Most series follow a classical and historical timeline where the hero arrives, continues through adventure after adventure, then dies with their adventures chronicled in proper order, Conan the Barbarian being an exception to this as Howard chronicles those adventures as they were told to him, out-of-order, by some guy he met in a bar.
Although the Mars Novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs follow a generally accurate order, occasionally, I wonder if Chessmen and an occasional other novel, were describing an earlier adventures that John Carter recalled out-of-order simply because he was playing Chess with Ed Burroughs. Generally, though, it is easy to create a timeline for John Carter, Tarzan and other such heroes.
With Maureen Birnbaum, this is more difficult as she possess the ability to traverse time as well as space and her comments about other adventures make creating a chronology of her adventures difficult.
For those who have been living on Amtor, Maureen Danielle Birnbaum is an ageless and immortal JAP who possesses the ability to traverse time and space by mental power alone in a manner similar to that of John Carter. She has visited both Barsoom and Pellucidar and seeks to return to the former to wed her one true love, Prince Val, but her aim is a bit off, thus her undesired adventures, some of which were chronicled by Elizabeth Spiegelman. Said Known adventures (and publication date) are:
Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson (1982)Ms Spiegelman then forwards these stories to George Alec Effinger who publishes them for our enjoyment. To date, there are an even dozen Maureen stories but she mentions that she has had many more, leaving the reader to wish that she would return to enlighten Elizabeth or Elizabeth’s son with further adventures. The problem is that with few exceptions, there is no solid way to date her adventures.
MB at the Earth’s Core (1986)
MB on the Art of War (1987)
MB’s Lunar Adventure (1986)
MB After Dark (1989)
MB goes Shopynge (1991)
MB and the Saint Graal (1993?)
MB and the Looming Awfulness (1993?)
MB on a Hot Tin Roof (1994)
MB in the MUD (1995)
MB pokes an Eye Out (1996)
Here is what we know about Maureen Birnbaum.
- *She attended the Greenberg School with her best friend, Elizabeth Spiegelman who was a year older with whom she shared a room for three years. [ref: MB, Barbarian Swordsperson] She was 14 to 16 during this time.
- *She studied fencing for six weeks at Greenberg under Miss Duplante. [ref: MB, Barbarian Swordsperson]
- *She has black hair, [ref: MB, Barbarian Swordsperson], is a full-figured girl with broad hips and a respectable chest size [ref: MB on the Art of War] though in her Lunar Adventure she describes herself as having an ‘ample figure’. She mentions her ‘chubby thighs’ in MB and the Saint Graal. No thin and athletic action heroine our Maureen despite the common illustrations.
- *Is a virgin [ref: MB and the Saint Graal] because she never found the time to lose it, what with High School, Mars and the like.
- *Although is Jewish, she has a strong affection for The Triple Mother Goddess [ref: MB and the Saint Graal]
- *Is immortal with the ability to heal her wounds almost instantly [ref: MB on the Art of War & MB in the MUD].
- *Suspects that she may have a premature case of Alzheimer’s Disease because of her inability to remember all of her adventures and her getting lost in jungles more often than before [MB at the Looming Awfulness]
- *Carries cash in the left cup of her gold bra with her stepmother’s credit card in the right cup. [MB at the Looming Awfulness]
- *Is left-handed [ref: MB Pokes an Eye Out]
- *Remains looking and acting 16 regardless of how old she is [ref: MB on the Art of War, MBs Lunar Adventure etc]. A definite case of the Peter pan Syndrome.
Maureen’s first adventure was to Barsoom where she met Prince Van to whom she seeks to return with unpredictable results. A second adventure led her to Pellucidar followed by other worlds and other times. The problem is that of actually deciding which adventure goes where and trying to plug the holes as she, herself, admits that she has had many adventures that she has not described or even remembered. Each story begins with Maureen visiting her BFF (and long suffering girlfriend) to describe an adventure which one assumes is recent, but may not be. But let us continue.
Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson- published 1982.
Refers to the Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Maureen is vacationing at the Mad River Glen ski resort in Vermont (about 20-30 miles west of Montpelier in early January (year unknown) when she becomes ‘separated’ from her body. She stands, naked, in the snow next to her body, then whooshes to Mars. While there she meets the blonde Prince Van and falls in love after assisting him to kill a hoard of 12’ Green Men who had slaughtered his siblings and retinue. She later leaves Mars when she learns that there is no marriage on that world and arrives in NYC where she recounts her adventure to Elizabeth.
We have a number of confusing clues here which may or may not aid us in determining the exact dates of her first adventure. Fortunately we have a few statements from MB at the Earth’s Core to help us date this but for now I will focus only on the First Adventure. Elizabeth mentions that Maureen was MISSING for a full week then returned to New York City on 15 January (year unknown). Thus she left Vermont to Mars around 8 January of that year. Elizabeth was told to wait a full year before publishing that story but Elizabeth waited only 10 months, publishing it in October 1982. Thus Maureen went to Mars on 8 January of 1982 at age 16 which places her birth year at 1965 +/- one year. As Elizabeth was one year older than was Maureen, Elizabeth was born in 1966 +/- one year.
Maureen describes being on the ski slope, in proper clothing and waiting for her turn to ski down the slope, when she simply collapsed and found her naked ‘body’ standing next to her ‘dead’ and clothed body. A week later she returns to Earth, on the corner of 8th Avenue and 435th Street, New York City then walked to her hotel but Elizabeth refers to her as MISSING for a week.
What happened to her body which had collapsed in full view of other skiers? Remember, she was NOT in some isolated forest but standing in line at the ski-lift of a popular resort. If she was ‘gone’ for a week, the paramedics at the resort would have notified her parents and word would have gotten out to cause Elizabeth to declare “Betsy, you are supposed to be dead! They found your body in Vermont! Your funeral is next week!”
With John Carter, his body remained on Earth in that Arizona cave awaiting his return ten years later, intact and healthy. With Maureen Birnbaum, her body vanished in sight of the other skiers. My only solution is that while JC had to learn how to Transit between Barsoom and Earth, a skill he learned from Kar Komak of Lothar, MB had this knowledge without realizing it. No, this cannot be as JC created a physical body and Harness on Earth that could interact with Earthly matter. It is presumed that JC’s earthly body remained in that funeral vault on the Hudson River and his visits to his nephew were via a body created by his will alone.
I presume that, like JC, Maureen’s ‘Astral Body’ had become separated from her ‘Physical Body’ but unlike John Carter, when Maureen ‘whooshed’ (her words) to Mars, she dragged her physical body with her, her clothes and other inanimate objects failing to survive the transit and being lost in space. Thus, unlike John Carter who ‘created’ a physical body on Barsoom to inhabit, Maureen simply reentered her physical body and continued, naked.
As for Mars, Maureen describes it as ‘orange spongey’ and all the ‘humans’ as being blonde and Prince Val states that he has never seen anyone with Black Hair. Val is obviously an Orovar and as the Green Men are only 12’ tall, Maureen must have transited to Mars in the ancient past when the seas were only beginning to dry out, the Green Men had not yet fully bred themselves into their modern 15’ height and the Yellow Men of the far north were not in communication with the Orovars so this was long before the Red Race developed through interbreeding. As Prince Val had no concept of Marriage and showed no remorse for the deaths of his slain siblings and retainers, two things become clear: The Orovars had not yet developed the concept of an actual marriage and Prince Val had serious mental and emotional problems. The fact that Maureen fell in love with him can be explained by her age. Maureen as only 16 and so believed that a ‘schoolgirl crush with a real prince’ was love when it was simply a young girl’s infatuation with the concept of being a Princess and as Maureen remained in the mind and body of a 16 year old schoolgirl, so did her infatuation for Prince Val.
While on Mars, Maureen never really mentions how long she remained on Mars, it is clear from her lack of references to sleeping and eating (“we can’t sleep in the same place, I’m a GOOD GIRL!”), her entire time on Mars could not have been more than a few hours, she still making do on her Vermont Breakfast.
After realizing that marriage was not an option for a young Jewish girl, she simply, and without training or such, ‘whooshed’ back to Earth, arriving in New York City, some 300 miles away from her point-of-departure a week later.
Thus, Maureen went from 8 January 1982 Vermont to 100,000bce Mars then to 15 January New York City. She traveled through time as well as space and this fact is vital to understanding Chapter 2!
Why did Maureen NOT return to her body in Vermont as did John Carter to his in Arizona? When John Carter returned to Earth, after spending ten years on Mars and returning 10 years later, his Martian Body vanished. This has always bothered me and I hope that Den Valdron addresses this problem. When John Carter left Earth for Mars, his physical body remained behind and he arrived, naked, on Barsoom ina ‘created’ body. After ten years, he went to the Atmosphere Plant to open the doors and save Barsoom. BUT, although his Barsoomian Body was ‘created’, he was wearing normal Barsomian Harness & Weapons. Ten Years later when John Carter returned to Dor, he was told, “You vanished from the Atmosphere Plant!” Not, “you vanished, leaving only your harness and weapons.” When John Carter went from Earth to Barsoom, he arrived in Real Time (note that Ulyssus Paxton used a telescope to observe the War in Europe so their time was real time and not the ancient past), naked but his clothes remained on his Physical Body in that Arizona Cave. When he left Barsoom, he was dressed in his Harness & Weapons but arrived in his body wearing his Earth Clothes. WHERE did his Harness & Weapons go?
When Maureen returned to Earth, she landed 300 miles away from the Vermont Ski Resort wearing not her ski parks and boots but wearing the Harness & weapon she had donned while on Mars! How did she manage to bring Betsy, her trusty saber, and her Harness to Earth?
My only solution was that when Maureen ‘whooshed’ to Mars, her physical body was dragged along, her non-biological clothes vanishing in transit. Unlike John Carter who ‘created’ a new physical body upon arrival, a body that vanished when he returned to Earth after the Atmosphere Plant incident, Maureen’s body went with her ‘astral’ body. Upon returning to Earth, Maureen was wearing a gold g-string and leather straps across her shoulders which Elizabeth later describes as being like suspenders. I suspect that they crossed at her back and came down in front to cover, at least, part of her ample breasts because she had gained the innate ability to transport matter with her when both John Carter and Ulyssus Paxton could do neither.
I should like to point out at this time that every illustration that we have of Maureen shows a thin busty woman of adult age. This contradicts both Elizabeths and Maureen’s description of her as being 16 years old, full figured, busty, broad hips, overweight, chubby thighs and the like, an image that remained true throughout her entire adventures. Maureen was overweight by at least 15 pounds but less than 50. Obviously the artists took considerable liberty with her images. It was later that Maureen switched from the straps to a bra to prevent what she referred to as ‘harmonic motion’ of her pendulous breasts getting in the way of her fighting. The fact that she WAS able to fight and win indicates that her excess weight was not so great as to be debilitating.
Once on Earth, she immediately visited a certain hotel where Elizabeth found her was drinking Bloody Mary’s and smoking at the hotel where she was staying. As the legal drinking age in 1982 in New York City was 18, the hotel obviously ignored State Law. Why? And why did the Hotel give Maureen a room, dressed in a g-string and gold straps as she was?
The only solution was that Maureen’s father, a contract lawyer, was wealthy enough and a regular guest at that hotel for the Manager to recognize Maureen, give her a room with the understanding that they would bill her father, and ignore the drinking age laws to keep her father happy. Perhaps the hotel was one of her father’s clients?
Maureen and Elizabeth went shopping, using Elizabeth’s Mother’s credit card which ran up a bill of $500. Apparently, Maureen never repaid that ‘loan’ and left for Mars that night. She also mentions that she intended to return to Mars, teach Prince Val about marriage and settle in as a ‘real’ princess. But that is for the next chapter.
Maureen mentions that everyone spoke English so Maureen must have been gifted with telepathy as a well as with eternal youth and immortality and the ability to transport material objects. It is unknown how this happened and I will entertain theories.
OUR TIMELINE IS:
- 1964- Elizabeth Speigleman is born.
- 1965- Maureen Birnbaum is born
- 1979, Aug- Maureen attends the Greenberg School as a Freshman and rooms with Elizabeth.
- 1980, Aug(?)- Maureen studies Fencing for 6 weeks under Ms Duplante as a Sophmore.
- At age 14, she fears that she became pregnant by French-kissing a boy from Waite-Hoyt Junior High, a tribute to the American fear of sex-education even then.
- Maureen studies Woman’s Studies under Miss Stickney.
- About that time she begins to date an unnamed College Freshman. I suspect that a combination of her Jewish upbringing and her earlier pregnancy scare kept her virginity intact and she was a ‘good girl’ as was the custom in those days.
- 1982, Jan- Maureen goes to Mad River Glen Ski Resort in Vermont (20-30 miles west of Montpiler) to ski, dies of an unknown reason, and transits to Mars c100,000 bce
- Maureen spends a few hours on Mars, then returns to Earth.
- 1982, 15 Jan 1982- Maureen returns to Earth, NYC. She stays in room 1623 of a well-known hotel within walking distance of 8th Avenue and 435th Street, somewhere in Scarsdale.
- Maureen and Elizabeth go shopping and Maureen spends $400 on clothes and accessories.
- 1982, 15 Jan- Maureen leaves Earth for Mars.
- 1982, Nov- Elizabeth published Maureen’s adventure, two months early.Pics:
MB1- Maureen Birnbaum on Mars
MB1a- Map of New England
MB1b- Timeline of MBBS
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CONTINUED IN PART II
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