Although now acknowledged as a fully vibrant force in popular American literature, the pulps were not infrequently maligned in their day. Charges included stock plots, dull renditions, extraneous violence and unabashed sensationalism – all of which was true, to a point. By the same token, however, those rough-cut and lurid-covered pulps also launched the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and many another who would finally prove just as integral to the shaping of American fiction as a Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway. Then, too, and even more to the point of an
L. Ron Hubbard, virtually all we know of modern speculative fiction arguably emerged from the pulps.
Nevertheless, the O. O. McIntyres had their day. A New York critic and political columnist (just to the right of Genghis Khan), McIntyre was typical of those who most condemned the pulps. He resented the sheer size of pulp readership – a full quarter of the American population, and very much including a lesser educated working class. He resented that pervasive sense of heroic defiance woven through so many a grand pulp adventure, e.g., Ron’s aforementioned “He Walked to War,” telling of a foot-sore Marine fighting for the hell-of-it in a politically irrelevant banana republic. Then again, he almost certainly resented what the top-line pulp author earned; hence, the sly portrayal of the pulpateer as a glorified factory worker.
The LRH reply, actually intended as a letter to the editor, is as accurate as McIntyre is not. That Ron further felt obliged to add, “If you should happen to intimate to a pulpateer that his stories are trash, you are likely to be soundly punched in the nose,” would seem to say everything else McIntyre need know about the hard-boiled crew from a great pulp kingdom.
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