15 March 2012

Edgar Rice Burroughs


Since our topic this month is From Steampunk to Time Travel, I thought I’d share some things I learned recently about one of the fathers of science fiction, steampunk, and time travel, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

You probably know that he created John Carter, since the blockbuster movie is now out.  It’s an awesome movie, but it got me thinking – just who is this Edgar Rice Burroughs, anyway?  I made an offhand comment about him to my husband and said that he wrote in the ‘50’s, and my husband corrected me:  he wrote it a hundred years ago!

Wow.

I went digging and found a wonderful site dedicated to the author, here.  He created many of the beloved characters of modern popular culture, including Tarzan and John Carter.  He also wrote Westerns and stories about all sorts of fantastical creatures and life on other planets.  He’s considered an influence on writers such as Ray Bradbury and scientists such as Carl Sagan.

As I watched John Carter the movie, I was struck by how modern it felt, how ‘now.’  That’s the mark of good literature, that it is applicable to any age and is, in effect, timeless.  The original story was written a hundred years ago and, since my husband has read it, he’s reported that the movie stayed fairly faithful to the book.  (As someone who likes to read, write, and watch series, I’m also excited to report that there are many John Carter stories so I hope they’ll continue the movies.)  You can check them out, many for free, or you can get a collection of them for the Nook at Barnes and Noble for $1.99, here.

Turns out our "modern" stories have quite a long lineage.  From Frankenstein's Monster to men from Mars, there's a lot of good classical fiction out there to read.  It's easy to forget that Steampunk isn't the next new thing, it's a reinterpretation of things that have gone before.  What fun it is to poke around in the attic and find lost treasures to enjoy.

Happy reading!
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