All posts by Paul Kupperberg

Sword & Sorcery & Schmaltz

The first sword and sorcery I ever read was Robert E. Howard’s Conan, in the books published in the mid-1960s in paperback by Lancer Books, with the soon to become iconic cover paintings by Frank Frazetta. My father had brought home a recently published paperback edition of Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs that someone had left behind at his office. I recognized the Ape Man from the movies I’d seen on TV, but I wasn’t prepared for what I read. It was like I had discovered the real-life version of what was, essentially, portrayed as a grunting cartoon character in the movies. It floored me. I still think it’s a great novel, as close to literature as pulp fiction got when it was published in 1912. I reread it every few years.

My next trip to the library after that included a hunt for more ERB. I was rewarded with John Carter of Mars (so…score!), which was my gateway to sword & sorcery. As I recall, it was on a later library visit that I spotted Conan on the paperback rack, where the librarian told me I might find some more ERB books. Conan was hard to miss: a dark scene of a ripped barbarian in a life and death struggle with a gorilla wearing a startling crimson cloak! Continue reading

One Hundred Stories

“Smooth Talk” (Saturday, August 19, 2017) My father Sidney with a model at the Lincoln Terrace Camera Club

Here’s a little cautionary tale from the life of one of the Crazy 8 Press crew. Don’t worry, it’s not too long, you won’t learn anything of lasting value, and it’s illustrated with cool old black and white photos of New York City and old bums, and it has a link to free content. Who doesn’t like free content, right?

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Today, I posted my one hundredth and final flash fiction story (well, really only ninety-nine of them are mine) on Tumblr, all written in the last one hundred and five days. (Click me! Click me! You can find all one hundred stories right here…or click on the pictures to go directly to those stories!)

Every morning since June 1, I awoke to a stack of old black and white photographs and a self-imposed task, the meeting of which only I had any reason to care about. No, I take that back. Even I didn’t have any real reason to care about meeting this ridiculous story-a-day deadline I’d inflicted upon myself, but once I got started, it was hard to stop.

What happened was, I was looking for some way in which to showcase some of the photographs taken in and around New York City more than two-thirds of a century ago by my father, Sidney (1921-1992). Sidney picked up a camera shortly after World War II, joined a bunch of camera clubs and photography organizations, learned how to process and print his own film, and over the course of the next decade and a half, took thousands of pictures. Continue reading

Love, Murder, Mayhem – Write What You Know…A**hole!

“The Case of the Missing Alien Baby Mama” is my fourth outing with Leo Persky, “a solid five foot seven, one hundred and forty-two pounds of average, complete with glasses, too much nose, not enough chin, and a spreading bald spot that I swear isn’t the reason I always wear a hat.”

Leo was born in 2008, when I was invited to contribute a short story to an anthology published by Moonstone Books. I’d dabbled in horror before, but in that broody-meant-to-chilling kind of way, so I wanted to do something a little different this time around. That I had been, up until several months earlier, a writer for and executive editor of the fake news humor tabloid Weekly World News probably had a lot to do with my decision to take a little tongue-in-cheek poke at the conventions of the form.

So Leo Perksy, under the penname of Terrance Strange and a picture of his much more photogenic grandfather, is an investigative reporter for WWN. In Leo’s world, everything the News prints, from ghost stories to interviews with alien visitors is the one hundred percent, fact-checked and verified truth. And to say that Leo views his world through jaundiced eyes would be an understatement; Leo is a proud, self-proclaimed snarky asshole because, well, everybody always tells me I should write what I know. Continue reading

Free Fiction: “So That’s What Happened to Ernie”

UntitledBy Paul Kupperberg

The three old men were long finished with their breakfast and were loitering in the corner booth with their coffee over a table of dirty dishes waiting to be cleared. They sprawled with the easy familiarity of their years, talking in deep, rumpling voices that periodically erupted in raspy, phlegm filled laughter.

Sam, whose long, wavy white hair swept back from his forehead like a geriatric Elvis, was clawing at the air over the table for attention.

“Wait, wait, wait,” he said. “You’re talking about Ernie here? Our Ernie? My ex-business partner, Ernie Bauer?”

“Yes, Ernie Bauer. Our Ernie. That Ernie,” said Lester, who was wedged in the corner, his shaved head gleaming like an artillery shell in the diner’s harsh florescent light.

“The one you saw?” said Sam.

Lester threw his friend a look that would have made any one other than an old friend instantly back down, but Sam said, “The Ernie’s been dead…what is it? Eight, nine years now?”

Nine years,” said Gabe, the accountant, as ever verifying the facts and figures. Continue reading

A Little Something from In My Shorts

The cake from my going away party at DC Comics when I left to join WWN.
The cake from my going away party at DC Comics when I left to join WWN.

A bunch of years ago, my friend Joe Gentile of Moonstone Books asked me to contribute a short story to an anthology called Vampires: Dracula and the Undead Legions. Out of that came a story called “Man Bites Dog,” starring Weekly World News reporter Leo Persky, better known to his readers as “Terrance Strange.” (“My real name is Leo Persky. But ‘Terrance Strange’ sounds like he’d be a big, strapping adventurer who travels the world seeking out the dangerous and, yes, the strange, while Leo Persky sounds like a middle aged, five foot, seven inch tall balding and bespectacled Jew who cowers at the slightest sign of danger. Seeing as how I am the latter but would rather readers believe I’m the former, I go with the macho name, not to mention a photograph at the top of my column of my paternal grandfather, Jacob Persky, who also used the nom de bizarre of “Strange” but who actually was a big, strapping adventurer who traveled the world seeking out the dangerous. Unfortunately, I take after my mother’s side of the family. Scrawny and whiney.”) Continue reading

Books for the Holidays

51Gn70L5MALIt’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

By which I mean, crass commercialism and holiday insanity (pagan cup of Christmas-hating Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee anyone?) are in full bloom, making life, shopping, and social media things to be, if not feared, at least avoided.

And, seeing as I’m at a point in my life where I’ve been trying to divest myself of the endless cartons of stuff I’ve accumulated and have been schlepping around with me for almost fifty years, the thought that this time of year could bring new stuff to replace it is sort of disturbing. (My need to shed that useless tonnage of paper et al found voice, albeit in the extreme, in a short story “Unburdened,” found here.)

But never let it be said I was a holiday…I’m sorry, Christmas (‘cause I don’t want to be accused of waging a war against Christmas in this, a nation that’s about 85% Christian) buzzkill, and, c’mon, seriously, who doesn’t like getting presents? Especially books.

51oqzCTobLSo, in that spirit, and ‘cause that’s the theme of these holiday season posts, here are some books I think readers who have enjoyed my work (which you can check out here…y’know, just to refresh your memory…but, hey, come to think of it, any of ’em would make fine holiday gifts in their own right!) might be pleased to find under their trees, menorahs, or kwanzaa candles: Continue reading