Tuesday, June 26, 2012

John Carter is 100

John Carter is 100.

Title and Artist unknown

Yes, the man of Barsoom (Mars) was published in a pulp magazine(The All-Story 1912) as a series called “Under the Moons of Mars.” John really did not get published in novel form until 1917, when another character, Tarzan, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs became very popular. Although I had seen a few of the classic Tarzan movies, Burroughs, Carter and Tarzan entered my realm while I was in high school when my friend, Steve, showed me book one of the Carter series, A Princess of Mars.

I have read all twelve of the Barsoom series and most of the twenty-four of the Tarzan series. Burroughs is a favorite author. And I am very fond of John Carter and Tarzan.

John Carter of Mars by Frank Frazzetta
It was good to see John Carter in the recent film. I had been waiting for years to have Mars come to life on the big screen. Although a film cannot hold up to the book, the creators did a good job keeping the integrity of the Barsoomian story line. The key word is integrity. The movie held the elements of what Burroughs created with the four-armed aggressive Tharks, Carter’s super-barsoomian strength and agility and the culture and setting of Mars and it’s inhabitants. I admit that I have not read the books for 30 years, but the movie did capture the world Burroughs created.
Barsoom by Boris

But back to the celebration of John Carter. His story has captured many artists' imagination and creativity. They, in turn, have caught much of the evolution of this 100 year old man. It is awesome, classic science fiction art. The art holds drama and beauty.Yes, and limited clothing. Burroughs painted Mars as a dry, hot and dying planet.

And Dejah Thoris is one of the deadliest beauties of the nine planets (Pluto still counted then). It is interesting that they the put her in John's protection even though she is known as a warrior princess.

I am still intrigued by this hero.

Happy Birthday John!!

Friday, January 27, 2012


I must be doing something right.

R2-D2 photo from
Students who have attended my Science Fiction and Fantasy class email me, text me, post messages to me and even call me about something we have read or have seen in class. Right before I wrote this, Dakota (class of 2012), sent me a picture of R2-D2 from a gas station in Mt Pleasant. It’s in great condition too.
In the class, I share my journey of my scifi-geekness. I tell them about my awakening with Stars Wars back in 1977, where my dad, not a Science Fiction fan, took us to see Star Wars, and I sat opened eyed through the whole movie.

Book cover of Princess of Mars,
by Michael Whelan, 1979
I tell them how Steve, a high school buddy, introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons and the author, Edgar Rice Burroughs who authored the Tarzan series and the Barsoom Series. You will know Barsoom very soon with the release of Disney’s John Carter of Mars (See post on Sept 3, 2011)

We also look at patterns of wishes, the twists of short stories by Asimov and Sheckley and delve into the mystery and intrigue with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have fun with 2001 because some student threaten to use it to punish their future children when they are bad (Paige, class of 2011), but they will also contact me when they see a similarity or reference to the movie.

I have a painting of HAL’s eye from Rebecca (class of 2007, I think). In fact, another student sent me an email about an article she had to read in her education class where 2001 was referenced. And, of course, I have received a few harassing posts (all in fun) on Facebook from other students telling me they saw a reference of 2001 in movies like Willie Wonka or Phineus and Ferb. When I receive these, I laugh and say my work is done.

Thanks to 2001, I have had a couple movie nights with former students watching Kubrick (Ryan and other, class of 2009).

One of the Best of all time.
I always close out the semester with a television favorite, Firefly (2002-03). This show is fantastic. It was a short lived series because Fox decided to run it on Friday nights at 8pm. The audience for this show was not watching at that time slot, a bad decision by Fox. Anyway, at least one student a semester goes out and buys the DVDs, some spend a marathon on Netflix watching it to get all the episodes. I hope Joss Wedon and Tim Minear, the creators, appreciate my dedication.

Yes, it is a fun class. And with the continual contact from past students, I must have done something right.

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