Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Martial arts in pulp fiction

One of the staples of pulp fiction seems to be the strong hero with specialized fighting knowledge. I thought I'd give you a list of my favorite examples of pulp fiction martial arts badness. Some of the following martial arts are fictional while others are real, but one thing you can count on is that in these pulp novels the martial arts are definately over the top.
The Destroyer Series, featuring Remo Williams, disciple of Chiun, Master of the ancient art of assassination, Sinanju. The practitioner of Sinanju is enabled to perform feats like climbing sheer walls, dodging bullets, breath-holding for greater than an hour, and becoming invisible. Chiun tells Wiliams that all the other martial arts (e.g. karate, ninjitsu, etc...) are just diluted imitations of Sinanju. Sound like something you'd want to get started reading? With over 130 books in the series, this should provide you diversion for a while! Here's the first in the series:
The depiction of ninjitsu in Eric Von Lustbader's The Ninja Series. The first book of the series, The Ninja, is definately the best, being the story of Nicholas Linnear, a westerner raised in the exotic orient and trained in ninjitsu, aikido, karate, and iai. Linnear has to fight against his evil ninja half-brother, and the story contains fantastic descriptions of poisoned blow-darts, paralyzing spearhand strikes to vital points, and characters falling off of high-rise buildings and surviving! The book loses serious points for graphic depictions of homosexual incestual rape, but the martial arts depiction is really cool.
Even if you fondly remember the origial Six Million Dollar Man with Steve Austin played by Lee Majors, or the new Bionic Woman Series, you might not realize that the whole 'bionics man' concept was kicked off by the novel, Cyborg, by Martin Caidin. And even if you are a major fan of the films you probably didn't know that the Bionic man studied aikido! The martial art plays a very minor role in the novel, but it's still a pretty cool read and definately a trip in the wayback machine.
Looking for something more recent? Perhaps something in the sci-fi genre? Try the Planet Pirates series by McCaffery, Nye, & Moon (Sassinak, The Death of Sleep, and Generation Warriors) about a child enslaved by space pirates, who grows up (together with her great, great grandmother in a freak space travel cold sleep) to hunt these pirates down across the galaxy. The protagonists of the books practice a futuristic martial art known simply as The Discipline, which gives practitioners crazy fight skills as well as the ability to control their own adrenal glands and metabolism through self-hypnosis. Cool, epic science fiction!
Another sci-fi martial arts pulp classic is the Kensho series (Way-Farer, Kensho, Wanderer, Satori) by Dennis Schmidt. Zen and Japanese swordsmanship play a large part in these books. The premise is that a colony ship encounters some transdimensional lifeform on their colony and the lifeform drives them insane and feeds off of their emotions. The only ones to survive are the zen swordsmaster captain and his descendants who learn to use their zen mastery to control the lifeforms to do legendary feats like telekinesis, body control, and teleportation. Cool explanation of how the old legends about weird martial powers could feasibly happen.

1 comment:

  1. "The Destroyer" series is FANTASTIC, they even re-did Remo's origin story in the book to fit the movie "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins" because the authors thought it was a better one than they'd come up with.


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