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Volume 0778
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ERB C.H.A.S.E.R ENCYCLOPEDIA
A Collector's Hypertexted and Annotated Storehouse of Encyclopedic Resources
Present
Ace paperback with Pirate Blood: August 1970: Roy Krenkel art
Click for full-size cover image
PIRATE BLOOD
A 34,000-word novelette written in early 1932 under the penname:
John Tyler McCulloch
Read the e-Text Edition HERE

PUBLISHING HISTORY (USA)

PULP
Rejected by numerous publications. First published posthumously.
FIRST EDITION
Ace paperback ~ August 1970 ~ published with The Wizard of Venus ~ 158 pages
    Roy G. Krenkel Venus cover art ~ Pirate Blood cover art never used.
    Statement under title: "Including the first publication anywhere of Pirate Blood Burroughs' last great adventure novel."
REPRINT EDITIONS
Ace paperback ~ January 1973 ~ with The Wizard of Venus ~ 158 pages ~ same Krenkel art
Ace paperback ~ June 1979 ~ with The Wizard of Venus ~ 248 pages ~ same Krenkel art
    Esteban Maroto cover art
Ballantine-Del Rey ~ July 1991 ~ New title: The Wizard of Venus and Pirate Blood ~ 186 pages
    Richard Hescox cover art
 
For detailed information, see Robert B. Zeuschner's
Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Bibliography (ERB, Inc., 2016).
Click on www.erbbooks.com or call 214-405-6741 to order a copy.
Pirate Blood
The story of a lone American who ventured among the unexplored islands of the far seas, where piracy still held sway and a man was judged only by his skill with a knife and pistol... This devil-may-care hero experimenter, designs his own aircraft and ventures among the little explored islands of the far seas to find that piracy still lives and that chivalry still requires the maximum of endurance and the utmost in courage.
Amazon Review
"Pirate Blood" was another ERB novella found in the same safe as The Wizard of Venus, although it was apparently written back in 1932. The hero is Johnny LaFitte, who is descended from the infamous Jean LaFitte. The story returns to one of ERB's favorite themes, heredity versus environment, and his belief that it you do not have the right environment a "bad seed" will indeed go bad. This is a very atypical Burroughs novel, filled with cold blooded murders, violent rapes, and suicide. There is even an illegitimate pregnancy between Johnny and his gal as ERB really lays on the morality play. Clearly the only reason that "Pirate Blood" was published with "The Wizard of Venus" was because they were found in that safe together. These stories have nothing in common and "Pirate Blood" really reads like a first draft that ERB just never went back and revised. 
Review from the MANAPOP Website
Pirate Blood was another story, along with The Wizards of Venus, that was discovered in the safe of Edgar Rice Burroughs after his passing, and like The Wizards of Venus it was an unfinished work. Pirate Blood was penned in 1932 and when one reads it one can’t be too surprised Burroughs never got around to finishing it as tales of rape and savage lust may not have sat too well with readers of the time.

The protagonist of Pirate Blood is Johnny LaFitte, a young man who finds himself second to best friend Frank Adams in both academic areas as well as sports. Johnny holds the view that this has more to do with heredity than environment as Frank and many of his privileged friends come from noble families while Johnny’s most notable ancestor was the famous pirate Jean LaFitte. So Johnny isn’t surprised when after university he finds himself a simple motorcycle cop while his friends all live more prestigiously. He tries not to be bitter with this but when one day he pulls over a drunken speeder and it turns out to be Daisy Jukes, a girl he has loved since grade school, he takes it kind of hard. He learns she is engaged to Frank Adams and he’s not sure if it’s the fact that she’s been drinking or that she’s engaged that upsets him the most. This is a nice peak into the mind of Burroughs and what he thinks of women who drink.

The next day the local bank reports a millions gold and securities are missing and one of the tellers is a suspect. Johnny is sent to the local airfield to stop the embezzler from escaping via dirigible and of course it turns out that the thief is another old classmate of Johnny named Bill Perry. When Johnny tries to arrest Perry there is a scuffle and Perry is able to loose the mooring lines and the dirigible lifts off into the air. Perry refuses to land so Johnny dumps all the loot overboard to the authorities waiting below. Not relishing the idea of going to jail Perry steers the craft towards the Pacific Ocean. Johnny is unfamiliar with dirigibles so he is at the mercy of this nitwit robber and soon the two of them find themselves lost over the vast ocean. We get a bit of a cat and mouse game with the dangers of the craft losing altitude and dumping them into the drink, but eventually things come to a head when Perry tries to bite through Johnny’s jugular while he slept. He fails and decides suicide is the best option and jumps overboard.

This leads to the second half of the story as the incredibly sinking dirigible finally dumps Johnny on an island in the middle of nowhere…right in the middle of a pirate fight on the beach. Johnny lands right between the combatants, and shoots two that attack him, the rest of that group flee to their boats leaving Johnny in the hands of the winners. Johnny is captured by the “winners” and is brought back to their island fortress. This pirate chief, named Vulture, was wounded in battle and as Johnny tends to his wounds he learns of what a vile individual he is, the Vulture has been plaguing the shipping lane for years but survives because he leaves no survivors to tell of him and his band of cutthroat’s existence. Johnny learns that those on the beach he shot belonged to a rival pirate faction and his aide in repelling those bastards intrigues the Vulture, and so Johnny is spared. Johnny then meets La Diablesa, the willing mistress of the Vulture. She is basically a sex slave until one day the Vulture will kill her and replace her with a younger model.

This has got to be the darkest story Burroughs ever wrote, and most likely why he never finished it as getting it published would have been tricky. Johnny LaFitte is also one of the more complex characters in Burroughs’ canon as when he joins the Vulture’s band of pirates there isn’t any thought of “just going along” and then escaping. He just accepts that being a pirate was his genetic destiny. He isn’t as ruthless as the Vulture; he enslaves many of those on ships he captures instead of just murdering everyone. Though he does murder a lot of people in this new career. The word “rape” is never used but “make love to” is and as this making love is against an unwilling captive woman…yeah this book is kind of rapey. And that isn’t even the darkest stuff this story has to offer as when Johnny meets up with Daisy Jukes things take a turn for the worse.

There are no Captain Jack type pirates in this story, and the hero himself has quite the dark soul and does things that your typical Burroughs protagonist would never do, but this is what makes Pirate Blood such a good read as it takes a fairly realistic view of modern pirating if also a strange view of nature vs nurture. I highly recommend this one.


COVER GALLERY

Ace paperback January 1973: Roy Krenkel artAce paperback with Pirate Blood: June 1979: Esteban Maroto artDel Rey paperback: July 1991: Richard Hescox artDel Rey paperback: July 1991: Back Cover

 

Web Refs
Bill Hillman's Illustrated ERB Bibliography
ERB C.H.A.S.E.R. Online Encyclopedia
Hillman ERB Cosmos
Patrick Ewing's First Edition Determinors
John Coleman Burroughs Tribute
Edgar Rice Burroughs: LifeLine Biography
Bob Zeuschner's ERB Bibliography
J.G. Huckenpohler's ERB Checklist
G. T. McWhorter's Burroughs Bulletin Index
Novel Summary by David Bruce Bozarth
Illustrated Bibliography of ERB Pulp Magazines
Burroughs Bibliophiles Bulletin
Phil Normand's Recoverings
ERBzine Weekly Online Fanzine
ERB Emporium: Collectibles ~ Comics ~ BLBs ~ Pulps ~ Cards
ERBVILLE: ERB Public Domain Stories in PDF
Clark A. Brady's Burroughs Cyclopedia
Heins' Golden Anniversary Bibliography of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Bradford M. Day's Edgar Rice Burroughs: A Bibliography
Irwin Porges: The Man Who Created Tarzan


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