Tag Archives: pulp fiction set in Asia

Pulp Friday: spy pulp part 2, Assignment Asia

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of James Bond, last week’s Pulp Friday was a selection of spy themed pulp covers.

This week’s post takes us to one of the main battlegrounds for pulp spies in the sixties and seventies – Asia.

The Cold War was in full swing and those Reds were getting up to all kinds of nefarious activity behind the bamboo curtain, everything from kidnapping, sabotaging America’s space program, developing bubonic plague, drug running, to assassination.

And secret agents like Mark Hood (The Bamboo Bomb) Butler (Chinese Roulette) Death Merchant (Chinese Conspiracy), Joe Gall (The Star Ruby Contract) and Drake (“The man with nobody’s face” in Operation Checkmate), Nick Carter (The Defector) and Sam Durell (the Assignment series, over 48 of which were written), were in the thick of it.

They usually committed a lot of violence, had a lot of sex, and travelled to exotic locations. The books below are set in China, Singapore, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and Sri Lanka.

And, of course, there were some great covers. My favourite is the Robert Mcginnis illustration for Scott S Stone’s The Dragon’s Eye. But I’m also rather taken with the sleazy eighties feel of the photograph on the cover of Assignment Bangkok.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The pulp of Simon Harvester

“One of his companions had sworn to betray him. But how and when.”

The last Pulp Friday for 2011 features the work of Simon Harvester, a British pulp writer best known for the character of Dorian Silk. Silk was a globe trotting Brtish spy with an unlimited ability to speak languages and understand local customs and a fairly obvious attempt by the author to cash in on the James Bond craze of the sixties and early seventies.

Harvester also wrote pulp fiction featuring other characters, most set in Asia, of which the two books in this post are both examples.

Published in 1969, The Chinese Hammer concerns another spy, Heron Murmer. A British forey into the space race results in a missing rocket, pilot and tape with valuable data. Murmer is sent to the Himalayas to retrive it only to discover that there is a traitor amongst the colourful group assembled for the mission. Is it the half caset reporter? Maybe the native guide, Jimmy?

Dragon Road, features Harvester’s other creation, Malcolm Kent, a former British soldier, now engineer, who makes a habit of getting tangled up in international intrigue in the Far East.

How many modern day spy books do you see with an engineer as the main character?… Read more

Behind the bamboo screen: Asian pulp covers of the sixties and seventies

Regular readers of Pulp Curry will by now be familiar with my obsession with pulp paperbacks from the fifties, sixties and seventies (previous posts on which you can be see here, here and here).

The following selection, sourced from my collection, is one I’ve wanted to do for a while now – Asian themed pulp paperback covers from the sixties and seventies. These are mainly from the United States with a smattering of Pan Books from the United Kingdom thrown in.

Not surprisingly, given the hysteria generated by the Cold War, the threat posed by the so-called “red menace” is a key theme of most of these titles, such as The Bamboo Screen, the story of an innocent Westerner thrown into “a savage world of spies and Oriental beauty,” a place where “life was cheap and love was a tool”.

Hong Kong was a favoured location for many of the do or die battles with Communism, as can be seen in Assignment Hong Kong and Twelve Hours to Destiny. Operation Hong Kong is one of a number of titles put out by Solider of Fortune magazine in the seventies: “Rainey has to stop Chinese agents from turning Hong Kong into a bloodbath”.

Other popular locations were Vietnam (Simon Harvester’s Battle Road), and jungles of Malaya in Mark Darby’s The Tigress, a place where “death stalked…with a Sten gun in its hands.”

Inscrutable communists were joined a pantheon of other Asian themed villains.… Read more