Friday, March 04, 2016

Not Dead Yet

When I was younger I would often worry over the death of the old pulp magazines. I won't belabor the point again as I have several times. I will remind my loyal readers that there was a time when there were places called bookstores and newsstands and their shelves were thick with what were called "pulp" magazines. Mostly magazines of fiction, and all printed on the cheapest of newsprint that would quickly deteriorate in warm, damp conditions. 

But while their pages may have been cheap and gaudy, the contents were often superior in every way. This was the home of some great writers and the place where people could find dreams and fantasies where they could forget themselves for a while and live in another world. 

The pulps are all but gone, now. Someone once said that the world of self-published ebooks would revive pulp fiction. Alas, this was not so. Instead that poisonous cesspool opened the world of literature open to a noxious infection from which it will likely never recover.

These days there are only a tiny few pulp magazines remaining. I count five of them. If you know of more, send notification this way. The ones that have stood against the tide of extinction are, as follows:

Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.

Analog Science Fiction.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction.

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

As you will notice, there are only two genres remaining in this tiny island fending off the flood of self-published crap. The first three focus on science-fiction, with one mixing it up with some fantasy work. The other two are pretty much interchangeable except for the titles--murder mysteries mainly, detective fiction as a sideline.

And that is pretty much it. From time to time you will see a little magazine appear, struggle valiantly, and then vanish again. They say that Weird Tales is still around, but I don't believe it because all I have noticed from it is a fading web presence with no news of resurrection.

I subscribe to two of the magazines (Alfred Hitchcock and Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction). Likely, I should subscribe to them all. Maybe I will one of these days. I still prefer reading my books and magazine on real paper. Luddite? Probably. I'll stick to it.

Last night I read the latest issue I have of Hitchcock. And I was reminded of why editors are needed in the world of fiction. Self-publishers will argue that they work hard and even hire proofreaders to go over their manuscripts. But the fact is that you can't polish a turd. And when I read one of these last pulp magazines I know that I am not going to run into a poorly conceived story. Instead, I will find professional work that will satisfy me and which almost always pleases me.

So, until these last holdouts die off (I hope not to see it happen), I will support the format, and the last of the dying pulp fiction world.

My March issue of Alfred Hitchcock.

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