Thursday, January 22, 2009

SF authors born 1874-83: 1875d

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950)

For all other Radium-Age SF authors born in 1875, click here.

Post 3 of 3 about Burroughs: VENUSIAN SERIES and other Radium-Age SF.
For BARSOOM series, click here.
For PELLUCIDAR series, click here.


The last major series in Burroughs's career.

* Pirates of Venus (Burroughs, 1934; Argosy, September 17, 1932—TK). 1st of the Venusian series. The novel is set on a fictional version of planet Venus called Amtor that has similarities to Barsoom, Burroughs's fictionalized version of planet Mars.

* Lost on Venus (Argosy, March 1933; Burroughs, 1935).

NB: Carson of Venus (1939); Escape on Venus (1946); "The Wizard of Venus" (1970)


* The Return of Tarzan (Chicago: McClurg, 1915). The first of some 23 sequels to Tarzan of the Apes (1914; All-Story, October 1912), is a Lost World narrative. The ape man, feeling rootless in the wake of his noble sacrifice of his prospects of wedding Jane Porter, leaves America for Europe to visit his friend Paul d'Arnot. On the ship he becomes embroiled in the affairs of Countess Olga de Coude, her husband, Count Raoul de Coude, and two shady characters attempting to prey on them, Nikolas Rokoff and his henchman Alexis Paulvitch. Rokoff, it turns out, is also the countess's brother. Tarzan thwarts the villains' scheme, making them his deadly enemies. Later, in France, Rockoff tries time and again to eliminate the ape man, finally engineering a duel between him and the count by making it appear that he is the countess's lover. Tarzan deliberately refuses to defend himself in the duel, even offering the Count his own weapon after the latter fails to kill him with his own, a grand gesture that convinces his antagonist of his innocence. In return, Count Raoul finds him a job as a special agent in Algeria for the ministry of war. A sequence of adventures among the local Arabs ensues, including another brush with Rokoff. Afterward Tarzan sails for Cape Town and strikes up a shipboard acquaintance with Hazel Strong, a friend of Jane's. But Rokoff and Paulovitch are also aboard, and manage to ambush him and throw him overboard. Tarzan manages to swim to shore, and finds himself in the coastal jungle where he was brought up by the apes. He soon rescues and befriends a native warrior, Busuli of the Waziri, and is adopted into the Waziri tribe. After defeating a raid on their village by ivory raiders he becomes their chief. The Waziri know of a lost city deep in the jungle, from which they have obtained their golden ornaments. Tarzan has them take him there, but is captured by its inhabitants, a race of beast-like men, and condemned to be sacrificed to their sun god. To his surprise, the priestess to perform the sacrifice is a beautiful woman, who speaks the ape language he learned as a child. She tells him she is La, high priestess of the lost city of Opar. When the ceremony is fortuitously interrupted, she hides him and promises to lead him to freedom. But the ape man escapes on his own, locates the treasure chamber, and manages to rejoin the Waziri. Meanwhile, Hazel Strong has reached Cape Town, where she encounters Jane, and her father Professor Porter, together with Jane's fiancé, Tarzan's cousin William Cecil Clayton. They are all invited on a cruise up the west coast of Africa aboard the Lady Alice, the yacht of Lord Tennington, another friend. Rokoff, now using the alias of M. Thuran, ingratiates himself with the party and is also invited along. The Lady Alice breaks down and sinks, forcing the passengers and crew into the lifeboats. The one containing Jane, Clayton and "Thuran" is separated from the others and suffers terrible privations. Coincidentally, the boat finally makes shore in the same general area that Tarzan did. The three construct a rude shelter and eke out an existence of near starvation for some weeks until Jane and Clayton are surprised in the forest by a lion. Clayton loses Jane's respect by cowering in fear before the beast instead of defending her. But they are not attacked, and discover the lion dead, speared by an unknown hand. Their hidden savior is in fact Tarzan, who leaves without revealing himself. Later Jane is kidnapped and taken to Opar by a party of beast-men pursuing Tarzan. The ape man tracks them and manages to save her from being sacrificed by La. La is crushed by Tarzan's rejection of her for Jane. Escaping Opar, Tarzan returns with Jane to the coast, happy in the discovery that she loves him and is free to marry him. They find Clayton, abandoned by "Thuran" and dying of a fever. In his last moments he atones to Jane by revealing Tarzan's true identity as Lord Greystoke, having previously discovered the truth but concealed it. Tarzan and Jane make their way up the coast to the former's boyhood cabin, where they encounter the remainder of the castaways of the Lady Alice, safe and sound after having been recovered by Tarzan's friend D'Arnot in another ship. "Thuran" is exposed as Rokoff and arrested. Tarzan weds Jane and Tennington weds Hazel in a double ceremony performed by Professor Porter, who had been ordained a minister in his youth. Then they all set sail for civilization, taking along the treasure Tarzan had found in Opar.

* Tarzan the Terrible (Chicago: McClurg, 1921; TK). A Lost World narrative concerning the land of Pal-u-don, in which dinosaurs survive and men have prehensile tails. In the previous novel, during the early days of World War I, Tarzan discovered that his wife Jane was not killed in a fire set by German troops, but was in fact alive. In this novel two months have gone by and Tarzan is continuing to search for Jane. He has tracked her to a hidden valley called Pal-ul-don, which means "Land of Men." In Pal-ul-don Tarzan finds a real Jurassic Park filled with dinosaurs, notably the savage Triceratops-like Gryfs, which unlike their prehistoric counterparts are carnivorous. The lost valley is also home to two different races of tailed human-looking creatures, the Ho-don (hairless and white skinned) and the Waz-don (hairy and black-skinned). Tarzan befriends Ta-son, a Ho-don warrior, and Om-at, the Waz-don chief of the tribe of Kor-ul-ja. In this new world he becomes a captive but so impresses his captors with his accomplishments and skills that they name him Tarzan-Jad-Guru (Tarzan the Terrible), which is the name of the novel. Jane is also being held captive in Pal-ul-don, having been brought there by her German captor, who has since become dependent on her due to his own lack of jungle survival skills. She becomes a pawn in a religious power struggle that consumes much of the novel. With the aid of his native allies, Tarzan continues to pursue his beloved to rescue her and set things to right, going through an extended series of fights and escapes to do so. In the end success seems beyond even his ability to achieve, until in the final chapter he and Jane are saved by their son Korak, who has been searching for Tarzan just as Tarzan has been searching for Jane.

* Tarzan and the Ant Men (Chicago: McClurg, 1924; TK). Knee-high humans live in underground, anthill-like cities. Tarzan is shrunk by glandular massage and enslaved in one such city. arzan, the king of the jungle, enters an isolated country called Minuni, inhabited by a people four times smaller than himself. The Minunians live in magnificent city-states which frequently wage war against each other. Tarzan befriends the king, Adendrohahkis, and the prince, Komodoflorensal, of one such city-state, called Trohanadalmakus, and joins them in war against the onslaught of the army of Veltopismakus, their warlike neighbours. Tarzan is captured on the battle-ground and taken prisoner by the Veltopismakusians. The Veltopismakusian scientist Zoanthrohago conducts an experiment reducing Tarzan to the size of a Minunian, and the ape-man is imprisoned and enslaved among other Trohanadalmakusian prisoners of war. He meets, though, Komodoflorensal in the dungeons of Veltopismakus, and together they are able to make a daring escape. *** Burrough's view on what is a natural relationship between the sexes is neatly illustrated by a secondary narrative thread in the novel, that one about the Alali or Zertalacolols, an ape-like matriarchal people living in the thorny forests which isolate Minuni from the rest of the worlds. When the enslaved and persecuted Alali males see that Tarzan is a male too and yet stronger and more formidable than any Alali female, they go to war against the females, and by killing or maiming several of them, subjugate them. When Tarzan, towards the end of the novel, meets the Alali again, the females are submissive and obedient to their mates and actually prefer it that way. The Minunian city states and their politics are strongly reminiscent of those of Barsoom. They also share the Barsoomian philosophy of perpetual war as a good and commendable state, as illustrated by the words of Gefasto, the Commander in Chief of the Veltopismakusian armed forces:
We must have war. As we have found that there is no enduring happiness in peace or virtue, let us have a little war and a little sin. A pudding that is all of one ingredient is nauseating—it must be seasoned, it must be spiced, and before we can enjoy the eating of it to the fullest we must be forced to strive for it. War and work, the two most distasteful things in the world, are, nevertheless, the most essential to the happiness and the existence of a people. Peace reduces the necessity for labor, and induces slothfulness. War compels labor, that her ravages may be effaced. Peace turns us into fat worms. War makes men of us.

To people outside the ranks of Tarzan fans, Tarzan and the Ant Men is probably best known as the book read by Harper Lee's young protagonist Jean Louise ("Scout") Finch in her novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960).

* The Land That Time Forgot (Chicago: McClurg, 1924; composed of "The Land That Time Forgot," Blue Book, August 1918; "The People That Time Forgot," Blue Book, October 1918; and "Out of Time's Abyss," Blue Book, December 1918). The first of Burroughs's two best books. Imaginative redirection of the old biological saw that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. On Caspak, an unknown island, evolution is an individual matter: An entity may start life as a primitive egg, then become a lizard, then a small mammal, then an ape man, and eventually a Homo sapiens. NB: Homo sapiens might not be the high point of evolution. There is a race of cruel but civilized winged men on Caspak. Also: Novel is grounded in the extreme jingoism of World War I.

* The Moon Maid (Chicago: McClurg, 1926; "The Moon Maid" was serialized in Argosy All-Story, June 22-July 20, 1923; "The Moon Men" was serialized in Argosy All-Story, February 21-March 15, 1925; "The Red Hawk" was serialized in Argosy All-Story, April 20-May 14, 1925). Considered the second of Burroughs's two best books. Begins in the near future and extends to the 25th century. In "The Moon Maid," a crash-landing crew of astronauts from Earth discovers that the lunar interior is populated by city-states that are losing their independence to the Kalkars, a race of aggressive, brutal, stupid louts — Burroughs's notion of Russian Communists. The Kalkars, led by a renegade Earthman, conquer the earth. "The Moon Men," first written in 1919 and concerned with a future Russian occupation of America (the original Red Dawn), is set in the ruins of Chicago; it describes an abortive revolt against the Kalkars. In "The Red Hawk," Earthmen have reverted to nomadic tribesmen who press on to final victory against the Kalkars in the ruins of Los Angeles.

* Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Monster Men (McClurg: Chicago, 1929). Published first in All-Story (November 1913), as A Man without a Soul. The perils of godless science and muscle-building. Professor Maxon (a reference to Bierce's Moxon?) of Cornell, who has long been experimenting with artificial life, takes his beautiful daughter Virginia on a voyage around the world. However, he interrupts their vacation to set up a small laboratory and factory on an island near Borneo. He hires Dr. Von Horn (a scoundrel) as an assistant, and begins manufacturing gigantic, muscle-bound, stupid artificial men. (Hello, Rocky Horror Picture Show.) The Borneo Malay rajah lusts for Virginia; so does Dr. von Horn; so does Budrudeen, the factory foreman. Maxon, who has gone mad, and enforces discipline among his creations with a bullwhip, intends to marry Virginia to the perfect man that he intends to create. Number Thirteen (he calls himself Bulun) emerges from the tank, as perfect a specimen of Anglo-Saxon manhood as maiden could want. Highly intelligent, a true gentleman; he and Virginia have feelings for one another, but she doesn't know he's artificial, and her aversion to artificial men makes him feel inadequate. She's kidnapped by the rajah, Bulun rescues her, lots of action. Then Maxon's Chinese cook reveals that Bulun is a shipwrecked amnesiac whom he (Ling) sneaked into Number Thirteen's tank. Virginia and Bulun get married, and then he recalls that his father is a millionaire contractor. Happy ending.

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