2017/08/02

PulpRev Reactions

Cirsova 5

Cirsova offers a warning to the #PulpRev in response to the reader feedback I posted pertaining to the Superversive and Pulp Revolution movements.
To me, the biggest difference between the two movements is that the Superversive movement is defined by its pursuit of the ideal of “superversive” while the Pulp Rev movement is (or was) defined by a pursuit of a certain approach to storytelling. The former is ideological while the latter is structuralist (if you don’t believe me, just see how often folks bandy about “Lester Dent’s Master Formula”).
I do see the Pulp Rev slipping towards where the Superversives are now, and I’ll explain why after I touch on Brian’s 3 points.
  1. The Superversive website requires users to sign up to comment, and that’s a barrier. Folks see the Superversive movement as more of a clique revolving around that website than a movement. Because the site has the name, the site is the movement. It’s a perception thing.
  2. Yes; shorter shows done more often with fewer people is generally better. Too many folks talking over each other combined with awful mics, tons of background noise, and ominous heavy breathing make the Superversive streams near unlistenable despite otherwise decent content. Despite not having any heavies of literary import, the Whippersnappers Superversive casts are generally better (even if they’re totally wrong about something!) because there are only a few of them instead of nearly a dozen.
  3. I can’t really judge these anthologies as I haven’t read any of them yet, but there’s the sense that they’re all coming from the same small group. Part of this is because not only is Superversive a movement and a website it is also a publisher. On the other hand, take Bryce Beattie’s Storyhack; some folks consider Cirsova one of the first Pulp Revolution publications, but Bryce has launched an impressive pub on his own completely independent from us. There’s no tie between Bryce and I other than that we’re looking for similar types of fiction. (We did ad-swap, but there hasn’t been any sort of collaboration between us as a means to ‘advance the movement’ or whatever.) As another example, I’ve published a couple stories from Misha Burnett, but he’s doing his 21st Century Thrilling Anthology (apologies if that’s not the exact name) completely independent from us or anyone else (though I think they may be approaching Superversive for possibly publishing it). I don’t know how many folks independent of the Superversive website crew are working on their own and saying “this is my contribution to the Superversive movement.”
Now I need to turn things to the Pulp Rev… Some folks worried about the Pulp Rev ossifying because I was gonna maybe go invite only in a year and a half from now. But I see it ossifying now for other reasons, moving towards having the same issues that Superversive has now. Ask yourself this: what growth has there been in the Pulp Rev community in the last three months? It may not have stalled out, but it looks like it’s plateaued.
Okay, now here’s a bit of a disclaimer before I go on; I don’t try to wrangle our authors into being a part of the Pulp Revolution – if they want to join in, they’re welcome to, but being published in Cirsova isn’t being drafted into a movement. Also, being involved in the Pulp Revolution does not improve your chances of being accepted and published by Cirsova.
  1. Because people are naturally ideological in general, there’s going to be a push towards defining a movement in ideological terms. As the Pulp Rev becomes more political and ideological in how it defines itself, it will face many of the same hurdles that the Superversives do – namely that the stories will be approached from an ideological rather than a structural lens.
  2. Having a Pulp Rev website signals cliquishness akin to what the Superversives suffer from. Outsiders will see a website and assume that the Pulp Rev is the website and the website is the Pulp Rev, and people not writing for the website are not part of the movement. It’s a perception thing. Just as a singular Superversive site dominates the Superversive movement and potentially stifles its growth, a PulpRev website could do the same.
  3. Branding the movement is a surefire way to kill it. You can be a movement or you can be a branded commodity, but you can’t be both. What killed the Sad Puppies was that the Mad Genius Club clique wanted to make Sad Puppies be a brand associated with them, and to ensure that, they had to stamp out independent actors who had believed that it was a movement. I don’t see that happening with the Pulp Rev, but so long as people see the Pulp Rev treated as a commodity (specifically tagging books as being “PulpRev”, selling “PulpRev” merch), it will have potential to kill its growth. The new wave in science fiction is about independence; who wants to be part of something that already has a website and is selling T-shirts with the name of the movement? Better to start your own new thing!
Read the whole post here.

My Comment: I don't have a dog in this fight. Once again, I'm just passing on what I've heard. Discuss among yourselves.

I was fascinated by this entire system - it has a well thought out level of depth that would rival any of Sanderson's magic systems.

9 comments:

  1. Brian

    Maybe i'm super niave but isn't cross fertilization natural with these 2 approaches. I dunno i just want fun stories that let me forget my own troubles.and maybe aspire to something more?

    xavier

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  2. I'm with Xavier. I don't understand why there's even a "vs" between these two groups at all.

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  3. Have you guys read Cirsova's post yet? Here's the first paragraph:

    "Every once in a while, someone likes to meme the faux rivalry between the Superversive and PulpRev crowd. The latest has been the images of some white knight guy representing the former with a dread knight guy representing the latter, with implications ranging from the nature of each’s approach to storytelling to just that one is more badass than the other."

    The "vs" was meant to be ironic.

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    1. I'm glad I waited for your comment before I commented, because that was my issue too. SF fans are always getting in this vs. that fights, which usually gives the gate keepers power over the rest of us. If I understand the subject correctly, superversive is more a theme thing, while pulp is a style thing. A piece of work can be either, both, or neither. They are not mutually exclusive (some of the themes in superversive are actually part of the pulp style after all), so yeah the versus would be ironic.

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    2. Brian

      OK but i don't want any misunderstanding that gives the socially injust a door to trash what you guys are trying to accomplish.

      xavier

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  4. In the early 80s, the band Japan was often considered New Romantic. They tend to disavow the label. David Sylvian even claims that they had been doing what they were doing (in terms of look, at least) for a long time, and kept doing it after the New Romantic movement came along. The fact that they intersected briefly with a faddish movement was more coincidence than anything by design. What lead singer David Sylvian said, to be exact, in 1982 was, "There's a period going past at the moment that may make us look as though we're in fashion." Clever self-deprecation humor. How very British. Which is the main reason they deny association with the New Romantic movement, and in that respect, that's fair. To the degree that it's accurate, of course.

    See, they sounded dramatically different with a totally different vocal delivery style on the part of the vocalist David Sylvian, and a major increase in Giorgio Moroder-style synthesizers. This really was a major change in direction for the band in the same direction as New Romanticism that was happening at the same time. I don't think I buy Japan's avowal of dissociation with the label. And I'm not sure that they get to decide that too. If they look like a New Romantic and sound [quack] like a New Romantic, and they do so at the same time as the New Romantic movement... you don't get to claim that you're not a New Romantic just because the label in the intervening years acquired a rather silly connotation.

    I'm not sure why both of these labels kind of have a cliquish approach. Is Larry Correia pulp rev? How about Nick Cole and Jason Anspach? Why not? Do they meet the structural and content requirements to be indistinguishable from pulp rev?

    In general, pulprev has done a better job of resisting the siren call of branding and people trying to "shepherd" the label. But it seems like maybe not entirely so. And that's kind of what the Cirsova post says too—a movement, especially among independent authors (and fans) is really more about people independently headed in more or less the same direction, not about someone LEADING them that way. At least not in the sense of being a leader-leader; more a case of, "hey, look where that guy is! That looks fun" and then walking over that direction too.

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    1. Thanks for the interesting music history lesson. I can't recall ever listening to Japan, but I love David Sylvian's collaborations with Robert Fripp.

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  5. Well, it wasn't for its own sake, inbreeding though it is. My point is that just because they disavow the label New Romantic, they're still New Romantics anyway, because they meet all of the criteria.

    Shouldn't the same logic be applied to superversive, or pulprev, at least at a lower case level, to anyone who's going the same direction as those who consider themselves more formally allied with the label?

    Maybe, as Sylvian said, they're just doing their own thing and almost by coincidence they appear like they could be part of this movement. But, if it looks like pulprev, for instance, and quacks like pulprev, etc...?

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