(First, in full disclosure - I have some stories to be published by Pro Se Publications, but that has not influenced my opinion one way or another - my opinions are my own)
One of the many issues my friends and colleagues discuss is the idea of representation and diversity in genre literature. After all, the argument goes, why should all literature be focused on white, male heroes? In fact, it's almost a divine mandate (trust me, I've had several people offer....well, "constructive advice" on the situation), encouraging authors to not only write such characters, but openly advocate and give a voice to those underrepresented in popular literature.
So in that spirit, I offer Pro Se Production's Black Pulp , which is not only a great read, but raises the bar when it comes to diversity and inclusiveness in genre literature.
As you can guess by the title, all of the stories feature main characters of African descent (although the authors are diverse), and provide a wide range of styles. From the noir-fueled Six Finger Jack by Joe R. Lansdale to Kimberly Richardson's more mystical Agnes Meridian and the Search for Scales, the range of stories included in Black Pulp provides for a well-rounded reading experience. (My only complaint - where's the science fiction? - but don't worry: plans are afoot for Black Pulp 2).
But it's not just the issue of representation - these are some great, short, entertaining stories that serve to please. From the action-oriented Dillon & the Alchemist's Morning Coffee (written by fave-of-the-blog Derrick Ferguson) to the hip-hop fueled Jaguar & the Jungleland Boogie (by Michael A. Gonzalez), there is a wide variety of pulp styles and imaginative tales. If you're looking for a different take on genres, consider Charles Saunders' Mtimu (a better take on Tarzan), Ron Fortier's The Lawman (which reads like a perfectly great piece of fiction....but is based on a real-life figure), and Gary Phillips' hard-boiled Decimator Smith and the Fangs of the Fire Serpent. In fact, there isn't a bad story to be found in the collection.
(Although I'm hard pressed to choose a favorite - right now, it wavers between D. Alan Lewis' Black Wolfe's Debt and Christopher Chambers' Rocket Crockett and the Jade Dragon. Both feature characters that I would love to see more of..especially Rocket Crockett. I just really like the name "Rocket Crockett")
Granted, diversity in literature is often used as a way to determine an author's - or publisher's - values. Although it might look otherwise, Black Pulp never panders and never feels pretentious. In a media/literary culture that increasingly focuses on the cool and the "hip", there's something incredibly satisfying about reading straightforward prose. (It's also great that pulp literature is a little more democratic and doesn't lend itself to book vs. adaptation conflicts, and yes, I'm looking at you, Game of Thrones fans). Black Pulp is the next, best step in bringing greater diversity to literature, and is definitely a must-read for anyone looking to broaden their literary tastes.
Available in softcover and Kindle...you really don't have an excuse not to pick this up and read it.