Some weeks back I penned a column on the phenomenon of the New Pulp, and since then I’ve enjoyed watching the term continue to emerge as a zeitgeist from the group mind of genre fiction.
David Barnett, author of the upcoming Gideon Smith novels, talks here about the Nu Pulp.
Geek Syndicate provide a nice round-up of New Pulp discussions and resources.
New Pulp Fiction has much to say on the issue.
What is New Pulp? That was the question I found being asked again and again after the Guardian column published. I’m going to give my answer here. But first I think it’s worth saying that, in common with all creative movements, New Pulp is at its most interesting in this early phase where that question has not yet been answered. It’s human nature to try and find solid answers to such question. It’s the skill of the artist to leave them floating open, and to study the many different perspectives that are magnetically drawn to them.
New Pulp Fiction provides one possible answer to our question:
What is New Pulp? Well, as far as my definition goes, the explanation is fairly simple. New Pulp is fiction written with the same sensibilities, linear storytelling, pattern of conflict, and creative use of words and phrases of original Pulp, but crafted by modern writers, artists, and publishers.
To me this is the most obvious and least interesting answer. Because really this is just genre fiction by another name, and nothing new. Genre was born in pulp, and has continued uninterrupted from then until now. And it’s an answer rooted in nostalgia, the sense that something has been lost and needs to be regained. For me, these answers don’t begin to explain why New Pulp is interesting.
Instead I’m drawn to thinking about New Pulp in the context of other creative movements in genre fiction. New Wave. New Weird. Steps in the long journey genre fiction has made to stretch itself in to being MORE than just entertainment, MORE than just pulp fiction. Is New Pulp a step backwards on that path, something essentially conservative and retrospective, or is it a step forwards that has something new to bring to the party?
My gut says it has the potential to be the latter.
Perhaps a better question than ‘What is New Pulp?’ is ‘Why do we want one?’ Creativity is cyclical. Genre SF & Fantasy had an amazing burst of creativity in the late 90’s and early 00’s. But through the later years of that decade they fell in to a period of relative conservatism, driven partly by the declining economy and partly by changes within publishing. But post 2010 these genres have once again started to show signs of intense creative energy. Now they seem ready to burst in to life again, fuelled in part by the potential of ebooks and indie publishing, which is where of course much of the energy of the New Pulp is being displayed. We, the creators in the field, are hungry for a focus for our creativity. And the aesthetic of the New Pulp has the potential to provide that focus.
So you tell me. What is the New Pulp? Or maybe more usefully, what could the New Pulp be?