Pulps

Soon after making his first forays into amateur publishing in fanzines, Bradbury began submitting work to the pulps. Pulp magazines were a popular form of reading from the 1890s through the 1950s. The term pulp comes from the cheap, low quality wood pulp paper used to print the magazines. Descended from the penny dreadfuls and dime novels of the nineteenth century, pulps generally focused on specific genres, such as crime and detective stories, romance, science fiction and fantasy, or westerns. They were sold at newsstands, alongside daily papers and the more expensive glossy magazines, and featured vibrant and sensational cover art. While cultural consensus, both then and now, has generally dismissed the pulps as lowbrow, it should be noted that most of the major authors of genre fiction, such as Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, and Agatha Christie, as well as many authors associated with high literature, such as Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Kipling, frequently contributed to these magazines.

Many of Bradbury’s stories and novellas first appeared in various pulp magazines. Later, he would compile them into short story collections, such as Dark Carnival (1947) or incorporate them into novels, such as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Fahrenheit 451 (1953). Some important pulp firsts for Bradbury are: a fan letter in Astounding Science Fiction, April 1939, his first story sale, “Pendulum,in Super Science Stories, November 1941, his first author credit on a magazine cover with “Reunion” in Weird Tales, March 1944, his first title cover credit with “I, Rocket” in Amazing Stories, May 1944, and his first cover title with story specific art for “Undersea Guardians” in Amazing Stories, December 1944. Even after branching out into the glossies, Bradbury continued to fill the pulps pages with tales of thrilling wonder.

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