THE NEOPULP MANIFESTO (v.2.1)

Adam Ford

1. To Begin With
2. Furthermore
3. Some Attempts at Definition
4. Serving Suggestions
5. NeoPulp Salutes Those Who Have Paved the Way

 

1. To Begin With:

NeoPulp is not a new style of writing. It is a fusion of several well-tenured styles of writing.

NeoPulp draws liberally from the fantastic stories of this and previous centuries, a melange of mythology and popular culture (take a bit of Godzilla, a bit of Paradise Lost, some giant robots, the sexual tension of a romance novel and the Bhagavad-Gita and mix them all together), and adds to this a "literary" understanding of characters' motivations and emotional needs.

NeoPulp embraces the clichés of pulp writing: the naïve superscience of B-movies, the nefarious underworld criminal mastermind, the lone sheriff against a town of outlaws, the young woman torn between love for a mysterious stranger and respect for her fiancée, and the mad god bent on destruction, and examines them closely in an attempt to find - or try - something novel: a subversion, an inversion, a juxtaposition, a statement about the human condition.

NeoPulp is born of a love and admiration for the flawed nature of pulp culture; it is not an exercise in poking fun at the plot and character shortcomings that are endemic to pulp. Such things are obvious and have been done to death. Rather, NeoPulp attempts to create a real and sympathetic portrait of these bizarre and self-contradictory characters and situations.

NeoPulp  is more than the simple name-dropping   of obvious popular culture icons for the sake of humour or nostalgia.

NeoPulp fuses the legacy of romantic, realist, post-modern and modernist writing with popular culture entities such as B-movies, comics, television, pop music and airport novels.

NeoPulp places realistically-defined characters into fantastic situations. It avoids the two-dimensional characterisation of pulp fiction while embracing every aspect of its subject material.

NeoPulp takes what is great about pulp fiction - the action, the tension, the sense of adventure and danger, the exploration of strange and fascinating ideas - and combines it with what is great about contemporary fiction - sophisticated understanding of characterisation and an awareness of and a willingness to draw upon literary history.

NeoPulp stands opposed to the tendency to pigeonhole writing as one or another kind of genre or sub-genre.

It is acknowledged that NeoPulp bears a striking resemblance to postmodernism (and on close inspection it may be revealed to be a variant of postmodernism) but its dialectic is more concerned with the interplay between "high" and "low" culture than it is with the interplay between the past and the present.

NeoPulp is not restricted to one medium. NeoPulp occurs in poetry, short stories and novels alike. It occurs in comics, song lyrics, movies and television. NeoPulp transcends genre boundaries; it likewise transcends boundaries of medium.

NeoPulp lacks the po-faced portentousness of contemporary genre fiction.

NeoPulp is fun without being stupid.

NeoPulp is not aimed at a specific demographic.

NeoPulp is for anyone who enjoys reading.

 

2. Furthermore:

All manifestoes contain within them a series of outrageous and dubious claims. Here then are two such claims that may be freely associated with NeoPulp:

Outrageous Statement #1:

"The current trend toward 'realist' fiction has created a reading public who simply look for the most accurate reflection of themselves in what they read. They hold a mirror to themselves with the books that they choose. This is an intolerably narrow standpoint. NeoPulp challenges the idea that this is all that people want. It stimulates the imagination and the sense of adventure, the sense of humour, the sense of fun, the sense of amazement in a way that is beyond the capabilities of 'realist' fiction."

Outrageous Statement #2:

"NEOPULP IS NOT REALISM. IT IS UNREALISM, OVER-REALISM, COUNTER-REALISM. NO LONGER SHALL THERE BE ONE BOX FOR ACCURATE REALISM AND ANOTHER FOR UNREAL DEPICTIONS - THE LIKES OF FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION, ROMANCE AND REALISM ALL COME TOGETHER UNDER THE NEOPULP BANNER."

 

3. Some Attempts at Definition:

NeoPulp is not horror, although elements of horror are present in NeoPulp, such as   zombies, vampires, serial killers and haunted houses.

NeoPulp is not fantasy, although elements of fantasy are present in NeoPulp, such as magic, Gods, mythological characters and certain character archetypes such as the warrior and the wise man.

NeoPulp is not science fiction, although elements of science fiction are present in NeoPulp, such as advanced technologies (eg robots, cloning, teleportation devices) and alien races.

NeoPulp is not realism, although elements of realism are present in NeoPulp, such as sophisticated portrayals of the psychological profiles of characters depicted, and aspects of the mundane world (eg the need for employment, desire to be entertained, governmental restrictions, a narrative understanding of the consequences of actions...)

• Most importantly, NeoPulp is not satire. The subject matter which NeoPulp draws from is undeniably flawed in many ways. To point out these flaws would be an easy and redundant matter. Instead NeoPulp attempts to respond to these flaws in a different way, utilising them as the underpinning of a re-interpretation of pulp fiction conventions that is sympathetic to its protagonists, rather than cynical, critical or dismissive.

 

4. Serving Suggestions:

The following are examples of NeoPulp archetypes.

a) The goddess suffering an existential crisis.
b) Philosophical musings of the radioactive dinosaur.
c) The robot in love with the evil robot it was designed to destroy.
d) The internal politics of a superhero team.
e) The childhood reminiscences of the astronaut monkey.
f) The broken-hearted sheriff with a time machine.
g) Frankenstein runs for President.
h) Vishnu joins the space program.
i) The ex-commando private eye is diagnosed with cancer.

 

5. NeoPulp salutes those who have paved the way.

The writers of the following texts are presently unaware of the existence of the NeoPulp manifesto. Many of these texts predate the manifesto's existence. Regardless, the following is a list of exemplary NeoPulp writing, to be used as a benchmark indicating the form's potential.

books

Steven Sherrill - The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break
Michael Moorcock - The Cornelius Quartet
Kirstin Bakis -   Lives of the Monster Dogs
Earl Mac Raunch - Buckaroo Banzai
Jan Lars Jensen - Shiva 3000
Stephen Dobyns - Heat Death

comics

Alan Moore - League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Elizabeth Watasin - Charm School
Warren Ellis - Planetary
Grant Morrison - The Invisibles
Ann Nocenti - Longshot
Jill Thompson - Scary Godmother
Benjamin Birdie - Genre City

music

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The Buggles - The Age of Plastic
Devo - Duty Now to the Future (esp. "Secret Agent Man" and "Smart Patrol")
Laurie Anderson - Mister Heartbreak
Batboy the Musical

film and television

Bubba-Ho-Tep (film)
Heat Vision and Jack (television pilot)
Amateur (film)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV)
Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness (film)