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Volume 1580

Introduction and Contents

 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Some of you in th land of ERBdom might know me as that 'weird guy who writes pointless essays', some of you may have restraining orders, others among you may simply automatically avoid my name.  Some of you may simply not be paying attention.

But for once, I'd like to call upon your attention, so sit up and look alert.

A while back, I had an interesting notion.  A way of attempting to reconcile the geography of the real Mars with the fictional Barsoom, not by simply laying one grid on top of another, but by finding common geographical features and working from there.  This became an essay I wrote called "Matching Mars."  It was very nice, but I couldn't sell it, and I didn't know anyone who'd be interested in reading it, so...  I just tucked it away in my computer and forgot about it. 

Then a few years later, I ran into Bill Hillman on the internet who liked it a lot and offered to put it up on his web site.  So, I looked around and I'd had a few more pointless Barsoom essays cluttering up my hard drive that no one had ever looked at.  There was one on the history of the Tur and Iss cults of Barsoom, there was another speculating that Thuria was an artificial habitat, a long lost Orovar O'Neill colony. 

Bill loved them all and asked for more.  So, I wrote more, because exploring odd facets of not just Barsoom, but Amtor, Pellucidar, Pal-Ul-Don and Caprona, as well as other writers like Wells, Kline and Farley.  At this point, I think I'm up to around 40 essays and several hundred thousand words.

It's pointless stuff.  But on the other hand, it's interesting and fun, and at least some people like them.  So who am I to argue.  To be honest, I've loved doing them.

Bill raised the subject of my trying fiction.  I do write fiction, but I have some dream of getting paid for it.  So I generally stay clear of 'fan-fictions' or non-commercial work.  I'd rather invent my own fantasy world and try and sell that.  So, while it was flattering, I didn't have any serious urge.

Now, I live in The Pas, Manitoba, in Canada.  It turns out that Bill lives in Brandon, Manitoba.  We were both in the same province, a few hours drive apart.  What a coincidence!

Well, we had to meet in person.  So, back in August, 2005, I believe, I travelled to Brandon, Manitoba, to meet Bill Hillman.  and say hello.  Bill and Sue-On proved to be charming and engaging hosts and we had an excellent time.

As we left, Bill was feeling poorly and out of a desire to cheer him up, and out of genial good spirits, I promised to write him up a fiction piece set on Barsoom. 

After we left, Bill's condition worsened.  Since I couldn't do anything to actually help him, I turned seriously towards doing some fiction he'd enjoy. 

I decided to copy some of the key elements of the old master's style.  Well, obviously, I can't write like Burroughs.  If I could, I'd be raking in the cash.  But I could figure out the sort of format he used and copy that.  And in fact, there was a very definite 'pulp format' in his writing, and in the writing of others of his era.

Partly this was from deconstructing the Giant of Mars by Burroughs and realizing that the reason it read so different from his other stuff was because he was going with a Big-Little Book format, rather than the pulp format. 

What was the pulp format?  I decided it was short chapters, 1500 to 2000 words, each ending in a cliffhanger.  I worked out a story, and started in.  Originally, I wanted to send Bill a chapter a day.  That didn't work out well for either of us.  But the thing proved to be quite easy to write, taking on a life of its own.

The end result was that Bill's health recovered nicely, and he wound up having to read a novel.  A novel which turned out to be about 95,000 (not quite 100,000) words.  Doesn't matter, at 95 to 100 k words and 53 chapters, this is out and out a full fledged novel.  Pound for pound, its equivalent to any Burroughs novel (of course, that's not an assertion of style or quality... only poundage).

I called it "Lesbians of Mars."   Why?  I was being bad.  I wanted something risque, something attention getting, something fun.  And lets face it, everyone likes lesbians.  It's a friendly, fun word.  It was suggestive of something more adult and naughty, and to tell you the truth, perhaps I even had it in the back of my mind to include some raunchy or pornographic scenes.

Torakar, or full name, Torakar Thor is a lesbian.  If that's a problem, don't read it.  Torakar Thor has a girlfriend who is also a lesbian, which works well for the two of them.  Of course, if you do read it, you'll find that Torakar Thor and her girlfriend are such remarkable characters that being gay is only a small and minor thing.

As to the rest:  On the good side, they have sex, a lot of it and fairly early on in the book, and we can take it for granted, fairly regularly throughout.  I'm sorry, but this isn't 1912, and unlike John Carter, our protagonist shouldn't have to suffer through an entire book in order to get his groceries...  if indeed he did wait the entire book (there's an early chapter called 'Love Making on Mars' which hints that something more may have been happening between scenes, but that's just me being evil).  I don't feel the need to adopt the prudery of a bygone age.

On the bad side, although there's sex, you'll hardly notice it.  The references are oblique and passing, there's no description, its not overt and its not a huge part of the book.  You'll get more graphic sex on saturday morning cartoons.  Those who were hoping to read this with one hand will be disappointed.  The relationship between Torakar Thor and her girlfriend is a romance, not porn. 

Perhaps someday there'll be a triple X version, but this isn't it.

Instead, what we've got is a story of Barsoom.  It's a story of two people who discover each other and fight their way across their world.  It's a story with Green Men, White Apes, Deserts, Monsters, Lost Cities, evil henchmen, maniacal villains, lost princesses and noble causes.  Along the way you'll meet characters and settings from Burroughs own Barsoom novels, and perhaps little nods and in jokes to other writers like Otis Kline or C.S. Lewis, as well as completely new stuff.

Since the whole 'Lesbians of Mars' thing seemed a bit risque, we've renamed it 'Torakar of Mars' just to be on the safe side.

Bill Hillman liked it enough to put it up on his site and invite people to read it.  That's flattering.  In a tribute to the old serials, we're putting up a few chapters at a time, each week, for thirteen weeks.  He's gone through a hell of a lot of work to do it. 

A couple of you have already read a draft of it, no spoilers please, but anyone whose read it and liked it please feel free to encourage others to read it.  If, on the other hand, someone doesn't like it... that's cool, just don't spread it around.

Normally, I'll just write things and not be to pushy about whether people read them.  This time...  Do me a favour and go give the thing a chance, see if it grabs you.

yours truly

Den Valdron

..
Chapter Guide
53 Exciting Chapters ~ 100,000 Words
Contents: ERBzine 1580


PART I: Chapters 1-4
1. Torakar Thor
2. Slave Driver
3. Azara
4. A Bad Night
PART II: Chapters 5-8
5. Life or Freedom
6. Freedom and Treachery
7. Dread Reckoning in a Dead City
8. A Strange Meeting
PART III: Chapters 9-12
9. A New Direction
10. The Tower of Korvas
11. The Terrible Mission
12. The Thing in the Pit
PART IV: Chapters 13-16
13. A Desperate Flight
14. Lost in the Desert
15. Found and Lost
16. Lovers Parted
PART V: Chapters 17-20
17. Hazorn
18. Azara Among the Ossa
19. The Lusts of the Hazorns
20. Tora's Refusal
PART VI: Chapters 21-24
21. Azara's Trial
22. The Odil
23. The Secret of the Hazorn
24. A Cold Night
PART VII: Chapters 25-28
25. Captured
26. Captives 
27. The Emperor of All Barsoom
28. Hope and Despair
PART VIII: Chapters 29-32
29. False Words
30. The Garden of Horrors
31. The Final Fate of Fan Gas
32. Azara's Story
PART IX: Chapters 33-36
33. The Artificial Bride
34. The Desert Journey
35. A Midnight Flight
36. Trapped in the Circle
PART X: Chapters 37-40
37. Sharp Fingers
38. Tora's Mother
39. A Happiness That Could Not Last
40. Moving On
PART XI: Chapters 41-44
41. Face On Other Side Of The Gun
42. Fortune Turns
43. An Unexpected Reunion
44. Visiting Friends & Family
PART XII: Chapters 45-48
45. Fortress
46. Bitterness of Victory
47. Conversation with a Jeddak
48. Conversation with a Spymaster
PART XIII: Chapters 49-52
49. The Man From Dor
50. Hard Decisions
51. Tumult Before the Storm
52. A Battle
Torakar of Mars
by 
Den Valdron
PART XIV: Chapter 53
53. Conclusion
 

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All comments are welcome and encouraged. 
Send your feedback to our Readers' Forum at ERBzine 1580
via 
Author Den Valdron at dgvaldron@yahoo.ca
or
ERBzine Editor Bill Hillman at: ERBzine@westman.wave.ca

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Mars Art by Joe Jusko
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