Do the Pulps Still Matter?
I love the tradition but hate our adherence to them.
I love that authors have been working with the fantastic for so long that there are literally hundreds of years of material from around the world to get lost in. I love that every week I can potentially encounter a new author’s work. But I hate our desire to delineate genres and name epochs.
I hate tradition. I hate the collector scum, mylar bagging bull shit. (“Well, blah blah, American SF really starts with Hugo Gernsback.”) I’d rather no one walled the genres apart from each other. I’d rather find my own Golden Age than be stuck with someone else’s.
The Golden Age is the books you read when you were ten. The classics are any author writing before you were born. The walls can’t erode fast enough — and the more the pulp squad circles their wagons and closes their ranks around their andropause and incunabula the more I say good riddance.
Fandom doesn’t matter. The community doesn’t matter. Books matter. Reading matters. I fear we often forget this.
One could look at fandom as junkies on one side (“GRRM, I need my fix!”) and fetishists on the other. (“Oh my god! Sniff this book’s binding!”) What some marketing department decides to name Steampunk or what some editor calls the “new” Sword & Sorcery (when really it’s just recent sword and sorcery) or what some grad student writes about the “sense of wonder” doesn’t matter. They’re either tour guides or real estate agents who’ve positioned themselves between a reader and a book. At best they are useful in small doses.
This might be why I raise my eyebrows whenever I hear an SF writer say: “I love science fiction”. It smells too much of an abusive relationship loaded with codependency. I love to read, and I love books, and most of the books I love happen to be genre books, but I don’t love the genres.
The squishier and spongier they get, the happier I am.
3 responses to “Do the Pulps Still Matter?”
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- December 2, 2013 -
- March 13, 2014 -
This post is a minefield. Only the brave or foolish would dare leave a comment, and I’m not brave or foolish enough to say which category I fall into. But categories do exist for a reason. If nothing else, they provide an additional opportunity for words to have meaning and texts to have context. The only context? Of course not. We wouldn’t want to do anything that would limit the meaning or pleasure of a book. Nothing narrowing. But to the extent genre and epochs provide shoals for different schools of writers and their writings and the readers of their writings to nibble on green sea life growing in the sun and shallow water, then why not pass through? When the tides change, so will the categories, but if some life is nurtured in the meantime, without penning that life in, then I say: if it’s tasty, nibble. If not, on with you.