It's impossible to publish and relax these days. Things move too quickly. Of course that's nothing new, but the results often are -- and if they're not exactly new, they're certainly unpredictable. So here's the letter column but with a new name, a new look, and we hope a lot more interest for the reader -- particularly those who're interested in pulps and pulp history.
And since this is a new approach to our letter column, it has to come with a warning. We have no idea of what will be the best way to do this. You think this is different? Come back next issue and see how much more different it'll be then.

We're still a letter column, of course, so let's start off with some letters.
By the way, Lt. Luna hasn't been tossed out the airlock. We're sure she's lurking around here somewhere. So don't be surprised if all of a sudden she pops up.

Go getter Robert Kennedy is working on our editorial staff now and sent out the following letter to some of his fans:

Look for my Erwin K. Roberts pen-name in all but the second issue of Pulp Spirit. Wold Newton fans should have fun with my story of The Voice in #1 http://www.planetarystories.com/voice.htm
And see if you can identify the protagonist in "How the Name Came" in issue #4

Walter Loepp responded:

Bob,
Fun stuff indeed! Quite enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the Duncan illustrations. And the stories are short, sweet, and very funny. Thanks for the link.
Looking forward to issue 18!
Wally
PS: Are the back issues--1-16--available?

Links to all back issues are at the main page:http://www.planetarystories.com

Martin Haggerty wrote ShelVy:
Another great issue. I burned through this one and can't wait for the next.
Marty

Your wait is over, Marty. Hope it was worth it!

Before we go any further, we'd like to remember a very special friend, Kim Morgan. Kim was not a pulp fan (though you wouldn't know that from the way she's devouring that issue of The Shadow in the accompanying photo). She passed away at the end of March.

Kim assisted us in a variety of ways, even writing one article in an early issue of Flashback when it was a printed journal for pulp collectors a few years back. We've decided to reprint the article below. It originally appeared in Flashback Number One, under her pseudonym, Ginger Lyons.

ON OPENING MY FIRST PULP MAGAZINE

By Kimberly H. Morgan

The first thing I thought about was the crumbling, brown, seemingly fragile paper on which it was printed, the dated advertisements of products now either infamous or obsolete; and I was struck by the passing existence of such printed expression. These pages were made from trees; the availability of so much personal expressive content so mass-produced and affordable, as well as easily accessible, was downright amazing. Consider that the first printing press was invented in the mid-15th century by a German goldsmith, Johannes Gutenberg. Paper, like moveable type, came from China and had only just begun to replace animal parchment. The ink was oily paint from olives, earlier used by artists, and so, before printing, books were mainly written in monasteries. They were often in Latin so only educated people could read them. They were considered so precious that many libraries kept them on chains.
The printing press changed all this: a printer produced more pages in an hour than a monk could copy in a week.
Over the next hundred years, European civilization, technology and society changed. With a new merchant class came the weakening of the old authorities -- especially the Church. There became a ready market for books and literacy -- and with literacy came free thought and expressionism. The gift of tale-telling carried orally over generations could now be shared with the world, and a new form of art developed, defining civilization again.
Trapped in my apartment again for various reasons, namely the weather, I began to read a story from the November, 1936 issue of Street & Smith's Top Notch, "Mungo" by Richard Sale. This is a very vivid account of a mongoose rising to the occasion as did his ancestors. A mongoose is a small ferret-like mammal that lives in India. It is primarily a predator-carnivore, its diet consisting mainly of small rodents, large insects, occasionally fish and small birds. However it has a renowned invaluable skill for which no other animal is known: its unique ability to swiftly, stealthily and cunningly attack and kill cobras! Amazingly, some mongooses come to the defense of humans -- such stories are common. To live in Mocambi, it would be more than advantageous to have one if not several "pet" house mongooses, as the native population of cobras, vipers, and various other venomous snakes outweighs the human population by at least 10 to 1.
Anyway, back to being trapped in my apartment. I felt miraculously transported to another century, where I began to hear sitars, drums, and the sounds of exotic birds in the distance. This story was so well written I really could imagine being in the room with the characters. Why, I can smell the pungent incense, curry and hemp, feel the weight of tropic jungle humidity, the mosquitoes! What an adventure! Quick, where's that calamine? "Sahib" Lathrop Evans, an Englishman, and his friend and loyal servant Yaku, a Hindu, find an orphaned baby mongoose sick from starvation and dying. They nurse it back to health and seem to realize that it will be no more than an adorable pet and not the snake assassin they hoped for, as it displays timid tendencies even with the most innocent challenges.
But this is just child's play as later on the story reveals that instinct and devotion rise above these lowered expectations, and Mungo the mongoose, proves himself worthy of being called a "true" mongoose.
I wish I had pulp magazines available to me when I was growing up and in early adulthood. I find the satisfaction and escape into another place, period or minutes so much more positive and expansive than the "Archie" comics or satire of Mad magazine.
While these other pieces of "fluff fiction" must have had their value somewhere, they did nothing to quench my hunger for realism in fiction. The pulps seem to be able to give a substance of characterization that I, or other readers, can personally identify with. And that, for me, is the difference between passing the time and actually broadening one's horizons.
The pulps are underrated and virtually unknown, and certainly unappreciated by the generation of adolescents and young adults. What a shame, for they present valuable ideas and are valuable forms of literature. Pieces of history.
If you don't know where you've been, how can you dream of where you're going? The pulps give readers something to look forward to and I think that could be the problem today with youth: no sense of something to look forward to -- no dreams -- just the "now." I wish the pulps were used as a teaching tool early in schools in discussing literature, instead of being saved for specific college courses or to be stumbled upon by science fiction fans at conventions or used book stores.
I never really understood or had read any pulp magazines until I was asked to by my friend Jerry Page. It has made quite an impression on me, one I'm not likely to forget. Today I came to appreciate a whole new world of Adventure.

End of article.
Kim was known among her friends for her love of animals. She had many pets over the years, including cats, fish, birds, at least one skunk and an albino one at that, and a couple of ferrets..
Another friend we wish hadn't departed quite as early as he did is Jerry Burge, some of whose artwork you can find in this column. Below is a short article Jerry wrote about himself.

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST
By Jerry Burge

(From Spicy Armadillo Stories # 2, 1990. This was the introduction to a portfolio of Jerry's artwork.)

I began drawing in 1945 or 1946 by tracing old comic book covers and then rendering them in Finlay style. I soon moved to attempting stuff out of my own imagination, using science fictional subjects.
My original inspiration was Murphy Anderson's comic book art, particularly Star Pirate. I liked the three dimensionality of his work. Other Planet Comics artists, such as Joe Doolin, had that depth, too. But Murphy Anderson had a non-slick style that looked like something I could do if I tried real hard.
Forty-five years later, I still haven't done it, but I'm still trying.
The first book on drawing that I bought was "Anyone Can Draw" by Arthur Zaidenburg (or something like that). It didn't make me an instant artist but it gave me an idea of how to go about constructing a drawing. I started checking out books at the library. I don't remember most but one on anatomy (and I don't recall the title) made a good impression. It had a cold and scientific approach which appealed to me.
Around 1947 or 48, I bought a $10 set of oil paints and started slapping paint over everything. Unfortunately, all my experience was in watercolor, so I mixed it with turpentine. It was a long time before I discovered you mix the stuff with white to make it lighter.
Around that same time, I discovered India ink. Always before, I used a fountain pen. India ink made all the difference. Now my drawings were in black and white, not gray and white or blue and white.
There are five great artists in science fiction. They're Frank R. Paul, Virgil Finlay, Hannes Bok, L. Sterne Stevens and J. Allen St. John. Maxfield Parrish is undoubtedly better than them. His paintings are like a walk into another world -- and a vastly more beautiful world. The same is true of those other five guys: they all take you elsewhere, unlike most of the airbrush artists. But Parrish is the master.
Why do I draw? Because there's all this blank paper around and if I didn't draw, I'd have to write on it.
My philosophy of drawing comes from August Derleth, of all people. Somewhere in one of his stories he talks about "Windows on Other Worlds." What I want to do is draw something that looks like a window on another world.
Outside science fiction, I admire Rozen, because of his color. Baumhofer's Doc Savage covers somehow get a feeling of strength and power, often with just a face. John Flanagan was great. His art had a feeling of shadows, exotic locales, something lurking in the background.
In comics, Roy Crane is the master. There's nothing static in his artwork. A Roy Crane page is all movement. The characters are posed perfectly natural. Yet they retain weight, velocity and momentum. He was a good writer, too. The other master is Alex Raymond. He offered a sort of ideal all comic book artists strive for and never reach, except Shelly Moldoff, of course. But he traced.
All of which is meant to lead up to the drawings in the following pages. You have to be the judge of whether or not they work as windows on other worlds. Maybe the glass needs a going-over with Windex, but once I've drawn them, the rest is up to you. I had a lot of fun drawing them and I hope you have as much fun looking at them.
:: Jerry Burge

That was written as the introduction to a portfolio of Jerry's artwork. We don't have room to run the portfolio -- and besides all the art has been used in various past issues of Planetary Stories. Go to the home page and check out the covers on some of our earlier back issues. You won't be disappointed.
Even so, we've found a few drawings of Jerry's -- mostly from his sketchbooks -- and spotted them around the column. We hope you like them.

One of our favorite pulp writers is a man named Johnston McCulley, who wrote detective and western stories (for the most part) from the early years of the 20th Century, up to the very end of the Pulp Era in 1954 -- and kept going for some time after that. We're taking this opportunity to show you some covers from Street & Smith's Detective Story, one of his leading markets. This was where the stories of his masked hero The Crimson Clown first appeared, among many others. The Black Star, who also appeared in Detective Story, was a master criminal who connived his way through the pages of a short series in 1917.


In addition to crime and detective stories, McCulley wrote stories for publications like Western Stories. He also wrote for the general fiction pulps such as All-Story and Argosy, and it was in the August 9, 1919 issue of All-Story Weekly that his most famous character first appeared in a novel called "The Curse of the Capistrano," set in old California -- during the period of Spanish rule -- and introducing to the world the characters of Don Diego Vega and his alter-ego, the mysterious and dashing masked man, Zorro. Whether or not you've ever heard of the Crimson Clown, we bet you know about Zorro.
The current issue of Ed Hulse's Blood n' Thunder, a magazine devoted to non-fiction studies of pulps, pulp stories and pulp writers, features an article by Hulse on "The Mark of Zorro," featuring Douglas Fairbanks, the first of many Zorro films. Ed is one of the most skilled researchers of pulp history these days, particularly as it relates to film adaptations of pulp material. The article is fascinating and is accompanied by a wealth of photos.
That's the Winter 2010 issue (# 25) of Blood n' Thunder, available for $11.95 from Ed Hulse, 2467 Route 10 East, Bldg. 15, Apt. 4B, Morris Plains, N.J. 07950. The issue also has features on Detective Fiction Weekly, The Popular Magazine, the serial Daredevils of the West and more.

Back in 1956, Amazing Stories celebrated its 30th anniversary with a giant 256 page issue reprinting some of the best stories from past issue. One of those stories was "The Jameson Satellite" by Neil R. Jones from July, 1931.
In the story, Professor Jameson builds a rocket and leaves instructions in his will that when he is dead his body is to be shot into orbit to circle the Earth forever. In the airless void, Jameson figures his remains will last almost forever.
Time passes. Civilizations rise and fall and eventually human beings disappear from the planet. But one day a spaceship from Zorome, containing a crew of intrepid explorers passes through the Solar System and discovers the rocket ship containing Jameson's body.
Because of the vast amounts of time necessary to travel between stars, the Zoromes have had their brains transplanted into metal bodies. The bodies are virtually impervious and unless something damages the brain, Zoromes expect to live for thousands of years. Finding Professor Jameson's corpse with his brain unharmed, the Zoromes transplant the brain into one of their metal bodies and Jameson, now known as 21MM392, joins their crew of space explorers. The Zoromes visited a variety of alien planets in adventures featured in Amazing Stories, Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories until the early fifties.
In 1967, Ace Books issued a slender paperback called "Planet of the Double Sun" which reprinted the first three stories of the series. In all, Ace issued five paperbacks in the series, including "The Sunless World," "Space War," "Twin Worlds" and "Doomsday on Ajiat," which closed out the paperback series in 1968. In all 16 of the Zorome stories appeared in paperback, including a small number that had not appeared before. "Doomsday on Ajiat," the most recent of the reprinted stories, was originally in the October, 1942 Astonishing Stories, leaving at least five stories uncollected.
This gives us an excuse, by the way, to publish Jerry Burge's drawing of a Zorome which appears around here somewhere.




It's a good thing Sarah Taylor spends as much time as she can reading the great stories in Planetary Stories and Pulp Spirit. Because that sound is no sweet, innocent, entertaining pulp magazine such as Horror Stories or The Spider. It sounds more to us like that scoundrel Dastardly Dave Dangerous is sneaking up behind her with some diabolical scheme involving her and the local sawmill. Dastardly Dave has been trying to foreclose on. We can hear his evil laugh already. So can Sarah, which means that even though Dastardly Dave is hiding in those dark shadows over there, the sound will give our lovely heroine something to aim at.

If you aim to read the best in space opera and pulp action fiction, you need to keep your eye on www.planetarystories.com where both of those fine on-line magazines reside. Planetary Stories summons up the super-scientific startlement of Planet Stories and Captain Future, no less, with rousing interplanetary adventures by the Richard Logan, Shelby Vick, Gerald W. Page and Rob Shelsky and others, all of them illustrated by such masters as Kevin Duncan, Mark Fults, Roy Coker and Jerry Burge and Jim Garrison. Those same writers and artists show up in Pulp Spirit along with Scott Cranford, Erwin K. Roberts, Fran Douglas and more.

So be sure to join Sarah whenever new issues of those magazines go online and enjoy the very best in neo-pulp enjoyment. After all, you can't beat up on poor Dastardly Dave all the time!

There's no installment of PulpRack this issue, but since we have a couple of miscellaneous reviews on hand, let's run them here. The first one is by Kevin Breen and deals with one of our favorite characters from Argosy.


"FANGS OF THE FETISH" reviewed by KEVIN BREEN

There was a reason they called him Bellow Bill. The 6-foot-three, 240 pound, coppery-haired, full-body-tattooed sailor just couldn't be quiet. His voice was naturally booming. It was not possible for him to whisper. We have the word of his raconteur Ralph R. Perry for that. Bill was a tough "old timer," whose boast was the he went where other men wouldn't and never demanded his profit in advance. He ran a pearling schooner in the South Seas but had sailed to New Guinea and Australia.

In "Fangs of the Fetish" (ARGOSY Feb 23, 1935) Bill meets Namu Pierce a fellow old timer who is attempting to retrieve evidence that will give him half the wealth of John Wellington Marsden, the richest man in the islands. It isn't easy to get to, because "the safest place to hide anything from a white man is the spirit house of a Solomon village." In this case, in the Boss Devil fetish of a bloodthirsty tribe of cannibals and headhunters. Needless to say, with a cobra like Pierce, what's in the Boss Devil is not what he claimed. Bellow Bill gets it anyway, and barely makes it out with his head. Pierce, not so. The story ends when Marsden's two heirs decide to do the decent thing by each other, and Bill remarks that with an attitude like that, they'll never truly be old timers.

A nice, fast read, hairsbreadth escapes, fine fighting and a heavy dose of South Seas atmosphere makes you want to read more about Bellow Bill.

Kevin P Breen


Thanks, Kevin. Great review. You're welcome to send in as many as you like, as often as you like, whenever you like.

Paul Powers is fondly remembered by readers of western pulps for the Sonny Tabor (and other) stories he wrote for Wild West Weekly. We're lucky enough to have the following review of one of his stories by his granddaughter Laurie Powers. Again, it's something we planned to put in PulpRack, but PulpRack didn't make it in this issue. So let's use it here. We're proud to do so, too.


"THE SNOW GHOST" Review

Laurie Powers:

How many writers were able to center a pulp story around one of their pets? It's an interesting question. It's probably a pretty safe bet that not many were, and if they did write some tale around their favorite dog or cat, it wasn't something they could do on a regular basis.

My grandfather, Paul Powers, managed to get at least one published, The Snow Ghost, in the Spring 1945 RANGE RIDERS WESTERN. Up until 1943, he was kept pretty busy writing for WILD WEST WEEKLY, writing yarns about Sonny Tabor, Kid Wolf, Freckles Malone and Johnny .45, all Wild West Weekly heroes. But his story in Range Riders Western is centered around a much more unassuming character, a small dog named Spook.

My grandfather was a devout dog lover and wrote stories about them from almost the very beginning of his writing career. As far as I know, he never had any published though. WILD WEST WEEKLY wasn't interested in them because the stories, set in snow country - didn't fit their Western format. He always had dogs too, with various dogs loitering about the home when the kids were still there. One of those dogs was a Samoyed named Spook.

"The Snow Ghost" begins with Steve Buckner, around the rescuing of Spook from a cruel owner who is beating the tied up dog mercilessly. The little dog, part of a sled team, was literally not pulling his own weight. Steve Buckner flies at the beater and beats the owner senseless. Buckner then releases the dog, who bolts for a safe place. Buckner later sets out on his journey in the deep Montana winter, unaware that a little snow ghost has decided to follow him. But he hears something and turns around, and there is the little white dog, following him from a safe distance. Buckner, although not wanting to have the responsibility of a dog on his journey, relents and lets the dog join up. He calls him "Spook" for the reason that the dog blends into the snow and becomes almost invisible, like a ghost. One night spook hears the howl of a wolf, a mating call that Spook decides is being sung solely for him and he speeds away for the night. When he returns, he's beat up, but none the worse for wear.

Buckner finds a cabin in the snow and starts a fire.

The villain comes in, begins a fight. Spook gets involved, and in the fracas gets seriously injured. Buckner kills the villain, but finds himself trapped under the enormous body and at serious risk of being frozen to death. Spook, as far as he knows, is dead.

Hours go by, and then Kootenay Jack shows up.

Spook leaps at Kootenay's gun hand just as it goes off and manages to take a chunk out of the big lunk's hand. But the next time he wasn't so lucky, and Buckner "heard the sickening slap of metal against living flesh."

Buckner hasn't any time to determine whether Spook is dead --he has to keep Kootenay from killing him. But Spook's charge managed to delay the Kootenay's attack, enough time for Steve to wrestle Jack to the ground and drive his long knife into the ribs, up to the hilt.

Bukner was jammed against the wall, Kootenay's body pinning him. Steve struggled for fifteen minutes, but couldn't budge the enormous weight on him. He stopped, exhausted.

He called out for Spook, but there was no answer. Steve hoped that the dog hadn't suffered too much.

Then, for hours, Powers plays out Steve's troubles in trying to free himself. He thinks of all the possibilities: dismemberment.

MacAndrews shows up. Spook dragged himself to MacAndrews and then had died there on the old man's floor.

MacAndrews pulls out a puppy from inside the immense pockets in his coat. An all-white pup, a smaller version of Spook.

MacAndrews had shot the mother two days before, and dug out one of the puppies, the only white one.

It's a simple story and very short. I can imagine that my grandfather relished writing this story; for once, he had the luxury of time without the editors of WILD WEST WEEKLY breathing down his neck for the next Sonny Tabor story, and he was writing about one of his favorite subjects. This story is full of rich detail in description which made the story, even though a simple one, compelling and a joy to read.

He had covered about a mile along the west fork when he heard a sharp, ringing bark behind him. Steve Buckner turned and looked back-trail, but saw nothing except the white and somber green of the Montana landscape, which seemed empty of every living creature. There were already a few sparks in the steely sky, and in a little while the moon would be out of the east.

Buckner whistled tentatively, his narrowed eyes still unable to spot anything in that now silent desolation. Then something moved, almost at his feet. It was the white dog, now full of tiny, beseeching whimperings. Groveling in utter abasement, the canine bellied closer, licked Steve's boots and then the [bare] knuckles of his motionless left hand.

"You're like a ghost when you're against the snow. You're plumb spooky," Buckner said, relenting. "Well, let's have a look at you." The dog's enormous tail, which was ordinarily carried looped over its back, now made frantically joyous sweeps from side to side, as the man knelt under the heavy pack and began stroking the animal. It was of the purest white from its toenails to its cocked ears, and Buckner was astonished at the great thickness of its fur, and to find that beneath the coarser hair was a layer as fine and soft as eiderdown. This Arctic coat added to the dog's bulk while the body underneath was surprisingly small. It was worn thin, too, Steve noticed, and he felt a little sorry that he hadn't hit the erstwhile owner just a trifle harder. Taking the delicately pointed muzzle in his hands, he forced the mouth wide open by applying pressure at the hinges of the jaws.

"Why, you're just a young dog. Mighty young. No wonder you couldn't pull your weight with those huskies." He threw away the stump of his cigar, and considered for a minute before straightening under his load. "Well, Spook, if you're comin' with me, let's get goin'."

:: Laurie Powers


That's another great review. Laurie, don't be a stranger.

Most of the pulp fan journals that publish fiction --such as Pulp Spirit --make it a matter of policy to publish stories based on famous characters from the pulps. We don't. We prefer stories with original characters and backgrounds. Having sly references (like the oblique mentions of The Shadow in some of the Diamondville Doll stories) is one thing. But when characters like The Masked Rider show up in a story someone has sent us, our editorial nose begins to itch.

But of course, when the story is written by someone as talented as Erwin Roberts, we'd be a fool to reject it. This issue Erwin made us bend our own rules, and not for the first time, with his story, "Blue Hawk Goes to Town." It's just too damned good not to take. But we did ask him to fill in a bit of background on Masked Rider and his pal Blue Hawk, who appeared in Masked Rider Western, one of the Thrilling Pulps.


Erwin K. Roberts:

Shelby & Jerry,
You asked for some background on how I happened to write "Blue Hawk Goes To Town." Well, here goes.

An issue of Masked Rider Western was either the first or second hero pulp I owned. I found it circa 1963 in a used book shop somewhere in Albuquerque. And Masked Rider was one of the very few hero titles where the writer got his own by-line routinely attached to his story. So now, Erwin K. Roberts can join the list. How 'bout, sports fans?

Now here's some of what I dredged up about the character Sometime before the beginning of 1934 Oscar Schisgall wrote a hardback book titled "The Black Caballero" The book was reprinted and/or adapted as the lead story for Volume 1 Number 1 of the magazine "Masked Rider Western."

The first 13 Masked Rider issues were published by something called Ranger Pubs. That outfit believed in full disclosure about their writers. I have the 8th issue. In the "coming next issue" column is an eyebrow raiser.

Seems that Wm. H. Stuber was found slumped over his typewriter, dead. His Masked Rider novel was mostly done. So the editor named the other writer who completed the manuscript for them.

After an 8 month break Thrilling began publishing the title. Thrilling's first novel in the April, 1934 "The Robin Hood Outlaw" became the character's nickname. By the time the title folded in April, 1954, there were a total of one hundred issues. Plus, in the October 1944 issue of "Exciting Western" the Masked Rider and Navajo Raine shared an adventure.

Beginning in 1969 Curtis Books issued 26 Masked Rider paperback reprints on a monthly basis. Only Thrilling stories were reprinted, including the first twenty-one issues. The last two paperbacks reprinted stories from late 1942. These were the only two paperbacks carrying a Masked Rider image/logo. There were a five title changes for whatever reason. "The Robin Hood Outlaw," for instance became "Outlaw of the Red Hills." (The reprint history can be found here: http://members.cox.net/pulpreprintindex/maskedrider.html )

The paperback covers were a hodgepodge of generic western paintings, barely visible Lone Ranger style mask originals, and one or two originals with the Masked Rider in his cloak (cape) and all. The almost small domino mask covers started when Thrilling picked up the title. And the mask got even smaller as the years passed. But until about 1950 there was always a tiny colophon of the Masked Rider with full mask & cloak somewhere on the cover. In the 1950's the cape came back at least three covers. In these the Masked Riderstill had the domino mask with a flowing black cloak offset by a bright red shirt. That's probably the only reason I noticed that issue in an Albuquerque used book store. A guy in a cape was not the sign of a general purpose western title. Galactic Central has most of the magazine's covers on display at: http://www.philsp.com/data/image095.htm#MASKEDRIDERWESTERN.html

In the late 1940's, much like the story formula inflicted on the Black Bat, the head bad guy became one of a small handful of suspects. He was limited to no more than three henchmen who generally stayed free and relatively unhurt until the big climax.

Some readers may have been surprised by one of the decorations on Blue Hawk's belt. The swastika is an authentic symbol with several American Indian tribes -- as well as some Asian ones -- but sort of disappeared from casual illustrative use when the Nazis adopted it. (In fact, during World War 1, some American aircraft flew into battle against the Germans adorned with the Indian lucky symbol.) Before then the thing appeared occasionally on pulp covers, in at least one case with a white cowboy having it on his shirt.

Anyway, the Masked Rider has now returned with new stories. And I've had the privilege of writing one for Airship-27 Productions. And the fun of writing what is probably the first ever Blue Hawk solo story for Pulp Spirit.

So there you are. Hope everybody enjoys it.

::Erwin K. Roberts


How can they not have enjoyed it? (And we know a publication that would not be averse to publishing more.)

Planetary Stories and Pulp Spirit are, as you undoubtedly are aware, not professional markets. We make no money off the site so we have no money to pay contributors.

But that doesn't mean we have low standards, and a number of pros have written for us, including Joe Green, Wendy Webb, Rob Shelsky, Steven Utley, Carleton Grindle and Jim Griffin. But we're just as proud of our contributors who haven't as yet scored their first pro sale as we are of those who have. So if you have a story that's looking for a home and wouldn't mind sharing space with some pretty distinguished company, send it to us.

For Planetary Stories, we're looking for science fiction adventure stories of the sort you can find in issues of pulp magazines such as Planet Stories, Astonishing Stories, Super Science Stories and Other Worlds. We like fast action stories with a strong central idea, a well-realized background, and a believable and (usually) sympathetic character. That character had better be faced with a really serious problem, and he better be able to solve that problem by the end of the story. Because we aren't going to take any stories where we don't care how it all comes out.

Does that mean we want only happy endings? Of course not. But we don't want endings that are copouts, either. Where the writer shrugs off the problem of finding a solution to the story's plot, or where characters die because the author isn't willing to figure out a less obvious ending. What we want are stories.

A story is a narrative about a change in a given situation. The change provides the beginning. The resolution of that change (especially if the resolution is brought about by the action and determination of the main character) brings us to the story's ending. Along the way, the writer keeps things moving and does whatever is necessary to entertain us.

In a story a likeable character overcomes great odds to achieve a worthwhile goal. That was the formula that Lee Floren used to write westerns and it's a useful formula for writing any sort of story.

Speaking of westerns, it's obvious from this issue of Pulp Spirit that we use a lot of them. We also need detective stories. But we're getting a fair number of both those categories, and we'd like to see some other types of stories in Pulp Spirit as well. We'd love to see more straight adventure stories set in exotic locales such as Africa, South America or the South Sea Islands. And we want to see more stories set in various historical periods. We need more animal stories. We also wouldn't object to sports or love stories. After all, while Planetary Stories is devoted to space adventure stories, Pulp Spirit specializes in everything else. That means we want westerns and we want detective stories. But that doesn't mean we want just detective and western stories.

Some of you are probably wondering what happened to Lt. Luna. Surely in all the shuffling around we didn't just forget to bring her along. Of course not.


A LETTER FROM LT. LUNA

When the Cap'n lets me know about the new changes in the ol' ship Planetary, I have to admit my first reaction wasn't exactly lady-like. I dumped a keg of Xeno in his lap. We was sitting at the bar at Hurley's Imbibement Parlour over on Ganymede, and I guess I let me emotions run away with me. Frog Ears was pleased, though. He and Wart Face had a bet going as to what time of the evening I'd swat the old man and Frog Ears won.

Hurley's Imbibement Parlour isn't exactly one of those rowdy places you read about in your higher class sorts of space drama and those who consider space the final frontier haven't been to Hurley's where it sometimes gets really wild n' Wooly. Besides, they serves their own exclusive drink, the Supernova Express, which is a tasty concoction of Xeno and TNT, partaken of normally with a chaser of drain cleaner. So as you might imagine, I was in a mellow and forgiving mood and after an hour or so I let Cap up off the floor and we chatted amicably about the whole thing.

Of course I was upset to find out I wasn't in charge of answering your fine letters no more but Cap thundered, "What letters? We don't get no letters, almost," so I wrote myself this one. Not getting more letters has been a sore spot with Cap for some time and if you'd like to cheer up an old man, just send ol' Planetary a letter of comment and you can make Cap happy for almost ten or twelve minutes.

Naturally, when Cap tells me I'll be in charge of astrogation, I ask him whatever happened to Hell-Bent Hoolihan, who used to have the job and got us lost in some of the most interesting places in the Galaxy. (And not necessarily this Galaxy.) Cap says, "I chucked him out the airlock. Can't you hear that pounding on the hull?"

Actually, it's been four months and we can still hear it. How long do you figure that fool can hold his breath?

Don't forget to send your letters. You can use the link at the bottom!

Lt. Luna

With such distinguished contributors as Ian Watson in this issue, you'd think it was impossible to make the next issue better. You might be right, too. We're having a heck of a time just trying to produce one that'll be as good.

But we're going to make a try of it, and we plan to start the issue off with "Cavern Wight" by Lane Stevens. The story takes place in a world of artificial caverns dug miles deep into the Earth. It concerns a woman named Breese, who's fleeing for her life from cannibalistic cave-dwellers. But she should have fled faster because now they've got her and she's definitely on tonight's menu, unless she can do some fast thinking. And some faster running.

That may sound familiar to some of the old-timers in the audience and that's on purpose. Whether or not you ever heard the words "Shaver Mystery," we think you're going to have a lot of fun with this one. Over at Pulp Spirit, fans of the Diamondville Dolls will be pleased to learn that the sisters are back. Fran Douglas noted the date of our next issue and immediately sat down and wrote a story called, "Trick or Treat." We've debated how much more we want to tell you and decided all we have to mention is that Nora's costumed in a tight-fitting black witches' dress, and Cathy has on a harem outfit that can only be called "scant and translucent."

Then the Cap has a story, using the name 'Shelby Vick'. It's called "The Mountie's Strange Summer Day".

'Strange' is right! Starts with a long summer, then leads the Mountie on a case he'll never forget..And it has a bit of action in it. Pretty good, Cap!

For that matter, he also has a Western, 'The Prodigal'. It's the old story about conflict between sheepherders and cattlemen, leading to lots of shooting -- and a surprise at the end.

Richard Logan continues his impressive S.H.I.P. story with a very imaginative story about Everett Gordon (he oughta be called 'Flash') and his exploits as, told by the title, 'The First S.H.I.P.' His experience is mind-blowing!

The date that issue goes on line is October 1, 2010, and it covers the period from October to New Years, which contains some of the most festive days of the year. We thought it was too soon to do another dedicated Holiday Issue, but that doesn't mean we won't have our share of holiday stories packing the hold. We'll have quite a few that have nothing to do with the holidays, too. Such favorites as Erwin K. Roberts, Richard Logan and Carleton Grindle are working on new stories for us, and if we're not careful we might even end up with new stuff by Shelby Vick and Gerald Page. And as you can see from looking at that illustration over there, some of the crew have already started reading.

So fasten your grav-plates, Pee-lots! It's going to be a heck of a ride.

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