Monday, January 22, 2007

Doc Savage Lives!

The Man of Bronze had been out of print for fifteen long years. Those who wanted to introduce a new generation of readers to the simple pleasure of this pulp icon were forced to share prized copies of fragile paperbacks, hoping that the pages wouldn't fall out of the binding when the book was returned. It was the dilemma of the nostalgia fan. Do I recruit a new pulpster, risking the demolition of my valued tome, or do I promote the books praying that there are copies at the local used bookstore?

What to do, what to do?

Thankfully, Nostalgia Ventures has decided to make such difficult decisions moot. Starting mid-year 2006 Nostalgia Ventures has been reprinting the adventures of Doc Savage, and the Shadow, for fans new and old. So far the series of "Double Novel" reprints has four Doc Savage tales and six gripping Shadow narratives. A complete list of the books can be found at the Nostalgia Ventures website or at the Vintage Library

Some may find it confusing why I have such an affection for the pulps. They are often sexist, they are often xenophobic, and the wordsmithing of the texts often leaves something to be desired. My answer to all the objections is, "that is all beside the point." To the first two comments I would point out that the xenophobia and sexism of the pulp is a great lens through which to view the times in which the stories were written. I would also point out that the stories are often not as sexist as some covers might lend one to believe, though there are times when the stories are more sexist than the covers suggest. The stories I am most fond of tend to fall into the less sexist camp.

As for the xenophobia, I think it is important to see popular portrayals of other cultures from one's own past. How can we understand the obstacles that face us when talking to people from other cultures, who are often familiar with the ways they have been depicted in our entertainments, unless we are familiar with those representations? It should be pointed out that not all of the inaccurate portrayals of other cultures are xenophobic, sometimes they are quite the opposite (xenophilic) even when they are equally inaccurate in their portrayals.

What really matters to me about these stories is that they are so often entertaining. The word crafting might be weak, but the structures are sound and the pace exciting. If you like action, it is hard to dislike the pulps. Think of them like television, or direct to video movies, because that is the niche they filled. They were popcorn entertainment filled with the biases of the era in which they were written. Feel free to criticize those biases, but enjoy the ride as well.

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