The Best Pulp Sci-Fi Heroes

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Pulp Science Fiction has been a mainstay for literature, comic books, and the silver screen for almost a hundred years and has given many great adventures of daring do set throughout time and space, and sometimes even further. And whilst there is a strict formula for the delivery of a great pulp story, that often rings the same, that doesn’t make them any less fun, so here are some of the best from the last 100 years or more.

Flash Gordon


originally created by Alex Raymond in a comic strip in 1934, Flash Gordon has been show in comics, radio serials. films and television and has even been adapted to the stage on numerous occasions, and even forms the basis of a Queen album. The stories generally tell the tale of the Earth man Flash Gordon as he is transported to the planet Mongo to lead revolution on the despotic rule of Ming the Merciless.

John Carter 


A confederate soldier wakes up on the planet Mars, Joins a revolution against a despotic ruler and falls in love with a princess, are you starting to see a pattern here? Originally appearing in Edgar Rice Burroughs 1912 story a Princess of Mars, John Cater has appeared in novels, short stories, comic books and screen adaptations for over 105 years.

Adam Strange 


Human Archaeologist Adam Strange is transported to the planet Rann where he falls in love with a princess and leads the revolution to put the princess in power and then in a twist is transported back to earth to pine, until it happens all over again.  (Seriously have you noticed the pattern here).





The Formula For Pulp

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I’ve been reading/ watching a lot of pulp sci-fi lately (which isn’t a new thing), but there is one thing that I’m noticing, and that is that the plots for all of the pulp sci-fi classics are all exactly the same.

If I describe the plot to you see if you can guess the film, book, comic or tv show.

  1. A human male is somehow transported to an alien world
  2. said human male will meet a local tribe, and will be captured and or fight, before gaining said tribes trust/respect and then learns that the planet is made up of lots of warring peoples all ruled by one tyrant.
  3. Human male will then meet a princess who is part of the resistance against said tyrant, will fall in love and then join the resistance.
  4. Human male will suffer self doubt before uniting all tribes on the planet against the tyrant.
  5. Final battle
  6. Human Male either marries princess and rules or is sent back to Earth to pine for princess and scheme to get back.

This formula actually applies to pretty much all stalwarts of the genre across all media, It accurately sums up the novel Princess of Mars, which gave us the John Carter film, it sums up Buck Rogers In The 25th Century. It is an accurate summation of the Flash Gordon serials, comics and film and is a true synopsis for DC Comic’s Adam Strange A Man Of Two Worlds.


So if you ever feel like writing a pulp sci-fi masterpiece, you now know the winning formula, it worked for some pretty big names in cinema.