Thursday, August 31, 2017

Woman Scorned ~怒妻大敵~

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Previous: Sword Maid ~剣術メイド菊田舞~
Next: Enemy at Blood River (Part I)

by Rawle Nyanzi

NOTE: All Asiatic names are written in Asiatic order, with the family name first.

Yokominé Akemi couldn't bear captivity any longer. Over a kimono stolen by a serving girl, Terauchi Saruemon, daimyo of Rinié Province, marched upon her home province of Hanoba and put thousands of men, women, and children to the sword. To add insult to injury, a Terauchi retainer had her skewer her young son with a naginata spear.

That barbarity, that disregard for innocent life, drove young, beautiful Akemi to plot the death of the cruel daimyo who ripped her from her home and seized her as a concubine.

In the darkness of night, Akemi sat on the soft bedding with her kimono at her waist.

A dark, masked figure entered through the high window, startling the captive woman.

"Who are you?" Akemi asked the intruder.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

When in Doubt, Go Epic

Whenever I plan a story, I occasionally run into hang-ups. The setting isn't coherent, the technology and/or magic system isn't evenly applied, the characters aren't plausible, the plot lacks history or context, the stakes are too small. In every single instance, they are resolved by the use of a simple expedient: make everything bigger, brighter and more beautiful.

Science fiction and fantasy is the literature of ideas. It is the celebration of the human spirit and a paean to the imagination. SFF readers don't want to be reminded of the dreariness of everyday life; they want to be immersed in strange new worlds with cultures and characters and tools similar enough to ours to be understandable, yet strange enough to be exciting. They want adventure and treasures and righteous battle, they want romance and chivalry and intelligence, they want to be taken to the depths of despair and just as quickly be elevated to the rapturous heights. They want, if only for a short while, to be transported out of this time and place and be reminded of the glories of the universe.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Getting Started: Keeping The Spirit Up

Worried about things not going well? Don't. Look over there. See that? That's fear. Fear of a Pulp Planet (again).
If you're feeling at all demoralized, then go over to Brian Niemeier's blog and search for posts like this one where he goes over the data that reveals the ongoing collapse of traditional publishing (where the Hugo crowd dominates) and the concurrent surge of independents and self-publishers that eat their lunch like ravenous wolves.
If that's not enough, consider the curious case of the New York Times putting a #1 book that no one had heard of prior to that listing, and the ongoing teacup tempest it's produced. Many of us already knew that the NYT's list was worthless (especially when the traditional publishing and book retailing collapse became terminal, since that's what it measures), but this just took that unappealing pie and smeared it right into the faces of many wishing to avoid it.
In short, don't worry about the "mainstream" genre fiction world. Not even the Romance writers. They're already irrelevant; they just won't admit it yet. There's always some lag time between Cause and Effect, and we're in that interval of time right now when it comes to their own annihilation. Just as many thought there would always be East and West Germany, they think they will always have the Big 5 in New York City and their London counterparts- unwilling or unable to see the historic shift about to wreck everything they hold dear.
So, what to do?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sword Maid ~剣術メイド菊田舞~

Download: PDF

Next: Woman Scorned ~怒妻大敵~

SWORD MAID ~剣術メイド菊田舞~
by Rawle Nyanzi

NOTE: All Asiatic names are written in Asiatic order, with the family name first.

As the daimyo's samurai stomped into the house, the maid Kikuta Mai hid in a dresser in her master's bedroom. She knew what those sword-swinging goons wanted: to force her master, the famed mage Yonekura Kyohei, to hand over his magical research.

"Do not disturb my circles!" Yonekura Kyohei shouted. Mai heard it loud and clear. A chair crashed. A man grunted in pain. A sword tasted flesh. A girl screamed. Angry chatter. A heavy tumble. Yonekura Kyohei had joined his wife in the hereafter.

Someone approached Mai's hiding place, but the steps were softer, lighter. The young maid jumped when the dresser opened, but her worry melted away in an instant when she saw the petite, short-haired girl of nineteen, none other than Yonekura Kyohei's daughter Sana.

The diminutive girl entered the dresser. "Oh, Mai!" Sana said tearfully. "They took the other maids away, and my father…"

"I heard it all." Mai embraced the sobbing girl.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Writing Your Story: A Lesson From Professional Wrestling

In the world of professional wrestling, there is a term: "match psychology". Summarized, it means the use of physical action as a means of showing character so that the two men in the ring need not rely on verbal exchanges to push the narrative forward as their match progresses towards its conclusion. The audience can tell who is the Babyface (Hero) and who is the Heel (Villain) purely by appearance and action, and it works so well that the deaf have no issue following along. (How do I know that? One of my grandmothers was deaf, and she loved wrestling for this reason.)
Following Daddy Warpig's excellent post today at the Castalia House blog, which you should read, I'm going to talk about how you can--and should--use your expansive vocabulary to employ action as a characterization device so that you can keep your dialog down to the minimum you require to get the job done.

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

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.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

PulpRev and the Gatekeepers

A PulpRev gatekeeper issues a warning to the PulpRev community. “Some folks worried about the Pulp Rev ossifying because I was gonna maybe go invite only in a year and a half from now.” P. Alexander publishes a seminal PulpRev magazine, Cirsova. This quote isn’t his warning, but I use it to illustrate he is a gatekeeper. I believe at the heart of his warning to the PulpRev community is a warning about gatekeepers.

“Having a Pulp Rev website signals cliquishness akin to what the Superversives suffer from. Outsiders will see a website and assume that the Pulp Rev is the website and the website is the Pulp Rev, and people not writing for the website are not part of the movement. It’s a perception thing. Just as a singular Superversive site dominates the Superversive movement and potentially stifles its growth, a PulpRev website could do the same.”