Thursday, August 6, 2020

We've Got the Pulp Mindset!

I got a THIRD tag!

I have to say, the past week made things quite hectic around here. I'm almost not even sure what to say about what's been going on, though you certainly know by now. None of this was expected, least of all by me.

It's been a long week, but it's safe to say that The Pulp Mindset has been a big success with readers! As shown in the image above, I've managed to get #1 New Release orange tags in three different categories on amazon. All of this is thanks to my intrepid and very generous readers. You guys really went all out, and continue to show that you want positive change in the arts.

While 2020 has been treacherous for a whole host of other reasons, those of us in arts and entertainment have been pushing ahead hoping to provide blue skies where some might only see grey. What else can we do? Apparently audiences have been more than willing to reciprocate, showing that we are all very much on the same page.

For this particular success, I'd like to thank everyone who purchased a copy of the book, those who read it on Kindle Unlimited, those who left a review, and those who helped me promote it so far and wide on social media. Every one of you helped make this a success far beyond what I had hoped or expected. Thank you so very much!

If this doesn't show there is a hunger for more in entertainment then nothing will. OldPub is over, and now it is time for greener pastures.

It's great to know that so many others are interested in ataining the Pulp Mindset and joining the rise of NewPub. Things are really changing in the creative landscape, and it's invigorating that so many others are not only aware of it, but are actively preparing for the change ahead of them. The '20s are going to be quite the shift from what we were all used to, and very little from the 20th century will still be around to hold us back.

In other words, we are finally stepping into a 21st century world. Prepare accordingly!

On top of all the fantastic feedback from readers, I also managed to appear on the SuperversiveSF podcast last Sunday hosted by author Ben Wheeler. We talked about the Pulp Mindset and a few other related subjects for nearly an hour and a half. It was a lot of fun, and you can hear the show and my appearance on it here.

It's over 80 minutes long, so settle in!

But I don't want to make this post just to repeat things you might already know, but to highlight what is coming next! I don't plan on resting on my laurels here. The Pulp Mindset also means you must keep moving and producing. I plan to do so.

As I've said before, my goal for this year was to get three books out, thereby doubling my total published output in a single year. We have just passed the halfway point for 2020, and I've just released book #2 into your hands. In addition I've also published a FREE novelette for newsletter subscribers, have had a story in an issue of StoryHack, and will be in two volumes of the Planetary Anthology. It's safe to say that I'm well on the way to hitting my goal for this year.

On top of that, I've just received edits for book 2 of Silver Empire's Heroes Unleashed and my Gemini Man series with Gemini Drifter, and am cutting through them as we speak. It's not going to take too long. Aside from just me, Heroes Unleashed is about to have a flood of new content burst out of the dams from new and returning writers, so be sure to keep an eye out. The next few months are going to overflow with goodness!

In addition to book 2, I'm also very far into writing book 3, Gemini Outsider, and will be getting back to it after edits on #2 are polished off. That's my next work to finish. The first three books of the series sort of have a mini-arc to them, so I would like to have all of them out close together before I dive in deeper. So you can expect many heroic adventures ahead.

Those that have been following Wasteland & Sky and have purchased both Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures and The Pulp Mindset are aware that I keep promising a book called Brutal Dreams, but have yet to mention more than that on the project. Well, you haven't seen it because it will be the third book I put out on my own this year. Just like Grey Cat Blues, it is a shorter pulp length work meant to be read really fast to keep the blood pumping. This one leans more into Gothic Horror than what I've done before, though there is plenty of action to be had, because that is just how it goes. Nonetheless, I am aiming to have Brutal Dreams out before the end of the year.

In between all of this are a pile of short stories currently waiting for homes, as well as a few others half-written or edited and needing some spare time to polish off. Nothing is really open to submission right now so they just sit, waiting for their chance to strike. I hope to be able to give them the focus I need between the above, and with what is coming in 2021.

That's right, I also have a bit of 2021 planned out. We're looking ahead into the new decade!

But this all makes perfect sense to those paying attention. The next decade is definitely going to be a monumental shift from what came before, as those who have read The Pulp Mindset are aware.

My First Orange Tag!

My Second Orange Tag!

Next year, I am hoping to do a crowdfund, my first crowdfund. That will require a bit of looking into and such, but it is something I definitely want to attempt for myself. Crowdfunding is a new avenue for NewPub, so it only stands to reason that I should explore it for myself.

This crowdfund won't be for anything I have discussed on this blog or anywhere else, but for a brand new project that I have yet to discuss with anyone at all. Those aware of what I write probably know the general idea will be action-based, but as for the content . . . that's going to be a bit of a surprise. I can promise that it will be as exciting as it it will be weird.

Suffice to say it isn't like anything you've seen before which is why I'm going to need the help of readers to make this a reality. It's easily the wildest idea I've cobbled together so far, so I'm going to need plenty more time to get it ready for prime-time, especially with other projects on the docket to be written and released first. I'll reveal more about this one, but in the future. Needless to say, 2021 is going to be a wild time!

For now, we have plenty to focus on here in the crazy year of 2020. I've got quite the full plate.

But this is my way of saying that there's plenty of road ahead, many different possibilities, as long as we're willing to make that move. I wasn't expecting such a loud and visceral reaction to The Pulp Mindset, but it appears there are many out there that want more than what's currently being offered on the withered vine of OldPub. They want adventure! They want action! And we're going to give it to them! As OldPub crumble into dust we are going to be thrown into the spotlight in their place, whether we want to or not, and whether we're ready or not.

And you would be surprised how many of us there are out there. I know I am shocked every time I meet more of us.

I know plenty of creatives that are quietly making their art and getting ready to unleash it on the unsuspecting world, and still I know yet others who are still struggling to learn the craft but continue plugging along regardless. These are the creators that are going to be taking over the field when OldPub collapses under its own dead weight. If The Pulp Mindset can help them do it even faster then I will consider it an even bigger success than I even imagined. Get ready for the change ahead, because it's definitely coming!

This isn't just to declare victory before the battle is even over, but to say that its going to take a lot for OldPub to right their ship, and it's going to take steps they will never make. The industry is too bloated, too decayed, and too tired, to gather the energy it needs to completely overhaul itself and put the customer first again. Too much bureaucracy, too much ideological bias, and too much focus on chasing silly urbanite trends, have left them without any oars to paddle. They did this to themselves. At the same time, too many exciting ideas and creations have been springing up in the burgeoning frontier of NewPub to bother readers giving those dinosaurs the time of day anymore.

Why give money to people who hate you when you can have more fun with people who don't? Life's too short to waste on decaying industries and forgotten fossils.

Meanwhile, I'm going to continue to do what I always do here on Wasteland & Sky and talk about exciting goings-on in the present, great future projects, and some of the overlooked ideas and products of the past. There's a wide world of art and entertainment out there, and I'm going to keep exploring it. We have much to discuss, and much more to enjoy!

So I would just like to use this post today to thank all of you readers and promise you all that more is on the horizon. I won't be stopping anytime soon, and I'm happy to have you on this journey with me. It's been quite the ride, but we can't stop now. There's too much on the road ahead.

We have the Pulp Mindset, so let's use it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Signal Boost ~ "Vatican Championship Wrestling: A Fantasy Pulp Novel"

Check it out Here!

Woo boy. One of the things I've enjoyed about social media is connecting with other like-minded authors and creators also looking to bring back fun art for the neglected masses. I've highlighted a few of these writers and artists on this blog, but there are many more that slip under the radar. There's just too much to highlight!

This is because it is difficult to stand out regardless of how wild and creative your ideas may be or how good you are. In this NewPub world we are emerging into, you might find yourself lost and overwhelmed both as a creator and someone looking for new entertainment. There is just too much to sift through. It is even more difficult if you are attempting to crowdfund something truly wild, just like the project I am showing you today.

Today, I wanted to highlight an interesting project from writers William Hastings and Alex Trevino that is unlike anything you're likely to see. There's nothing quite like it. The project is called Vatican Championship Wrestling, and it is as wild as you think.

The description:

Dropkicks, Demons, and DDTs! 
A Vatican exorcist fighting for survival in the world of Pro-Wrestling. 
After a potentially demonic incident at the largest wrestling event of the year, the Vatican sends exorcist Gabriel Blackwell to infiltrate the company. Blackwell has a complicated history with the wrestling business and must adapt or die while fighting for his very soul on pay-per-view.
The first 100% Kayfabe novel. VCW is bringing professional wrestling and pulp fiction together, a fantastic and entertaining read for both wrestling fans and readers.

In case you are unaware of what "Kayfabe" means, the campaign describes it:

The book will be framed as if it's a fictional storyline taking place within the world of pro-wrestling, rather than a story about the behind the scenes process of being a wrestler. Pure fiction and pure fun! This is not intended to parody or disrespect pro-wrestling in any way. We've decided to bring this book to live because we love pro-wrestling and want to bring some of its magic to people outside the arenas.

In other words, the story treats the wrestling aspect as if it was real, and not a performance for the audience. There is no part where they go back stage to sign autographs and deal with internal company politics about who will be the next one to win the Championship belt. The switch doesn't flip off once the wrestlers get off stage, much like in the old Mexican luchador stories. For a pulp tale that is definitely the way it should be.

As for the campaign page, there are many different perks and stretch goals to go through, so be sure to check out the madness for yourself and see what strikes your fance. You won't find another project like this anytime soon that's for sure. And that's the sort of change in the creative climate we've been looking for.

The crowdfunding campaign for Vatican Championship Wrestling can be found here.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Signal Boost ~ "EDENET" by Kit Sun Cheah

Find it Here!

The tremendous output of creator activity continues into August! This time we take a look at PulpRev maestro Kit Sun Cheah's new Cyberpunk thriller series, Singularity Sunrise. The first installment was just released!

Mr. Cheah has been a fountain of activity for some time now, putting out material such as his Dungeon Samurai series on top of everything else, and now he's switched gears to creating cyberpunk. He has just put out the first book in the series called EDENET, the description of which can be seen here:

The 22nd century brings an era of technological wonders—and horrors. Cybernetics and genetic engineering. Mass surveillance and social credit. Full body cyborgs and nanoscale engineering. And the pinnacle of human achievement: machine intelligence. 
Edenet is the next generation of the Internet. Designed by Anatol Corporation, it will bring the power of a supercomputer to the fingertips of every user, anywhere in the world. At the heart of Edenet lies a cutting-edge artificial intelligence that regulates all traffic on the network. 
And one of its lead scientists has disappeared. 
Fearing the worst, Anatol hires psychic contractor James Morgan to track her down. Accompanying him is Eligia Ogrod, the mysterious assistant to Anatol’s CEO. Their investigation takes them through the militarized streets of Warsaw, a corporate fortress in Shenzhen, and the human hives of Hong Kong. 
Morgan is no stranger to intrigue. Yet the deeper he digs, the more questions emerge. Who is Eligia Ogrod? What does Anatol want? 
And what is the truth behind Edenet?

Once again, you can find this exciting thriller here!

July was a big month, but things are not slowing down or stopping anytime soon. Better hop on the pulp train. It's going places.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Get the Pulp Mindset!

Find it Here!

It's been a long month and, as it draws to a close, I'm going to end it on a big note. This might be a long and hot summer, but there is some good to come out of it!

Finally, today is the day we've been waiting for. The Pulp Mindset is out for everyone on amazon. This guide has been in the works for awhile and now I can finally show you just what I've been working on behind the scenes for the past couple of months. It's a guide for new creatives who wish to understand just how to approach art in the modern age, and for those who wish to understand just what this NewPub thing is about. You can find it on amazon here.

A short description:

Out with the Old, in with the NewPub 
Nobody reads anymore. In an age where audiences consume more art than ever before, books have remained irrelevant to the ever-changing West. Nothing seems to change this unavoidable reality. The industry is over. 
Or is it? 
A new frontier has opened where anything goes! We live in a pulp landscape now, a place where the past and present comes together to create a better future. In this book you will learn just what this NewPub world is, how to adapt to it, and change the way you think about everything. 
The Rules Have Changed! 
You can do anything! The Pulp Mindset will help you adapt to this crazy climate and become the best artist you can be. Read on and join the revolution!

The seed for this idea started when I submitted an essay to authors' Misha Burnett's and Ben Cheah's upcoming Pulp On Pulp collection of non-fiction essays for writing pulp-inspired fiction in the modern day. When I finished my piece up and sent it off for submission, other ideas started swimming in my mind related to the topic. I began taking notes and drew up a rough outline in between other projects. Before I knew it, I was already hip deep in the waters of The Pulp Mindset which had exploded beyond that one single essay. The entire project came together remarkably fast, and now here it is out ready for aspiring pulpsters!

Never let it be said that pulp speed is impossible to achieve. This entire book is proof that it absolutely can be reached.

There are eight chapters in the book, each centered on an important aspect of NewPub that needs explaining to upcoming authors and current writers too reliant on the decayed system of OldPub. I wanted to make this entire work as clear and concise as picking up an old beat up yellowing paperback would be, matching the feel and pace of a pulp novel while still delivering important information that can be used to achieve a productive mindset. There's no droning on and on here: the book gets to the point quick.

It needs to, because we need to make reading cool again in order to get people reading again. And nothing was cooler than the pulps. Nothing ever will be.

A lot has been lost since the pulps ruled the roost back in the early 20th century. Much slander and libel has taken place to tear them down and insist their influence was only ever harmful to writing nd storytelling. However, as the years have gone on it is the pulp that endures while the gimmicks and fads fade away to obscurity for the next big thing. The mutations that have attempted to subvert pulp have all died off.

How often have you heard that John W. Campbell "rescued" science fiction from the disgusting cesspool of the pulps that those filthy normies read? How he brought in a golden age that sold less, had less cultural impact, and is now in the process of being erased from his own industry. Meanwhile, pulp writing remains stronger than its been in ages.

There is something there beyond the old cliches of the pulps, something OldPub wanted to bury, and it is about time that it is reclaimed. Those of us in NewPub can, and will, bring it back.

At this point, it is inevitable.

John W. Campbell's career as seen from OldPub's perspective. NewPub is going to reverse it.

But I've already talked a lot about OldPub. I fact, I might spend a bit too much time devoted to its failings on this blog. This is why I used more time in the book writing on NewPub instead. What else is there to say about a zombie industry, anyway? It's over.

For one, OldPub is already eating itself through purity tests and creating stricter and stricter rules on who is allowed to write what before they are published and placed in their nearly empty bookstores. Be sure to check your skin color or what private parts you have equipped because that matters more than what you have to say as a human being.

And those who helped spearhead this change over the course of the 20th century? Well, they are being airbrushed out as we speak. While they were useful weapons to destroy whole fields to the result of less and less people reading every day, despite the highest literacy rates in history, they continue to eat each other in an attempt to seize control of their nearly empty, dirty sandbox that long ago once used to be a beautiful beach.

Soon there will be nothing left but a gravel pit, and no one is going to be left to mourn them.

This is the reward you get from all that subversion.

And we aren't going to mourn them, because we have something better. We have NewPub, and we have the Pulp Mindset.

As I mentioned, each chapter covers a different subject. The first explains just what OldPub and NewPub are and why the difference matters. We then go in straight to just what the titular Pulp Mindset is and why you need to have it to succeed in this new wild frontier. These first two chapters form the backbone of the work in showing both the issue with modern writing and just how to fix it with a mindset shift.

But we don't stop there. The next three chapters focus on three different areas of writing, all of which are invaluable to understanding how to operate in NewPub. Because you can't quite be pulp without capturing what made it spark beyond the surface level.

The first of these chapters contains the only bit of practical writing advice I can give without turning the entire project into a How-To book, but it is necessary to put out there since reading this guide and then going out and reading Save the Cat defeats the purpose of everything being attempted here. No one in OldPub is going to help you write pulp.

The following two chapters form the core of what makes exciting pulp-inspired writing and how both have been diluted over the years. The first is on action, and the second is on wonder. Without engaging these dual subjects you simply cannot hope to tackle the changing writing landscape at all. Low art needs both action and wonder to survive, and so does NewPub!

Finally we end on what a real revolution in writing would contain and why the Pulp Mindset contains it. What exactly can we learn and do different from the failures OldPub has suffered, and what can we do better moving forward into the unknown future. There is more than you'd think, including pieces of advice that would make subversives in the 1960s blanche.

An early review nailed it perfectly:

I think aspiring authors might find some interesting inspiration from Cowan’s work, which after all mostly serves as a signpost to the successful story tellers of the past. What has worked before can work again, if you know about it. This work could be the catalyst that makes that possible.

All we have left of the forgotten past is a better and more fruitful creative place than the one ravaged by OldPub. That is the one we need to reach out to. In order to move into the future, one needs to connect with the past.

But that past is not OldPub. OldPub is dead.

Regress harder, and find what was lost. Only then can we move into a better future free from the shackles of mutation far past its expiration date.

The truth of the matter is that we are not in the same place we were a decade ago. We're not even in the same place we were five years ago. Things have changed so much in such a short period of time that it is overwhelming. But no matter how much the world might morph or fall apart around you there are eternal truths that don't change. This is the core belief of the Pulp Mindset, and this solid foundation will serve you even if the sky falls down around your head. The more things change, the more they remain the unchanged.

So put aside those creative writing classes you had back in college. Forget the self-help books that don't offer any help. Don't bother with creatives that hate the wider audience. Ignore the rumblings of a dying industry that want you to join them in their death spasms. There is no future in any of that nonsense.

The only way forward is with a Pulp Mindset. You can succeed without OldPub, and that terrifies the old guard more than anything. There is a revolution coming, and you will be part of it. The future is inevitable, and the future is in NewPub.

Once again, you can find the Pulp Mindset here.

Turn it around!

I told you all that I would get to three books released this year. This is book #2! I'm on a roll, and unlikely to stop anytime soon!

That's the Pulp Mindset for you.

EDIT: #1 New Release in Creativity! Thanks for your support!

EDIT 2: Another #1!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Signal Boost ~ "Planetary Luna" Audio Book by Tuscany Bay Publishing!

Find it Here!

Much credit should go author and editor Richard Paolinelli for all the work he has done in the Planetary Anthology series. After Superversive Press shuttered it looked unlikely that the project would ever be completed and was destined to be a what-if, but not only has Tuscany Bay released more volumes than Superversive did (and next month will have re-released all of Superversive's old volumes), it has also carried the project into a whole new medium. That would be into the burgeoning audio book world.

Planetary Luna isn't the first book in the series to cross into audio, that would be Planetary Pluto, but it is the one that has made the biggest splash so far, and is also the largest in size. Originally planned to be split into two volumes, it was instead collected in one large tome due to lack of time. Though readers appear to enjoy this big boy in all its overweight glory.

This is the Planetary Anthology series--weird is expected. For a project of this scope it is amazing that it still has so much to offer its audience, even now so many years after it was first conceived. It is amazing how well the idea holds up even now.

For those who do not remember what the Planetary Anthology series is about, here is a reminder. Every planet in our solar system (including our Sun and Moon) have a fascinating mythology and history behind them going back countless centuries, so why not celebrate them with the best wonder stories? So here is eleven volumes ranging from the scorching Sun to the far off Pluto where each volume plays tribute to the planetary system and the wondrous universe we live in. There is nothing else quite like it out there.

Here is a description for Planetary Luna, and the stories in contains:

These are the tales of the orb that lights our night sky and drives the tides of our oceans. The bright companion that orbits our planet, invades our dreams and drives us mad. 
The Curse and the Covenant by Ann Margaret Lewis – Tal, in the land of Ur, is son to a Lord. When a demon offers his father a gift to make him and his people like gods, Tal knows it’s a bad idea. 
The Doom that Came to Necropolis, by Steve Johnson – Necropolis is a small town, complete with small town values and small town myths. Unbeknownst to them, their doom is about to arrive, riding a motorcycle, and armed with the weapons of science. 
How to Train your Werewolf, by Margot St. Aubin – Jason Branch recently escaped from a home for the insane. His only goal now is to rest and be left alone in the woods. But when strangers decide that the same stretch of land would be perfect for their needs, they will soon discover Jason's true madness. 
Luna Sea, by Jody Lynn Nye – the moon can be a harsh mistress … or can she?
Regolith, by Penelope Laird – How far would you go to prevent your favorite band from being kidnapped and held for ransom on the Moon? 
Crazy like an Elf, by Declan Finn – When astronomer Barbara Davis hired a private security firm, she didn’t expect a man who claimed to be from Middle Earth. 
Samaritan, by Karl Gallagher – Thomas' people settled on the Moon to avoid contamination from biotech and nanotech gadgets. But when a high-tech spacer crashes Thomas must risk exile from his home to save the stranger's life. 
Moonboy, by Karina L. Fabian – Cory Taylor is the first boy born on the moon and may just be the first to die on it. But his first attempt to leave the moon may move up that date to closer than even he expects. 
Fly Me To the Moon, by Mark Wandrey – Annmarie Smith dreamed of going to space, and she finally succeeds in creating a company to mine water on the moon. Everything looks great, until alien first contact makes it all much, much more complicated. 
The Hyland Resolution, by Justin Tarquin – Charles Hyland is caught in the crossfire of an interplanetary war, their only hope is that Charles can extricate himself from the labyrinth of his own mind. 
Another Fine Day in the Corps, by L.A. Behm II – Some days you get the bear. Some days, the bear is packing mortar rounds. 
The Mask of Dhuran Zur, by John C. Wright – Some manuscripts you just shouldn’t read. 
Elwood, by Bokerah Brumley – Mysterious things happen to Emma Kelly when she meets the lunatic gypsy at the end of the lane and the gypsy's invisible pĂșca. 
Much Madness is Divinest Sense, by Lori Janeski-- A madman doesn't usually believe that he's insane. But the ones who are truly dangerous are the ones who not only believe it, but embrace it. 
The Night my Father Shot the Werewolf, by Josh Griffing – The boys in Mrs. Carroll's third-grade class learned a lot last year, about things like cursive, and multiplying, and werewolves. 
The Black Dogs of Luna, by Paul Go – The crew of the Sirocco find a nightmare of the ages on the Moon. 
Despot Hold ’em, by Caroline Furlong – You have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. But most importantly of all, know when to run. 
Polar Shift, by Richard Paolinelli – After the pole's shift, Sam Peck may just be the last living human being in the entire universe. 
The Price of Sanity, by A.M. Freeman – Never make deals with the unknown. Especially when it's paying for your freedom with your soul. 
Vulcan III, by William Lehman – Unfortunately for the crew of "Scorpion" the Vulcan III, the moon is the harshest engineering environment we've ever built in, especially when something goes wrong. 
Merry By Gaslight, by L. Jagi Lamplighter – What if that million-dollar mansion you hardly dare to long for were so much less than you deserved. 
Squeeze on the Moon, by Lou Antonelli – An expert in disaster recovery gets the opportunity of a lifetime – plus a little walk down memory lane.

As for me, I have at least two stories in the series, including one in Planetary Uranus (which is the next audio volume!) and the upcoming Planetary Sol, which is out in November! It's amazing to see this project come to full fruition, but humbling that I am fortunate enough to be a part of it. You won't find anything remotely like this out there.

Once more, you can find the audio version of Planetary Luna here.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Signal Boost ~ "The Penultimate Men: Tales from Our Savage Future" by Pilum Press

Find it Here!

We're still in July, and yet there is still much more to talk about! I definitely didn't want to miss talking about this little gem from Pilum Press, available exclusively in pocket paperback form at Lulu. You can only find it there. That's right, this one is going for a different sort of feel than the usual product I talk about in these signal boosts. But that definitely isn't for the worse.

The Penultimate Men: Tales from Our Savage Future is a collection of post-apocalyptic fiction from Jon Mollison, Neal Durando, and Schuyler Hernstrom, three authors that definitely know what they're doing. However, post-apocalyptic does not translate into being nihilistic, and these stories will prove it to you. There is always a different sort of magic in the air. At the same time there is an introduction from Nu Wave pulpster Misha Burnett, and always appreciated essays on the inspiration behind much of this sort of fiction by PulpRev BROSR guru Jeffro Johnson, both of which help to add flavor. All of this material is packed into a 230 page pocket paperback that wouldn't look out of place on a wire rack in your drug store next to yellowing Andre Norton and Manly Wade Wellman paperbacks. In fact, it fits right in.

Needless to say, I already have my copy, and if you're reading this you're probably already putting it in your cart. Celebrate the revolution in pulp fiction today by checking out the collection here. Remember: You can't get it anywhere else!

It's been a wild summer of productivity, and it isn't over yet!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Loose Cannon's Legacy

Over the last few years I've dived in rather deep with 1980s action movies. As hard as it might be to believe, I wasn't as big into them when I was a kid. It is something I got more and more into as I got older. Just like many kids born in the '80s and came of age in the '90s we were taught that actually the '80s were really lame and Not Cool and Too Cheesy. The edgelord '90s were where it was at, and things were always getting better.

However, as I got older, I began to realize something counter to what I had believed. The 1990s were not very good, and have aged worse than the 1980s did. Now, I personally had many good times in the decade of parachute pants and Friends and have many great memories in my personal life. It wasn't bad just because the culture doesn't particularly hold up. 1995 was a great year, for instance. But culturally, aside from video games and music, most of the good cultural material dried up by the dead center of the decade. By 1997 there was nothing left of even the best parts of the 1990s. It was as if they evaporated overnight.

I remember this moment even at the time. Though I wasn't what the kids call a "consoomer" at the time, I did notice that everything I enjoyed growing up was disappearing at once. It was bizarre experiencing it in 1997, but even more odd when you realize that no one else really appeared to notice at the time. They just sort of let it happen.

Then, as I sat through the long, interminable slog that was the 2000s, I noticed folks finally admitting something went wrong. Whole segments of subcultures were forming online dedicated on their dead favorites and questioning just what went wrong. Critics such as James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd (Then the Angry Nintendo Nerd), popping up online to reminisce about the past and show how it wasn't quite how we remembered it, though he clearly had a love for his youth and dedicates much of his spare time preserving the era for future generations as a hobby. This was happening in the middle of the '00s and still occurs today.

Other critics popped up at the time who didn't have Mr. Rolfe's passion with cheesy shtick or love of the weird, nor did they even play characters--they just ranted and screamed about everything you loved as a kid sucking. This batch of critics would go one of two ways: they would quit and become normal functioning members of society, of they would dig their heels in and champion subversion. Remember that old cartoon about how critics of the '00s always said everything you loved sucked? They warped into something much darker and more hateful by the '10s.

At the time, however, it was clear that two sides were forming. One that thought the past had a lot worth preserving and taking forward, and the other who wanted to demolish everything with a wrecking ball. This is a split that only went deeper as time went on.

It was about that time that I decided to go back and look for myself. It wasn't as if there was was anything to lose doing it. The pop culture of the 2000s was so vapid that I had little choice if I wanted to enjoy something. What else was there to do?

So I rewatched movies I hadn't see since I was a kid, some TV shows, and even some music. On top of that I began looking for stuff I had never experienced before from the same era. I wanted a fuller picture. There was a lot of content to go through, though at the time youtube, pirates, and the like actually preserved this stuff. Unlike today.

Nonetheless, I discovered a lot of interesting things along my journey. By the time the '10s rolled around it almost didn't matter that pop culture was dead. There was just so much to go through that I hardly noticed what was going on outside my door. This obviously was both a blessing and a curse, but it did give me higher expectations for what I allow in my brain. No longer could I except anything that couldn't even live up to Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando in action or comedy. If you can't close to a movie that (at the time) is only 15-20 years old then how can you look at yourself in the mirror? Shaking the camera like you're constantly having a seizure while standing on a fault-line isn't going to make up for it.

In fact, this attitude is what eventually led me to things such as the Pulp Revolution and starting the Cannon Cruisers podcast, both of which are still going strong. It turns out that not only was I not alone in my assessment, but a subculture was growing that was rejecting those that had discarded the past for new frontiers that just weren't bearing any fruit. The more I looked into this the more disillusioned I became.

What I discovered through all of this is that there was definitely a loss of heart, tradition, and ambition over the years. Even though I was a rugrat at the time, 1984-1987 was pretty much peak pop culture with original ideas, zany experiments, and hotblooded innovation, going on in just about every arena you could think of. And this isn't nostalgia: I wasn't old enough to remember this period. This is from me going back and delving into what I'd missed and experiencing most of it for the first time. For instance, if you watched a movie from this time period, even if it was technically inferior, it would still offer an untold level of entertainment. Perhaps the Greatest Generation finally retiring from the arts by the end of the '80s gave plucky Baby Boomers, inspired Jones, and fresh-faced Gen Xers the push they needed to show they could stack up. Either way, there was a lot happening at the time and it is hard to surmise just how much there was.

Case in point, there is Cannon Films, the notorious b-movie studio that allegedly put out some of the worst and best movies of the decade, depending on your point of view. Though if you explore the cinematic space during that time period they were hardly the worst--even their abysmal movies aren't anywhere close to the worst of the era. When a Cannon movie is bad it is still wild and creative. And that is a spirit that has been lost in the modern era. Not even good movies from today have that spark of wild joy.

Cannon Films was a struggling 1970s b-movie studio that was bought by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus under their Golan-Globus Productions. They wanted to break into Hollywood and make movies, and that's precisely what they did. By 1979 they had their own studio to do with what they pleased. But no one would expect what came next in the decade of madness known as the 1980s.

For the next near 15 years Cannon was the go-to purveyor in action and excitement. They made rental stores the hip location for kids to grab the newest insane adventure romp, they helped make home video a viable format, and they managed to break out big into pop culture with their lower budget fare. When you thought of 1980s pop culture, Cannon Films was one of the first things that came to mind.

Which is why it is odd that none of this is documented much at all. One of the reasons I started Cannon Cruisers is because there was just no one talking about this interesting era. Sure, there's constant talk of those tired space "Star" franchises, the usual chatter about oddball horror and the big budget fare from the era, and even the usual Arnold and Sly's movies, but rarely does anyone talk Cannon Films anymore.

This is a shame, because Cannon Films is possibly the most interesting film studio ever created, almost as weird as their movies, with some of the best production stories you will ever hear about. Aside from a pair of competing documentaries (worth watching!), there were no books, video series, or other podcasts, centered on the cousins and their company. For a while it seemed Cannon Films was destined to fade away into obscurity.

Until now.

Find it Here!

I was recently approached by the author of a new book to see if I wanted to read it for myself. When I saw what it was I jumped on the opportunity. It covers the exact topic I just mentioned. Suffice to say, getting a copy didn't change my overall thoughts on the product being that it was exactly what I was looking for.

Writer Austin Trunick decided to compile The Cannon Film Guide which is meant to cover every Cannon Films production from 1980 up to their closure in the 1990s. It is a in depth dive into Cannon, their productions, and the climate at the time they put their flicks out. The background and biographical information helps tremendously, as well.

However, because there is so much information he had to split it into three different volumes. The first one, which I am talking about here, covers 1980 up to 1984. Essentially, it covers the same time span we did on season one of Cannon Cruisers. If that seems like an odd place to stop, well, it's not. 1984 was the year Cannon finally took off, so this book more or less covers everything up to their explosion into the mainstream. It would have to considering it is a 550 page behemoth. Putting all this together in one place would create a book longer than The Stand. But despite the length there is no bloat to speak of. It's all pure information and background.

For those of us who have an eye for this period in pop culture this book is what we've been waiting for. It's a deep dive into one of the most interesting aspects of the 1980s pop culture. But there is more to it than just nostalgia.

It starts with a foreword by Cannon alumni Sam Firstenberg, director of such films as Revenge of the Ninja, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, Ninja III: The Domination, and the first two American Ninja movies. These are some of the company's most well known movies. He goes quite in depth on the beginning of the studio and how they came to be.

"Golan impressed me right away as a very decisive man who made abrupt decisions with no hesitation. Looking for a break into the industry I asked him to join his production and he hired me to work on his production on the spot, without even blinking. Right away he impressed me as a very colorful man with a very loud and commanding personality. I worked for Menahem Golan in many different roles through the 1970s, from courier to production assistant to assistant director, and then as a feature film director beginning in the 1980s, after he and Yoram Globus acquired Cannon. The creative atmosphere and the cinematic culture of Cannon were like no other film production organization of their time. There was a sense of openness and adventure amongst the rank and file of the employees, all emanating from the man at the top: Menahem Golan."

Right away Mr. Firstenberg solidifies what we had all figured. A studio as wild as Cannon Films would have to be run by a man as mad as they were. Menahem Golan, from all accounts, had a bizarre sense of creativity and inspiration about him. But this character of Golan is what gave Cannon the character it had.

You could say a lot about Cannon Films, but you can never call it faceless or uninteresting. Considering the decade which was anything but either of those things and you can see how significant it is that Cannon still sticks out.

From the beginning of this guide we are given a gander at just who runs the studio, and it is a man who takes chances and is willing to try anything in a decade where anything went. Even then he went beyond that. It explains much about Cannon's character and how the studio ended up being the success that it was.

Mr. Firstenberg goes further:

"At Cannon, the creative decisions were based on Golan’s gut feelings, and that’s how they launched projects with Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, and the likes of Runaway Train, Otello, American Ninja, Breakin’, and on and on and on. Some of these projects were financially risky, but nevertheless they were made. That’s why so many moviemakers were attracted to work for Cannon."

Can you think of a studio head like this now, never mind one with such a dynamic personality? The wider industry tended to hate Cannon for purity reasons, but it was rather clear that their intentions were purer. They just wanted to create movies and make money doing so. Which is, supposedly, the point of the industry in question, though we all know better now.

Either way, thanks to Golan's leadership and Globus' financial sense, Cannon gained the reputation it did among the people who counted: the customers.

Golan was the character with dynamic personality, but when you have someone like Yoram Globus to manage financials you can leverage your budgets and rely on overseas markets to make sure you don't overspend. Many would make fun of Cannon for being low budget, but even they weren't the lowest in town and could use their budgets quite ell when they wanted to. Nonetheless, this was their formula: produce a film for cheap, make just enough back on home video and the overseas markets, and then put it into the next one to build an audience. This simple formula is what carried them from obscurity in the early '80s up to superstar status a mere handful of years later. The cousins had a straightforward formula, and it worked.

But the most telling passage is this one:

"In the 1960s, traditional, independent, low-budget exploitation and genre b-movies gave way to an emerging new wave of independent, expressive, and personal cinema and a different breed of American movies, the likes of Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, and so on. The major studios followed suit and started to produce more artistic, expressive, personal films, and Hollywood abandoned their “bread and butter” movies. Cannon Films seized on the opportunity and penetrated the vacuum that was created and, together with others, occupied this abandoned field. Certain types of audiences all over the world had felt betrayed and yearned for more of the old-fashioned genre flicks: action, horror, sci-fi, and the like. The 1980s also saw the emergence of the home video phenomenon, the videocassette tape rental economy and the rise to power of major independent production and distribution companies to supply the product that was missing from the marketplace. Cannon became the largest of them all, producing more than 530 movies."

There is much more to the foreword than this, but this one statement says it all. Around the 1960s the bigger studios started to abandon audiences. If it wasn't for the success of several wildcard success in the 1970s and '80s they might have abandoned them sooner. These were the studios that kept the spirit of excitement alive. Those who remember the pulp attitude and wonder where it went i the wider world can see that it still existed in places like Cannon Films.

You see, they knew there was a large audience not getting what they wanted. So what did they do? Ignore it? Call it bad names? Deliberately produce movies that spat on these inferior subhumans? No, Cannon did what they were supposed to do and what the wider industry was supposed to do: they catered to the audience. They gave them what they wanted.

And Cannon cashed in while doing it. They provided a product, and the audience exchanged their hard-earned beer money for it. It feels like such a foreign attitude, especially these days, but this is how it is supposed to work. This didn't used to be such rare knowledge, but I suppose at some point the industry forgot it.

Mr. Trunick then has his own preface in the book which starts out with this:

"Like many of you, I grew up in the era when your whole weekend’s entertainment was decided during a Friday night trip to the video rental store. It was in those places where Cannon reigned supreme, and their recognizable logo could be found somewhere on almost every shelf in the store. Thanks to my local mom-n-pop shop’s lenient policies toward renting violent, Rrated movies to minors, I was exposed at a young age to film classics such as Invasion U.S.A. , New Year’s Evil, and American Ninja. I learned early on that a movie didn’t need to be “’traditionally good” to be great. For the rest of my film-loving life, the sight of the Cannon logo at the front of a movie would stir up happy, fluttery feelings within my heart. If you’re reading this now, my guess is you might feel the same way."

He invokes a strong image for anyone of Gen Y or younger Gen X, but it is a very accurate one for any who lived during that time frame. Going to the video store and discovering treasures in the form of painted VHS boxes and weird video game covers with wacky titles was a common weekend activity. You never knew what gem you might find hidden in the tangle of new products and inventive ideas. For many, this is what the 1980s were most known for.

Cannon understood this feeling, even at the time. Their dominance of the home video and overseas markets showed brains for a studio regularly considered brainless. But this method, taking advantage of an audience who wanted content, worked for everyone involved. As it is supposed to. Cannon Films ruled the roost for good reason.

I would dare say the only type of person who would say they have bad memories of seeing the Cannon Films logo on a box is probably a joyless husk of a human being regularly confused with a stick in the mud. If you wanted to be taken for a ride and have your head filled with wonder and excitement, then there were few places you could get it the through a Cannon movie. Those opposed to this, I would imagine, are probably the same types that cheered when Hollywood abandoned more general fare back in the 1960s. In other words, they take themselves too seriously. They have forgotten what fun is.

On top of the interesting background and biographical information, The Cannon Film Guide also covers 40 movies each with an extensive plot summary, production info, trivia, and sometimes with intriguing interviews with those involved in the production. Even if you have a passing interest in the subjects in this book it is fascinating to read and look into the era. There are some obscure tidbits to be found, too!

Now, unlike most books I talk about here, I still haven't finished reading this all the way through. In between projects in both writing and reading hasn't left me with as much time as I'd like to go through the entire guide, but with over 550 pages there is more than enough content to keep you invested for a long time.

I plan to go deeper on a movie by movie basis in my proper read-through, but looking through the material I've seen has left me with little choice than to heartily recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in the subject. It is something that has been needed for a long time. The Cannon Film Guide is a book that is important for those creating new similar culture or interested in studying the old. For fans of action, adventure, horror, and pulp excitement, it is a must read that will satisfy as much as Charles Bronson blowing up a drug dealer with a rocket launcher outside a roller-rink. If you know what that is a reference to then this book is for you.

This gets my highest recommendation. I will have to get a physical copy when the opportunity arises. It is most definitely worth the investment, and I eagerly await volume 2.

As I said earlier, the 1980s had much going for them we take for granted. This was a time when creativity sold, and both content creators and audiences got what they wanted. This created an exciting climate that many still look on fondly. There hasn't been a time period like this since. Looking back on it I can say the 1980s deserves a better reputation than the one it gets from the mainstream. Nonetheless, you know better, and that is what counts.

We should close this out with a quote from the epilogue of the guide:

"The mid-1980s—covered in the second volume of this series—saw Cannon release their most ambitious slate of movies ever. Not only did they spend significantly more money on their budgets, but their jaw-dropping 1985–1986 schedule saw the company juggle more film shoots than even the major studios would think feasible."

There is always more on the road ahead, so keep vigilante. With a pulp mindset you can do just about anything, and that's the way it should be.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Signal Boost ~ Star Knight Saga, Book 2: Hounds of Nimrod

We're back with another signal boost, this time for the sequel to a book I've already reviewed! Author Bradford C. Walker is crowdfunding the second book in his Star Knight Saga space opera series, and he needs your help.

In case you are new to the series, Star Knight Saga is a mixture of mecha, sword and planet, space opera, and plain old adventure. It's as exciting as it sounds. Now the author has finally announced book 2! Those of us who have read the first are eagerly awaiting the second.

I know it's a bit of a chaotic time out there in the world, but that hasn't stopped creators from doing their all to put out works of escapism and adventure to keep you entertained during this mess. In fact, they've been working extra hard. While OldPub has ground to a halt NewPub is still firing on all engines. It will take a lot more than this to derail us.

The summary of the campaign is as follows:

We pick up where "Reavers" left off, with our story's focus shifting to Earth and her solar system. Countess Gabriela Robin is in hiding, but she's threatening to go to Earth to speak of her experience at New Edinburgh to the Court of Stars and thus directly threaten the master villain of that raid: Count Vikuun Qis. 
Qis calls upon a new figure, Master Nimrod, to hunt her down before she can expose him. To ensure this succeeds, Qis throws Red Eyes and his pirates at the Solar Guard to keep them busy. The two strategies are meant to converge when Nimrod delivers Gabriela to the pirates to fulfill his promise to their mutual benefactor: the Architect. 
The action and intrigue goes from Ganymede to Rome, and from ship-to-ship down to man-to-man, as both villain and hero attempt to outwit as well as outfight each other to determine the fate of the Songbird of Second Salisbury.

Once again you can find the campaign here. There is a little more than 3 weeks remaining, but if you get in now you might be able to grab some exclusive perks.

This summer is is still heating up!