Pulp Magazines

Just read Keith Alan Deutsch’s introduction to The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories (which I got from the library because it’s the only thing they had with a story by Carroll John Daly, who was name-checked next to Dashiel Hammett in Lloyd Arthur Eshbach’s introduction to Doc Smith’s Have Trenchcoat–Will Travel (Advent Press, April 2001)).

He talks a lot about mystery pulps, and other early pulps, and pulp-adjacent things and things that came out of the pulps (like Argosy).

And after a while I started noticing familiar names rolling by. Street & Smith Publications, Lurton Blassingame, Kurt Siodmak, the aforementioned Argosy (which, from 1896, is said to be the first true pulp magazine).

Then I started to notice the conspicuous absence of any reference to science fiction. The pulp tradition pre-dates science fiction of course, and mysteries have been a bigger market than science fiction most of my life (not sure it’s true today; at least in movies, where mysteries haven’t caught on as well as in books, and where sf has caught on amazingly well). And this introduction is to a collection of mystery stories. Still, there was lots of reference to western stories as a genre, and even a few to railroad stories (Railroad magazine was the first special-interest pulp magazine starting in the 1880s, and still making money in the late 1970s).

Which brings me to the next-to-last paragraph of his introduction, in which he exudes pride over Black Mask Magazine being one of only three titles from the pulp fiction collections of the Library of Congress deemed “extremely rare and valuable” contributions to the history of American culture, and transferred to the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the library.

The other two were Amazing Stories and Weird Tales. I feel better now.

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