Several entries down from the more popularly utilized definitions for the word, “pulp,” you will find a passage that defines it as “a magazine or book printed on rough, low-quality paper made of wood pulp or rags, and usually containing sensational and lurid stories, articles, etc.” These “lurid stories” were cheap entertainment during the 1930s and ’40s. The general flavor was anything from science fiction to westerns, and detective stories to erotica, (also an occasional octopus story). The pulps sold for about ten cents apiece and the writers were paid by the word. The classic pulp era is long gone, but is still romanticized and highly celebrated to this day.
Paul Malmont’s The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril came highly recommended, based solely on my penchant for H.P. Lovecraft as well as my fondness for the pulp era. Malmont’s debut is a comical tribute to Lovecraft and all of his pulp writer cronies, (men like Walter Gibson, Lester Dent, L. Ron Hubbard, and Robert Heinlein). These nerdy writers are the all-star cast in this fictional pulp-romp throughout 1930′s New York, (Lovecraft himself is a small, but important presence in the book). All of these men, though egomaniacally proud of their character creations like “The Shadow” and “Doc Savage,” generally feel overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated, and for the most part cannot stand one another, (Dent and Gibson in particular). This all changes though when they find themselves in the throes of a real life pulp scenario that culminates soon after the death of their colleague, Howard Phillips Lovecraft. One by one, they discover that Lovecraft had knowledge of a ghastly, pre-World War II, government-issue nerve gas. They are soon faced with American military rogues and power-thirsty Chinese warlords, one of whom in particular has brought his undertakings to NYC’s Chinatown, thus taking things into “Big Trouble in Little China”-territory. The geeky writers then find themselves in a fight for their lives against Chinese thugs, opium dens, zombified humanoids, and all kinds of pulp coolness.
I’m very thankful for this recommendation and recommend it to anyone with a shameless predilection towards pulp or pulp history. All of the classic trademarks are there and are exaggerated to a ridiculous level; a ridiculously enjoyable level that is