Category Archives: Pulp Friday

Pulp Friday: Hell is a City

A very quick Pulp Friday offering, Maurice Procter’s Hell is a City, published by Arrow Books, 1957. I am not sure, but this edition may even be the first British release of the novel in paperback.

Procter was a former Manchester policeman turned crime writer, best known for his police procedurals featuring the character of Detective Chief Inspector Harry Martineau, based in a tough fictional northern England industrial town. Proctor penned 14 Martineau novels, which appeared between 1954  and 1969, of which Hell is a City was the first.

Two things have got me thinking about the Martineau books. The first is my PhD research at the moment, which has been looking at the prevalence of American style detective and PI crime fiction in the 1950s in the US, UK and Australia. Procter’s work is different from a lot of post-war British crime pulp, which was set in America.

I’ve also been reading Nick Triplow’s excellent biography of English crime writer, Ted Lewis, Getting Carter (which I’ll be reviewing on this site in the coming weeks).

Among the popular cultural touchstones, Triplow writes, that would inspire Lewis’s work, including the iconic series of British gangster novels featuring the character of Jack Carter, was the 1960 film adaption of Hell is City by Val Guest.… Read more

Pulp Friday: ‘The godfather of the airport novel’

Have you ever noticed, whenever someone pens one of those articles listing the most influential books of the second half of the 20th century, how worthy the titles are? You’ll usually find books like Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull or E. M Forster’s Maurice, published in 1971, a year after the author’s death. But no one ever mentions influential books I suspect people were actually reading in large numbers, Peyton Place, Jacqueline Susan’s Valley of the Dolls, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather or the subject of today’s Pulp Friday offering, the novels of Harold Robbins.

Growing up in the 1970s, when popular culture was still mass rather than the niche individual choice it is increasingly now, Robbins was still a big deal. I don’t know about your household, but prominently placed amongst the Alistair Maclean and Ian Fleming thrillers, Desmond Morris’s The Naked Ape and Erich von Daniken’s 1968 sensation, Chariot of the Gods, were a large number of paperback books by Robbins.

Robbins has been called ‘the godfather of the airport novel’ and the ‘Onassis of supermarket literature’. He wasn’t a good writer by any stretch of the imagination but starting with his debut novel, Never Love A Stranger, in 1948, he produced fast paced, meaty narratives with larger than life characters, corporate executives and adventurers, accompanied by lashings of drama and explicit sex.… Read more

Pulp Curry: A Clockwork Orange

It has been a while between posts, I know. This site, as well as a number of other things in my life, has taken a back seat in order for me to meet a few pressing deadlines, in particular, working on a monograph for a English publisher on Norman Jewison’s 1975 dystopian science fiction classic, Rollerball.

While Jewison was not a great fan of science fiction he was impressed by two science fiction films, both of them made by Stanley Kubrick: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange, released in 1971 (although it was not released in Australian until 1988). It is this latter film that is the subject of today’s Pulp Friday post.

Published by Anthony Burgess in 1962, A Clockwork Orange is set in a near future dystopian England suffering from an epidemic of extreme youth violence and economic stagnation. The book’s teenage protagonist, Alex, narrates the story of his various criminal exploits and the subsequent efforts of the conservative state authorities to rehabilitate him, in a made up language Burgess called ‘Nadsat’.

Burgess’s own politics were conservative, with a streak of anarchism running through his thinking. He wrote A Clockwork Orange in three weeks, influenced by his views of the growing youth culture in early sixties England.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Patrick

Patrick #1I am partial to a good paperback movie tie-in and this week’s Pulp Curry features a beauty, Patrick, which I found in an excellent second hand book shop during recent travels in rural Victoria.

Published by Sun Books in 1978, the novel is based on the original screenplay by Everett de Roche of the influential Ozploitation film of the same name about man in a coma after murdering his mother and her lover by electrocuting them in a bath. The man, Patrick (Robert Thomspon), who strange psychokinetic powers, falls in love with his nurse, Kathy (Susan Penhaligon) communicating with her via an electric typewriter. He also uses his powers to ward off other potential male suiters in Kathy’s life and battle the hospital staff, particularly the Nurse Ratched-like Matron, Cassidy (Julia Blake).

The book was written Australian writer Keith Hetherington, who we have featured previously on this site. Hetherington, who was born in 1929 and I believe is still alive, had a long career, including writing Westerns and Larry Kent crime thrillers for Cleveland Publishing, fiction for Man and Pocket Man magazine, radio plays, television scripts, and various stand alone thrillers and a paperback tie ins for films such as Snapshot (1979) and The Chain Reaction (1980).

I love the cover for this paperback tie in, Robert Thompson aka Patrick’s creepy, penetrating eyes, although the copy I have, from which the front and back cover scan is taken, is slightly askew, the product of a printing fault.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Thing From Another World

The Thing 1951Today’s Pulp Friday is an absolute thing of beauty.

The Australian edition of John W Campbell’s The Thing From Another World, published by Malian Press in Sydney, in 1952. The wonderful cover is by the prolific local artist, Stan Pitt, who illustrated comics and pulp paperback covers for a number of Australian pulp publishers over a lengthy career that stretched form 1942 to the 1970s.

This edition is particularly interesting because it is the first to anywhere in the world to reference the 1951 film, The Thing From Another World, directed by Howard Hawks. I originally saw it when it was posted by a chap called Morgan Wallace on the Vintage Paperback and Pulp site on Facebook.

Investigating Campbell on the Internet, I discovered a host of terrific images associated with this particular work.

The story was originally known by the title Who Goes There?, and first appeared in the August 1938 edition of Astounding Magazine under Campbell’s pen name, Don A Stuart.

It was published in hard cover as part of a collection of Campbell’s short fiction by Shasta Books in 1948. And then appeared in various editions, with various titles, leading up to the last one below, Bantam paperback tie-in to the 1982 film version by John Carpenter, The Thing.Read more