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The ERBzine Guide to the Mars Novels of ERB
Volume 1578

By Rick Johnson

There are some works that you read and five minutes later have forgotten they exist.  I keep those in the bathroom to keep busy when I am. busy.

Then there are those that get your blood flowing, those that give you an sense of anticipation, a desire to remain awake until the wee hours of the morning as you promise yourself, just one more chapter than I'll put it away.

It is these later works that include such writers as Robert E. Howard, H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Howard's Conan was the typical anti-hero.  Earthy and with a rude set of morals that meant that if you were with him and the crypt opened, you couldn't be certain that he'd run and leave you behind or take you with him.  Conan often got the girl but he'd probably dump her a chapter later.  But his adventures were, nevertheless, so good that you couldn't wait for the next episode.

Burroughs' John Carter, is the polar opposite.  The ideal hero who, when the white apes attacked, you knew he'd stand between you and them.  You knew that Carter would get the girl and you knew that she'd still be there, awaiting rescue in the next volume and still you waited anxiously for the next book in the series.

It is these emotions that Howard, Haggard and Burroughs evoked in the reader that made them so popular.  Conan was so beloved that other writers continued the adventures, writers such as de Camp, Lord, Roberts, Jordan and many others.  Shelves are filled with books about our favorite barbarian, yet, John Carter, Tarzan, David Innes are lacking.  Why?  Phillip Jose Farmer has done a couple Tarzan ? Opar novels, but aside from a very few others, the field is notoriously lacking.

We want to know what happened after. We want to read more adventures.  Yet with the exception of a few fan-fic writers (among which I include myself), the adventures are lacking.

Perhaps this is because ERB, Inc. is hesitant to allow others to write less-than-exceptional works.  Perhaps so few of us can capture the moods inspired by the Master.  Perhaps we don't know where to place our hero.  The latter is slowly being answered by many who are attempting to re-create, or expand upon the worlds of Barsoom, Pellucidar, Amtor, Pal-ul-Don.  Expansions that we do for the love of the genre, yet expansions that we also use as background for our own feeble and not-so-feeble attempts to continue the works.

I, myself, along with Den Valdron, Tangor and others are attempting to produce an encyclopedia (as it were) of the Worlds of Burroughs, worlds in which we can, hopefully inspire others to continue to write.  Hopefully reading about the Barsoom Timeline, the structure of Pellucidar, the Geography of Barsoom, the sociology of the Weiroo will encourage others to write, to feed our thirsting souls with continuing adventures set on those worlds and lands we grew to love.

But in the meantime, I have questions to ask, questions that hopefully will inspire someone to take up quill and answer.

  • What did John Carter do during those ten years between the winning of his Princess and his return to Earth?
  • Why did Ras Thavas turn from a physician to a mad scientist?  What caused him to become the cynical man we so love to hate?
  • What caused Ras Thavas to become exiled from Toonol and to take up residence in the swamp?
  • Why did Carthoris leave Helium while his father was on Earth and why did his family allow him to leave at such a young age?
  • When John Carter mentions that he encountered adventure and danger during his travels in one of the novels, dangers and adventures that he chose to not describe, what were they?
  • The armies and Navies are filled with men fighting for their Princess in the service of John Carter.  Surely they have stories to tell?
  • What of the other wars that happened before John Carter arrived?
  • What about the people of U-Gor, faced with a runaway population and dwindling food resources, a Malthusian microcosm.  What were their stories as they saw their impending doom?  Did any escape?
  • Pankor, the Red City in the Arctic.  How did that come to be and what of the people within?
  • One madman returned from Dor.  He had a story or nightmare and horror, of the knowledge of his fate when he returned to Barsoom to speak the truth.  Yet he did so.  His story would be magnificent.
  • And speaking of Dor, can we be certain that others didn't escape, choosing silence over death?
  • Jetan represents the Wars between the Yellow Races of the North and the Black Races of the South.  Surely there must be stories here.
  • And those who turned aside to the Valley of Lost Souls.  Their constant fight for survival against White Ape, Plant Man and the occasional attack by Thern and Black Pirate.  Surely these have stories?
  • Zodanga sought to conquer Helium.  Many, nay most of the Jeddak's soldiers were good men who were bound by honor to follow a mad-man.  What of their stories?  Why did they follow a madman and how did they justify their decisions?
  • That soldier who killed the Sith in the Koal Forest.  He rode from the pages of history but has he not a history himself?
  • And the rise of Tur as it spread across Phundahl?  Some must have fought that?  What of the followers of Issus and those of Tur as they sought domination of Phundahl?
  • What of the Hormad menace in the Toonol Marsh?  Could some not have escaped and perhaps forced Phundahl and Toonol into a temporary alliance of sort to stop the mutual menace?
  • Why are the Green Men so established in the South hemisphere but making only occasional raids into the north?
  • What adventures did Kar Komak endure after he escaped from Lothar?  And what of the woman his former Jeddak was seeking to create?  What of her life, of non-life as Tario brought her into existence, if only briefly?  What happened to her behind that locked door? Alone with a dead man whose mind refused to end?
  • Much of Barsoom remains unexplored.  Rather, the fight for bare survival has caused the Red Men to ignore the changes to their world, to loose the older records thus giving us a world ripe for a new Age of Exploration!  What adventures some explorer must have had as he sought to re-map his world.
  • And the Morgor War.  Some stories have been written but there must be others?
  • John Carter and Ulysses Paxton traveled to the red Planet.  Others must have.  And some of these may have in the past and future.  What of their stories?  Other Fan-Fic writers have mentioned such events, but the stories are so lacking that we want more! 
  • Gridley ? Tangor wrote a story of a nude model, murdered by her photographer and then transported to Barsoom.  What life did she live there?  How did she reconcile her past on Earth with her new life on Barsoom? 
  • And how many other women, non-soldiers, traversed the void to the Red Planet?  What happens to a woman or a man, untrained in combat, upon a world where the blade is often the only difference between life and death?
  • What of the Orovars, having settled the world, made peace with Yellow and Black, forced the Green Men into the wastes. then watching their world die.  Knowing that the end of their race is at hand.  What stories accompanied the fall of Barsoom as those few who could see vainly sought to convince the blind of their fate?
  • And the Green Men, they too have stories.  Native to Barsoom, seeing their world taken by immigrants, being pushed into the deserts.  Watching their way of life change.  Can they not speak?
  • Tars Tarkas and Gozava.  Surely that was a tragic love story to match Romeo ? Juliet.  What of their life and love and her eventual death?
  • The year Dejah Thoris spent in the Temple of the Sun.  What did she endure?
  • And how did Thuvia manage to survive as a plaything of the Therns for so long?  Some say she remained there a few years, others imply she was centuries old.  Surely the BD/SM crowd know what she suffered.
  • Who was the last Orovar or his Red man descendant to finally leave the Dead City he once called home?  How did he survive in the new world which all he knew gone?
  • What of the Black Races who settled Omean and Kamtol.  Do they not have stories too?  Those who turned to piracy, those who left Omean to found Kamtol?
  • A thousand years ago, the first aerial battleship was launched to orbit Barsoom endlessly.  What did the crew undergo as they saw their hopes for survival vanish?
  • When Ras Thavas experimented with brain transplants, was he already a cynical monster or did he have ethical concerns about his work?  And who was his first successful transplant?
  • Someone paid Ras Thavas a lot of money to transplant their brain from an aging, ravaged husk into that of a young, healthy person (man or woman).  How did they convince their family that they were the same person?
  • Who really assassinated the guardians of the Atmosphere plant?  And why?
  • And those three brothers who aided John Carter in the first novel, did they regret their kindness?

And there are other worlds as well.

  • What caused the priesthood of Pal-ul-Don to gather so much power?
  • And once Tarzan, Dor-ul-Otho outlawed human sacrifice and brought peace, what happened then?
  • What is Bu-Lur like with both Ho-Don and Waz-Don living together in peace?
  • Are there not stories in Cathne, Athne, Nimmr, Castrum Mare and other of the Lost Cities of Africa?
  • That giant of a Spaniard whose bones were discovered by Tarzan, his story must have been equal to any written by Haggard.
  • How did the Romans fight their way to Africa and what stories caused the rifts in so many of these lands?
  • Who else discovered Opar?
  • And that British engineer who became prisoner of the Bolgani of the Valley of the Palace of Diamonds, what is his story?
  • Did the pigmies of the Valley of the Palace of Diamonds manage to retain power or were they overthrown by the Bolgani?
  • What of La?  Her early life and sufferings as she grew to adulthood?  She loved Tarzan without a doubt, did she not have a life without him?  Especially when she was forced to marry Cadj?
  • There were battles on the Moon as the Kalkars rose to power.  What of that battle?

When we read any of the novels of the master, we see dozens of stories lived by minor characters, incidents that were integral or peripheral to the story at hand but incidents that the Master chose to ignore.  Do these not cry out for the telling? 

To date I have collected a total of 57 stories based upon the Barsoom of the Master.  Of these, 57% have been written by five people, myself included.  Surely there are more people out there with some literary ability?  Surely there are women who can write tales of Barsoom by and about women?   Why are the stories of women on Barsoom always written by men?

There are sites where we who remain unpublished, may post their stories for the enjoyment of all. 
Tangor's ERBList
Bill Hillman's ERBzine
as well as my own
RikJohnson's ERB site
plus a few others, others that started out to satisfy us yet faded away.


Answer the call to adventure!

Read the encyclopedias of Barsoom and the other works of the Master.  Pour over the maps, the articles and let your imagination move the quill.  Our souls await!

ERBzine Refs
Rick Johnson Feature Articles and Fiction in ERBzine

Worlds of ERB
ERBzine 1645: Johnson: ERB Fan Profile
ERBzine 1522: Sociology of the Wieroo
ERBzine 1527: Maltheusian Decimation in Pal-Ul-Don
ERBzine 1547: Opar
ERBzine 1710: Conflict!
ERBzine 1965: Rescue In Pellucidar
ERBzine 1974: Anatomy of an Alien

ERBzine 2304: Prelude to Weir-Lu of Caspak

ERBzine 2388: Bright-Eyed Flower of Pal-ul-don

ERBzine 2394: Dinosaur Survival On Earth

ERBzine 1578: Barsoom Questions
ERBzine 1370: Mapping Barsoom I: Can It Be Done?
ERBzine 1562: Mapping Barsoom II: Compromises
ERBzine 1565: Mapping Barsoom III: The Past
ERBzine 1633: Valley Dor
ERBzine 1634: Swords On Mars
ERBzine 1711: A Panthan of Mars
ERBzine 1712: Spy: Arrival On Mars
ERBzine 2165: Battle at U-Gor
ERBzine 2166: Lost On Barsoom
ERBzine 2167: Meeting of the Panthans: Pt. I
ERBzine 2168: Meeting of the Panthans: Pt. II
ERBzine 2169: North to Barsoom
ERBzine 2196: Jahar
ERBzine 2303: Return to Barsoom I: Letters
The ERBzine Guide to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars is located at:
ERBzine 1351

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