Tag Archives: Pulp magazine

HAMMETT (1982)

HammettHAMMETT (1982) – Directed by Wim Wenders and produced by Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios, Hammett is a criminally neglected valentine to Hard-Boiled Detective Stories and Film Noir. The flick is based on the novel by Joe Gores. 

The stories about the behind the scenes chaos and conflicts surrounding the production of this movie are legion. Pre-production work began in 1975 and by the time it was released in 1982 multiple cast and story changes had taken place and Coppola himself re-shot more than a third of the film.

In the way that Time After Time presented a whimsical “what if” adventure featuring H.G. Wells having a real time machine, Hammett serves up iconic detective novelist Dashiell Hammett getting caught up in solving a real-life mystery.

The timing is excellent, with the story being set in the late 1920s, after Hammett was no longer working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency but before he became a successful author. The tale begins with our hero – played by Frederic Forrest – typing out one of his penny-a-word Pulp stories for Black Mask Magazine, which was to detective fiction what Weird Tales was to horror and sci-fi.

hammett 2Booze and coughing fits figure prominently in the movie, as you would expect given a protagonist who was an alcoholic with tuberculosis. For the sake of convenience the story that Hammett just finished before blacking out was one featuring his character the Continental Op (as in an operative for the fictional Continental Detective Agency).  

Hammett awakens to find his most recent work being read by Jimmy Ryan (Peter Boyle), his old mentor from his Pinkerton days. Ryan jokes with “Sam” (Samuel Dashiell Hammett was his full name if you’re new to all things Hammett) that the “man with no name” in the story seems to be based on him (Ryan) and the way he operates.

Eventually Jimmy gets to the point: he saved Hammett’s life when our hero was new at detective work, and Ryan is finally calling in the debt that Sam owes him for that. The former colleague thus lures Hammett back into detective work for one last case. Continue reading

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SILVER JOHN: THREE STORIES

Silver John: Can These Bones Live?

Silver John: Can These Bones Live?

I’m still a fan of Manly Wade Wellman’s pulp hero Silver John, the roaming singer and guitarist who fights supernatural forces in the Appalachian Mountains of long ago, sort of like a countrified  Orpheus  meets Kolchak. He’s called Silver John because of the silver strings on his guitar and the silver coins he carries in his pockets.

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NOBODY EVER GOES THERE – Just a reminder that all the Silver John stories published after his marriage to his beloved Evadare (click here if you missed the tales chronicling that landmark event – https://glitternight.com/2011/06/03/pulp-heroes-silver-john-four-for-friday/  ) jump around in time.

This short story is set when John is much older. Plus the tale breaks from the tradition of having the stories narrated by Silver John in the first person. We get a third person narrative in which the older (probably 40s) balladeer comes to the aid of two young lovers in the town of Trimble.

Mark Banion and Ruth Covel, two teachers at Trimble High, cross to the forbidden side of Catch River, where ancient, shadowy life forms caused the disappearance of an entire textile factory crew plus their families. All of that happened over 75 years ago, but strange sounds still emanate from the creepy-looking abandoned factory and the company houses nearby. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: HIS FINAL STORY

Northwest Smith 3Balladeer’s Blog concludes its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed our solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

13. SONG IN A MINOR KEY – For this farewell vignette featuring Northwest Smith we get an oddly touching piece that enhances Smith’s character without ruining the mystery. He and Yarol are back on Earth to visit the spot where Northwest committed his first crime exactly 20 years earlier, setting his life on its present course. He reveals that Northwest Smith is not his real name (Well, duh!) and is uncharacteristically serious- minded as he soaks in the atmosphere of the woodland area where his fate was determined so long ago.   Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES ELEVEN AND TWELVE

 

Even though Northwest Smith always used ray-guns but NEVER a sword this artist drew him holding one anyway. Go figure.

Even though Northwest Smith always used ray-guns but NEVER a sword this artist drew him holding one anyway. Go figure.

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed our solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

11. QUEST OF THE STAR STONE (1937) – It’s crossover time! C.L. Moore decided to do a story in which her two most famous pulp creations – Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry – meet each other. Trouble is Jirel’s adventures take place around the year 1500 while Northwest Smith’s stories are set over 1,000 years later. Any reader of pulp fiction knows that’s no real obstacle so let’s dive in.

The story opens in Jirel’s time. She is leading her obedient band of male outlaws in an assault on the castle of a sorceror named Franga. Our sword-wielding heroine battles her way through to Franga’s chamber where she seizes a mystic gem called the Star Stone. That jewel is so powerful but so unfathomable that even Franga was still trying to discover how to harness its arcane energies. Jirel defeats Franga and forces him to flee between dimensions, but as he leaves he promises Jirel that he’ll return to get revenge on her and get the Star Stone back – just as soon as he finds a champion capable of matching Jirel’s courage, cunning and force of will. “No matter what world or what time I find them in” he adds, letting the reader know what’s coming up. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES NINE AND TEN

Northwest Smith 6Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

9. LOST PARADISE (1936) – A smuggling job has taken Northwest Smith and Yarol to Earth. Afterward the pair find themselves relaxing in New York City which, in their era, is a multi-leveled metropolis reaching high into the sky. The pair witness the theft of an enigmatic parcel from a very small and fragile man. That man turns out to be a member of the Seles race; a people who have secretly lived among humans for millions of years. The Seles are so ancient in fact that they lived on Earth long before the continents had their present shape. The tectonic shifts that created the modern-day layout of the planet destroyed the cities of the Seles, who established subterranean bases where they have lived undetected by humanity since then.

The man whom Smith and Yarol are helping is one of the many agents the Seles have sent topside to infiltrate and keep an eye on the surface-dwellers over the eons. He hires the two outlaws to recover the stolen parcel and offers huge amounts of money. Yarol calculates that the legendary secret of the Seles’ technology is more valuable than any other offers from the diminutive man and, desperate to get his parcel back, the Seles agent agrees to those terms. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES SEVEN AND EIGHT

PZO8005-Cover.inddBalladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

7. THE COLD GRAY GOD (1935) – A smuggling jaunt has brought Northwest Smith back to Mars. While hanging out in the cold and snowy Martian city of Righa our hero gets hired by a most unusual client. Her name is Jaida, a beautiful Venusian woman who years previously had been THE singing sensation of the Cabaret circuit at the network of casinos and leisure resorts of Jupiter’s colonized moons. At the height of her fame Jaida turned her back on success and went into seclusion.

It turns out the former singer “found religion” in the form of the esoteric worship of The Un-Nameable One, the god of Mars’ distant past. The god is worshipped now only by super-secretive cults throughout the solar system; cults which claim to know the secrets of the ancient lettering which adorns most Martian households but whose meaning has long been forgotten. Jaida hires Smith to recover a stolen relic of the dark religion from the Righa crook who nabbed it. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES FIVE AND SIX

 

Northwest Smith: C.L. Moore's ruthless swashbuckler of the spaceways.

Northwest Smith: C.L. Moore’s ruthless swashbuckler of the spaceways.

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

5. JULHI (1935) – After a smuggling run to Venus Northwest Smith foolishly lets his guard down in an underworld tavern and gets shanghaied away to the Venusian island called Vonng. Smith is the latest kidnap victim from lowlife hangouts to wake up weaponless on the deserted island as a sacrifice to Julhi, a lovely yet monstrous creature with a beautiful upper body but multiple lower limbs.

Julhi is just one of a race whose dimension shares the same space as Vonng’s crumbled ruins but where time passes much more slowly than in our realm. The story wouldn’t be out of place on the renewed Doctor Who series. Julhi and her kind are psychic vampires, draining memories and emotions from their prey like a traditional vampire drains blood to survive. Continue reading

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