Resurrecting Laughter: Publisher Unearths Lost Subgenre of Pulp Sci-Fi

 

“When the industry got woke, genre fiction forgot how to be funny,” explains writer J. Ishiro Finney, discussing his new the Ridiculum anthology put together with the help of his partner Kat Rocha. This science fiction anthology is a compendium of the Golden Age of Pulp from some of the best, but mostly forgotten, comedic sci-fi stories by genre legends that include Philip K. Dick, Murray Leinster, Robert Sheckley, Harry Harrison, John D MacDonald, C. L. Moore, Henry Kutter, and several more.

 

“It all began with Raz0rfist’s video,” says Finney, “where he urged us to reject modernity and embrace pulps.”

 

It was specifically when he said…

 

“We’re a generation absolutely starved for classic exemplars of heroism…but what if I told you there were an entire industry devoted to that kind of heroism? That somewhere in a quiet pocket of the print and comic industry there were an entire treasure trove of politically incorrect sixgun-slinging burly-chested bad asses, many of whom have a back catalog of content even to rival the almighty Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man…and what if I told you most of it—as of this moment—is now f**ing free?”

 

 

Reject Modernity. Embrace Pulp Heroism.

This rant is totally worth your time.

 

“I thought to myself, “Yeah, there’s all kinds of great pulps freely available in the public domain,” says Finney, adding that the “problem is, most people have no idea where to start.” 

 

“I’ve always loved classic pulp stories,” adds Kat Rocha, the Editor-in-Chief of 01Publishing. “While working on projects like Utopiates and Titanium Rain I would run classic episodes of “Light’s Out” and “X Minus One” in the background. When Raz0rfist broadcasted his call to action I knew where I could find pulps, but it was Ishii who said we should help those who don’t.”

 

Diving into the world of public domain fiction isn’t as easy as it sounds. The pair relied on the team over at Project Gutenberg who have done a lot of transcribing of those old pulps, as well as the online resource Archive.org.

 

“I’ve found digging through Archive.org even more rewarding (thank Project Gutenberg),” explains Finney. “There’s a lot more material to find, and you can read directly from scans of the magazines. Archive.org even has downloadable Kindle, .TXT, or PDF files. Unfortunately, most of them look like this:

 

‘ ‘ S TARING Ted Stevens in the face was
a photograph of Marie, his lovely \/vife.
1t might have seemed no more than a
rather grisly coincidence to Stevens iT
murder — and hy arsenic poisoning —
hadn’t cropped up next door. . . . ‘ ‘

 

Rt»d THE BURNING COURT
a cemplat*, naval
Wy JOHN DICKSON CARR in Hia currant

 

DETECTIVE BOOK MAGAZINE
an sala at all nawstiands

 

TONY THE TERROR
by JACK KOrOED

 

Here’s the real Ctlento: cocky yet oddly
modest, a weird throw4>ack to the blood-
and-bsre-konckle days. •

You get the picture. As a result of the scanning, the results weren’t often pretty, or even legible. “Not exactly easy reading,”  Finney shares, “I found myself cleaning up these transcripts before I could even read them. Not exactly how anyone wants to spend their afternoon. So, I took the time to dig up these gems and put them in a format that’s easy to access—Kindle or paperback.”

 

Ridiculum is the first in 01Publishing’s Immortal Classics line, and they plan more collections of many of the best pulp stories you’ve never heard of, each centered around a different theme—Robots, Space Adventure, Dystopian, etc. Ishiro adds, “I chose to do a collection of humor stories first because I wanted to offer an alternative to all the preachy, depressing stuff that passes for sci-fi these days.”

 

The project’s origina began when Ishiro went through a phase many years ago when he was reading a lot of vintage pulp sci-fi and began noticing that many of the stories had a humorous tone. His idea of collecting the best of them into an anthology occurred to him the moment he heard Raz0rfist’s rant.

 

 

“The wonderful thing about pulps is that there are a LOT of them out there,” explains Rocha, “so we have the luxury of picking and choosing the best to fit the specific themes of our anthologies. Besides books of classic vampire and ghost stories, we’re also doing one entirely on amazons and robot tales. Diving into these stories is a real treat because you often don’t know what type of story you will get until you read it. With a title like “Ring Around the Redhead” you might think it would be some horror story about a plague. Instead, it’s about an extra dimensional woman and it’s a love story.”

 

I was approached by Richard Steele with this collection, adds Rocha. “Richard is a known romance author who has collected and edited this collection of stories all written by an AI. Richard selected back of the book descriptions from best-selling romance novels on Amazon and fed the prompts into the AI. The results are surprising, bizarre, and completely hilarious. It’s filled with stories of treasure hunting, ghost dinosaurs, wolf-burgers, oral hygiene fetish, and the secret brewery of Vlad Tepes.”

 

Another upcoming Immortal Classics anthology will be Space Age Amazons & Atomic Goddesses, a collection theme around sexy sci-fi warrior women, and “all that great vintage sci-fi that gets feminist really mad,” laughs Ishiro. “The other book high on our agenda is a collection of pulp horror stories—the theme will probably be vampires or ghost stories. It’s just a matter of Kat and I slushing through old issues of Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, etc. and finding good material that will decide which book comes out first.”

 

There are so many stories out there that most people have never heard of or even knew existed,” says Kat Rocha “It’s really very exciting and with so much content out there, we can be picky and choose the best stories for our books.”

 

The pair are making an effort to curate hard to find material that hasn’t already made its way into a collection, which means you won’t see any anthologies of Edgar Rice Burroughs, because there’s already an abundance of Burroughs anthologies available on Amazon.com.

 

 

“We’re looking for the best stories time has forgotten,” declares Finney. “One thing I never expected to find in all these old pulp magazines was such a cornucopia of boy-meets-girl tales with a sci-fi twist. I wouldn’t call them romances, because they’re not. They are more stories about a guy finding the girl of his dreams in the strangest of ways—like finding a cure to vampirism, or falling through time, inventing a new technology, or just a run of the mill alien invasion. Seems there were A LOT of stories written back then about humans hooking up with robots and Martians space babes.”

 

 

 

 

Inspired by YouTuber Raz0rfist’s call to reject modernity and embrace the pulps of yesteryear, RIDICULUM is the publisher’s first in the ongoing anthology series entitled, IMMORTAL CLASSICS. The series promises to provide high-quality / low-price anthologies that collect the best of the Golden Age pulps and make them readily available.

 

Check out Ridiculum on Amazon here.

 

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Chris Braly

I'm one opinionated, based geek. I try to steer this tiny ship and can often be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several fellow "comic book nerds." Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly. My preferred adjectives are brilliant/beautiful.

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