October 27, 2006

Holiday reading: In defence of pulp

Why pay for the latest page-turner when you've still got pulp in the attic?

Took some 1960's pulp fiction on holiday with me, including this one, Juggernaut by 'Bron Fane' (surely a pseudonym). The evocative cover art accurately depicts the opening chapters of the book – a mile high humanoid is flying around the galaxy, tearing open the life-support domes of human colonists, flattening their buildings and knocking over their huge 'computors' ('electronic brains'). The abundance of dated British sixties slang, still in use in the 29th century, is as amusing as the prose, which is so badly written, even I noticed.

I only mention this because despite being true 'pulp' and obviously written in a rush, it was still very readable. Juggernaut kept me going to the very last page. Crucially, the story was pretty unusual, maybe not for a comic book or manga, but unusual stuff in prose. To me, if the story is interesting, I’ll suffer many shortcomings and still enjoy it.

This of course goes for films too. If there’s one element in a trashy movie that you can enjoy – a favourite actor, some background music, even a ‘look’ of an outdated film stock – it just takes one redeeming feature to make it still watchable. Even if the film bombed, or was critically panned, or your mates have never heard of it... unknown films can still warrant extensive pleasure. I just wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying to inflict these ‘pleasures’ on your friends…

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