Pulp Appeal : Storyhack #1

It would be wrong and naïve of us to state that we are the only magazine out there publishing stories with a focus on high stakes, adrenaline fueled action, and an eye toward having stories that are flat out fun. One of those magazines happens to be Storyhack, run by Bryce Beattie. He is explicitly looking to publish “modern day pulp” and “welcomes works from a variety of genres.[1]

In order to fuel interest in his magazine, he released an Issue 0, but I decided that I’d show a fellow indie some love by purchasing a copy.


New Rules for Rocket Nauts by Michael DeCarolis

This is a fun, retro raygun and rockets story where a washed-up cadet is all that stands between humanity and an alien menace it allowed into its midst. There were a few plot points that had me scratching my head (why would you train a species to pilot ships if you can’t effectively communicate with them?), but overall it was an enjoyable sci-fi piece evoking the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs or old Buck Rodgers.

The Price of Hunger by Kevyn Winkless

A different take on the classic Wendigo tale, Winkless foregoes the typical cannibal origin, instead making it a tale of the transformative power of greed. I’ll admit, I had some trouble placing the setting of the story at first, but the frontier aspect of the story shines through. I feel it would have benefitted from a bit more setting description than what was given, but that’s also a mild quibble.

Retrieving Abe by Jay Barnson

When a Mormon woman’s husband disappears, everyone fears he was taken by a dragon. Only Lydia Madison is no wilting flower, her father having been a dragon hunter before he was struck down. So she takes down her gun and strikes off to find her husband, whether he be alive or dead. A really nice work that borders on alternate history with a extremely capable protagonist.

Protector of Newington by John M. Olsen

An interesting take on a steampunk story, where the main character is perhaps less than heroic at the outset but overcomes a host of obstacles, and in the process comes to terms the price heroics might pay, especially when it’s other people strapping into the steampunk armor you construct.  The details and limitations of the armor were well thought out and stopped it from being a “power as the plot demands” kind of story.

Brave Day Sunk in Hideous Night by Julie Frost

What happens when a werewolf suffering from PTSD gets unwittingly projected into a bad future, and all he wants is to get home again? What risks is he willing to take to get back home? And what will happen to those that stand in his way? A really heartfelt and beautiful piece that is thoroughly engaging.

Taking Control by Jon Del Arroz

In some ways, I felt that something was missing from this story. The stakes were never clearly defined for me, and while the idea of an aging outlaw more used to hold ups than con games trying to adjust to the fact that they might be getting too old. The ending feels a bit too contrived and certain elements of the story turned into puzzling headscratchers (if the powder was readily available to people… why doesn’t it see more use?). Perhaps I was hoping for more gunplay than I got going into this Western.

Some Things Missing from Her Profile by David Skinner

A reskinned noir story remains a noir story, and Skinner goes all in on this one. When a man’s date is abducted, he goes out of his way to track her down, uncovering a multilayered plot that goes far beyond what he was expecting. You want a story akin to CHINATOWN but boiled down to its essentials? This has you covered.

Dream Master by Gene Moyers

Rich men are stepping out into traffic, but not until after mailing large sums of money to unknown destinations. A psychotherapist is called in to investigate, and with a bit of amateur sleuthing figures the case out. The main character felt like he could stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of pulp heroes Doc Savage or the Shadow, being larger than life and more capable than anyone else around him. The villain was also left vague and mysterious, and there are plenty of hooks left for adventures to come.

Under the Gun by David J. West

What happens when a Native American picks up a possessed gun that urges him to kill? What happens when he can’t resist its impulses? And what happens when that gun finds its way into the hands of a man who’s lived long enough to regret the killing he’s done? A great Weird West piece that captures the weariness of Porter and the burden of trying to do the right thing.

Circus to Boulogne by Mike Adamson

A historic adventure tale of a WWII pilot shot down over France, and his ordeal to get back to England any way he can. I felt parts of the story were bogged down by the writer being somewhat over-technical instead of evocative, but the story stands strong and if you have any interest in WWII aviation, you owe it to yourself to read this story.

All in all I enjoyed this collection, and if you are interested in seeing what current writers are accomplishing in action and adventure short fiction, you owe it yourself to check out Storyhack!

You can purchase Storyhack through Amazon.

[1] See! We’re not the only ones.

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