CLUBHOUSE: Review: Pulp Literature Magazine #42 – Spring 2024

OBIR: Occasional Biased and Ignorant Reviews reflecting this reader’s opinion.

Pulp Literature Magazine #42 Spring 2024

Published by Pulp Literature Press, Langley, British Columbia, Canada, Winter 2024.

Editor in Chief: Jennifer Landels, Senior Editor: Melanie Anastasiou, Acquisitions Editor: Genevieve Wynand, Poetry Editors: Daniel Cowper & Emily Osborne, Assistant Editors: Brooklyn Hook, Sierra Louie & Ellen Spacey.

Cover art: Red Planet Raygunne and the Answer to Everything by Mel Anastasiou

Interior Illustrations – by Mel Anastasiou

La Vitesse – by Kelly Robson


Driving a school bus along the highway outside Hinton, B.C. is no easy task. Especially when the ultimate apex predator has chosen the kids for its next meal.


I won’t divulge the nature of the threat, except to say its species is not normally found in British Columbia. That said, the very nature of the beast dictates the pitifully few defense tactics available. Strong nerves and courage, coupled with driving skills, offer the ghost of a chance.

Trouble is, the driver is forced to rely on her daughter, all of 16 years old, who is nearly as uncontrollable and dangerous as the predator tracking the bus. Now is not the time to apologise for being a failed mother but it is hard to coordinate urgent action with someone who normally refuses to communicate. So to speak, the baggage of the past is weighing down the bus in its flight. This could prove fatal.

An exercise in dysfunctional family relationship suddenly plunged under extreme pressure. What’s at stake is not a solution to the problem but simply survival. That, perhaps, is the message of the story.

Feature Interview – Pulp Literature interviews Kelly Robson


Robson grew up around Hinton, which she states  is both beautiful and ugly in its history. This story is an attempt to come to terms with the impact of that legacy on the author.

She also offers some sound, practical advice on how to be a good writer. I agree with her.

Most of Your Stuff is Worthless
– by Leanne Boschman


The title is the premise.


This poem reflects changing times and changing views, yet without condemning the change, merely observing and drawing certain conclusions.


The Dahlia Truth – by Pattie Palmer-Baker


 A vision of beauty.


But what are we to beauty?


Kid Gloves – by Marri Champié


How to defy aging.


Is it worth the struggle? Short but disturbing.

Take My Hand: Story

Part 1: Off to Never-Never Land – by Mel Anastasiou


It’s difficult to communicate with the dead. Hard to ignore them, though.


Jamie is a young woman working a nightshift as an orderly in a hospital. It’s a good job which allows her to remain hidden. She has reason to hide. Now, unexpectedly, dangerously, she has an unwanted friend and is no longer safely alone. Trouble is it’s a ghost, as yet unaware of her presence, but already dangerously intimate. She doesn’t understand why the ghost has manifested. Neither does the ghost.

The story presents two mysteries. Why is Jamie in hiding, and why the ghost? As more information is provided in future chapters, undoubtedly answers will appear, and probably plot developments concerning both characters learning to communicate with each other and consequently… form an alliance against external threats? Turn upon each other? Discover the meaning of life? Of death? The opening sets up all manner of possibilities.

What is concrete enough thus far is that both characters are essentially loners coping with a reality they are unable to grasp to their advantage. Will they resolve their fragile vulnerability? Become strong, resourceful, and masterful survivors? Bearing in mind the concept of a survivor has to be rather flexible when applied to a ghost.

I am intrigued by the setup. Definitely want to read how it plays out.

Octavier – by Nat Kishchuke


Time Travel is hard on musicians.


Especially when you can’t determine where and when you wind up. No choice whom you play with. This is not a problem, as any musician worth their salt knows most music.

Reminds me of the time I attended a concert at a used car lot in Surrey, B.C. It was in honour of X number of years in business. They hired Chuck Berry to play. They flew him from the airport to the lot in a helicopter. Just him and his guitar. A local band was hired to accompany him, on the grounds that any band could perform his hits. He promised to play for forty minutes if he liked the crowd. He left after 15 minutes. Security was provided by the Hell’s Angels. They had their work cut out for them. The crowd of 500 was rather rowdy. Interesting concert. But I digress.

I confess I had a little difficulty following the story because it is dense with musical concepts and terms, which is a language foreign to me. However, I gather the underlying theme has something to do with the difficulty of establishing relationships in a repetitious environment. This is a problem for all musicians, not just time travelling ones.

Hmm, as a former accounts-payable clerk in the construction industry (for about ten years) it suddenly strikes me accountants and musicians are on the same side of the coin. Lots of repetitious work with occasional creative outbursts. Hmm.

Anyway, unusual story with an unusual approach. Fascinating.

The Newtonbrook Ninja – by Preston Lang


Dare one fall in love with a Ninja?


Matthew is in love with Tammy, a professional Ninja. That’s okay with her, as long as their relationship doesn’t interfere with her missions in New York City where they dwell. She can’t tell him anything about what she does. He fills the gap with impressions and concepts gleaned from movies and TV. Fair to say he thinks he knows all about her when in fact he knows nothing. Were Matthew to learn what’s really going on it could prove disastrous beyond merely ending their affair. But he can’t help trying to understand her. He loves her.

This situation is far from unique. There are many couples where one individual has a profession whose demands are a higher priority than the emotional needs of the other. Sometimes jealousy or envy intrudes, but more often feelings of neglect play a role. Or something worse.

Thought provoking story. Expectations can so easily lead you astray.

Masquerade – by Wiley Wei-Chiun Ho


Are cocktail parties the solution to life’s problems?


One friend trying to help another find true love in a sea of pretension. Hard to make judgement calls when everyone wears the finest masks money can buy. But then, it has never been a common habit to wear one’s true self on one’s face. Yes, life is a horror story, but villains don’t win all the time. The game of life is a gamble, but good friends can improve the odds. Can’t they? A story both despairing and hopeful.


The Ice Road – by Trish Gauntlett


 The Dempster Highway from Dawson City to Inuvik is considered by many to be the most beautiful and the most dangerous highway in the world.


This actually isn’t fiction. It’s the story of a drive across ice roads spanning three rivers in a hauntingly beautiful landscape which offers no second chances if mistakes are made, especially during the height of winter. I have relatives who live in Whitehorse. I have other relatives who’ve driven from Vancouver to Whitehorse and beyond. Consequently, I am familiar with such things as “the obligatory Sourtoe cocktail” at the Dawson Hotel (I forget whom the toe originally belonged to) and “The Lost Patrol” buried at Fort McPherson. Not to mention owning the four-volume complete works of Robert Service gifted to my Grandmother Ena Smith Stevenson in 1913 when she was still a mere slip of a girl living in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In short, as a proud Canadian I understand the lure of the North and its natural and human wonders. Which is why I am so delighted to read such a vivid and evocative description of one of its most famous rites of passage. However, the furthest north I’ve ever been was the town of Chibougamau in Quebec. I was briefly exiled there while my parents arranged a divorce. It was winter. The RCAF family I was staying with congratulated me on missing the black fly season and not having to wear netting indoors and out. On the other hand, while exploring fields covered in snow, I discovered a stream by crashing through the ice to stand waist deep in ice water. Like Legolas in “Lord of the Rings” I ran swiftly across the top of the snow to get to warmth before hyperthermia set in.

To put it another way, I love reading about the North. But, as my brother, who served a lifetime career in the RCAF yet somehow managed to avoid taking the obligatory Arctic Survival Training Course put it, “If you run out of stuff to burn, you die.” Also, Polar Bears. I’m a city boy.

I think the story is included simply because it is contains powerful description that would elevate and grace any fictional plot. Well worth studying by writers eager to improve the quality of their fiction.


Neverender – by Krista Jane May


Skipping rope sessions for girls can lead to lifelong trauma.


News to me. I remember ignoring groups of girls as they took turns skipping rope. I was vaguely aware their chanting involved traditional lore I knew nothing about and had no desire to learn. After all, it was girl stuff. I never knew there was an element of cruelty involved. I should have. Chickens have nothing on children when it comes to pecking order. That much I learned quickly as a child. I always took the long way home from grade school. Only way to avoid the bullies.

But all of us have to cope with memories whether open or buried. This type of horror story is both totally new and yet somehow familiar at one and the same time. My solution? I only remember the good stuff. The bad isn’t worth remembering. This story has much to say on the subject. Time heals all wounds? Only if you insist on it.


Flehmen Grimace– (graphic art) by EC Dorgan


If you’re a city slicker, what’s worse than a buffalo in your backyard? A ghost buffalo.


It takes the protagonist a while to figure out what the ghost buffalo wants, and it isn’t pretty. I’ll just say this is a very surreal story involving lots of interconnected symbolism and a certain amount of pain. City slickers aren’t as well-rounded as they think they are, especially when mother nature comes calling. All I can say is, I’d be thinking “Why me? Why not the neighbour next door?” But buffalos are stubborn. Best to give them what they want.

I don’t fully understand this story, but I find it delightfully amusing and also rather scary.



Watercolours – by EC Dorgan


 In the new economy a certain consumer item falls from the sky. Every day. All the time.


This is even more surreal than the previous story.  I believe it represents the gleeful destruction the advent of AI will reek upon the arts in a world full of willing Quislings. Essentially a fable predicting our descent into the realm of “The Marching Morons,” though it does offer a glimpse of a potential solution, albeit shifting the story into pure fantasy. Overall, the situation and imagery is unsettling, as it is meant to be. In my opinion, it is highly original take on a growing problem. Rather brilliant, in fact.

High Reward – (Graphic Story) by Gabriel Craven and Mikayla Fawcett


 You spend all your spare time playing computer games but undead zombie gamers keep trying to break in to your bedroom. What to do?


 As usual, higher and more expensive tech is involved, but so too the risk of confronting super zombies. Seems gaming is more than a hobby, it can mean life itself, or death. Still, what gamer can resist a high-level challenge? Fun story.

The Shepherdess: Epiphany – J.M. Landels


“Previously in The Shepherdess… Toinette, former shepherdess turned agent of the Silver Branch, has been reunited with her mistress, the Countess, at La Tectume, an apparently abandoned château fort in the Pyrénées that serves as a sanctuary for members of the order. Here she can recover from her harrowing journey, in which she walked from Paris to the Occitane and killed a man along the way.”


The adventures of Toinette have been serialized in Pulp Literature Magazine since issue #24 in the autumn of 2019. Nothing less than a historical fiction novel (as opposed to novelizations of non-fictional historical events) taking place in the realm of the Sun King of France. The ambience is superb, capturing the subtleties of court intrigue and social interaction so typical of that place and time. In some eras a witty remark can get you killed. In this period a sufficiently witty remark can save your life. Dull-minded people tend to die like flies.

In this segment there is no action to speak of, but two characters draw closer together and a prominent character, absent for quite a while, is reintroduced. In the process we learn quite a bit more of the nature of what is normally hidden in court affairs. You could say the “arms race” among manipulators and influencers is ongoing, which is normal. What matters is the outcome. For that, stay tuned.


Pulp Literature Magazine is a genre zine, though more accurate to call it a multiple-genre zine. After all, pulp literature back in the day covered much more than scientifiction, fantasy, and horror. It also included western romance, mercenary fisticuffs, actual boxing fisticuffs, zeppelin pirates, crime mysteries, and, to sum up, all sorts of lurid but exciting tales guaranteed to elevate people above the boredom of their mundane lives if only for as long as it took to read a zine from cover to cover. In short, entertainment for the masses.

This magazine lives up to that tradition, as the wide variety of tales in this issue clearly demonstrates.

Yet this is also a truly modern magazine, fully cognisant of the profound maturing of pulp genres over the past century. While the old-fashioned “gosh-wow-oh-boy-oh boy” sense of wonder can still be present, even more omnipresent are sophisticated themes and sub-texts which address issues and problems of today in a literary manner which appeals to both emotion and intellect. This is a highly evolved form of pulp literature, strikingly intelligent and offering all sorts of intriguing concepts and new ideas. Always stimulating and at times inspirational.

Plus, as stated on the cover of every issue “Good books for the price of a beer!” Indeed. Darn good writing.

Check it out at:    < Pulp Literature #42 >

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