Beginnings of a Pulp Fiction Writer

Every great science fiction or fantasy writer has to get his or her start somewhere. Jules Verne, the “father” of science fiction, first exercised his literary talent as co-author of a comic opera libretto, Colin-Millard, in 1848, and saw his first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, published in 1863.

Stephen King’s earliest stories were presented in his brother’s mimeographed periodical, Dave’s Rag, leading to the serialized, “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber,” published over several issues of the 1965 fanzine Comics Review. His first novel, Carrie, released in 1974, was an international best seller. Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of the bestselling Mists of Avalon, got her start with the publication of “Falcons of Narabedia” in the May 1957 issue of Other Worlds. Inauspicious as they were, these maiden publications marked the beginnings for some of the most successful and popular writers in the history of science fiction writing.

And so it was with L. Ron Hubbard, whose first published work, Tah, appeared in the school newspaper of George Washington University in 1932. A tale of military adventure, more akin to Rudyard Kipling than Jules Verne, it is the story of Tah, a 12-year-old soldier in the Chinese army, forced to undertake a grueling march to a terrifying battle site at which the young combatant loses his life in grisly fashion. In what is clearly an early work, the seeds of Hubbard’s brilliance for characterization can clearly be seen, as the author takes pains to delve into the psyche of the young man, exploring his hopes for a future as a general, his compassion regarding friends whose families have been torn apart by the war, and his excruciating pain as he is forced to march without respite to a site that will eventually claim his life.

The ending particularly, in which Hubbard details Tah’s last moments – “A huge face leered in back of a bayonet. The bayonet was coming nearer, nearer. The bayonet was long, a thousand miles long. There was red on the end. Tah felt the icy, burning steel rasp against the bones in his chest…” – is particularly effective, demonstrating Hubbard’s talent for making a fictional moment real, and drawing the reader inexorably into the action on the page.

Hubbard first entered the field of pulp publishing, the field in which he would make his most indelible mark in the world of fiction, with the tale of The Green God, which saw print in the February 1934 issue of Thrilling Adventures magazine. This story, which could well have served as the inspiration for both Indiana Jones and James Bond, sees Naval Intelligence Agent Bill Malone in a desperate quest to recover a sacred idol – the Green God of the title – and avert a cataclysmic disaster that threatens to overwhelm the Chinese city of Tientsin. A rip-roaring adventure yarn, it’s a page-turner from beginning to end.

Although largely remembered as a science fiction author, Hubbard tended to concentrate on Adventure and Western stories during his earliest years as a writer, with the occasional Mystery/ Detective tale thrown in for good measure. In April 1936, however, Hubbard turned to the fantasy genre, contributing the short story “The Death Flyer” to the pages of Fantasy Magazine, a haunting ghost story about a man who inexplicably finds himself aboard a spectral locomotive. Although Hubbard’s contributions to the horror genre were minimal; this bone-chilling tale is a top-notch thriller.

In July 1938, in Astounding Science Fiction, Hubbard entered the sci-fi genre with the fascinating short story, “The Dangerous Dimension.” In this imaginative story, Professor Henry Mudge discovers “Equation C,” a mathematical formula that allows for instantaneous teleportation with the merest thought. Unfortunately, Mudge discovers he has no control over the process, teleporting uncontrollably to Paris, the surface of the Moon, and even the water-filled canals of Mars before struggling to discover “Equation D,” which will allow him to stop the frequent unwanted travels that have come to bedevil his life. Light-hearted and fun, the story reveals Hubbard’s talent for exploring the fringes of reality and the effect those fringes could have on regular human beings. Mudge is not a superman, or a great interplanetary warrior, but a simple professor who stumbles onto a great secret with spectacular results. Hubbard emphasizes Mudge’s humanity, and invites the reader to share in his terror and uncertainty in the face of a power he is unable to control.

Fortunately for lovers of great storytelling everywhere, Galaxy Press has committed to bringing all of Hubbard’s pulp short stories and novellas – from Tah onward – to print in a handsome series of paperbacks and an impressive series of fully-produced audio dramas. Hubbard was a writer comfortable in a wide variety of genres, so there’s something for everyone in this welcome series. Whether you’re a fan of science fiction, fantasy, adventure, mysteries, Westerns, or any other pulp genre, you owe it to yourself to acquaint yourself with master wordsmith L. Ron Hubbard.

Your Road Trip Soundtrack – Sounds For the Road You Travel

To many, a road trip is all about sound. To that end, road trip soundtracks are what this article is all about. Music, audiobooks even talk or news radio can be your soundtrack if it’s delivered by satellite. The focus here, is on digitally delivered road trip soundtracks of all kinds. You’ll soon find out that’s a very broad focus. Not like just a generation ago with a choice of 8-tracks, cassettes or broadcast FM or AM radio. Today your road trip soundtrack is a real cornucopia. That ever full horn of plenty that once you push the on button it never quits or fades until you reach your destination.

With the advent of iPod, Zune and myriad other mp3 devices that will plug right into your music player and satellite radio that does the same, there is no reason one cannot circle the country and never be without your own special road trip soundtrack accompanying you. What’s even better is that no obstacle can obscure it’s signal.

Cross the Chesapeake Bridge/Tunnel trying to listen to radio or drive across southwest Texas sometime for a definitive example. But I’m sure you’ve had your own frustrating experiences wherever you travel. Tape and CD players go some way to alleviate that problem but an iPod or other device loaded up with mp3’s is the ultimate solution these days.

You’ll need a car stereo optimized for using an mp3 music player with at least an auxiliary input on the front panel or one with audio inputs you can plug your iPod right into. Stay away from FM transmitters, they’re cheap and easy but the sound is horrid and they get interference from FM radio stations. Take my word for it, those things suck like a V8 powered vacuum cleaner. If you don’t want to change your music player spend the extra and have a harness installed that will plug into the headphone jack of your mp3 device or into the dock connection of an iPod.

Your own road trip soundtrack can be anything you wish it to be; music that you play in a structured playlist or just a group of road trip songs that you set your mp3 player to shuffle through. Either way, once you have loaded up your iPod for example, it’s simply a click to change an easily found setting.

These days I find myself listening mostly to audiobooks that no longer are restricted to CD’s or tape but can be downloaded to music players such as iPod and Zune. To me there is nothing like a heart pounding tale being read to keep me attentive to the end and burning the miles as I listen. I’ve discovered, since I mostly travel alone, that the human voice reading a really good tale is the best sort of companion. One whom I don’t have to talk to and who totally ignores my occasional outburst if I do!

Finding your road trip songs is easy enough these days. There are many online sites to purchase songs and complete albums. The one I find myself at mostly is the iTunes store because it works so seamlessly with my iPods and is so user friendly to negotiate. For audiobooks I’ve found Audible to be my favorite. Of course there are still some file sharing sources but if you use a PC the spectre of malicious viral parasites attached to music files looms large. Though Mac users don’t see nearly the trouble PC’s users do there is an up tick in the problem being seen especially with new Macs. My advice to those new to downloading music is to stick to paid sites. It can’t hurt your karma affording the artists the respect much less the payment they’re due for their works.

Finally, there is satellite radio. With over a hundred channels and many of those genre specific shows it’s almost as customizable as making your own road trip soundtrack. There can be fade from obstacles to the line of sight to a satellite but distance itself means not a thing. There is a monthly charge to subscribe or you can pay an annual rate to save some cash. All in all not a bad way to go. No more searching for your favorite station when it’s signal fades to oblivion.

I listen to National Public Radio shows fairly regularly and I find Sirius satellite radio incredibly more easy than how I used to do it, with saved stations on as many presets as I could find. It’s not expensive to get a basic system to plug into your music player, but there again, run it directly into your auxiliary input at least. There are satellite ready players as well.

If you don’t already do your own road trip soundtrack, take up the practice. It’s easily done, an easy little hobby to take up and you get a nice sense of self satisfaction from it too. In my case it’s part of the tool box of things I need to perform my chosen profession with, just like a road map, gps on my laptop or a flashlight… I Don’t leave home without it!

Audio Books For Children – The Benefits

Joining writing and math, reading is one of the most significant skills a child will encounter in school. Unfortunately, it is also one of the leading subjects most often dreaded and difficult to get youngsters to show an interest in. However, an increasing amount of parents and teachers are now discovering the ease and convenience of using audio books as a powerful learning tool.

Audio books present reading in a whole new light, as authors, professional actors, sound effects, and entertaining music bring to life the words that decorate the pages of books. Some of the most involved audio books for children assemble an entire cast of character voices to enhance the overall experience of reading along with audio.

Creating a Relationship with Words

As a child hears a book read on tape, they enter a journey where words seem friendlier and more approachable. The possibilities of reading become clearer, as an audio book is great at illustrating where learning the skill can really take you. A young reader is also more apt to establish a pattern of concentrating on the sounds of words without the interruption of personal reading obstacles. An audio also helps create the building blocks necessary for fluent reading.

Improved Listening Skills

Since audio books are read aloud, a significant understanding and exposure to the art of listening is cultivated. The skill of listening plays an important role in learning how to read better and is an ability that goes hand and hand when training to tackle a wide range of reading materials. As a result, a child’s level of comprehension also becomes nurtured.

Create a Growing Interest

Today, a great deal of students shows little to no interest in reading because they’ve received minimal exposure to the positive and fun aspects of books. Audio books for children most often highlight interesting sound effects, catchy tunes, and changes in voices that are appealing and motivating for young readers. The combination of different voices, silly dialogue, and a playful presentation provides children of varying ages encouragement for a growing interest in what they can accomplish when learning how to read.

Audio books also allow narrators to enhance the storytelling aspect of a tale to present reading as a source of enjoyment rather than a forced skill taught in school. It is through this entertaining journey that children become excited and enthusiastic about the reading process, as they learn a deeper understanding of language, pronunciation, and the meaning of words.

Building a Vocabulary

A child is most likely to learn new vocabulary words by listening to their favorite stories on an audio book. Young readers additionally begin to develop a familiarity with common words and phrases that ultimately make learning how to read a much easier process to navigate.

Fun with Family and Friends

When friends gather together to listen to an audio book, the possibilities of a blossoming imagination are truly never ending. Just as Barbie dolls and action figures allow kids to explore their creativity through playful dialogue and actions, an audio book can accomplish the same thing. This learning tool also makes a great activity that can involve the entire family. A great example is seen when traveling down the open road, as audio books can help keep the peace amongst passengers on long trips to Grandma’s house or family vacations.