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Coming Soon: BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER GUIDE TO PULP FICTION

Posted in Murania Press,Upcoming Books on April 26, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

The first book bearing my Murania Press imprint was The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Collecting Pulps, which I researched for years prior to writing. Upon its publication in 2007 the Guide sold briskly, surpassing my very modest expectations in fairly short order. It did particularly well on Amazon, eventually reaching hundreds of buyers who’d never heard of  the Blood ‘n’ Thunder magazine.

As the title made clear, my Guide was geared to those hobbyists interested in accumulating the vintage magazines themselves. Its pages carried no mention of the Print On Demand publishers whose pulp reprints were beginning to divert collector dollars from the purchase of original rough-paper periodicals. Nor did they acknowledge the mass-market anthologies that had recognized the enduring appeal of pulp fiction by including it in thick hardcover and trade-paperback editions. These omissions were not oversights on my part; they reflected a conscious decision to focus on collectable pulps only.

The early years of the 21st century had seen a dramatic escalation in prices as new hobbyists competed feverishly for pulps auctioned on eBay. I’d written the Guide with those enthusiastic and largely uneducated neophytes in mind; that experienced collectors also found it worthy was icing on the cake.

The pulp bubble — like so many others — eventually burst, and the prolonged recession from which we are only now recovering didn’t help matters. Prices began to fall as once-well-heeled hobbyists cut back on discretionary purchases. Long-time collectors who’d lost jobs were forced to sell their pulp holdings to generate income. Rare and high-grade pulps continued to fetch top dollar, and certain genres remained more popular than others, but in the main we saw prices decline as supply began to exceed demand.

Furthermore, the years since I wrote and published the Guide have seen an explosion in the quantity and quality of trade-paperback reprints facilitated by easily obtainable desktop-publishing software, the proliferation of Print On Demand companies, and the rise of social media as a means of promoting self-published books.

An even more meaningful phenomenon was the widespread embrace of “pulp culture.” Mainstream publishers increasingly used old pulp paintings on the covers of their new books. Then we started seeing enthusiastic reviews of mass-market, trade-paperback anthologies such as The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps and its sequels edited by Otto Penzler. Suddenly, critics were enthusing over obscure yarns by writers previously known only to collectors of rough-paper magazines. Thanks to the Black Lizard tomes it was possible to walk into a Barnes & Noble bookstore and come out with a book featuring stories by Talbot Mundy, Frederick Nebel, George F. Worts, Norbert Davis, and their contemporaries. Now it’s even possible to buy hundred-year-old pulp stories in e-book form.

As early as 2009 I was getting letters from people who wanted to know if I’d be publishing updated editions of the Guide. The idea had occurred to me, but as the years went by I got the impression that another book aimed at hard-core collectors was not needed. The market had expanded to include relative newcomers to the pulp community — folks who enjoyed the fiction but had no need or inclination to collect the original magazines. Therefore I decided that, in order to broaden my book’s appeal, a revised second edition would be titled The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction.

I’m happy to report that the revisions are just about finished and the book will debut this summer. The text of the first Guide is there in total, although greatly expanded. I’ve added material to every chapter — practically every page — from the earlier edition.  I’ve also added chapters to cover genres I passed over the first time around: Aviation/War, Sports, Romance, and the “smoosh” (aka girlie) pulps.

Additionally, you’ll find detailed coverage of mass-market anthologies and small-press reprints of pulp fiction. There’s a lot of this material available now, so naturally some chaff is mixed in with the wheat. The new Guide turns a discerning eye on this plethora of product, offering solid recommendations along with the historical and contextual background.

The Guide to Pulp Fiction will have the same format as the Guide to Collecting Pulps: seven by ten inches, just like most rough-paper magazines of yore. Each page has two cover reproductions. Until layout is completed I won’t have an exact page total, but based on the length of the manuscript I’m guessing the book will come in somewhere between 360 and 400 pages. The price will be $29.95.

People have used such words as “formidable,” “outstanding,” and “indispensable” to describe The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Collecting Pulps. Indeed, I’ve received more compliments on this book than on any other I’ve written and/or published. It was still selling reasonably well on Amazon until I voluntarily withdrew it from circulation some months ago. Lightly used copies are listed there (not by me) for as much as $366. I have no doubt that the Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction will replace it as a must-have reference work. Nowhere else will you find, in one book, a complete history of pulp fiction as well as up-to-date coverage of other, more current sources of the escapist literature that shaped American popular culture throughout the 20th century.

Watch this space for further details….

2 thoughts on “Coming Soon: BLOOD ‘N’ THUNDER GUIDE TO PULP FICTION

  1. This is great news. I’ve been complaining for a long time that we need an updated, expanded edition of THE GUIDE(among hardcore pulp collectors everyone knows what THE GUIDE is).

    In fact, I recommend that Ed do two editions. One for the usual lover of pulp fiction and a special edition with even extra additional material for the connoisseur of pulp magazines. The special edition could be priced at double the price of the *standard* edition.

    The bigger this second edition is the better I’ll like it…

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