and welcome to the twenty-seventh issue of Galaxy’s Edge.
issue features new stories by new and newer writers Lou J Berger, Leena
Likitalo, J. P. Sullivan, Edward M. Lerner, Rachelle Harp, Stephen Lawson,
Gregor Hartmann, and a couple of not-so-new ones, Paul Di Filippo and Gordon
Eklund, plus some classic reprints from some classic and classy writers, Jody
Lynn Nye, Michael Swanwick, Kay Kenyon, and Jack McDevitt. Also on hand are
Bill Fawcett and Jody Lynn Nye to recommend some books, and Gregory Benford’s
regular science column. And this month we introduce our new columnist on
literary matters, Hugo/Nebula/Aurora/Seiun sho winner Robert J. Sawyer. The Joy
Ward interview this issue is with Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf.
and we start the serialization of Daughter of Elysium by two time John
W. Campbell Award winner, Joan Slonczewski.
* * *
difficult to imagine it today, but half a century ago Edgar Rice Burroughs was
considered to be strictly a children's writer. Only a handful of his books were
in print, eight or nine Tarzan titles, and they were published as a matched,
cheap ($1 apiece) set of hardcovers by Grosset & Dunlap. The only place you
could find them was in the juvenile or young adult section of your local
Amtor? Pellucidar? If you were born after 1940, there was an excellent chance
you didn't know they existed. Yes, ERB, Inc. reprinted the Mars and Venus
books, but their distribution was dreadful. For example, in Chicago, where I grew
up—the second-biggest city in America—only one establishment, Carson Pirie
Scott (a department store, not a bookstore) carried the ERB, Inc. reprints in
that was soon to change.
still remember the first of the Ace reprints—it was half of The Moon Maid
(Ace specialized in splitting any ERB book that was, well, split-able) with a
cover by Roy G. Krenkel.
fiction by Mr. Tarzan? Science fiction that wasn't set on Barsoom or Amtor?
bought a copy. So did thousands of others.
pretty soon we began to realize the full extent of ERB's vast
imagination—Africa, Mars, Venus, Pellucidar, the Moon, Poloda, Caspak, the
Niocine, the Apache books, the cowboy books. And we discovered two brilliant
artists who came to be associated with him in the 1960s as J. Allen St. John
had been in the 1920s and 1930s—Frank Frazetta and Roy G. Krenkel.
just about the time Burroughs fans thought things couldn't get any better,
especially after that long drought when so much of his work was out of print,
presumably forever, Dick Lupoff took over the editorship of Canaveral Press.
Not only did Canaveral print hardcovers of known titles, but they began
bringing out brand-new Burroughs titles as well, titles that had been locked
away in ERB’s safe and unpublished during his lifetime.
ERB, Inc. got into the act itself, bringing out I Am a Barbarian.
this plethora of Burroughs titles, of course fandom began getting organized.
The Burroughs Bibliophiles were formed at the 1962 Worldcon in Chicago, and
Vernell Coriell resurrected the Burroughs Bulletin. Peter Ogden was
publishing ERBania, and then Camille Cazedessus brought out ERB-dom,
and Paul Allen followed with The Barsoomian.
artists started getting noticed. Jeff Jones was probably the best of them, but
there was Larry Ivie, and Neal Maconald, and Bob Barrett, and a host of others.
1965, the Burroughs fans, declining to follow the Worldcon across the ocean to
England, held their first independent Dum-Dum in Chicago. It was a smashing success.
1966, the Burroughs Wave was riding high. ERB-dom became the first (and
only) Burroughs fanzine to win the Best Fanzine Hugo. The Barsoom novels were
nominated for Best All-Time Series (along with Tolkein's Lord of the Rings,
Heinlein's Future History series, Doc Smith's Lensman series, and the eventual
winner, Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, which was definitely not shoddy
company for old Edgar to find himself in), and Frank Frazetta picked up the
Hugo as Best Pro Artist (an award Roy Krenkel had won three years earlier).
titles were appearing all the time. Tarzan and the Madman. The Wizard
of Venus. Tarzan and the Castaways. Savage Pellucidar. A
two-in-one hardcover of the Tarzan Twins books, which had been
prohibitively expensive for a third of a century. Word came that they'd
uncovered the rumored-but-never-seen Marcia of the Doorstep. Irwin
Porges was working on his massive ERB biography. The Burroughs family hired Bob
Hodes to run the corporation, and soon Hodes had Tarzan and John Carter back in
the comic books, and plans were afoot for the movie that eventually became Greystoke.
then, not overnight, not so fast that anyone noticed it, the wave was gone. Oh,
the Burroughs books remained in print for the most part, and before too long George
McWhorter began a new and beautiful incarnation of the Burroughs Bulletin,
and the Dum-Dums continued, and Disney made a mint on its animated Tarzan
movie—but that first flush of excitement was gone.
Dum-Dums haven't been held in conjunction with the Worldcon for thirty-five
years now, and that's probably fitting, since neither seems to have any great
interest in the other. Burroughs, who once couldn't get onto the shelves of
some public libraries, is now so respected that a few years back I was asked to
write an introduction to the University of Nebraska's reprint of The Land
That Time Forgot.
and his work are on dozens of web pages. Colleges now concede his importance to
the field of science fiction. Major movie studios have renewed their interest
in Tarzan, which also became a musical play on Broadway. Disney came out with a
live-action John Carter film. ERB is here to stay this time.
there will never again be the excitement and the sense of discovery his work
generated in the 1960s. He's better known, better respected, more widely read
now, his fandom's better organized, his reputation has been rebuilt—but I wish
you could have been around then, when the world was just finding him
was really something to behold.