EDitorial Comments

The BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER Revival Will Continue!

Posted in Blood 'n' Thunder,Murania Press on August 30, 2019 @ 12:17 pm

We recently published a “Volume Two, Number One” of Blood ‘n’ Thunder as a trial balloon, giving the zine a smaller format and a cheaper price point. The response thus far has been extremely gratifying, with initial sales stronger than anticipated. After printing up what we thought would be a sufficient quantity for the recent PulpFest, we were surprised when our entire stock sold out within 90 minutes of the show’s opening on Friday morning. (About half the copies had been sold on Thursday evening during the dealer set-up period.) Sales here at the web site have been steady, and we’ve even moved quite a few copies on Amazon, where the zine carries a suggested retail price that’s 20 percent higher.

Therefore, we are moving ahead with plans for a second issue to be published this fall. In fact, we already have enough copy on hand to fill more than half of it. Well-known pulp historians Will Murray and Don Hutchison will be represented with significant contributions, and there will be a special section devoted to the works of Frank L. Packard, the creator of Jimmie Dale and one of early pulpdom’s most prominent figures.

Our plan is to “formally” debut Volume Two, Number Two at the Pulp Adventurecon in New Jersey on November 2. Whether the BnT revival continues beyond a second issue will depend upon its reception. But we’re encouraged by the favorable response to Volume Two, Number One.

Stay tuned for further details.


Permanent Price Reduction for “Forgotten Classics” 10-book set

Posted in Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction,Murania Press on August 26, 2019 @ 9:47 pm

You’ll recall that we launched the “Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction” series in June with a special promotion. Each book carried a $15.95 price tag with the complete set retailing for $120 postpaid. But for the opening weekend we offered all ten volumes at $100 postpaid to domestic buyers. That brief sale was more successful than we anticipated, with nearly 30 sets ordered in less than 48 hours.

Four weeks ago, in anticipation of the upcoming PulpFest in Pittsburgh, we announced that the $100 sale price would be honored at the convention. We sold four complete sets at the show and delivered a fifth that had been ordered by one attendee just before he left home for the confab. Several conventioneers who weren’t prepared to buy the set at PulpFest asked if we were likely to offer the $100 deal again, perhaps as part of a year-end holiday sale.

Clearly, $100 is the magic number for this ten-book collection. Therefore, beginning today, we are permanently reducing the complete-set price accordingly. Individual volumes in the series will continue to retail for $15.95 postpaid.


PulpFest 2019 Report

Posted in Conventions,PulpFest on August 23, 2019 @ 4:54 pm

Last Thursday morning, August 15, found me with four old friends and fellow pulp enthusiasts headed for Pittsburgh in a 14-seat rental van packed with boxes of pulps, books and other collectibles we planned to sell at the 11th annual PulpFest. It was a picture-perfect day and spirits were high.

For the third consecutive year PulpFest was staging its annual summer confab at the Pittsburgh-Cranberry Double Tree by Hilton hotel, which reposes in neither Pittsburgh nor Cranberry but at the edge of Mars (not the planet, just a small municipality outside Pittsburgh). It’s a terrific venue for an event like ours, with a spacious ballroom holding the 100-plus vendor tables employed by PulpFest exhibitors. An adjoining meeting room, while somewhat smaller, is more than ample for the con’s programming needs.

We rolled into the Double Tree parking lot shortly after 4 p.m. and unloaded the van. Dealer set-up had begun at 3 and a bonafide feeding frenzy was already underway: Adventure House’s John Gunnison was debuting a recently acquired collection and his tables were already crowded with early birds and other dealers feverishly pouring through dozens of boxes. I made a bee-line for John’s exhibit and muscled my way into the throng of pulp-lusting buyers. Although it later turned out that I’d already missed many choice items, within minutes I amassed a stack of pulps that John’s wife Maureen salted away until I could return for a more careful search. The show was off to a good start.

Thursday’s feeding frenzy. I’m in the light blue shirt.

PulpFest has always distinguished itself with carefully planned programming, which started on Thursday evening after the dinner hour. The convention formally begins on Friday, and in earlier years the Thursday-evening session was more or less a throwaway to entertain early arrivals having nothing to do. There would be one or two casual presentations, maybe the screening of a pulp-related movie. More recently, Thursday prime-time programming has been just as extensive as that on Friday and Saturday night. As always at PulpFest, the presentations offered ample variety. Things got underway with Gene Christie’s tribute to pioneering Munsey editor Robert H. Davis, whom he dubbed “the Grandfather of Science Fiction.” Bold Venture Press editor-publisher Rich Harvey followed with a centennial celebration of Zorro, who first appeared in an August 1919 issue of All-Story Weekly. I took the stage with a slide show of stills and posters from movies adapted from stories first published in pulp magazines. Next up was an 80th-anniversary appreciation of Fritz Leiber’s beloved Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. Newly minted PulpFest committee member William Patrick Maynard polished off the evening’s entertainment with a Fu Manchu film festival, presenting an ultra-rare TV pilot starring John Carradine as Sax Rohmer’s Devil Doctor and a seldom-seen episode from a 1923 British series of Fu Manchu short subjects.

Mind you, all this took place before the convention officially got underway.

Friday opened with a goodly amount of foot traffic and brisk business. This year’s PulpFest was the best in several years for Murania Press. I had ordered up from my printer what I thought would be a sufficient quantity of the newly revived Blood ‘n’ Thunder. About half the copies sold during dealer set-up on Thursday, and the others were gone by 11:30 Friday morning, just 90 minutes into the convention. Turns out I could easily have sold another 15, maybe 20 copies. I also sold four complete sets of the ten-volume “Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction” series as well as numerous “loose” books from the group. I had restocked last year’s revised second edition of The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction and sold all but one of those.

Some of these sales were made to newbies—people attending their first PulpFest. In fact, I spotted quite a few new faces at this year’s con, indicating the show hasn’t exhausted its growth potential. According to convention chairman Jack Cullers, total attendance was approximately 430, a big increase over last year’s turnout.

Dealer-room traffic remained steady throughout Friday and Saturday. I got the sense that most exhibitors had a good show. There didn’t seem to be any phenomenally rare items for sale, but I noticed some very high-grade copies of popular titles at the tables of high-end dealers Richard Meli and Todd Warren. And there were exceptional bargains to be had by those who took the time to look for them.

Friday’s daytime programming included readings by five “New Pulp” authors, including the aforementioned Bill Maynard (Rohmer-authorized chronicler of Fu Manchu’s exploits) and Christopher Paul Carey, writer of ERB-authorized adventures of characters from the Burroughs universe. Well-known author attendees Chet Williamson, Will Murray, and John Locke did book signings outside the dealer room near the registration area.

The PulpFest dealer room.

Frankly, the Friday and Saturday prime-time programming deserves more coverage than I have room for in one blog post. While I missed a number of presentations, attendee feedback was unusually strong and after the fact I heard nothing but good things about them. Friday had men’s-magazine buff Wyatt Doyle discussing Argosy, Adventure and Blue Book (all of them pulps that evolved into men’s mags). Sherlock Holmes and his pulp connections were examined next, and David Saunders followed with a talk on female pulp artists. John Wooley and John Gunnison took a humorous approach to examining Dashiell Hammett and the detective story. The evening programming wrapped with twin presentations covering pulpish influences on The Twilight Zone and one of its writers, Charles Beaumont.

Saturday’s “New Fictioneers” readings were performed by John Bruening, Roger Alford, Sara Light-Waller, and Win Scott Eckert (filling in for Christopher Ryan, whose pressing deadline kept him from attending the show), with book signings conducted by Win, Nicholas Parisi, and John Wooley. Burroughs Bibliophile head honcho Henry Franke staged an ERB-centric art show that afternoon as well.

The evening entertainment began with a group meal and proceeded to the annual business meeting, which thankfully lacked any drama. The committee reported that next year’s PulpFest would once again be staged at the Double Tree, and that was that. Immediately thereafter the 2019 Munsey Award for outstanding service to the pulp-fan community was presented to George Vanderburgh, publisher of the long-running Battered Silicon Dispatch Box line of pulp-fiction reprints. PulpFest committee member William Lampkin, last year’s winner, did the honors.

Bill Lampkin presents the Munsey to George Vanderburgh.

FarmerCon XIV then occupied the dais with a panel discussion titled “Farmer of the Pulps: A Harvest of Influences.” PulpFest has hosted this contingent’s annual get-togethers for many years now, and the Philip José Farmer fans always provide entertaining presentations. A celebration of the remarkably prolific pulp scribe Arthur J. Burks wrapped up the informational programming and set the stage for this year’s auction.

A relatively small group of items—just over 100 lots—were auctioned off, and I have to say, the assortment was pretty motley. Auctioneers John Gunnison and Joe Taine, working in tandem, did their usual fine job but had little of value to work with. The low point was reached when they were forced to solicit bids for a She-Ra lunch pail. No, I’m not kidding. (Amazingly, the item sold.)

An encore presentation of the Fu Manchu films rang down the curtain on PulpFest’s programming. The dealer room opened on Sunday at 10 a.m. but, as always, most vendors were packing up by noon. As is customary, some dealers (including this one) were offering last-minute bargains. I took in several hundred dollars that morning and immediately raced to other tables to snap up goodies I hated to leave behind. In fact, I made my last purchase—a sharp copy of Unknown‘s first issue—while my friends were packing up our van.

The drive back to New Jersey was brutal, owing to torrential rainfall that for considerable lengths of time had drivers averaging 20 to 30 miles per hour on Interstate 80, where the speed limit is 70. But we had plenty of time to conduct our own PulpFest post-mortem, and the consensus view was that (auction aside) the 2019 convention was the best in several years. My only gripe with the event was the absence of a half-dozen or so good friends I regularly see at this show.

As always, thanks go to the PulpFest committee: Jack and Sally Cullers, Mike Chomko, Bill Lampkin, Bill Maynard, Barry Traylor, and their various family members who chip in. Great job, y’all! I’m already looking forward to the 2020 show!

P.S.  I meant to include photo credits but have already forgotten from whose Facebook pages I cribbed these photos. Please let me know if I grabbed one or more of your pictures and I’ll give you proper credit!

Making my “Pulp Page to Silver Screen” presentation.

My Incredibly Busy April, #2: The Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention

Posted in Conventions,Special Events on May 14, 2019 @ 9:41 pm

I’m posting this convention report several weeks after I planned to, but better late than never. I flew home from Los Angeles on Sunday the 7th and had just two days to prepare for my trip to the 19th annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention.

I’d be traveling with the usual suspects: dealer Nick Certo and collectors Walker Martin, Scott Hartshorn, and Digges La Touche, aka “the Jersey Boys.” We’ve been driving together to pulp conventions for ten years now. The big change from previous Chicago expeditions was our choice of rental vehicle. We finally harpooned the Great White Whale and rented a newer, sleeker van—one seating 12 instead of 15 but in every other way a much better drive. By this time the Whale’s mileage probably tops 100,000, and after last year’s trip to PulpFest we’d begun having second thoughts about taking it out again. When we started making plans for this year’s Chicago trip, Nick flatly refused to go in the Whale, forcing us to investigate other vehicles. The one we chose was more expensive by roughly $200 but proved eminently satisfactory otherwise.

We left from my house early Wednesday morning, the 10th, and spent the night in South Bend, Indiana, roughly three-quarters of the way to Lombard, Illnois, the Chicago suburb where the convention is staged. The show’s co-founder, Doug Ellis, leaves in another suburb close by and hosts an annual pre-show open house. As usual we planned on reaching his place by Thursday noon, but this year we forgot the one-hour time difference and actually rolled in at 11 a.m. I mention this only because it enabled me to make a great purchase.

We pulled into Doug’s driveway as he, close friend John Locke, and Windy City partner John Gunnison were stuffing boxes into the U-Haul trailer they rent to transport convention supplies and Doug’s dealer stock. Having arrived too early for lunch, we helped the guys load the boxes stacked up in the garage. I noticed two labeled “Unknown Set.” At first I thought, How could it be an unknown set? He put the magazines in the boxes himself, didn’t he? But then—duh—I realized the boxes contained a set of the classic pulp magazine Unknown. I asked Doug how much he wanted and we cut a deal right there in his garage. The show hadn’t even started and already I’d made a major score!

We drove from Doug’s to the con hotel, the Westin Lombard, in plenty of time to check in and grab dinner before the Thursday-night setup. This year the dealer room was expanded to squeeze in an extra 30 tables, for a total of 180—the most ever. Unfortunately, that meant reallocating the large space previously set aside for programming (auctions, panel discussions, film screenings). As a result, the other events were shunted into a smaller room on the other side of the hotel. Previously we were able to fill our 15-foot movie screen, but the smaller room gave us a much reduced “throw” from the projector and proved barely adequate to contain the large crowd attending both Friday-night and Saturday-night auctions.

I hated to lose the larger space, but it’s great to have more dealers. The array of material for sale was impressive, although I noticed far more collectible hardcovers than pulps in the room. That didn’t make me unhappy, though; I purchased more hardcovers this year than at any previous Windy City show.

Last year was pretty much a washout in terms of adding to the core of my pulp collection, a 600-issue run of Adventure from 1918 to 1948. But earlier this year I’d gotten a handful of needed issues on eBay, and I picked up a half-dozen more at Windy, included the last I needed to complete 1924 (one of the 36-issue years). Also found a few issues needed to fill out my ’30s run of Blue Book. So I was a happy camper.

The auctions—always highlights of a Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention—featured rare material from the collections of the number one Robert E. Howard fan Glenn Lord, the late Bob Weinberg, and Tim Issacson, who consigned a two-year (1934 and 1935), high-grade run of Dime Detective. Record-breaking prices were realized for many items.

Of Friday night’s offerings the real shocker—for me, anyway—was the $3,750 (plus 10 percent buyer’s premium) paid for a 32-page 1944 pamphlet titled The Case Against the Comics. A cautionary document advocating severe censorship of comic books, it predated Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent by a full decade and is extremely rare. Still, this copy fetched two or three times what I would have expected.

A copy of the December 1932 Weird Tales (with the first Conan story) gaveled in at $2,500 plus buyer’s premium, a surprise in that it wasn’t even close to being the best copy I’ve seen.

Another breath-taker was a first edition of Herbert Asbury’s 1928 horror-story anthology Not at Night! signed by Asbury, H. P. Lovecraft, and August Derleth: $4,500 plus buyer’s premium. Bob Weinberg had gotten this item from Derleth’s estate.

A fairly disreputable copy of Weird Tales #1 brought $3,750 plus.

Auctioneer John Gunnison brought down the gavel on 230 lots altogether in Friday’s session.

The Saturday auction was somewhat less impressive and exciting, but not without its highlights. Early on, the first World Fantasy Convention Award statue, presented to Glenn Lord in 1978, sold for a cool two grand plus premium. My pal Walker was the underbidder on that one.

The evening’s big kahuna, though, was Glenn’s copy of Lovecraft’s The Shunned House in the 1928 edition privately published by W.Paul Cook. For those unfamiliar with this particular item: Under the auspices of his Recluse Press, Cook printed approximately 300 copies but never had them bound. Many years later Derleth acquired half the print run, distributing 50 sets of the unbound sheets and binding 100 for sale through Arkham House. Glenn acquired one of the unbound sets and had a Houston bindery do a custom job on his copy. On the basis of rarity alone, Shunned House is a phenomenally valuable item, but in this case rarity plus provenance equaled $5500 plus premium.

I never plan to win anything at the Windy City auctions because the stuff I want most invariably sells for a lot more than I’m willing or able to pay. But every year brings a few pleasant surprises, and I occasionally pick up minor items for resale. On Friday I decided impulsively to bid on a 1925 bound volume of Flynn’s that had come from the Munsey offices. It was in pretty nice shape but auctioneer John Gunnison couldn’t get a $50 opening bid. He dropped down to $40, but still nothing. Then he went to $30, and failing to get any interest he was about to pass it when I piped up. Nobody bid against me. I also paid $30 for the 1920 issue of Argosy with the first installment of Francis Stevens’ “Serapion.”

I really wanted several of the Dime Detectives but was outbid on two of the three, winning the June 1, 1935 for $90—a righteous price for that issue.

A month or two before the show, Doug had asked me to moderate a panel on Planet Stories, 2019 being the 80th anniversary of that magazine’s launch. Walker and fellow pulp scholar Garyn Roberts agreed to sit in. But that Saturday night our dinner ran long and we were late getting back to the hotel. With no time beforehand to compare notes or map out a strategy, my fellow panelists and I took the stage in a hurry and just improvised. To my amazement, the 45-minute discussion went over quite well and all three of us fielded compliments afterward, and on Sunday morning.

A total of 525 people passed through the doors, and business was brisk. I sold nearly 90 percent of the Murania Press stock on my dealer-room table, along with a couple dozen bargain-priced pulps. And, of course, I mingled with dozens of friends I only see at the various pulp conventions.

So the show had been a good one for me, both sales-wise and in terms of acquisitions. All five Jersey Boys had done well, in fact, and normally would be basking in the afterglow of a successful convention while making the 800-mile drive home. But on Sunday morning a freak snowstorm dropped several inches of slushy white stuff on Chicagoland, and it was with great trepidation that we loaded the van and left Lombard shortly before 2 p.m.

It’s no fun driving in lousy weather when you have a two-day trip ahead of you. Fortunately, the snow let up once we’d logged a hundred miles or so, although it rained to rain the rest of Sunday and most of Monday—in other words, practically all the way home. Things had finally dried out by the time we reached the Delaware Water Gap separating Pennsylvania from New Jersey.

This was our group’s tenth excursion to the Windy City convention. And one of the most enjoyable, inclement weather notwithstanding.

Doug, his wife Deb, and John Gunnison in the dealer room at Doug’s exhibit. (Picture by Sai Shankar)

Slight Delay in Our Release of the “Forgotten Classics” Collection

We had expected to release our ten-volume “Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction” collection by now, but a few niggling glitches remain to be addressed on some of the books. Nothing major, mind you, just nuts-and-bolts corrections involving ISBN numbers and copyright declarations, along with technical adjustments related to the color illustrations on a number of covers. The corrections themselves will not be difficult or time-consuming, but making them means we have to resubmit our digital files to the printer for processing and acceptance, a procedure that can take several days.

It was our original intent to make the ten volumes available simultaneously, but rather than hold up the entire group we’ll release the unaffected books over the coming days and then add the others one by one as they’re approved for printing. Hopefully all ten will be ready for ordering as a set by this time next week.  Keep watching this blog for the individual announcements.

Meanwhile, to further whet your appetite, here are three more covers from the series. For illustrations we’re using original pulp-magazine paintings that depict events or vignettes in sync thematically with each book’s theme. The Elixir of Hate cover, however, features the Virgil Finlay painting that adorned the 1942 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries in which England’s novel was first reprinted.






More Collectibles Coming!

Posted in Collectibles For Sale on @ 2:43 pm

Most of the two dozen or so items we added to last week’s update of our Collectibles section have already sold, but keep your eyes peeled for new additions coming in the next few days—more pulps, hardcovers, DVDs, and related material. We’re still sifting through a mountain o’ stuff here at Murania Central, including pulps we recently upgraded and various duplicates we bought by accident!

Keep checking back; we won’t do another big update but, rather, add items a few at a time as time permits.

Collectibles Section Update: May 3

Posted in Collectibles For Sale on May 3, 2019 @ 3:28 pm

It’s been five weeks since we last freshened up our Collectibles for Sale section and most of the best items from that update have already sold. But we’re adding another couple dozen items today, and some of them are pretty darn rare.  We’re going to be adding a few more as the weekend progresses; it’s Spring Cleaning time!  And please note that prices have been reduced on some of the pieces that have been hanging around a long time. Meanwhile, take a gander at the newest offerings lest you miss a bargain!  Here are a few samples….



My Incredibly Busy April, #1: The Writers & Illustrators of the Future Awards Banquet

Posted in Special Events on April 27, 2019 @ 9:42 pm

April has been a whirlwind for me, between making two major trips and finishing work on the ten-volume Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction series that goes on sale next week. I’ve rarely had a busier or more productive month.

It began in earnest on the 3rd when I flew to Los Angeles to attend the 35th annual Writers & Illustrators of the Future awards banquet, the climactic event of a week-long confab that united budding science-fiction writers and artists with seasoned pros. In 1983 legendary SF author L. Ron Hubbard organized a yearly contest inspired by the “pay it forward” philosophy. Encouraging submissions from aspiring fictioneers, and enlisting the aid of his SF contemporaries to select the best stories, Hubbard envisioned the competition as a means of discovering and nurturing new talents and thus keep the genre fresh and exciting.

The first Writers of the Future award gala took place in 1985 amidst glamorous Beverly Hills surroundings. Famous SF author and critic Algis Budrys headed a blue-ribbon panel of judges that included Golden Age greats Theodore Sturgeon and Jack Williamson as well as digest-era luminaries Roger Zelazny and Robert Silverberg. Ray Bradbury and A. E. van Vogt were among the distinguished SF writers in attendance, and the contest’s first award-winner was Dean Wesley Smith, who has gone on to enjoy a fabulous career in SF as writer, editor, and essayist. Smith and other finalists had the pleasure of seeing their entries published in a book titled L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future.

LRH died in 1986 but the annual contest has been administered ever since by Author Services Inc., the company founded to manage his affairs. Eventually the competition was also opened to illustrators. For many years issued by Bridge Publications Inc., the yearly Writers & Illustrators of the Future collections since 2004 have been published under the auspices of Galaxy Press, a division of ASI established to keep Hubbard’s work (including his early pulp yarns) in print.

I became acquainted with Galaxy Press shortly after its founding when president John Goodwin and a few members of his staff attended several Pulpcons as part of their marketing efforts prior to launching a new line of trade paperbacks that revived vintage LRH yarns. He’s long been a Murania Press supporter and booster of my Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction, a revised second edition of which I published last year. But I don’t claim to be a follower of contemporary SF and therefore was both surprised and flattered when in January he invited me to be the keynote speaker at this year’s awards banquet.

Striking a nostalgic note, I was to deliver an address celebrating what’s come to be known as the Golden Age of Science Fiction, largely a phenomenon of the pulp-magazine era. My focus would be trained on Street & Smith’s Astounding Science Fiction under the editorship of John W. Campbell, who discovered and/or nurtured many of the field’s greatest talents, among them Heinlein, Sturgeon, Asimov, van Vogt, del Rey, de Camp, and Hubbard himself.

As this awards ceremony is a tightly scripted, lavishly mounted affair comparable to the movie industry’s Oscars broadcast—I kid you not—John needed me to prepare a speech beforehand rather than wing it, as I’m accustomed to doing. Moreover, I’d have to deliver it from teleprompters strategically placed in the massive ballroom of Hollywood’s Taglyan Complex, where the affair took place. I’d never used teleprompters before and wondered if they would inhibit me at all. Additionally, the ceremony was being live-streamed to an international audience. That, too, was potentially intimidating.

But when I arrived at the Taglyan on Thursday the 5th to rehearse, I had no difficulty mastering the ‘prompter. Frankly, I was more nervous about squeezing into the rented tuxedo graciously provided by my hosts.

The Friday-night gala was a genuine revelation. Again, I wasn’t kidding when I compared it to the annual Oscars broadcast. The venue was jaw-droppingly beautiful to begin with, and Galaxy Press had constructed its own stage for the presenters. A camera “jib” at least 15 feet high was deployed to get sweeping overhead shots of the 400-plus attendees during the ceremony. Makeup artists applied last-minute touchups to speakers as they were ushered backstage by a floor manager. There were even “seat fillers” to occupy empty chairs temporarily vacated by presenters and presentees.

The Taglyan Complex ballroom. That little black & white spec in the middle is me. (Photo courtesy Author Services Inc.)

And the food. My God, the food. I’ve attended more banquets than I care to remember, consumed more rubber-chicken dinners than my stomach cares to remember. You do enough of these things, the meal itself becomes superfluous and one pecks perfunctorily while wondering how long it’ll be before you can bolt the room and head for the nearest McDonald’s. But not at the Taglyan Complex. Everything was delicious, from the appetizers straight through to the dessert. I was particularly taken with an avocado-and-grape concoction served early on. Sitting next to John Goodwin, I was hard-pressed not to scoop up his portion when he briefly left the table.

My other tablemates comprised an illustrious lot. John and his lovely wife Emily were to my right; Dr. Beatrice Kondo (whose late father Yoji was a Writers of the Future judge) and her mother sat to my left. Beatrice, representing the board of directors of The Heinlein Society, was there to bestow upon Dr. Gregory Benford (another WotF judge) the 2019 Robert A. Heinlein Award for his efforts “to nurture and promulgate good science fiction and fantasy.” She was delightful, as were our fellow diners Todd McCaffrey (Anne’s son) and first WotF Grand Prize winner Dean Wesley Smith, who not only admitted to owning a copy of the Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide but also shared his reminiscences of our mutual friend, uber-collector Bill Trojan.

Master of ceremonies Gunhild Jacobs got the evening’s presentations off to a grand start. The presenters constituted a Who’s Who of contemporary SF writers and illustrators, among them Orson Scott Card, Bob Eggleton (a nine-time Hugo winner who was given the evening’s Lifetime Achievement Award), Todd McCaffrey, Larry Niven, Jodi Lynn Nye, Tim Powers, Dr. Robert J. Swayer, and Dean Smith. There were 12 winners in each category: writers Christopher Baker, Carrie Callahan, David Cleden, Preston Dennett, Andrew Dykstal, John Haas, Kyle Kirrin, Mica Scotti Kole, Rustin Lovewell, Wulf Moon, Elise Stephens, and Kai Wolden; and illustrators Aliya Chen, Alexander Gustafson, Yingying Jiang, Sam Kemp, Qianjiao Ma, Allen Morris, Jennifer Ober, Josh Pemberton, Emerson Rabbitt, Christine Rhee, Vytautas Vasiliauskas, and Alice Wang.

Some of the acceptance speeches were particularly noteworthy. I was especially taken with Preston Dennett, who confessed to writing 47 entries (contestants can make submissions on a quarterly basis) before having one chosen. Now that’s dedication! A few winners made great personal sacrifices to achieve their dreams of becoming published authors and illustrators, and their stories too I found quite moving.

My address went well, I thought, and was warmly received. I received many compliments on it afterward, including one from the nonagenarian widow of Golden Age great A. E. van Vogt, whose classic “Slan” I had referred to as a thematic precursor of Marvel’s X-Men. It was enormously gratifying to receive praise from so many SF professionals. And I hadn’t been intimidated by the teleprompter or the international on-line audience. Truth be told, I enjoyed the hell out of myself while on stage.

Delivering my speech to an audience that neither fell asleep nor threw vegetables at me — so it must have been okay. (Photo courtesy Author Services Inc.)

All in all, the evening couldn’t have gone better. Having mounted some fairly elaborate events myself (including a film festival at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel just a block down Hollywood Boulevard from the Author Services building), I marveled at the apparent ease with which Galaxy Press had coordinated the whole shebang—a week-long confab that included workshops, seminars, and social events bringing together the pros and the tyros. Given my own experience it was easy to recognize that the logistical challenges in planning such a massive operation are incredibly daunting. But everything was organized to the nth degree and seemed to come off without a hitch, at least to my eyes.

Also, while I’ve had dozens of speaking engagements—at bookstores, libraries, museums, universities, conventions, film festivals, and the like—I’ve never been treated better than I was by John Goodwin and his staff. From the moment a driver picked me up at LAX Airport, it was apparent that everybody with whom I’d be dealing had been given a picture by which to recognize me and address me by name. Every single person was friendly and solicitous, despite the fact that they had far more important personages with whom to deal that week. It was a real pleasure to have been part of the ceremony.

The 35th Writers and Illustrators of the Future anthology is now available both on line and in better bookstores. I note that to date it has received unanimous five-star reviews on Amazon. Get yours today!

Finally, I want to thank John Goodwin, his wife Emily, contest director Joni Labaqui, MC Gunhild Jacobs, and all the wonderful folks at Author Services and Galaxy Press for showing me such a good time. Really, it was a thrill to play a small role in this delightful event!

I flew home on Sunday the 7th and had just two days to prepare for my trip to the 19th annual Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention—about which I’ll have plenty to say in my next post here.



Coming This Month: Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction

Posted in Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction,Murania Press on April 2, 2019 @ 10:49 pm

Before the trend toward specialization—before the hard-boiled dicks, before the Skylarks and Lensmen, before the Shadows and Spiders—pulp magazines offered escapist fiction that appealed to readers of all stripes. Virtually every story was suffused with the spirit of adventure; beyond that there was great variety in theme and setting. Qualities that became pronounced during the era of genre pulps were already evident in rough-paper yarns of the 20th century’s first two decades. Sadly, many great stories from this period are unknown to today’s pulp aficionados, especially inasmuch as the issues in which they appeared are hard-to-find collector’s items.

Murania Press has rescued from obscurity ten noteworthy novels originally published in such legendary pulps as Adventure, Blue Book, The Argosy, The Cavalier, and The Popular Magazine between 1908 and 1921. Some never saw publication in hard covers, others did but have been out of print for many decades. This group of exemplary stories, written by early pulpdom’s top fictioneers, is being republished as a series titled “Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction.”

Each book, measuring six by nine inches, utilizes the same cover design. Each is numbered on the spine, alphabetically by author. Each has an informative introductory essay putting the novel and its author in proper historical context for maximum appreciation by readers.

Stories in the “Forgotten Classics” series take place in a variety of locales: India, the Appalachian Mountains, the American West, the Gobi Desert, the Canadian northwest, the French Riviera, the South Seas, colonial-era Kentucky, and a mythical Balkan state. Within the group a reader will detect genre elements that would become more distinct and pronounced in pulp fiction of subsequent decades. But each novel is, at its core, a rousing adventure story clearly and vividly told. You’d never guess these gems were written a hundred or more years ago.

Murania Press has previously published four of the listed novels in its “Classic Pulp Reprint” series. Those books, now withdrawn from circulation, sold for $20 per title. Each of the “Forgotten Classics” volumes is priced at $16, and the entire set of ten will be available at $120, which includes shipping to buyers in the United States.

The “Forgotten Classics of Pulp Fiction” will begin shipping on May 1. Between now and then we’ll be running individual blog posts with additional information on each book. For now, here are the titles and the magazines from which they have been sourced:

1. H. Bedford-Jones, The Wilderness Trail. Originally published in the February 1915 issue of Blue Book.

2. B. M. Bowers, The Spook Hills Mystery. Originally published in the November 7, 1914 issue of The Popular Magazine.

3. George Bronson-Howard, The Return of Yorke Norroy. Originally published in the October 1908 issue of The Popular Magazine.

4. A. M. Chisholm, Fur Pirates. Originally published in the October 20, 1915 issue of The Popular Magazine.

5. J. Allan Dunn, Barehanded Castaways. Originally published in the December 20, 1921 issue of Adventure.

6. George Allan England, The Elixir of Hate. Originally published in the August-November 1911 issues of The Cavalier.

7. Francis Lynde, B. Typhosus Takes a Hand. Originally published in the October 20, 1921 issue of The Popular Magazine.

8. Talbot Mundy, Yasmini the Incomparable. Originally published in the January 1914 and July-September 1915 issues of Adventure.

9. Perley Poore Sheehan, The Abyss of Wonders. Originally published in the January 1915 issue of The Argosy.

10. Gordon Young, Savages. Originally published in the May 3, 1918 and July 18-September 3, 1919 issues of Adventure.


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