“-punk”d

I first became aware of cyberpunk in my sophomore year of high school with “Neuromancer” (William Gibson’s own “Citizen Kane”), and I immediately took to it. This was 1990-91, and at that time it was the most subversive and electric thing I’d ever experienced. This was the future, I felt. It was grim and ugly but full of interesting premises.

Who knew that it would lead to videos of monkeys sniffing their butts and millions of little twerps texting each other using awful grammar?

But I digress…

Soon after I discovered cyberpunk, Gibson and Bruce Sterling wrote “The Difference Engine”, which would introduce the world to steampunk. This was cool too: an extension of the Jules Verne-H.G. Wells interest I had when younger (and continue to have).

After that, I heard about splatterpunk… I’m not a fan.

Then, a few years ago, when reading about steampunk online, I discovered that the “-punks” were everywhere.

Biopunk, clockpunk, elfpunk, bronzepunk, atomicpunk… even something called stonepunk, which immediately calls to my mind “The Flintstones”. Who knew the modern stone-age family was the bleeding-edge of science-fiction?

I was ok with the first few, but now it’s getting out of hand.

AND… now they’ve gone too far by touching my beloved pulp with dieselpunk.

Now before I launch into a geektastic rant, let me go on record as saying that anything that brings the pulp-era back is a good thing in my book. It was a dark time for the human race, and yet the adventures were somehow brimming with optimism. Even in issues of The Shadow, Operator 5, and The Spider magazines (the darkest of the pulps), we were given the hope that good would triumph over all evil. Quite frankly, we need that kind of dreams-come-true optimism now.

But dieselpunk? Why? Why anything-punk?

I dunno… it seems like there’s too much genrefication these days. I’ve got mixed feelings about it: on one hand, there’s all these unique styles of sci-fi out there now, rife with new ideas. On the other hand, they’re instantly labeled and packaged, and with the most unwieldy titles. It’s almost as though we need to name something as soon as it comes along, to give it instant familiarity and assuage the fear of the new.

Then again, that’s modern society for you… consumerpunk all the way.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 4:55 pm  Comments (1)  

Happy Anniversary, Orson!

It’s the 70th anniversary of the famous “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast. Find it, listen to it, and recall a more innocent, simple era when radio could sway a nation into believing martians had invaded. Even today, it sounds impressive…

WotW

Published in: on October 30, 2008 at 8:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

New video: Zorro

Not my best work, but hey… at least I’m making videos again.

Published in: on October 16, 2008 at 4:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Apart from the super-heroic sounds, the silence is deafening…

Hello again. Remember me?

Been away awhile, but still been here. Got tired of letting you folks hang, so today I decided “Dammit, I’m going to post something, no matter how long it takes to write it at work.

A lot of things happened suddenly, leading to the radio-silence here. Stepped-up intensity at work and in college led to not being able to spend as much time giving to the internet, only able to take. Add to that the previously-mentioned health problems of my father (who I’ve only recently have begun to know, really) and the increased hours at work (my wife lost her job), and I haven’t had the energy for the creative stuff. My pulp-hero video series on YouTube is on hiatus, the typing of my Challenger Storm novel is going slllloooooowwww… I know that the good stuff will come back soon, but not until things stabilize. I’m tired… really friggin’ tired. At the end of the day right now, I really only have the energy to point and click right now… and that’s where City of Heroes and City of Villains come in.

(more…)

New video: G8 & His Battle Aces

While you’re waiting on a book update (I promise one very soon), have a gander at the latest hero-pulp essay from my MARDL channel on YouTube.

Published in: on July 14, 2008 at 7:23 pm  Comments (2)  

New video: The Spider

Once again…

From the MARDL YouTube channel, yet another hero-pulp essay…

(click here, because the embedding ain’t workin’)

Published in: on July 5, 2008 at 3:27 pm  Comments (2)  

New video: Doc Savage

From the MARDL YouTube channel, a new hero-pulp essay from yours truly:

Published in: on June 28, 2008 at 10:36 pm  Comments (3)  

New video: The Phantom Detective

From the MARDL YouTube channel, the second hero-pulp video essay:

Published in: on June 24, 2008 at 5:31 pm  Comments (4)  

New video: The Shadow

From the Youtube MARDL channel, a brief history of The Shadow. It’s the first of my hero pulp video essays.

Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm  Comments (8)  

“Shut up, Ayres!”

It’s been a while since I reveiwed any pulps that I’ve been reading here, and I’ve read plenty since. I’ve read my first Black Bat, and found him a very cool precursor to both Batman and Daredevil, as well as my first Ki-Gor (what an unwieldy name), and found it more enjoyable than I thought.

I also experienced a character called The Crimson Mask- or at least tried to. I should have heeded the warnings I found online about this guy… his story was like vanilla ice-cream… left in the sun for a day. The Crimson Mask is basically a pharmacist who started crime-fighting to avenge his father’s death. His name comes from… his mask. A simple, Lone Ranger-type red mask that was supposed to instill fear in criminals.

Look Mr. pharmacist/vigilante, if a brightly colored dime-store mask scares criminals, then there’s really no point in you fighting them. Sit back and wait for them to shoot themselves by accident instead while you stock the Preparation-H and the Tinactin.

Anyway, after being burned by that fool, I was in the mood to read some good ol’ aviation stuff, and bought a few reprints of “Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds”.

The concept is basically what would’ve happened had G-8 or Bill Barnes gotten into a bar fight with Operator 5 in the pages of “Amazing Stories”. And really, if those references are over your head, you really need to Google more pulp stuff right away.

The “Ayres” issue I read was the first one: “Black Lightning” from July of 1934. Basically, the world is in peril at the hands of a mysterious conquerer called “Fire Eyes”. After rallying all of southeast Asia to his cause his forces swept across Europe, downing anything in their path. Next, of course, Fire Eyes and his “Black Invaders” set their sights on the good ol’ U.S. of A.

And so we are introduced to the Dusty Ayres universe, a panic-choked place, (somwhat) eerily prescient of the coming second World War. The titular airman (from an air force “High Speed group”) gets his marching orders at the beginning of the story: Fire Eyes’ invaders are on their way, though their attack strategy is unclear, and America’s military communications are being jammed somehow. It’s up to Ayres and his plane “The Silver Flash” (apparently the fastest fighter plane in the U.S.’s arsenal) to deliver battle plans around the country. However, things get sidetracked and interesting quickly, as the Black Invaders’ #1 air ace The Black Hawk sets his sights on Dusty.

The entire story is frantic, with a lot of flying around at high speeds, orders being barked, and fears of invaders being flung around in a panic. It’s not that bad, really, although it is a bit dated. It doesn’t seem to have that “timeless” quality that a lot of the classic pulps have that let’s them hold up today. There’s a bit of xenophobia here (at one point, there’s a comment about “lax immigration laws” being to blame for foreign spies in the country). There’s also a bit of antiquated aeronautics in there that bug me, too. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that no matter how powerful the engine, a biplane like The Silver Flash could not out-maneuver a mono-winged fighter plane like the ones the Black Invaders flew. But maybe that’s just nitpicking.

Also, something that bothered me was the lack of explaination of what was portrayed inside the enemy-base. When Dusty is captured and kept prisoner in a Black base in Canada (damn sneaky Canucks!), he sees rows and rows of radio operators that look very peculiar. Not sure if they’re genetic mutations or what (hopefully not unfortunately exagerated asians), but we’re led to believe they have an interesting story… that we don’t get any of.

Also, on an interesting side note: Dusty gets told to “Shut up!” by at least 4 of his superiors in this story. I don’t think I’ve ever read ANY pulps where the hero gets told to shut up.

Overall, it’s an interesting artifact of pre-WWII pulp lore. Spies, sci-fi, air-action… and mole-men. Good stuff.

Published in: on June 12, 2008 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment