#43 – Wide World Adventures, August 1929, Adventure House BOOK REVIEW

March 25, 2018
krauserpua

WIDE-WORLD-ADVENTURES-29.08

Tommy Robinson visits Telford

Are you an adventurer?

Now, let’s be clear what it means to be an adventurer. Back in 1929 you might skip bail ahead of the bondsman in New York and sign onto a ship headed for the South Seas. At other times in history an adventurous spirit might trek his way through the Himalayas with just a guide, a goat, and a curved blade. Or perhaps he’d run security on a rubber plantation in the Ecuadoran jungle, horsewhip in hand and a hundred sweaty natives cursing his name.

Adventure is harder to find in 2018. We live pampered, sheltered lives, never far from Wi-Fi or video gaming. Are we condemned to experience our adventures vicariously through others? [1] Are we limited to storybooks, movies and games?

It was when reading the letters page at the back of this pulp magazine reprint that I considered what role the magazine had originally played, who its readers were, and why they read it. Wide World Adventures was evidently quite a new periodical and the editors were soliciting reader opinion on content and help in spreading word-of-mouth to friends and newsstand buyers [2]

In particular, this letter from one Fred H. Barner of 7 Valentine St, Roxbury, Mass. [3] caught my eye. I’ll reproduce it in full because it really jumped out at me:

Dear Editor,

Even though I have only read two or three copies of WIDE WORLD ADVENTURES, I can call it the best magazine I have ever read. You can bet that I won’t miss a single copy. The stories can’t be any better.

The article in “With Pick and Pan” by John A. Thompson, on opal mining, struck me just right. Have any of the readers ever tried opaling or any other kind of mining? Let’s hear from you.

“Adventurers All” is great [the name of the reader’s letters section, K.] Aren’t we all adventurers at heart even though we may be chained to a desk in some hot stuffy office? We can’t all roam around the world looking for adventure, but we can at least read about what someone else has done – someone who has been more lucky than most of us.

I would like to hear from some of you fellows who live in South American, Australia and Africa. Let’s hear from anybody, no matter where you live.

Aren’t we all adventurers at heart?

That letter could easily be a reader’s comment on a Player’s Journey blog or a post in a pick-up forum like RVF or Naughty Nomad. Not much has changed in 89 years. Young men still burn with the thirst for travel and adventure. In 1929 they’d walk to the newsstand and pick up the latest from a selection of their favourite pulp magazines. Nowadays we have daygame blogs and memoirs.

1938-newsstand-colorized

The newsstands have really gone downhill since then

It comes to the same thing: Adventurous men dreaming big and building a community to facilitate it, either those lucky enough to chase down experiences, or those slaving in an office and patiently plotting for a future where they too will be free to roam. I’m so used to the lifestyle that I’ve come to take it for granted. I’d like to (posthumously) thank one Fred H. Barner of 7 Valentine St, Roxbury, Mass. for reminding me just what a great time it is to be alive.

The world is still full of adventure. It’s really not hard to find, be it a long weekend to spam approach Galleria mall and Florianska street in Krakow, or to live by a beach in Thailand to swim, surf, train BJJ, and chase dirty tourist girls [4]

Oh, and what about this issue of Wide World Adventures? Is it any good? you ask.

Yes it is. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s towards the upper end of writing quality for the pulps and every one of its seven stories was fun to read. The Cross And Rubies is a novella about two yahoos who take a boat to Burma on a hot tip for buried treasure only to run into local bandits and an odd white secret agent in their midst. The Coffin Ship is an undercover investigation into Chinese bandits waylaying their own countrymen on the shuttle boat to Indonesian copper mines. Three Graves On The Beach is like a wild western revenge tale as a grim man-hunter pursues the bandit troupe who murdered his friend – but set in the South Seas. That was my favourite. Spinifex and Gold is an Australian Outback story of betrayal. The Jest Of The Jade Joss is a far east tale of confronting a Triad warlord aboard his merchant ship. African Outlaws retells the legend of a hardy adventurer in the Transvaal as he leaves mayhem behind him. Lastly is the hilariously-named Chink-Running about coyotes trying to outwit ICE on the Canadian border, smuggling illegal immigrants into the USA.

Like I said, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

WIDE-WORLD-ADVENTURES-chink running

I find it hilarious, and that’s all there is to it

If you’d like to live your adventure vicariously, be sure to grab my memoir series. If you’d rather live it directly, get a hold of Daygame Infinite.

[1] I put rather a high price on my own hide, so you won’t see me picking up a rifle to fight ISIS in the Iraqi desert or infiltrate Mexican drug cartels for the DEA. I’m quite happy experiencing that vicariously, thank you very much.
[2] I’m sure this approach is more commercially successful than my own rather high-handed attitude towards my own readers. Sorry, the fact remains that I’m still a bit of a cunt.
[3] I guess I just doxxed him, 89 years after he wrote the letter.
[4] One reader knows exactly who I’m talking about.

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