Saturday 9 May 2020

Three interviews with pulpsters - Richard Matheson, Leigh Brackett and Curt Siodmak

Three interviews with pulpsters who would go on to write great movies. These interviews are taken from the University of California Press' Back Stories series.
Leigh Brackett: Journeyman Plumber
Interview by Steve Swires

She wrote that [The Big Sleep] like a man. She writes good.
Howard Hawks, quoted in Hawks on Hawks

Leigh Brackett with director Howard Hawks at work on Rio Bravo
Leigh Brackett with director Howard Hawks at work on Rio Bravo

Leigh Brackett wrote scripts for Hawks' The Big Sleep (1946), Rio Bravo (1959), Hatari! (1962), El Dorado (1967), and Rio Lobo (1970), as well as for Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (1973). Besides being one of the few successful women screenwriters, she was one of the earliest successful women science-fiction writers, having entered the field professionally in 1939. Her best-known character is the larger-than-life swashbuckling hero Eric John Stark, who first appeared in the pages of Planet Stories in the 1940s and who returned in a series of novels she wrote for Ballantine Books.

(This interview was conducted several years before her death and the posthumous release of The Empire Strikes Back, her final screen credit.)

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Pulp Round-Up May 2020 (Coronavirus edition 1)

Here are a few things to keep your mind off the current circumstances for a while:
Ohio man donates a collection of comics, paperbacks, pulps and magazines to University of South Carolina. They needed two 26 foot trucks to move it.

Northern Illinois University to digitize ~4000 dime novels and story papers from Street and Smith. The project will provide images and full texts of the works, catalog records for the volumes and indexed entries for every story, series and author, to augment an existing online bibliography of dime novels that can be found at NIU will partner with academic libraries at Villanova University, Stanford University, Bowling Green State University and Oberlin College on this effort.

A profile of illustrator and painter H. D. Bugbee, who painted pulp covers for Cowboy Stories, Wild West Weekly, Western Story and Ranch Romances, among others.

Here's a recent profile of Black Mask writer Fred Nebel. Altus Press has reprinted quite a few volumes of his stories from Black Mask. Street Wolf, which collects most of his non-series stories, is a good introduction to his style with a mix of different types of stories. Tough As Nails is a great introduction to the hard-boiled school of Black Mask fiction, as written by Nebel. And if you like that, you have to get the four volumes of his MacBride and Kennedy stories: Raw Law, Shake-down, Too Young to Die and Winter Kill.

Something I've long been irritated by is the dismissal of genre writing as unworthy of critical appraisal. Here's someone with a background in movies, talking about this

No time to read at home? Busy with chores? Let HorrorBabble do the reading for you. They produce professionally read short weird stories from a variety of authors including H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Allison V. Harding, Manly Wade Wellman, Clark Ashton Smith, Henry Kuttner and many other excellent authors and stories.

Saturday 2 May 2020

Early SF story: The Human Brick by Mary C. Francis

It's been a while since i posted some fiction on this blog. So here's a story i read about when i was glancing through The Moons of Mars: A History and Anthology of The Scientific Romance in the Munsey Magazines 1912 - 1920, by Sam Moskowitz.

The author, Mary Cornelia Francis, was born in Ohio, started a career in journalism in the Cincinatti newspapers in 1889 and moved to New York by 1895. She visited Cuba, carrying the American flag 400 miles on horseback to present it to Bartolomé Masó, then the Cuban president. She was also an active suffragist and a supporter of William Taft. She worked on his re-election campaign. Taft lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Mary C. Francis, from the collection of the Library of Congress
Mary C. Francis, from the collection of the Library of Congress

During this active life, she also found time to write 10 stories for magazines (9 appeared in the Munsey magazines - All-Story, Cavalier, The Scrap Book and Munsey's Magazine) and four novels. This may have been her only speculative fiction story.



My name is James Randall, and I am the “Human Brick." I am a man built into a wall in a house in New York City, where I have been for the past ten years, and I know all that goes on about me, for, with brief exceptions, I have never lost consciousness.