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Archive for the ‘Pulps’ Category

There’s a reason that Black Mask is/was the premier pulp mystery magazine for so long. It had the best. In the introduction to A Cent A Story! The Best from Ten Detective Aces, editor Garyn G. Roberts makes the case that Ten Detective Aces magazine was cutting edge at the time. Well, based on the 10 stories in this anthology, it is nowhere near cutting edge.

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Debuting in 1928 and originally entitled The Dragnet and changed to Detective-Dragnet Magazine and ultimately to Ten Detective Aces in 1933, Roberts states that “…a small detective pulp debuted which would in its own way substantially mold the form for detectives to come.” “…and for his dime, the reader got ten fast-paced mysteries, complete in each issue.” Only a cent a story!

True, the anthology does contain stories by some of the pulp greats: Norvell Page, Lester Dent, Frederick C. Davis. However, if you are looking for hard boiled mystery, gritty, noir, the stuff of Hammett and Chandler, you won’t find it in A Cent A Story! The stories are strange, off beat, which is OK. It just isn’t my cup of tea.

I love everything mystery pulp and am glad I read this, but if you’re a novice in the pulp mystery genre and want to start slow, I’d suggest The Black Mask Boys: Masters in the Hard-Boiled School of Detective Fiction edited by William F. Nolan with eight great stories or The Hardboiled Dicks edited by Ron Goulart.

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Here are a few things I learned from Danger is My Business by Lee Server.DangerIsMyBusiness

1. Joseph Shaw, the man credited for making Black Mask the premier mystery pulp magazine was the only person in New York licensed to carry a sword cane. Yes, he had a sword hidden in his cane.

2. The following characters originated in the pulps: Tarzan, Conan, Hopolong Cassidy, the Shadow and Perry Mason.

3. There as actually a sport called Auto Polo. Per Wikipedia: “Auto Polo was a motorsport invented in the United States with rules and equipment similar to equestrian polo but using automobiles instead of horses. The sport was popular at fairs, exhibitions and sports venues across the United States and several areas in Europe from 1911 until the late 1920s; but it was dangerous and carried the risk of injury and death to the participants and spectators.”

4. The following famous authors got their start in the pulps: Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Louis L’Amour and Erle Stanley Gardner.

5. An author who got his start in the pulps wrote the well known book They Shoot Horses Don’t They?

6. An assistant editor for the pulp Adventure was the first person to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. Who was it? Sinclair Lewis!

Although the title of the book implies that it is about the mystery pulps, it really covers the gamut from sci-fi to romance to adventure to mystery. Danger provides a short, readable history of the pulps, mentioning titles, authors, companies, etc. It has some anecdotes, some writing samples and a whole bunch of interesting trivia.

This is a must for pulp fiction fans.

 

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