The top five Latino projects keeping pulp literature alive
Frequently-overlooked pulp literature in Spanish is still alive in the flame of small projects all over South America.
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The reality is that pulp literature has already lived its golden age. But in spite of this, if globalism has any advantage, one no longer needs large markets for something to survive, only faithful supporters and a strong grassroots audiences. This theory is corroborated in the success seen by several pulp publications in Spanish still present across South America.
Pulp literature is fiction (terror, fantasy, science-fiction) that was marketed and sold at newsstands in the last decades of the last century. Normally of small size and with very low quality paper that justified the low cost, the genre of popular literature has now become a literary subgenre.
The conditions necessary to maintain an entire industry no longer exist.
To start, its main exporters in the 80s came from dictatorships and could get by paying its authors extremely low wages, taking advantage of the fact that they would be supporters, or they could hire ghost writers to produce in their name.
On the other hand, the concept of entertainment has changed a lot, so the massive serialization and new platforms competed directly with cultural products that were closer to entertainment than the avant-garde.
It has a lot to do with another feature that prevented the industry from blossoming.
Fiction literature was sometimes used in countries that were living in or fleeing from dictatorships with an escapist purpose. As those same cultural systems became open to the world's geopolitical landscape as well as to the political challenges of non-fiction writers. In short, they had to play catch up with the purposes of literature as their world opened up.
As a result, pulp literature has become a sub-genre in the same way that the spaghetti western or superheroes did.
The American academy has contributed a lot to the trend. Its members have been practically the only ones to recall authors of the period, such as Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber, and L. Ron Hubbard himself, the founder of Scientology.
In many Latin American countries, where pulp literature exchange groups are frequent, the sub-genre's full realization is a work in progress.
That is why those who try to continue the pulp legacy shine in an already-converted sub-genre with very concrete norms. They also keep it updated to the panorama of their respective nations.
Here is the top five of projects that should be given a look.
The digital magazine founded in Havana in 1999 is one of the most faithful representatives of the most classic, pulp literature style adapted to the new times. It looks for the low cost and its objective is to present new voices of the fantastic genre, so they can create their own fantastic poetry awards. They also accept manuscripts.
From Colombia comes this magazine of science-fiction short stories that is very similar to a previous project that shut down in 2016. It came back adapted to the new times in the shape of a podcast — a sign that the pulp doesn't adhere to formats.
There are a number of magazines, but pulp also appears in books. It is true that the price of pocket editions can no longer compete with the big publishers, but it is possible to obtain a catalog of new voices that are local, specifically from Chile. This publication was founded by Marcelo Novoa, author also of several anthologies dedicated to pulp literature, like Años Luz: Mapa Estelar de la Ciencia Ficción en Chile (published in 2006).
Rather than a publication, this is a person. Jeu Azarru, also known as Juan de Urraza, is prolific in pulp literature. He has fantastic work and a self-taught universe that remembers the great signatures of the subgenre.
Bizarre? pulp? splatter? It is hard to provide labels on when it comes to innovation in the subgenre. If there is anything in the present similar to pulp, but attentive to postmodern anxieties, it is the very-specific, North American bizarre. This Colombian publisher is in charge of bringing all this to the Latinx reader and also addressing the margins of fiction by translating authors such as Supervert and João Barreiros.