Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Postmodern and Apochryphal Barsooms

...being a short compilation of resources associated with Mars/Barsoom and how it has evolved into a shared world within the Public Domain and beyond...
Last Updated: April 20, 2011

Postmodern Barsoom, by Den Valdron
A good introductory article that opens the way to Mr. Valdron's more detailed and far more engaging two-parter on all things fictionally martian--

H. G. Well's Barsoom, by Den Valdron
Another rather fine article by Mr. Valdron that further investigates the ongoing admixture and adulteration of Barsoom with Wellsian bits, or is it Well's Mars with Burroughsian pieces? Either way it's a lot of fun and now an established literary tradition, so why not muck about with it a bit yourself?

Apochryphal Barsooms, Part 1, by Den Valdron
Apochryphal Barsooms, Part 2, by Den Valdron
Den Valdron essentially states up front that he considers Barsoom to be a shared world. He backs this premise up with a two-part article that will give you a lot to mull over. He opens some intriguing doors and makes a lot of interesting connections concerning the various fictional approaches to Mars. Very useful stuff if you're at all interested in the roots of the Sword & Planet genre, and would like an expanded palette of literary references with which to experiment and work with on your own Sword & Planet projects.

What We Know of Mars, by Edward S. Holden
This article at ERB-zine has newspaper clippings, picks a fight with Tesla and gives us some nice old fashioned maps of Mars. Well worth taking a look.

Invasive Techniques: An Analysis of the Sarmaks and Other 'Martian Invaders' by Dennis Power and Dr. Peter Coogan.
This is a very wide-ranging article that veers wildly across a wide array of literary universes in its effort to nail down just who, what and where the Martian Invaders from Wells' novel came from--and how they fit into Burrough's Barsoom and other fictional versions of Mars. It's quite a tour de force.

The French Wold Newton Universe: Mars in the Shadows, a Hundred Year Retrospective by Jacques Garin
This is a wonderful reference and resource for getting started with the impressive accumulation of French fictional explorations of Mars. Edgar Allen Poe on Mars is the least of the wonderful oddness involved.

Prisoner of Mars/ War of the Vampires by Gustave Le Rouge
Erloors=bat-winged vampires from Mars who serve a Great Brain. The hero builds a psychic-powered rocket-ship with the help of a friendly Hindu who might or might not have been Captain Nemo in disguise. This is one of those bizarre books that combines science, mysticism, and pulp adventure in equal proportions. A quick review of the combined edition is available at Vintage Pop Fictions, and Black Coat Press has brought out a very nice edition that combines both The Prisoner of Mars and The Vampires of Mars as translated by Brian Stableford. It's $15. Come on.

The Red Star, by Alexander Bogdanov
Introduces the 'etheroneph', a nuclear photonic rocket. Yep. Socialists on Mars, nuclear rockets, murder in space, extreme apathy, and androgynous doctors to help you sleep better on the rocket to Mars. How'd this never set the literary world on fire? This one might have to wait a while. Even advanced insomnia has it's limits...


  1. This is really interesting. I don't think I've seen any of these.

  2. @The Drune: That's our goal. We're always looking for stuff we can bring to our readers that they might not have seen before...

  3. Very cool. You guys are always scouring the internet for wonderful stuff so I don't have to. ;)

  4. Well, you just stocked my iPhone with some nice Easter-weekend reading. :)

  5. @Trey: Always glad to be of service, especially when some of our readers are armed with their own personal Interocitor...

    @Risus Monkey: Enjoy the reading--it's just the tip of the ice berg, really, and we'll add a few more entries to this post later on, like the whole Dispatches From the Front stuff (where Sarmak's get named...)

  6. I'm very flattered. Thanks for the heads up
    yours truly
    Den Valdron

  7. @Den V.: Sir, you have written some truly interesting articles that we have really enjoyed a great deal. Thank you for all your hard work in crafting those essays. You've given people a lot to think about, write about and possibly to game about as well.

  8. Thanks for this compilation. I've used some of the ideas for my own world - for example combining the kaldanes from Barsoom and the martian invaders from War of the Worlds.

  9. @Anarchist: The connection just seems like one of those smooth and elegant solutions that makes it all that much more fun and intriguing. Once you merge the Kaldanes with the Wellsian-Martians...things get mighty interesting...

  10. I think you could probably work John Christopher's Tripods books in pretty easily as well.

  11. There's an unofficial OD&D supplement called 'Adventures on Mars' which is along those lines: http://www.scribd.com/doc/38636721/Adventures-on-Mars

  12. Hehe, "The Red Star" was VERY influential in the socialist world. In fact, the superior socialist civilization on Bodgdanov's Mars was the reason the U.S.S.R. used the Red Star as a symbol, becoming not only one of the first modern states to not only not reference a geography in its name, but also to reference another world in its iconography.

    Thank you for this very resource rich post with many things that I have not seen listed before.

  13. Glad to be of service! This is all fascinating stuff, and hopefully we'll get more research-time again soon...

  14. I wrote an article a while ago that might be of interest. Maybe you'd like to add it to your list?

    Carcosa Is Ancient Barsoom

    In the comments I also worked in Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.


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