Monday, August 2, 2010

The New Pulp

The sort of action-filled, lurid stories that populated the pulp magazines have never completely left us, but for a couple of decades have been relegated to horror and men’s adventure paperbacks to be found in racks at super-markets, drug stores, and truck-stops. These days, there’s been a resurgence of very pulp stuff in a more upscale market under the more acceptable guises of “thriller” or “horror.” They still may not be the most highbrow of literature, but their narrative verve, and wild ideas make them ideal gaming fodder.

Case in point: The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry. This is the second of his Joe Ledger novels, though I haven’t read the first, but I gather its sort of in the zombie genre. Mr. Ledger is a badass ex-cop who works for a secret government organization which is now on the outs with the current administration (whose being duped by the evil super-rich, who want to get their hands on Ledger’s boss’s super-computer). Those evil rich are personified in the beautiful, albino, sexually deviant, brother and sister, Jakoby twins, who wanted to sell transgenic monster soldiers to the highest bidder, and their ex-Nazi daddy who wants to unleash global ethnic cleansing. And that’s all just the set-up!

In comparison, David Wellington’s 13 Bullets is positively mundane. It’s only got a state-trooper and a federal agent going up against a nest of vampires. These vampires aren’t the brooding, sparkling variety, but rather low-level superhuman monsters with an appearance like Nosferatu’s ugly brother. Though Wellington’s tale has many modern, cinematic touches, he draws on older myths for some elements of his vampires--for example they don’t reproduce in the usual modern way.

Apparently, in a later novel in the series, Wellington has the protagonists find the remains of a Union vampire unit from the Civil War!

You get the idea. And those are just a couple of examples. More pulpy goodness no doubt awaits.


Jim Shelley said...

What exactly is a transgenic monster solider?

Anonymous said...

Transgenics is an aspect of genetic science in which genes from one animal are given to another. In DRAGON FACTORY, mercenaries are subjected to gene therapy to give them the enhanced strength and other qualities of silverback gorillas. There are a number of other aspects of genetic science (from 'next year',so to speak) used to create other monsters in the book.

The core of the book deals with modern day Nazis using cutting-edge genetic science and virology for ethnic cleansing and to complete the Master Race Program.

The first book in the series, PATIENT ZERO, deals with terrorists using a modified prion disease to create a zombie plague.

In 2011, Joe Ledger will return in THE KING OF PLAGUES, hunting a secret society who are using modern versions of the Ten Plagues of Egypt as terrorist weapons to crash world economies. That book will be out next March.

Then in 2012 Joe and Echo Team square off against genetically engineered vampires and werewolves in THE OTHERS; and there will be at least one more book after that.

There are also two free Joe Ledger short stories available online: “COUNTDOWN” is a prequel to PATIENT ZERO ( and “DEEP, DARK”, which takes place just before the second book, THE DRAGON FACTORY. Here’s the link:

A third Joe Ledger short story, “ZERO TOLERANCE” will appear in the anthology THE LIVING DEAD 2 edited by John Joseph Adams for Night Shade Books. That story is a direct sequel to PATIENT ZERO, and the anthology will be out in September.

Happy reading!
Jonathan Maberry

Trey said...

@Jim - Jonathan's right--though "transgenic" isn't limited to animals--it's just genetic material from one organism put into another.

@Jonathan - Thanks for stopping by. It's a good book.