Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Dreamer's Dreamer

We live in a world populated with many dreamers of the day. Often they are also lovers of Science Fiction and Fantasy books and movies.  These dreamers often turn to works from the giants in the fields.  There are certainly no shortages of books and films but I have never met anyone that loved the genres that didn’t tell me of fantastic tales from their own imaginations. These musings equal or at times surpass the works of the masters of the form.  We will never know anything greater than the productions of our own minds, our own “Dream Time.” We imagine the elements of our lives in a heighten fashion and are inspired by the films, writings, and illustrations of others but the longings for the musings of our minds to be executed in some more concrete way are the best. This so that others can join us in our dreaming. There is one great writer that simply put the stories he imagined before falling to sleep at night to page and we have been truly enriched by his doing so. Edgar Rice Burroughs was first a dreamer and than an architect of dreams for himself and the world. He has captivated generations of his readers and those that would create movies, television, animation, music and on and on into every form of creative expression. He has added much to the vast world of the fantastic.
Burroughs was well aware of his prodigious gifts and he was not embarrassed to express what he knew to be a truth:
"...if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines."
Edgar Rice Burroughs
He would go on to write his incredible ideas first as serials in pulp magazines and later as novels. “Tarzan of the Apes” would be his first novel published 100 years ago in 1912 and the same year “A Princess of Mars” which featured the seemingly immortal John Carter or Captain Jack Carter as he was known to his friends as a serial the same year. John Carter would go into a death like state of suspended animation and his spirit was teleported to an identical ageless body on the planet Mars where he was heralded as a warlord.

Opening to “A Princess of Mars”
I am a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am a hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have never aged as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I can recollect I have always been a man, a man of about thirty. I appear today as I did forty years and more ago, and yet I feel that I cannot go on living forever; that someday I shall die the real death from which there is no resurrection. I do not know why I should fear death, I who have died twice and am still alive; but yet I have the same horror of it as you who have never died, and it is because of this terror of death, I believe, that I am so convinced of my mortality.
Edgar Rice Burroughs

John Carter would encounter legions of both heroic and villainous men and humanoids, beautiful women and hoards of terrible, mythic beasts. All this on a planet with gravity and an atmosphere that allowed him super human strength and agility.  He was far superior to the much larger and multi-armed men of Mars. He also possessed the temperament and chivalry of a Virginia Gentleman and this too guided him through his adventures in a much more barbaric and dangerous society.  In all of fiction there is none greater and no more fully developed or imagined character. Later this year Disney will release their film tribute as the self titled “John Carter.” The trailers that have been released seemed to have captured the spirit and look of the amazing tales. I can’t think of a better anniversary tribute to the author and his many fans.

Within the span of his abundantly successful writing career Edgar Rice Burroughs would write short stories and novels of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Westerns, and Mysteries. He would even (at an age when most would be retiring) become a war correspondent during the Second World War. Great writer, great man, the greatest of dreamers and through his writings; not unlike his character, John Carter, very much the immortal. 

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