read (being informative AND fun is not a given, in many essays).

railroad_mans_193108What Jess Nevins does with this small and ultimately cheap essay (I paid three bucks for the ebook), is look at the numbers – and the statistics monkey that I am is well pleased with his detailed figures about magazines published, issues delivered to the news stands, year by year, during the pulp era.
By leaving behind the anecdotal details that are collected in most pulp histories, the author brings to light a number of unusual and surprising facts – like Railroad Man’s Magazine being the longest-lived pulp of them all, or showing how romance and spicy pulps were actually quite popular, only pulp collectors and historians tend to stick to other genres.

624bdd6e1059337abe1167e6f8e4bb29And the detail about romance and spicy pulps gave me a classic wow! moment – because you see, I think I often mentioned my belief (which is shared by others) that we are leaving a new pulp era, with cheap genre fiction being made available in huge numbers for a wide public.
And today no one can deny that romance and erotica are the two best-selling genres.
Well, turns out it was just the same in the ’20s and ’30s – the tones may have changed, but the substance has not.

I wonder if there would be a market niche for railway-oriented fiction, but you know what? I think some good railway stories might sell nicely and find a public.

So, here I am all set.
Got a nice cup of hot tea, a warm blanket for my aching knees, and a book about pulp statistics. What else could I ask?
A spreadsheet and my old statistical analysis chops?
Those will get to work early in 2017.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

One thought on “Last book of the year: Jess Nevins’ The Pulps

  1. All I have to say is…

    I like trains.

    Liked by 1 person

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