LET’S GO TO BARSOOM
No! Not the Bar Room. Barsoom. You know: Mars. John Carter. Sci-Fi. Oh, you didn’t know?
Frank Franzett’s cover art for the Barsoom Series
The Barsoom Series
The Barsoom series, created by author Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, is a fictional romantic representation of the planet Mars. It depicts a savage world of honor, noble sacrifice, and constant struggle, where martial prowess is paramount, and where many races fight over dwindling resources. The world is peopled with strange creatures, beautiful women, advanced technology, lost cities, heroic adventures and forgotten ancient secrets. Action/Adventure at its best.
I believe this is one of the first significant sci-fi series to be written, and one of the most dramatic worlds ever created. Obviously, I love this series, and I’ve been waiting nearly fifty years for Hollywood to catch up and make these remarkable books into movies. I’m sure the books have inspired other science fiction writers and adaptations of the stories have been made into comic and movies.
John Carter, a gentleman from Virginia, is the main character. In the first novel, A Princess of Mars, he falls into a cave only to wake up on the planet Mars. Being an adventurous man, John Carter adapts to his new environment, an exotic world slowing sinking toward its eternal slumber.
Original cover art by Gino D’Achille Another later cover
The world is populated by many intelligent species, human and non-human, all vying for diminishing resources. Carter encounters a plethora of bizarre beings, from the vicious four-armed white apes to the ever-mutating vats of synthetic men, and is constantly fighting strange alien beasts and rescuing women from villains, and eventually (eleven books later) rescues the planet by showing the various colored Martians (black, green, red, and yellow) that they need each other to survive. Ta-Dah.
John Hollow, writing in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, praised the first three novels of the series as
"...a particularly fine instance of science fiction's attempt to cope with what Burroughs himself called 'the stern and unalterable cosmic laws,' the certainty that both individuals and whole races grow old and die."The complete series includes eleven books:
● A Princess of Mars (1912)● The Gods of Mars (1914)The Art Work
● The Warlord of Mars (1918)
● Thuvia, Maid of Mars (1920)
● The Chessmen of Mars (1922)
● The Master Mind of Mars (1928)
● A Fighting Man of Mars (1931)
● Swords of Mars (1936)
● Synthetic Men of Mars (1940)
● Llana of Gathol (1948)
● John Carter of Mars (1964) actually written by Burroughs's son, John Coleman Burroughs from the original John Carter and the Giant of Mars (1940)
The Barsoom series is one of the most “illustrated” of all works of fiction. In addition to the cover art for many editions of the books, the characters and stories have inspired numerous artists to depict many scenes from the stories. The women of Mars have received particular attention of artists.
Dejah Thoris by Chad Spilker Another version of Dejah
John Carter and Dejah Thoris by Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell
A Princess of Mars by Boris Vallejo A Princess of Mars by Frank Shoonover
Original cover art by Gino D'Achille Later Cover of Chessmen of Mars
Original cover art by Gino D'Achille Later cover art for Warlord of Mars
Now the first John Carter movie is out. I hope it will live up to the written word.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Aspiring authors, take heart. Your time will come.
Burroughs was born September 1, 1875 in Chicago, the fourth son of businessman and Civil War veteran Major George Tyler Burroughs. After attending a number of schools, he graduated from the Michigan Military Academy in 1895. When he failed the entrance exam for West Point, he enlisted in the 7th US Cavalry. But that career was not to be. There he was diagnosed with a heart problem, making him unfit for a commission, and was discharged in 1897.
It took a while for Burroughs to find his calling. He drifted for quite a few years, wandering through a series of short-term, low-wage jobs, including ranch hand in Idaho, until he found work at his father's firm in 1899. He married childhood sweetheart Emma Hulbert in January 1900. In 1904 he left his job and found less regular work, initially in Idaho but soon back in Chicago.
By 1911, he was working as a pencil sharpener wholesaler. One of his duties was to verify the placement of advertisements for his sharpeners in various magazines. These were all-fiction "pulp" magazines, a prime source of escapist reading material for the rapidly expanding middle class. Verifying the pencil sharpener ads left Burroughs with a lot of down time, and he utilized it by reading those pulp magazines.
In 1929, in an article entitled “How I Wrote the Tarzan Stories” (published in TheWashington Post and The World Magazine), he recalled thinking that
“...if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.”And a writing career was born. Aiming his work at the pulp fiction magazines, his first story, “Under The Moon of Mars” was serialized in All-Story Magazine in 1912. His story "Tarzan of the Apes" (for which Burroughs received seven hundred dollars) appeared in the October 1912 issue of All-Story magazine.
During the time of his first series, he began to write full time and by the end of the series, he had written two novels, including “Tarzan of the Apes”(1913), which became another successful series. The first Tarzan movie was made in 1918 with Elmo Lincoln in the title role .and in 1932 MGM made the movie “Tarzan the Ape Man” staring Johnny Weissmuller.
The Tarzan stories have been translated into more than 56 languages, and reportedly more than 25,000,000 copies of the Tarzan books have been sold worldwide. But Burroughs was a prolific writer and authored many more works, including The Land That Time Forgot, Science and speculative fiction, historical, mysteries, and more. According to the Gale Encyclopedia, “His novels sold more than 100 million copies in 56 languages, making him one of the most widely read authors of the twentieth century.”
In either 1915 or 1919, Burroughs purchased a large ranch north of Los Angeles, CA (which he named "Tarzana") that eventually became the city of Tarzana. In 1940, Burroughs moved to Hawaii. He was 66 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, too old for active service, but became a war correspondent. At the end of the war, he returned to Tarzana and died March 19, 1950. □
http://www.edgarriceburroughs.ca/worlds/barsoom.html (E R Burroughs official website)