Category Archives: Australian pulp fiction

Pulp Friday: The Chain Reaction

The Chain ReactionLast week I posted on the paperback tie-ins for the first three Mad Max films. Continuing my Australian dystopian road movie theme, today’s Pulp Friday offering is the rare paperback tie-in to the 1980 Australian film, The Chain Reaction.

I wrote about The Chain Reaction in a recent piece for the British Institute on Australian dystopian road films. Not every movie mentioned in that article had, in my opinion, necessarily aged well, but this one certainly had. Billed in some places as Mad Max Meets the China Syndrome (George Miller was associate producer and apparently worked on an early draft of the script), not only is it a great road movie, it’s also an interesting artefact from the time when Australia was less enamoured with being part of America’s nuclear state than we are now.

An earthquake in rural Australia causes a dangerous leak at a nuclear waste disposal site, contaminating the surrounding ground water. A scientist, badly injured in the accident, escapes with knowledge about what has happened and is rescued by a holidaying couple, Larry, an ex-Vietnam Vet mechanic (Steve Bisley, who got the role off the back of his performance as Goose in Mad Max) and his wife, Carmel (Arna-Maria Winchester). The shadowy American company that own the facility dispatch a couple of hired killers to track down and eliminate the scientist and anyone he has had contact with.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Mad Max books

madmax

To celebrate the release of the fourth instalment of George Miller’s Mad Max franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road, today’s Pulp Friday is the paperback tie-ins for the first three movies.

The first book, Mad Max, was published by Circus Books in 1979. Long out of print, it is now a much sought after collectors item.

The three books below were all published by QB Books in 1985, presumably to coincide with the release of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985.

Interestingly, Terry Kaye’s name does not appear on the 1985 edition of the Mad Max paperback. Austlit credits veteran Australian pulp paperback writer Carl Ruhen as author of Mad Max 2. I don’t know who the author of the third book is.

Enjoy.

Mad Max 1

Mad Max 2 QB books

Mad Max 3 QB books 1985

 

Book review: American Pulp – How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street

American Pulp, Princeton University Press 2014

I’ve always been fascinated by how relatively insignificant objects you’ve lost in the course of moving around in life can later come to hold important meaning. An example for me is a black and white photograph of my father on holiday in Queensland’s Surfers Paradise in the early 1960s. It was destroyed when my friend’s shed, in which I stored all my possessions while travelling overseas, burnt down. I find it hard to recall what else was lost, but I remember that photo. Dad is sitting in a chair on the beach, wearing dark sunglasses and reading a paperback by the prolific Australian pulp writer Carter Brown.

Two things gave me cause to think about this picture recently. The first was the hype around the Anzac Day centenary commemorations – I’ll explain that connection later. The second was reading US academic Paula Rabinowitz’s beautifully written, highly original work, American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street.

Most people view pulp as either exploitative lowbrow culture or highly collectable retro artefact. Yet pulp has a secret history which Rabinowitz’s book uncovers. Her central thesis is that cheap, mass-produced pulp novels not only provided entertainment and cheap titillating thrills, but also brought modernism to the American people, democratising reading and, in the process, furthering culture and social enlightenment.… Read more

Beat Girls, Love Tribes, Real Cool Cats draft cover & pre-order information

test pulp cover layout-3b (1)

I’m incredibly proud to be able to show you the draft cover to the upcoming book I’ve co-edited with Iain McIntyre, Beat Girls, Love Tribes & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture from the 1950s to 1980s.

Iain and I were both keen to do an examination of pulp fiction that went beyond simply focusing on paperback covers, as most pulp fiction related books do and I am sure we and the twenty plus writers who contributed to this tome, have delivered.

Beat Girls is first comprehensive account of the rise of youth culture and mass-market paperback fiction in the postwar period in the US, UK and Australia. It is not just a comprehensive selection of covers, but an in-depth look at the authors, how they worked and what influenced them. It is a must-read for anyone interested in retro and subcultural style and popular fiction.

As the young created new styles in music, fashion and culture, pulp fiction followed their every step, hyping and exploiting their behavior and language for mass consumption. From the juvenile delinquent gangs of the early fifties, through the beats and hippies, on to bikers, skinheads and punks, pulp fiction left no trend untouched. Boasting wild covers and action-packed plots, these books reveal as much about society’s desires and fears as they do about the subcultures themselves.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Number 96 paperback tie-ins

Bev & BruceLike the television show they were based on, today’s Pulp Friday offering, Number 96 paperback tie-ins, contain nudity, sex, free love, devil worship, infidelity and murder.

The Australian TV soap opera Number 96 depicted the lives of the residents of a fictitious block of inner Sydney flats. These days it comes across as a cultural curio and a sleazy late night commercial TV reminder of early, pre-feminist, seventies. It was indeed those things, but also much more.

Number 96 debuted on March 13 1972, “The night Australian television lost its virginity”. There was moral outrage about the explicit nature of the show and protestors picketed Channel 0 (now the Ten Network) with placards demanding the station “ban this filth”.

It was a huge success with audiences, however, who were keen to dive head first into the warm water of the increasingly sexually liberated early seventies. The show resulted in a feature film and even had its own passenger train that transported the cast and crew from Sydney to Melbourne for the annual Logie awards (Australia’s equivalent of the Emmys). The train made stops at country towns along the way at which thousands turned out to see it.

The end titles always featured a shot of the exterior of the apartment block.… Read more