Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly created science fiction with her strange modern myth of chemical creation, Frankenstein. But when it comes to story structure, modern science fiction storytelling owes a lot more to the pulps of the early 20th Century than novels of the 19th Century. What are the pulps? Where did they come from? Here’s an exploration from Fantasy Author’s Handbook:
It’s safe to say that the pulp fiction magazine really began in 1882 with the publication of The Golden Argosy, which featured stories that today we’d call “steampunk.” There were railroad magazines with fiction to stir the imaginations of a still-developing nation even before that, and the old western dime novels all contributed to a popular thirst for adventure stories. With the Industrial Revolution came modern advertising—and the dollars necessary to fund more magazines, and more specialized magazines. This also helped publishers like the innovative Frank Munsey keep their cover prices low, so more and more of the new American middle class could easily buy in and get hooked. When Munsey dropped the cover price of his magazine to 10¢ 1893, the pulp era took off.
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