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Volume 3646

ERBzine Fan Spotlight Series:
Thomas R. Skidmore

My first connection to the great Edgar Rice Burroughs was in the late 1970s, when I saw the animated TV series Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.  Later on I'd discovered the live-action Tarzan films that featured Gordon Scott, Denny Miller, and Ron Ely.  Those, to me at the time, told me all there was to know about ERB.

 Little did I realize how truly wrong I was.

 That epiphany dawned on me at the age of sixteen.  It was during spending part of a rainy Wednesday afternoon in my neighborhood library in March 1989 that I made a stunning find.  There, in the SF/fantasy department, were several novels I hadn't heard of.  To my utter amazement, these were authored by -- Edgar Rice Burroughs!  The biggest lure of these was the Frank Frazetta cover for the SFBC edition of The Master Mind of Mars and A Fighting Man of Mars.  Along that was the 1975 edition of The Land That Time Forgot.

 Oh my God in heaven!! I thought in wonder.

 And for the first time my eyes were opened to the endless imaginative vesta that was ERB.  Here were tales of intergalactic battles, of daring heroes, exotically beautiful women, scientific discoveries that more often than not were alarmingly accurate, and -- I could go on and on.  A sheer delight, indeed.  As time went on (and life took me for a wild ride) I made an attempt here and there to write in the Burroughs style . . . and not succeeding, of course.  But the seed was planted.  It just took a lot more time than I would have liked or preferred, but that's reality for you.

 Of course, I inevitably began reading the Tarzan novels ... and man, I was even more surprised!  These were a far cry from the Weissmuller Tarzan films I'd occasionally viewed.  For example, in the films Tarzan had the most annoyingly limited vocabulary this side of Tonto; but in the novels (to my relieved delight) he can speak a multitude of human tongues, including: French, English, Russian, German, and Arabic.  And I ultimately got into the John Carter, Warlord of Mars comic book, thereby cementing for all time ERB's place among my all-time favorites.

 Will ERB's wonders never cease? I found myself thinking.

 And so . . . I remained with ERB's works, alongside many other masters of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.  Masters such as Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, Alan Moore, Isaac Asimov, H.G. Wells, Rod Serling, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Michael Moorcock, the late Anne McCaffrey, and dozens more.

 Not only do I get the greatest pleasure from the works they, led by ERB, brought to enrich the world, but on a personal note they've guided me to the destiny I was meant to have: that of a writer of science fiction and fantasy.

 As a result of the path set down by the masters, I've written nine self-published novellas and novels, a poetry collection, a stage play, a film script, a comic book story (very challenging), and right now I'm working on several other stories including my first 'true' Barsoom story set in the late 1960s, specifically in the days of the Tet Offensive.

 As for my own life story, well, I was born in Pittsburgh, PA, on Tuesday, July 25, 1972.  My parents are Richard Thomas Skidmore and Linda Ann (Rogan) Skidmore.  I'm the oldest of three kids; I have a younger sister, Kelly Jean (74-6-10) and a younger brother, Jeffrey Michael (76-12-29).  My family and I moved a lot, and our home life wasn't the best.  My parents, amidst drinking bouts and bitter arguments, split up when I was a kid, and I'm still feeling the effects.  Plus, I have Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.  But it's not my intent to depress you all.

 Anyway . . . I was a very early fan of science fiction and fantasy.  Still am, as a matter of fact . . . and proud of it.  First by watching it, then reading it.  Without SF -- well, I don't want to go there, believe me.  Move forward, and see the results.

 Now I'd like to thank my friend Bill Hillman for the opportunity to write these special words for the world to see and feel.  And to all my Facebook friends, as well as my musical influences like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Kansas, ABBA, the Eagles et al.

 Because of all these -- especially the genius and innovation of ERB -- I am me.

Thomas R. Skidmore Pittsburgh, PA December 3, 2011


From the depths of Mars' realm you came to ease my saddened heart.
O Red Planet Queen, speak your name.  As one, we'll never part.

A stranger to you I may seem, yet my motive's so true.
In your life's such a surreal dream; no more will I feel blue.

For love's honor I will defend with my very last breath.
Your sweet kiss soothes now me no end; thus I’ll fear no death!

Queen of Mars, pure of heart and form, with you here I'm alive.
Through sunshine and many a storm, together we will thrive!

 --Thomas R. Skidmore, with due thanks to the works of the legendary

(a newly discovered chapter in the Barsoomian Chronicles)
Sent by Sabrok Kans, the Barsoomian hermit;
Transcribed by
Thomas R. Skidmore

It seems strange to me that this so-called “diary” should come to me now when all about me is ready to go into the pits.  What I mean is that all known civilization is due to collapse while the rest of all life here on Barsoom goes merrily on and on, with nary a care as if nothing will happen.  That’s the thing with us, I suppose.

But…getting back to the matter of this diary:

I find the contents of this to be utterly…intriguing, to say the least.  To say the most, I find it almost laughable…if the "author" perceived himself to be a madman … or worse.  But, who am I to say?  It’s not my place to judge a man based on what he chooses to write, or believe, or whatever he may be . . . .

And so, out of that which you Jasoomians call "the good neighbour policy," I present to you, as a gift, the diary of the Lost Man of Barsoom, named Skid-Ric.

The story starts at ERBzine 3647

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