April 9, 2020

Book Review: Recycled Pulp edited by John Helfers

On sale in September 2015!

Remember the pulp novelettes of yore?

Named for the woodsy, low cost paper they were printed on, dime store pulp novels were an integral part of many readers’ childhoods. They were formulaic, sure, but we always knew the tales within would deliver.

The folks at Fiction River recently challenged authors to concoct some pulp tales of their own, and the results were far from rigid or predictable.

Recycled Pulp edited John Helfers for the Fiction River series edited by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a unique collection 15 tales worthy of the Fiction River name. The challenge was for each author to select a title to riff on out of the three given to them to pick from, with the admonition for the author not to go for the first (or even the second) obvious thing. The result is a shining collection of diverse and original tales that plumb the depths of pulp-dom far below the anthology’s ‘rockets and rayguns’ style cover.

Some of our faves from Recycled Pulp include:

The Imperfect Otter Empire by Dayle Dermatis: have you ever been drawn to the zoo or the park just to watch your favorite animals frolic for hours? The main character of this tale does just that, especially when times in her life are hard. But be wary, you may have more in common with those otters than you dreamed…

The Delicatessen from Beyond the Monolith by Lisa Silverthorne: Sure, lots of murder mystery thrillers take place in seedy burger joints or delicatessens, but not like this one. If you’ve ever wondered why that hole in the wall restaurant in your hometown survives, the read on. Just don’t forget your Beretta.

Crypt of the Metal Ghouls by Angela Penrose: Pulp can cross sub-genres, and what’s not to love about an occasional post-apocalyptic tale. The Crypt holds great promise, for those who dare to venture within. But enter if you dare…

We love how each tale gets a sub-headline that jumps us right into the premise for the dramatic action as well, in true pulp genre style.

And that’s just a small sampling of the fascinating tales that wait within. Fun factoid: one of the most prolific authors of pulp story-dom was Lester Dent, the creator of the Doc Savage series and a prolific author who created a down and dirty formula for a sure-fire pulp fiction tale.

In addition to editing the Fiction River anthologies out from WMG publishing, Rusch is a prolific author across just about every genre. Some of our faves that we’ve reviewed here previous include Diving into the Wreck, Blowback, and The Enemy Within, to name a very brief few.

Then there are the other Fiction River anthologies that we’ve covered, such as Universe Between, Christmas Ghosts, and our (soon to be reviewed) Alchemy and Steam.

Don’t miss Recycled Pulp for a great set of unique and fast-paced tales of the imagination!

Next up… we’re back in the Anniversary Day saga also by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, with Book 4: Search and Recovery!


  1. [...] good yarn. Fans of this space and the Fiction River series will also remember our recent reviews of Recycled Pulp, and Universe [...]

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