Robert Kenneth Jones, who wrote THE SHUDDER PULPS, a study
of the Weird Menace pulps, also produced this slim volume about one of the
leading general fiction pulps and in the opinion of some the best pulp magazine
ever, ADVENTURE. I don't quite agree with that assessment, but ADVENTURE
certainly belongs in the top five or six pulps.
Jones concentrates on the magazine's first fifteen years, from 1910 to 1925, an
era generally acknowledged as ADVENTURE's golden age. He takes a look at the
work of some of its best-known writers, such as Talbot Mundy, W.C. Tuttle,
Arthur O. Friel, Arthur D. Howden Smith, Walt Coburn, Harold Lamb, Georges
Surdez, Hugh Pendexter, H. Bedford-Jones, and many others. He also discusses
the magazine's letters column, "The Campfire", the site of many
spirited discussions between the magazine's writers and readers, and its other
features such as "Ask Adventure", a source of advice and information
on just about any subject under the sun.
One of the most entertaining parts of this book is the section on legendary
editor Arthur Sullivant Hoffman. Hoffman had a number of idiosyncracies, such
as the persistent misspelling of some words (one has to wonder if Robert E.
Howard, known to be an ADVENTURE reader, picked up his spelling of "surprize"
from Hoffman) and his editorials railing against the government.
There are a few minor mistakes here and there, but when this book was first
published in 1989 research wasn't nearly as easy as it is now, and Jones, along
with the other pulp scholars of that era and earlier, deserve a great deal of
credit for paving the way with books like this. THE LURE OF
"ADVENTURE" also includes a lot of black-and-white cover
reproductions. Sure, you can find good color scans of many of those covers
on-line now, but you couldn't back then and as far as I'm concerned they
contribute quite a bit to the book's charm.
I believe a reprint of this volume is still available from Wildside Press. It
has a plain cover, but the interior is a facsimile reprint of the original 1989
edition from Borgo Press. THE LURE OF "ADVENTURE" is an entertaining,
informative book, and if you're a pulp fan it's definitely worth reading.