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Dreaming Again

Grimes and the Gaijin Daimyo the first A Bertram Chandler story to be published in 24 year is now available in the Anthology Dreaming Again edited by Jack Dann.

The E.R.B. Digest No: 1 - Mar 1967
(Cover Harry Habblitz)

The E.R.B. Digest No: 1 - Mar 1967


To begin with, I am not, repeat not, an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan.

I used to be, once, one World War, two marriages and many, many watery miles ago. Recently, however, I have tried to read an occasional current reprint of the Tarzan and Martian novels, but they have just failed to ring any kind of bell insofar as I am concerned. They are not good writing, and they are not even good science fiction. (If you are very lucky, now and again you get both in the same parcel.)


But the ones that I read so many (too many?) years ago stick in the memory. If it hadn’t been for a novel of mine - THE ALTERNATE MARTIANS – I should never have been asked to write this article. (My title, by the way, was THE WORLDS OF THE DREAMERS but, titlewise Ace Books always know best.) The story, such as it was, was yet another variation on the Alternate Universe theme. The basic idea was that various authors - Wells, Burroughs and Stapledon - have written, so to speak, from memory and have described a Red Planet that bears little or no relationship to the Mars of this Universe. My Mars, such as it was, was a most peculiar combination of the Mars of Mr. Wells (THE WAR OF THE WORLDS) and the Mars of Mr. Burroughs.

It must be over forty years ago since I read A PRINCESS OF MARS. Even so, I did have to subject my memory to undue strain to recall the names of the major characters John Carter, Dejah Thoris and Tan Tarkas. (What I did to them was something horrid, but my dreams have been unplagued by Martian swordsmen - white, green, red, yellow or black.)

So much for John Carter and his cobbers. It is a great pity, however, that he, compared to Tarzan, has such a small following. The blame for this, to
a certain extent, rests with Hollywood. Don’t you wish, don’t we all wish that there had been a long, long series of Martian films, as there has been (and still is) a long, long series of Tarzan films?

After a lapse of many a year I saw a Tarzan film recently. It wasn’t intentional on my part; it was merely that it was the minor half of a double feature. (The main item on the programme was George Pal’s ATLANTIS, so bad that it was good...) That film - the Tarzan one - annoyed me. Tarzan, as I recall him, was already quite well educated when he first met Jane Porter. (As a result of an odd combination of circumstances he could read and write English but could speak only French…) The muscle-bound lout on the screen, however, was capable of no more than simian grunts. I couldn’t help wondering how Jane put up with him. (Don’t lets drag Connie Chatterley into this.)

Yes, most of the screen Tarzans have been a sorry lot. Even so, the word “Tarzan” has become part of the English (at least) language. Whether or not Burroughs could write (but tastes change, and Burroughs must have been a superb storyteller for his characters to have lived so long in the memory) he has made his enduring contribution to the mythology of our time. Tarzan stands among the immortals.

And how, dare one ask, does he get along with Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Lady Chatterley, and that recent arrival, Commander James Bond?