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Volume 2109

By Sandy Miller

Featured in Amazing Stories ~ December 1950
Submitted by Jonathan Hart
With the recent death of Edgar Rice Burroughs, it is interesting to recapitulate his work in light of the fact that this magazine was among the first to recognize his genius. It is hard for any admirer of Burroughs to be objective about him, but we can try.

Burroughs works are not only read -- they are re-read and digested again and again, because they are so real. Literally they are not classics -- though there are spots where the writing is superb by any standards -- scientifically they are mush -- and even science-fictionally speaking they do not quite classify. What then is the basis of their tremendous fascination?

The answers are two: characterization and superb story-telling. In the first case, there is hardly one Burroughs' character who is not as real to a reader as his best friend. Burroughs had the faculty of being able to create within his imagination a dream world peopled not by fantasies but by flesh and blood creatures who moved in a world whose atmosphere was as real as the room you're sitting in.

The story-telling art, which is really difficult was a natural to Burroughs as eating. The world of Tarzan, of Barsoom, of Pellucidar, was so convincingly described along with all the bug-eyed monsters, that to all intents and purposes you automatically visualized a three-dimensional, living breathing world. This is the aim of most story-telling, but it is an aim rarely achieved.

When you look at the pathetic attempts at scientific explanation which Burroughs was prone at time to engage in, you laugh, that is, you laugh when you look at the explanation alone.  In light of, and surrounded by the mythical creations and characters of Burroughs' mind, those "scientific" concepts seem more real than the electric light. No higher praise can be given an author.

It is an interesting fact that the Burroughs stories do not date. They will be read as eagerly thirty years from now as they were thirty years ago. Most of the characterizations of Burroughs were relatively black-and-white affairs with good and evil clearly defined. In no way did this detract from the story.

It was as if Burroughs were sitting down before you -- and indeed he was in his introductions found in a number of his books -- and said: "Now listen, I'm going to tell you an utterly incredible tale of people and creatures and places you will hardly believe -- but they exist. Even if they're in my mind they exist. Listen to my story and judge me..."

Well, Edgar Rice Burroughs, we've listened and we've judged -- and we believe. Your stories will live and we'll read and re-read them. Hail and Farewell!

From Amazing Stories, Vol 24, No. 12, Dec. 1950, pages 94-95 (Ziff-Davis Pub.)

Photos from the ERB Bio Pages in ERBzine 1371 and ERBzine 1372

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Amazing Stories 
Vol 24, No. 12, 
Dec. 1950, pages 94-95 
(Ziff-Davis Pub.)

Edited by Howard Browne
Cover art by James B. Settles
Cover story: "Vengeance of the Golden God" by E. K. Jarvis 
"Bathe Your Bearings in Blood!" by Clifford Simak 
"Your Number is Up!" by John W. Jakes. 
"Kiss and Kill" by P.F. Costello
Rocketship X-M by Leslie Phelps
"Divided We Fall" by Raymond F. Jones

There's also an amusing prediction about crime in 2000 and 
a disturbing prediction of "Trojan ships" used by future terrorists.

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