Most pulp magazines did not carry editorials. And as I sit here late at night Ė or early in the morning Ė just hours before Pulp Spirit 3 goes on line, I think Iím beginning to see why. In a fiction magazine, the stories do the talking. There really isnít much else to say.
A pulp magazine editor would talk to the readers in the letter column, and sometimes in short promotional fillers that occupied the space between the end of a story and the bottom of the page. Occasionally he might set aside a page toward the front of the magazine if there was an important announcement to be made, or a milestone to be acknowledged. If the magazine had added pages or made an important change in policy. Other than that, the page could be used for something more important Ė like an additional page to a story, or an extra illustration. But an editorial? Why bother?
So why arenít I all snug and comfy in bed, then? The big exception was the science fiction field, of course. Hugo Gernsback, who published Amazing Stories, the first sf magazine, was in the main a publisher of non-fiction magazines on scientific subjects such as radio, and he viewed science fiction as a way of teaching the public about the wonders of science. An editorial made sense. To John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding Science Fiction, it also made sense to editorialize. It was Campbell who introduced social realism into science fiction, and that opened up a lot more avenues of thought for the field. A smart editor Ė and Campbell was smart, shrewd and loved to argue Ė could have a field day with editorials.
But Pulp Spirit is a magazine that publishes an array of different types of stories. It doesnít publish science fiction, so we canít teach you how your television works, or explain the ramifications of sociological change. So the answer to the question ďWhy arenít I snug in bed?Ē is that I have no idea what you want me to talk about in this column.
Still, I feel that editorials, even in fiction magazines, are a useful thing for the editor to write. Itís good for the readers and editors to bounce ideas about. Itís called communication.
And that brings me to my point. If Iím going to know what to write in this column, I have to have some idea about how you feel about it. If Iím going to publish stories you like, Iím going to need to know what you want to read. If Iím going to improve this magazine, issue after issue, I need to know what stories you like and what stories you donít like.
Mainly, I need to hear from you. Email is a wonderful thing and you donít really need to write a formal letter. Just tell me which stories you like and which you donít like. I already know that next issue is better than this one, and youíll know that also in a few weeks. And I know that the issue after that will be a good one, too, because Iíve already lined up some of the stories for it, and so far theyíre pretty good.
But thatís just my opinion. What if you donít agree with me? I need to know whether you like the stories in Pulp Spirit or not. Iíve said my piece. Now you say yours.
? Gerald W. Page