Saturday, September 30, 2017

Link Roundup

Let's start this link roundup with a link to a survey of Romanticism and Romantic writers.

"In a broader sense, Romanticism can be conceived as an adjective which is applicable to the literature of virtually any time period. With that in mind, anything from the Homeric epics to modern dime novels can be said to bear the stamp of Romanticism."
I'll take a closer look at Romanticism soon, as Romantic writers such as Walpole, Hawthorne, and Poe not only influenced the pulps up through Weird Tales and its like, they were often reprinted in the same pulps--and the first comics, as:

Adventures Into the Unknown was an American comic-book magazines series best known as the medium's first ongoing horror-comics title. The premiere included a seven-page, abridged adaptation of Horace Walpole's seminal gothic novel The Castle of Otranto, by an unknown writer and artist Al Ulmer.

Perhaps the pulps are the last bloom of the Romantics before the Realists and Modernists took over literature?


Speaking of Poe:
"I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would — that is to say, who could — detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say — but, perhaps, the autorial vanity has had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers — poets in especial — prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy — an ecstatic intuition — and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought — at the true purposes seized only at the last moment — at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view — at the fully matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable — at the cautious selections and rejections — at the painful erasures and interpolations — in a word, at the wheels and pinions — the tackle for scene-shifting — the step-ladders and demon-traps — the cock’s feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio."
I collect a fair amount of writer's advice here. The Master of Fiction offers a look into the process of writing in his "The Philospohy of Composition", and like the pulpsters that followed him, his methods are far more deliberate and planned than the current fashion.


A formative influence on Frank Herbert's Dune has recently been unearthed is discussed. (EDIT: I have been corrected. The links between Sabres of Paradise and Dune have been known for over 12 years.):
Lesley Blanch, the book’s author, has a memorable biography. A British travel writer of some renown, she is perhaps best known for On the Wilder Shores of Love (1954), an account of the romantic adventures of four British women in the Middle East. She was also a seasoned traveler, a keen observer of Middle Eastern politics and culture, and a passionate Russophile. She called The Sabres of Paradise “the book I was meant to do in my life,” and the novel offers the magnificent, overstuffed account of Imam Shamyl, “The Lion of Dagestan,” and his decades-long struggle against Russian encroachment. 
Anyone who has obsessed over the mythology of Dune will immediately recognize the language Herbert borrowed from Blanch’s work. Chakobsa, a Caucasian hunting language, becomes the language of a galactic diaspora in Herbert’s universe. Kanly, from a word for blood feud among the Islamic tribes of the Caucasus, signifies a vendetta between Dune’s great spacefaring dynasties. Kindjal, the personal weapon of the region’s Islamic warriors, becomes a knife favored by Herbert’s techno-aristocrats. As Blanch writes, “No Caucasian man was properly dressed without his kindjal.”

The Daytime Renegade discusses how art has become "a narcissistic howl that we hope to get attention for, not to “get better” (that’s usually done in private with family, friends, and professionals), but for the attention itself," and ends with a telling quote from Frank Zappa. 

ZAPPA: No. Most people don’t think I’m rational. They’re too busy featuring their hurt. They find it irrational not to feature your hurt. That’s how fucked up they are.


From the frontiers of ComicsGate, a tale of two Squirrel Girls, or Marvel vs. Toei:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Curated Garden

Anthony over at SuperversiveSF recently wrote an article examining the fruits of Campbell's revolution on science fiction. Now, I have taken my swings at Anthony's ideas before, both here and at the Castalia House blog, but that is not my intent today. His article illustrates the nerd bet made by Campbell and the effects it had on American science fiction--and saves me the time making the same argument. Rather, I bring up his article is to answer a question he posed:
I don’t think a bunch of supervillains got together into a room and concocted evil plans; I do think a bunch of folks felt it fit to puff up their own influence while looking down on or sometimes outright disdaining stories from the past – and that this strategy worked. 
How did that happen?
Extrapolating from there that Campbell and the Campbellian era writers liked and wanted to push this narrative isn’t exactly a hard sell.
I've long considered Campbelline science fiction to be a divergent strand from world science fiction. World science fiction, as seen in continental Europe and East Asia, is closer to science fiction's roots in weird fiction, combining elements of fantasy, horror, and detective stories as appropriate. Like corn/maize, it hybridizes readily. And just like corn, if you want a specific flavor, you have to isolate the seeds of what you like from everything else, as Campbell and the Futurians have.

Leigh Brackett and Edmund Hamilton commented on the difficulties of writing for Campbell in their 1976 Tangent interview. Brackett said "I kept trying to sell him things because he was the top market, but when you wrote a Campbell-type story and it didn't sell then you had no place else to go with it." Within ten years of starting his editorship, Campbell's preferences were already walled away from the more hybridized science fiction around him. These preferences can best be seen in his Unknown magazine, where he forced a divorce of fantasy and horror from the Gothic roots of the genre. In his foreword to From Unknwon Worlds*, he stated that "horror injected with a sharp and poisoned needle is just as effective as when applied with the blunt-instrument technique of the so-called Gothic horror tale". Thomas Clareson would describe how Campbell's curation of the gardens of weird fiction "led to the destruction of 'not only the prevalent narrative tone but also most of the trappings that had dominated fantasy from The Castle of Otranto and The Monk through the nineteenth century to Weird Tales.'"

This isolation of influences is still under way, as in 2001, Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg discussed those influences in science fiction that had a "devastating effect upon science fiction as Gold and Campbell and Knight and Sturgeon and Kornbluth and the other Futurians loved and built it." The names of such deplorables include Hugo Gernsback, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. E. van Vogt, Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, J. R. R. Tolkein, Richard Shaver, Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, and even Isaac Asimov. And with the exceptions of Asimov and Vonnegut, attempts have been made to try to run most of these names out of the genre. But Roddenberry, Lucas, and Tolkein proved to be too popular to banish. (Shaver, despite his sales, wasn't popular enough to avoid this.) However, the crime of Vonnegut, like Michael Crichton after him, was to refuse to let science fiction claim him. But while the inclusion of many of these authors on this list represents the fannish politics that plague the genre, they also represent the popular influences that had to be pruned away for the science fiction of Campbell and the Futurians to succeed.

And the quickest way to make the divisions needed to curate the garden of science fiction is to push the idea that the pulp and adventures of the past--and those that perniciously spring up between weedings of the genre--are somehow less influential and of poorer quality than the pure flowers of the genre. This curation is necessary to the survival of Campbelline fiction, as the French return to science fiction in the 1950s started from Campbelline roots, but, through exposure to continental science fiction and France's own traditions of adventure and dime novels, quickly ceased to remain Campbelline.


UPDATE: No sooner than I write this, than a perfect example of present-day curation appears. Brian Niemeier has just posted screenshots and comments of a gentleman telling Mark Wandrey of the breakout Four Horsemen Cycle what science fiction is and is not. Frankly, science fiction needs Mark Wandrey more than Mark Wandrey needs to write "proper" science fiction, but I'll leave that particular dissection to Larry Correia and Brian Niemeier.


*This foreword was written in 1948, one year after Campbell apologized for the despair flooding science fiction and promised to do something about it. His remarks also championed the idea that fantasy can make an amusing tale as well as one of gloom and terror. To see this sea change in action, read Swords Against Death, by Fritz Leiber. The earliest Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories in that collection are moodier pieces, while those written after Campbell's epiphany in 1947 are more humorous in nature.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Star Trek Discovery and Audience Replacement

For another real time illustration of the idea that today's creators are not only choosing to bet on loyal nerds but choosing which particular set of loyal nerds to bet on, Mirror's Edge has stated in the video below that sources in CBS have revealed quietly that they would like to replace the existing Star Trek audience with a newer, younger, and considerably less picky one. History suggests that the death spiral for Star Trek is underway, for not only do franchises not survive otakuization, all recent attempts to change audiences mid-course have failed (such as Ghostbusters, Marvel Comics, games journalism, etc.)

The problem with this mentality is that someone is going to make money off the Star Trek fans that CBS is actively repelling. Enter "The Orville", a light parody of Star Trek that has been declared by many fans to be "more Star Trek than Star Trek". Time will tell which show, if any, will win an audience and multiple seasons.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Hardcore Menace, in a nutshell

I have labored on and off for the better part of a year trying to describe the idea of the conflict between appealing to hardcore fans and the casual audience, why appealing to the hardcores alone is a recipe for disaster, and explaining how many of today's media and genres are chasing a hardcore audience. I've mentioned these arguments occasionally, but I've yet to formulate them into something concise that those outside the little niches of fandom might understand.

Fortunately for me, Kasimir Urbanski of the RPGPundit managed to do in 140 characters what I couldn't do in 140 pages:

"They decided to bet on the loyal nerds rather than general population. This is always a death-spiral" - K. Urbanski

Once this bet is made, the general population abandons the medium, genre, or franchise, leaving only a handful of rabid fans as the audience. In short, sales drop. We've seen it time and again, from Babette Rosmund steering Doc Savage and the Shadow away from their pulp appeal towards the confines of proper literature in the 1940s, the anime moe boom and crash in the 2000s, "hardcore" post-World of Warcraft MMOs like Rift and Wildstar, and many others. You can even watch it live with Marvel, already publishing in a hardcore genre, as the House of Ideas tries to select just which set of loyal nerds they want to bet on. In each case, the creators bet on a short term solution and the easy money of a small rabid fan base, and cratered the appeal of their products to the general population. And when market disruptions happen, when the otaku propping up the producers' bets run out of money or interest, these media and franchises die.

Literary science fiction has been afflicted by a series of these nerd bets since before the Campbell Revolution. And many of today's scandals, such as GamerGate, Sad Puppies, and the currently brewing ComicsGate, are caused not only be the insertion of politics into entertainment, but also by the various media changing their bet to a "more select" set of loyal nerds. Why do you think that various cheerleaders crow that "Gamers don't have to be your audience anymore"? Or science fiction readers, or comic book fans? More on those subjects later.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


In August 1967, when Weekly Manga Action first published the adventures of Lupin III, Monkey Punch hoped for modest success for what was supposed to be a three-month series. Drawing on 15 mysteries from Maurice Leblanc for inspiration, the artist Monkey Punch combined the stylings of MAD Magazine, Playboy, and Chuck Jones's Tom & Jerry animation shorts to create the adventures of his master thief. He did not suspect that he created a character who would become a pop culture icon, influencing not only Japanese culture, but Hollywood, video games, and American comics as well.

Monkey Punch's mix of racy encounters and cleverly plotted stories quickly found an audience. And while Lupin III claimed ancestry from Leblanc's Arsène Lupin, his personality is closer to Fantômas mixed with that of a trickster. Each week, Monkey Punch would draw a new tale of weird menace, with Lupin serving both as the detective and as the menace for any and all who crossed him. And after the first series ended in 1969, Monkey Punch would revisit the adventures of Lupin and his gang ten more times, often teaming with other illustrators, with the last series ending in 2014.

Despite the popularity of the manga comics in Japan, only two series have been released in America, the original Lupin III and Lupin III: World's Most Wanted (Shin Lupin III). Both are out of print, and while certain manga, such as Magic Knight Rayearth, Sailor Moon, and Love Hina, have managed to find new companies to rerelease their series, it is uncertain whether the Lupin III manga will ever see rerelease in English. Fansubbers have yet to discover this series, as moe cuteness is in fashion over worldly glamour, so if you find a volume in a used bookstore, don't pass on it. Just be careful; even though the animated adventures of Lupin III veer towards family-friendly entertainment at times, the manga is decidedly for adults.

Let's take a closer look at the collection that started it all, comprising the first nine chapters of the Lupin III manga.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Corto Maltese in Siberia

A little amuse-bouche while I work my way through the comic of the same name. It is a more cultured comic than most of what I have read, with its creator Hugo Pratt being lauded as the inventor of the literary comic strip, and the references, from the historical General Ungern-Sternberg to the literature of the I Ching, Utopia, and "Kubla Khan", require a bit more care to unpack than my normal fare.

Do not be dismayed by the literary claims. Corto Maltese is an adventurer first and foremost, and this particular tale sends him after a Siberian treasure train in the name of the Crown--and a Chinese triad.

This will be of interest to any anime fan, as Japan often works with French and Italian studios, and this adventure has the relaxed pace common to continental and Japanese animation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wells vs. Verne?

I missed an interesting conversation on hard vs soft and Wells vs. Verne yesterday on Twitter.

While a sense of "Hard SF" as "Scientific-marvelous" existed in the early 1900s, much of today's hard SF would also fail to meet that definition. The Martian, by Weir, is seen as a hard sf success story, but it is closer to the spirit of Verne than Wells, as it is the engineering of the near future, not the extrapolation of a discovery into the mists of the unknown. Even most of Wells' work fails to meet that lofty standard.

And it also must be pointed out that Verne denied that he wrote science fiction, or "scientific romance" in the parlance of the day. He was just looking for plausible methods to facilitate his fantastic voyages.

At best, Hard SF is an emerging genre at the end of Wells' career, without a sense of a soft SF to contrast against. It is the scientific-marvelous that was the idea of Hard SF in the pulps and digests, per Asimov and Ellison. Along the way, however, the definition of Hard SF turned into Verne's engineering of the future instead. Possibly during the 1970s, but certainly before the hard sf rebirth of the 90s.

So it is amusing to see talk of hard vs. soft SF framed in terms of Wells vs. Verne. Neither man embodies the Soft end of the spectrum, especially in this day of scientific-isekai, battle academies, zombies, "Cat Pictures, Please", and dinosaurs, my love.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Villon's Straight Tip to All Cross Coves

Booze and the Blowens, or an amusement while I wrestle with a long post...

"Wine and women take the lot". An interesting little poem of knavery and grifting. The link has the translations for all the conman's deeds.

Villon’s Straight Tip To All Cross Coves
By william ernest henley.

‘Tout aux tavernes et aux filles’


Suppose you screeve, or go cheap-jack?
Or fake the broads? or fig a nag?
Or thimble-rig? or knap a yack?
Or pitch a snide? or smash a rag?
Suppose you duff? or nose and lag?
Or get the straight, and land your pot?
How do you melt the multy swag?
Booze and the blowens cop the lot.


Fiddle, or fence, or mace, or mack;
Or moskeneer, or flash the drag;
Dead-lurk a crib, or do a crack;
Pad with a slang, or chuck a fag;
Bonnet, or tout, or mump and gag;
Rattle the tats, or mark the spot
You cannot bank a single stag:
Booze and the blowens cop the lot.


Suppose you try a different tack,
And on the square you flash your flag?
At penny-a-lining make your whack,
Or with the mummers mug and gag?
For nix, for nix the dibbs you bag
At any graft, no matter what!
Your merry goblins soon stravag:
Booze and the blowens cop the lot.

The Moral.

It’s up-the-spout and Charley-Wag
With wipes and tickers and what not!
Until the squeezer nips your scrag,
Booze and the blowens cop the lot.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

50 YEARS OF LUPIN III: The Mystery of Mamo

Months after a Lupin doppelganger is sentenced to death and hanged, Lupin III returns to the limelight, stealing a number of legendary artifacts tied to longevity on the request of Fujiko. Meanwhile, her mysterious benefactor tries to woo Fujiko, promising immortality to his personal Helen of Troy. But when Lupin double-crosses Fujiko to learn the identity of her benefactor, he finds himself in the middle of web of deceit drawing in a reclusive billionaire, clones of history's greatest men, and the might of the United States' military, all around one name: Mamo.

Originally titled "Lupin vs. the Clones," 1978's The Mystery of Mamo is the first Lupin III movie. Hampered by the restrictions of network censors, the Lupin franchise sought to use the creative freedom of the silver screen to create a faithful adaptation of Monkey Punch's manga in tone, humor, and artistic style. While future animators would draw inspiration from The Mystery of Mamo, as 2001's James Bond meets the X-men action caper Read or Die would retread its plotit would be overshadowed by 1979's The Castle of Cagliostro.

What a difference a year makes.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Der Meistertrunk: A Prompt

I haven't done much with writing prompts since my first set. Some of this is because ideas are cheap, and some is that while Campbell is celebrated for his writing prompts, a little look into the actual history of his practice showed just how of little utility this was for the professional pulpster.(1) However, truth is stranger than fiction, and some stories need to be retold.

Rawle Nyanzi has been writing an interesting mix of Japan and the Holy Roman Empire with his flash fiction. Today's "How To Slay a Bandit", located in the province of "Bai-an", along with the upcoming Oktoberfest, brought to mind a long favorite story about one of my favorite German towns.

Since my first visit to Rothenburg o. d. Tauber, I have been long fascinated with the city. As one of the few remaining walled cities in Germany, it takes care to preserve its heritage. The Museum of Medieval Crime and Justice brings to life the old punishments and torture of the medieval criminal system. It is also a surprising source of information on Christian charms and amulets, and one uncorrupted by popular fantasy conventions and two centuries of Naturalist, Romanticist, and Modernist neopagan fanfiction. Those looking for Christmas decorations need to stop by the Kaethe Wohlfart store. And, for the connoisseur, the wines are sweet, yet excellent. And it is to the wines we turn for the writing prompt, and the legend of Der Meistertrunk (The Master Draught):

"The setting is the Thirty Years’ War and after some bitter fighting, the Catholic imperial troops under Count Tilly had just taken control of Protestant Rothenburg. The town folk of Rothenburg did not give in easily and Count Tilly was enraged by their violent resistance. He gave orders for the town to be plundered and destroyed and for four of the town councillors to be executed. Pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears and the Mayor was ordered to fetch the hangman.

"Meanwhile, the count was offered the finest of Franconian wine served in a huge tankard which holds 3.25 litres. In jest, he promised to spare the town if one of its councillors could down a full tankard of wine in one go. A former mayor, Bürgermeister Nusch took up the challenge and amazed Tilly by draining the tankard in ten minutes. Tilly kept his promise to spare the town, the folks of Rothenburg were jubilant and Mayor Nusch was said to have slept for the next three days."
Not all mighty deeds are accomplished on the battlefield. Perhaps such a tale as der Meistertrunk might liven up a hero's adventure.


(1) Manly Wade Wellman said that Campbell was preoccupied with his own ideas instead of his writers'. Leigh Brackett noticed that she could not sell Campbell stories to any of the other science fiction magazines. Campbell himself said he preferred to work with writers reliant on other careers for income, as they were more amenable to his guidance. Not much room here for the 9 to 5 pulpster...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

DragonCon 2017 Panel: Monster Hunter Files

A panel from Dragon*Con covering Larry Correia's upcoming Monster Hunter Files anthology. John Ringo is unfortunately not there, so the rest of the panel actually had a chance to speak. (I love listening to Ringo's panel stories, but they do grow to fill the time available.)

And in "not a real writer" news, check out Larry Correia's custom MH:I ammunition!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

An Index of Pulp Coming Attractions

For those wanting to keep abreast of the newest pulp reprints, neo-pulp releases, and pulp blogs, check out Pulp Coming Attractions. The site updates weekly, with a comprehensive list of pre-orders and new releases, including Altus reprints, Sanctum's The Shadow reprints, and a full host of specialty stores. Castalia House and Black Gate are even linked regularly.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Entertainment has been trending indie for years, with various media being quicker to adapt to the artist being in control as opposed to the studies and publishing houses. The key to each medium is opening the methods of distribution to everyone. Here's one proposal to bypass the established channels for comic books.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Why Did SJW Marvel Remove Romance From Their Superhero Comics?

Diversity & Comics has been distilling the faults and propaganda coming from Marvel for months now. Here, amid the social commentary, he drops insights not just on the creators, but in the attitudes that affect Marvel and the current creative class afflicting pop culture. For instance, there is no empathy in today's fiction, just ego--of the creator and the character. Well worth watching to catch the insights.

50 YEARS OF LUPIN III: The Castle of Cagliostro

Heroism goes along with my job.--Lupin III

After stealing bags of cash from a Monaco casino, Lupin and Jigen dump out their entire haul, recognizing the money as legendary Gothic counterfeits. Resolving to find the plates for their next caper, the thieves slip into the small Italian principality of Cagliostro. Their search is interrupted when a car full of mafioso chase down a runaway bride, Princess Clarisse of Cagliostro. Both the counterfeits and the intrigue around Clarisse's wedding can be traced to the Count of Cagliostro. To save the girl--and the loot--Lupin forms an alliance with his greatest rival, Inspector Zenigata of the ICPO.

Rereleased in theaters as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Lupin III franchise, 1979's Castle of Cagliostro is the central Lupin III adventure, setting the tone and standard for the franchise for the nearly 40 years since its release. And as the Lupin franchise has grown more self-referential, adventures such as 2008's Green vs. Red and 2015's Blue Jacket television series have leaned heavily on Castle of Cagliostro for their soundtrack, design, settings, and even plot. Yet Castle of Caglisotro might be best known for its screenwriter and director, the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, creator of Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Even then, it is considered an afterthought to the brilliant animator's oeuvre, because it is an adaptation instead of an original work. (For an example from the CH Blog, see Anthony's otherwise glowing review of Castle of Cagliostro.) Such reviews, usually by critics unfamiliar with Lupin, miss a chance to fully appreciate the genius of Miyazaki. For before his involvement in 1971, the Lupin franchise was sinking under the weight of irredeemable and brutal characters. Afterwards, he handed over a winning formula and an appreciative audience that has been copied by animators all over the world.

Friday, September 1, 2017


Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. - St. Paul

Limitations are more interesting than powers. - Sanderson's Second Law

I have no answers for what I am about to muse over. The technology of printing and our culture have changed so much that the restrictions of topic and of space are no longer concerns for the writer. But a key part of the creative process is figuring out how to accomplish your goal within the limitations of the medium. You hear this in such maxims as "necessity is the mother of invention."

The Shadow radio show had to figure out how to kill their villains without the hero's gunplay. Silver screen romances had to sizzle without resorting to bedroom scenes. And horror movies had to convey terror without showing the monster--often because the physical effects of the time weren't up to the task. In all cases, the way these stories were told were affected by the limitations of their time, and the writers rose to the challenge. The Shadow developed his mentalist powers. Romances like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, and Charade still linger in the popular imagination, long after today's chick flicks are forgotten. And the power of indirect terror is such that, even in these days where CG can do just about anything, critics still proclaim "Never show the monster" because the scare factor is greater.

Limitations force creativity.

The question now is how to find these limits without making them artificial and forced. Such devices as the all dialogue story force technique, but when read, come off as literary conceits instead of actual stories. (John Ringo's Black Tide Rising series is a rare exception.) Limiting yourself to specific points of view can help develop skill, such as first-person (I did this), second-person (you did this), and third-person (he did this), but when bundled in three codas such as in John Scalzi's Redshirts, these become insufferable. These self-imposed limitations do help to sharpen technique, but often serve poorly as stories in and of themselves. Just as the musician is challenged to practice his technical scales with musicality, so should these writing exercises be filled with story. In practice, however, this is rarely the case.

Perhaps the only real market limitation that still lasts is that of short fiction. The word limit, whether of 100 word drabbles, 1000 word flash fiction, or 6000 word short stories, forces the writer to prioritize plot, description, and even sentence structure to fit the most meaning into the smallest space. The ancient model, now fifty years out of date, of writers toiling in the short fiction markets before writing novels, at least imposed a discipline that could be scaled up to larger lengths. Now, the expectation for writers to serve story in novel-length chunks, even when committing fan-fiction. There is little market, or incentive for the writer to toy with the short story. (Hopefully, the new short fiction boom finds customers.)

In thinking about the 70s' effects on writing and the weird genres, I've previously noted how the economy led publishers to desire longer stories. Novel lengths climbed from 60k words, to 80k, then 100-120k, and even 300k in certain Books of Endless Pages. This increase has been proposed as one possibility as to why pulp fiction fell by the wayside, as it is difficult to shoehorn multiple 50k-60k pulp novels into an 80k paperback. But what of the effect on the writing itself? What happens when the tight space requirements of the magazines give way? It should be no surprise that the space fills with the onanism of the sentence cult, the messengering of the propagandist, the blow by blow lists of the action junkie, the digressions of the world builder, and every leaf of the scenery artist. The discipline of the short stories has been lost, first by the gatekeepers and then by the removal of the gatekeepers in the independent market, and thus, much of the creativity.

Again, I have no answers here to impose limits on the market, and thus creativity. But perhaps better minds may bend themselves to the task.