Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hantei wa No Contest

Download as: PDF | M4A Audio

by Rawle Nyanzi

NOTE: All Asiatic names are written in Asiatic order, with the family name first (for example, Tanaka Ichiro, not Ichiro Tanaka.)

Mokuan Daigo stood watch over the sand-filled ring set up in the middle of this tiny town of 2,000 people. Takako, the daughter of the local daimyo, sat in a high chair, overlooking the ring and the spectators around it; she was dressed in a kimono of fine, smooth silk, loose near the waist to allow her legs to move. She had not styled her hair in any elaborate manner, preferring to let it hang loose about her shoulders. A couple of samurai stood guard on either side of the chair.

Daigo couldn't help but be captivated by the girl's loveliness.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Writing Your Protagonist: The Fighting-Man

There's something about a classic fighting-man as the protagonist that never fails to deliver. From Burroughs' John Carter to Howard's Conan and beyond to the present day, you cannot move two steps in a bookstore without finding someone using a fighting-man as a protagonist in genre fiction.

This isn't hard to figure out. Look at what real fighting-men. To succeed as a fighting-man, you have to have the very qualities of character that define a heroic protagonist: a desire for action, skill at combat, and a combination of excellence and determination to see through to the end. From the earliest heroic epics to today's pulp fiction, unless it's specified otherwise you can count on that protagonist being a clean-limbed, strong-armed, action-ready fighting-man.

As we've seen over the generations, you can easily and readily adapt this iconic figure for every genre of adventure and intrigue known to Mankind, so it is no surprise that the fighting-man is one of the go-to protagonists in fiction. If you're new to writing your own, master this archetype first.

You don't have to get into how any special powers work with a fighting-man protagonist, and you can do as the masters did by having your protagonist be an outsider so that the reader learns about the world at the same pace as the protagonist. You can do your research easily online, reading up on historical periods, styles, events, etc. that inform your protagonist's demeanor (and thus how you characterize him).

Barbarian fighting in Rome's gladitorial games? Fighting-man. Knight-Templar fighting off Assassins? Fighting-man. Navel officers chasing pirates in the Caribbean? Fighting-men all around. Zulu warlord chosen by the gods to fight for them? Yep, a fighting-man. Two-fisted brawlers taking on crime syndicates? Post-apocalyptic swordsman walking the earth dispensing justice? No actual formal military experience required; they're fighting men, not soldiers as such (though that is common). Your MMA fighter is as much of a fighting-man as the Winged Hussars.

By giving those examples, I also showed the archetype's versatility (and therefore its resilience). As you find your footing with your writing, don't be surprised to catch yourself not even thinking of the fighting-man as a protagonist archetype to itself; much like how the classes of Dungeons & Dragons started with Fighting-Men, so does heroic literature in general, and all other archetypes get their meaning by contrast with this one. Go on, ride this bronco good and hard, break it in. Once you've got a full and complete comprehension of the fighting-men, every other protagonist becomes much easier to master in turn.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

PulpRev Sampler: Very Short Update

Submissions are now CLOSED for the Very Short Story PulpRev Sampler.

Thanks to all the writers who sent in stories!
We are hard at work reading through the 45+ submissions received in the last week.

If you sent a story in and haven't heard from us yet, you will soon.

Keep an eye here on for updates and if you have any questions, send an e-mail to

Again, thank you!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Between SocJus and PulpRev at the Dragon Awards

The science fiction and fantasy community is divided by a long-standing culture war. On one side are the social justice warriors and their allies, who wish nothing more than to churn out thinly-disguised propaganda and shut down everyone who disagrees with them. On the other are PulpRev, Superversive, the Sad and Rabid Puppies and those who side with them, united in a singular purpose: to make SFF great again.
The old pulp tales were the literature of the masses. They were tales of high adventure and excitement; stories of distant worlds, exotic cultures and superscience; fiction filled with hope, courage, verve, heroism and, most of all, fun. Free from genre conventions and ideological shackles, writers were free to let their imaginations soar and entertain their readers. From this age came the cultural icons of the West: Conan the Cimmerian, John Carter of Mars, the Shadow, Jirel or Joiry. This age birthed the great writers of the modern SFF canon: Robert E Howard, Poul Anderson, Leigh Beckett, C L Moore. Cheap and cheerful, the pulps made reading enjoyable for everyone.

But, in the words of pulp advocate Jasyn Jones, "Every age of F&SF after the Pulps has been about less: less variety, less action & adventure, fewer heroics and less heroism. Less imagination. Less of all the things that make F&SF great."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Welcome to the Party, Pal: Artists and Audio Edition

So, expanding this party scene we've got going on is going to become necessary as we get more and more successful. By that, I mean finding our counterparts that work in other media. Eventually we're going to want to look into the world if film and television, but for now it's wiser to look at two areas we're already dealing with as it is: artists and audio production people. We deal with artists for book covers and promotional posters; we deal with audio folks for podcasts, audiobooks, and radio plays. That's why I say that we are best off looking there first to find our common-cause kin: we're already there.

What are we looking for? What we already seek ourselves:

  • A dedication to quality storytelling first and foremost
  • An embrace of the spirit of the old Pulps and a desire to bring it anew to the world.
  • A rejection, utterly, of the nihilism and despair that brought us where we are now.
  • A recognition that good storytelling stems from timeless truths about Man and Creation told well.

(Daddy Warpig did a nice rant on it here)

That leaves a lot of room, and that's intentional. We're able to tell tragic stories of people undone by their flaws, just as Shakespeare did, and still thrill and delight audiences without lying to them about life and how the world works. We're able to tell stories of all sorts of heroes and villains, at every scope and scale imaginable, as fantastic or mundane as can be, without feeding them mind-poisons of unreality. John Carter may be our common place or origin, but where we go from there varies widely and wildly. Yet we seek to entertain our audiences, and we refuse to lie to them. This is what sets us apart. As it is did for our predecessors.

So, if you know of like-minded artists and audio people or crews, you know what to do: scroll down, get into the Comments, give us their names and link to their site (whatever it is). Let's give these people our money, and our business, as best we can. Let's get them to come over, and we can talk about how we can all work together to Make Entertainment Great Again!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

PulpRev Sampler: Very Short Call For Very Short Story Submissions

Let me say at the outset that we are not the heart and brain of PulpRev. You Are. We are some cool people who bought the domain just in case someone unscrupulous would have bought it later on. PulpRev is an aesthetic, it is an approach, it is a unicorn that we can't claim to have captured.

That said, "we" (basically myself and the people who hang out on the discord) want to make a sampler, an anthology of the beauty and strangeness of PulpRev movement as it is now. To reduce the burden on reader and writer we want stories between 750 and 1,500 words. You can write that in an hour, though it would be easier on us if you spent an extra hour editing it. N. A. Roberts wants at least 16,000 words. I want at least 20 contributors. This call for submissions will close one week from now. That's August 10th, 2017, oh... 2:12 CDT.

We want stories with heart. We want stories with muscle. We want stories with heart and muscle in unexpected ways. We want stories that leave you demanding more.

Send submissions to

750-1,500 words
Complete story

Love you guys. I'm looking forward to this.

Note: If you linked here from somewhere they don't know what PulpRev is, here's some context.
The Five Pillars of Pulp Revival
Are You PulpRev?
A Recipe For Pulp Fiction
Pulp Revolution: The Future Is Ours

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Looking Forward: Beyond the Bookshelf

Brian Niemeier's post at Kairos regarding Superversive v. PulpRev got me thinking that we should take some time to look ahead and start talking about where we want to go- what we want to build towards, in concrete terms.

It's good that we have a small (and growing) cadre of authors publishing independently and via friendly small publishers such as Silver Empire, Castalia House, and Superversive Press. It's also good that we have friendly magazines that welcome our short stories and slightly longer works. I would like to see a few more of each, and if I had the capital I would do it and not merely talk. The same is true for audiobook production; we have some, and I welcome more.

But we should not limit our sights to the bookshelf and the magazine stand, real and virtual alike. The embrace of audiobooks is a good decision on multiple levels, and from that it's a short step to producing original radio plays like the Golden Age of Radio. Razorfist's recreation of a lost Shadow radio episode is Proof of Concept that it can be done.