Sunday, September 29, 2013

Satan’s Daughter and Other Tales from the Pulps

Satan’s Daughter and Other Tales from the Pulps from Wildside Press collects thirteen stories by E. Hoffmann Price (1898-1988) that were published in various pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s.

Price is one of the more forgotten pulp writers. He was one of the circle of writers with whom H. P. Lovecraft corresponded and he collaborated with Lovecraft on some stories. Price started his career at the absolute bottom of the pulp fiction food chain, writing for magazines like Spicy Detective Stories and Spicy Adventure Stories, magazines that made Weird Tales seem positively high-brow. These magazines required a certain amount of risque content which Price was willing to provide. It was a way of learning his craft and he probably took his contributions to these magazines more seriously than most of their writers.

The stories in this collection are mostly from these very down-market magazines. It includes plenty of two-fisted action in westerns, detective yarns and a few examples of genuine weird fiction. It was the weird fiction that Price did best although his detective stories are sleazy fun. These stories in these magazines and the ones in this collection are all quite sleazy, much much more so than the stories you’d find in Weird Tales or Adventure or Black Mask.

The title story is by far the best, a very fine piece of weird fiction. The detective stories are fast-paced and fairly entertaining, especially Murder Salvage and Triangle with Variations. The three western stories veer more towards black comedy, although perhaps not entirely successfully.

My impression is that this collection doesn’t really do the author justice. Other stories of his that I’ve come across that were published in magazines such as Weird Tales are much stronger than most of the stories here. The need to add a good deal of sleaze for the bottom-feeder type of publications that these stories are taken from doesn’t really help the stories and if anything tends to slow the real action down. One also can’t help suspecting that Hoffmann Price submitted his weaker stories to these publications while saving his better efforts for the slightly more prestigious magazines.

The collection does however give an interesting overview of the very wide variety of pulp fiction that was being published at the time, and it gives the reader a chance to sample the kinds of stories that were found in magazines like Spicy Detective Stories, stories that you will very rarely come across in anthologies.

If you like your pulp fiction good and sleazy and good and violent then this collection should be very satisfying. Personally I was just a little disappointed, knowing that this author certainly wrote better material than most of that collected here.

No comments:

Post a Comment