Some Current Pulp-Style Magazines

I grew up on pulp stories, but I didn’t know what they were at the time. The surging popularity of science fiction and fantasy hadn’t quite hit the public libraries or bookstores yet.  Many of the anthologies available on the minimal shelf space devoted to these genres (they were often combined into one in those days) included reprints of classic pulp-era stories. I didn’t know or care how old they were. All that mattered was how fun they were to read. Sure, the science was a little dated on some of the SF stories, but not so much that I couldn’t enjoy them.

Many authors today have embraced the pulp style. They call it by different names, and take several different approaches. Some try emulate the rhythm and language of stories from a hundred years ago, and feel like they’d be at home in the pages of those vintage magazines. Others are fully modern stories, but embrace many of what I would call “pulp sensibilities”: an emphasis on action, lurid spectacle, passionate heroes, stand-out villains, classic pacing and plotting,  a (usually) optimistic worldview, and more.

The latter types of stories can be found anywhere, and are often not branded as “pulp.” However, there are a few magazines out there even today that specialize in this kind of storytelling. If you want to read these kinds of stories yourself, here are a handful of options I can recommend:

Cirsova: Originally focused on heroic fantasy and science fiction (Volume I), the more recent Volume 2 has emphasized “Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense.” Science fiction and fantasy stories still dominate, but it is now open to stories without speculative elements. Its broad focus has also included poetry and essays. The key is the pulp flavor. One issue even included a never-before published Tarzan story, left unfinished by Edgar Rice  Burroughs. Michael Tierney, working with Burrough’s estate, completed the story which was at one point (IIRC) thought lost in a fire. I have been published in Cirsova a few times, and I have never been disappointed by an issue.

Storyhack Action and Adventure: Editor Bryce Beattie has quipped that he publishes “both kinds of stories, action AND adventure.” With a narrower focus that Cirsova, Storyhack Action and Adventure is just what it says on the tin. Stories contain plenty of fisticuffs, chase scenes, shootouts, and fun. Cirsova and Storyhack share many authors, which is unsurprising. If you enjoy the stories in one, you will probably enjoy both.

Pulphouse Magazine: Resurrected for the digital age by Dean Wesley Smith, Pulphouse this is probably the broadest style and the most loosely defined vision of “pulp” in this list, but the magazine has it in the name, and Smith is an unapologetic evangelist for the pulp-era writing styles (not to mention work ethic!). Just as pulp stories spanned a staggering array of genres, Pulphouse is a general fiction magazine that sets no limits on style, genre, or topic.

Tales from the Magician’s Skull: Now we go from the most general to the most specific. Tales from the Magician’s Skull is published by Goodman Games, a game company emphasizing “old school” roleplaying games and supplements. This magazine is dedicated to sword-and-sorcery fantasy, and even publishes game stats for story elements at the end of the issue. If you are a fan of Conan the Cimmerian, Jirel of Joiry, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and the like, this is what this magazine is all about. (One issue includes a previously unpublished Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser story).

Broadswords and Blasters: This one has gone on hiatus for a couple of years, but has recently made an open call for a new anthology that should come out at the end of the year. So… only mostly dead? Still, Broadswords and Blasters has released twelve issues of “Modern Fiction with Pulp Sensibilities” with a strong tendency for genre fiction, but the genre fiction runs a broad range including horror, science fiction, fantasy, crime fiction, westerns, and more.