Tag Archives: New English Library

Book Review: Jane Gaskell’s A Sweet, Sweet Summer

One of the authors I really wanted to include among those examined in the third book I have co-edited with my friend, Iain McIntyre, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950 to 1985, was British writer, Jane Gaskell. In particular her novel, A Sweet, Sweet Summer, first published in hardback by Hodder and Stoughton in 1969. To be honest, as is so often the case, what first attracted me to finding out more about this title was the cover of the 1971 Sphere edition, with its uniquely early 1970s dystopian take on the female juvenile delinquent. It’s a wonderful piece of photographic paperback art, of the sort that the British did so well at the time, no doubt cheaply done (in all likelihood the model was one of the typists in the Sphere office), but very effective.

Plans to include Gaskell in Dangerous Visions and New Worlds were scuppered by the fact that I simply could not find a copy of A Sweet, Sweet Summer anywhere at a price that I could even remotely afford. The book is incredibly rare and has not been republished. Indeed, as I discovered when I posted an image of the cover above on Twitter – long after Dangerous Visions and New Worlds had been put to bed – I just was one of many bibliophiles who had been on the lookout for an affordable second-hand copy of this Gaskill book.… Read more

Pulp Friday: British horror pulp

Halloween approaches and, as has been my habit over the last couple of years, I want to mark the occasion with a bit of pulp. Horror pulp, actually. British horror pulp, to be exact.

American horror pulp got a bit of love on this site a little while ago, when I reviewed Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction, a history of American horror from the 1970 and 1980s.

But I reckon the Brits have always done horror pulp really well. And, if you want proof, feast your eyes on the wonderful selection of British horror pulp from the 1960s and 1970s, all sourced from my collection, including a couple of ultra rare Hammer paperback film tie-ins I own.

Enjoy Halloween.

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Pulp Friday: witches, sorcerers & Satan’s disciples

Satan, witches, warlocks, demons, they were everywhere in the sixties and seventies and no more so than on pulp fiction covers. To mark Halloween, today’s Pulp Friday offering is a selection of covers featuring the lord of darkness and his various disciples.

It’s hardly surprising that Satanism and witchcraft featured so prominently in pulp. Not only did these books mirror then contemporary tabloid fascinations with black magic and witches, but the subject was an excuse for a bit of gratuitous sex and nudity. Especially sex. Devil worshippers, particularly Satan’s female disciples, were nothing if not sexually promiscuous, at least in the pages of pulp fiction.

The selection of covers below hail from the UK, US and Australia. They ran the gamut of key pulp fiction sub-genres: fiction (Dennis Wheatley’s To the Devil a Daughter, one of many occult themed books he wrote); history and so-called exposes (James Holledge’s Black Magic, ‘The world of uncanny occult rights, psychic phenomena, weird sex rities’); how to guides (How to Become a Sensuous Witch); television and movie ties ins (The Witchfinder General and  The Grip of Evil, the latter part of a series of paperback spin offs based on the hugely popular early 1970s Australian television show, Number 96), and smut titles (Bride of Satan and The Cult of Flesh – ‘Violent debauchery in a Satanic Cult of Flesh Worshipers’),

Even Carter Brown, hardly the most salacious of pulp writers in the sixties, touched on occult themes in books like Blonde on a Broomstick.… Read more

Pulp Friday: biker pulp

“Lusting females with sadism and sex on their mind.”

Bikers were one of the major themes of pulp fiction in the late sixties and seventies.

Society’s fascination with bikers obviously dates back much further than this, but by the late sixties it had well and truly seeped into popular culture, thanks to the well publicised violence at Aldamont, movies like Easy Rider (1969) and the success of Hunter S Thompson’s 1965 gonzo journalism classic, Hells Angels.

Australia was no exception to this trend, with concerns about law and order arising from the growth of the counter culture and the popularity of movies like Stone (1974) and Mad Max (1979) resulting in our own fascination with bikie culture.

The result was wave of pulp novels focusing on the exploits of outlaw biker gangs and the cops trying to break them. The books mirrored mainstream society’s fascination/loathing of bikie culture, real and imagined, mixed with lashings of gratuitous sex and hard-core violence.

Wheels of Death (1975) and Bikie Birds (1973) are two Australian examples of biker pulp fiction. Both were written by Stuart Hall, who penned approximately 45 pulp novels between 1970 and 1980, including a number of biker pulps for Scripts, the adults-only inprint of Sydney-based pulp publisher Horwitz Publications.

In addition to writing about the denim clad male members of these bikie gangs, Hall devoted considerable attention to the women (or ‘birds’ as women were often referred to in popular working class Australian slang) who rode with them, characters every bit as sexually loose and violent as their male counterparts.… Read more