Friday, November 26, 2021

The Art of "The Moon Maid"

"The Moon Maid," the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Moon trilogy, was in Argosy All-Story Weekly as a five-part serial, from May 5 through June 2, 1923. As such, it would have been on the newsstand at about the same time as the first four issues of Weird Tales, March through June 1923. Burroughs' new novel was the cover story for the issue of May 5, 1923. The cover artist was P.J. Monahan (1882-1931):

The Moon Maid of the late-century fan's imagination is astride a centaur-like creature. (See the images below.) What the fan forgets is that the Moon Maid, called Nah-ee-lah, has come from a lunar city on mechanical wings. She is free and takes flight. She takes joy and pleasure in flight.

In 1926, A.C. McClurg & Co. published "The Moon Maid" along with the other two books of the trilogy in an omnibus hardbound edition. J. Allen St. John (1872-1957) was the cover artist:

This appears to be a cleaned-up and possibly slightly altered version of the original. If you look closely, you can see that Nah-ee-lah is a captive of the centaur-creature, one of the Va-gas. She is bound to him by a leather strap and is actually pulling away from him. He is not her servant or protector. Remember that part.

Roy G. Krenkel (1918-1983) executed the cover illustration for the Ace paperback edition of 1963. His drawing follows pretty closely St. John's painting from nearly forty years before, but that's mostly because he was instructed to make it so:

As you can see, the strap is gone--or maybe the blue cord now binds her. Although the Moon Maid is still leaning away from the centaur, she looks like he is serving her rather than holding her captive. She also wears a knife on her hip. That's a nice cover, I think. Krenkel liked it, too.

Krenkel was friends with and often worked with Frank Frazetta (1928-2010). Frazetta followed Krenkel and other artists in creating covers for Ace Books and other paperback publishers. Here is his version of The Moon Maid:

What a difference Frazetta made! Under the Frazetta treatment, Burroughs' worlds of the imagination became more powerful, more violent, more mysterious, more erotic. More than half a century younger than Burroughs, Frank Frazetta was influenced by the art and culture of twentieth-century America from which everything Victorian had been completely wrung out. With Burroughs, nineteenth-century sentimentality, moreover that century's all-too-common stilted prose, prevailed. Truth be told, J. Allen St. John, being a near contemporary of the author, was a better fit than later artists. Frazetta was probably too virile and masculine for Burroughs. You could make a case that the stories he told of John Carter, Tarzan, the Moon Maid, and other Burroughs characters were better than Burroughs' own versions. You might say that Frazetta's fantasy was superior, if only for that instant--that height of action and mystery--captured in his arresting images.

Frazetta may actually have read "The Moon Maid," for he brought back the wingèd figures and the sharp peaks from the story and from the Argosy cover of 1923. There are Moon craters, too, but these are in the wrong place: Burroughs' Moon is actually a hollow world, pierced like a whiffle ball with crater-holes, and its people live inside. They are unaware of the outside. (The setting reminds me of the Star Trek episode "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.") Before I ever read "The Moon Maid," long ago when I was a kid and looking at Frank Frazetta's artwork, I thought that the centaur is protecting the Moon Maid. That impression is apparently a holdover from Krenkel's cover and a demonstration of the evolution of an image of culture. This version of Frazetta's Moon Maid is soft, lush, and romantic, like something from a dream.

Frazetta was famous (or infamous) for altering his original paintings. His Moon Maid got the same treatment:

Here the centaur is fiercer still, and there is still the impression that he is the servant and protector of the Moon Maid. Frank Frazetta's famous fanny fetish is on full display here. Nah-ee-lah is fleshy and voluptuous. But then the centaur is also at an extreme--of power, muscularity, and menace. I always wondered about the seeming flight of her mount in this version. The book explains it, that on the Moon, everybody can leap farther, like John Carter on Mars or the first iteration of Superman on Earth. (Hold onto that comparison. It will come again soon.)

I always like to show British and foreign-language versions of American works. Here are two of The Moon Maid:

This is a British edition, published by Tandem in 1975. Unfortunately, the cover artist is unknown. I like the woman's pale-gray hair and insouciant pose. The background is also interesting.

Here is the cover of a Dutch edition, published in 1973 by Ridderhof. I don't think this is really a scene from "The Moon Maid," although there is a catlike creature and a snakelike creature in the story. The cover artist was Jad (1934-2014).

Finally, the Del Rey/Ballantine edition from 1992:

Here in a cover design by Laurence Schwinger (b. 1941) the Moon Maid returns to her origins on the wings of a bird. (There is a wing in his name and several in his picture.) This is perhaps the most romantic of the illustrations shown here. It may also get to something, a change in emphasis from the Moon Maid as a captive--an object of rescue and one to be looked at by men--to a free woman, a figure larger than and superior to all male figures in this picture. In the previous versions, "The Moon Maid" is pretty clearly a fantasy for men, but here the story might be meant to appeal more to women. Women who read it may be disappointed, but then again, maybe not.

Next: The Art of "The Moon Men" & "The Red Hawk"

Text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Internet American Indian Science Fiction Database

I have been writing about Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950), most recently about his Moon trilogy. The last book in his trilogy is "The Red Hawk," a novella set in the far future and the American West. There are American Indians in "The Red Hawk." They are mostly peripheral. The title character, though, dresses something like an Indian. His people live a nomadic existence.

Ace Books published the second and third books of Burroughs' Moon trilogy--"The Moon Men" and "The Red Hawk"--in a single volume entitled The Moon Men (1962). Although it has the same title as the second book, The Moon Men has as its cover illustration a scene from "The Red Hawk." You can see the influence of American Indian dress in Julian 20th's getup:

The illustration is by Ed Emshwiller (1925-1990). The woman is (almost) from another work named "hawk," "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper (1942), which you can see at the Art Institute of Chicago.

I halfway joked about an Internet American Indian Science Fiction Database (IAISFDb). Then I started thinking about it more seriously. I have already had an entry on "American Indians and the American West on the Cover of Weird Tales" on December 15, 2016. I have also written on "Middle American Indians on the Cover of Weird Tales" on December 5, 2016. Using the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDb), I did a search for the word "Indian" in titles. I can't say that this is a definitive list, but for stories appearing in Weird Tales, I found only one, "The Indian Spirit Guide" by Robert Bloch, illustrated by Joseph Doolin, from November 1948. I'm sure there are many more stories about Indians and with Indian characters in Weird Tales. Although The Lurker at the Threshold by August Derleth (1945) was not published in Weird Tales, it of course grew out of H.P. Lovecraft's work in that magazine. One of the characters in that book is Misquamacus, an Indian sorcerer.

The first piece of American Indian science fiction that came to my mind is the Star Trek episode "The Paradise Syndrome," first broadcast on October 4, 1968. We watched that episode not very long ago. It has its good points and bad. It's one of many odd episodes from the third and final season of the show. One noticeable thing about "The Paradise Syndrome" is that it takes place over several months, making it by far the longest episode in terms of time elapsed from beginning to end.

I know there are many science fiction and fantasy stories and novels about American Indians. One that practically jumped off my bookshelf is The Sioux Spaceman by Andre Norton (1960):

The cover illustration is unsigned but is credited to Ed Valigursky (1926-2009). I have never read this book, so I'm not sure what's going on here exactly. If the white men are in bonds, then the situation from "The Red Hawk" is more or less reversed. By the way, Edgar Rice Burroughs was from Chicago, which has as its NHL hockey team the Chicago Blackhawks. Andre Norton was from Cleveland, which has as its Major League Baseball team the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately, the Indians have gone the way of the Washington Redskins. Fortunately, the Atlanta Braves, a great young team, won the World Series this year.

That's a start to the Internet American Indian Science Fiction Database. Feel free to send in more entries in the comments section below.

Text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Summer Reading List No. 12-Maza of the Moon by Otis Adelbert Kline

Maza of the Moon by Otis Adelbert Kline was first published as a four-part serial in Argosy, from December 21, 1929, to January 11, 1930, just as the nation was entering its first few months of a great depression. A.C. McClurg of Chicago reprinted Kline's novel (more properly a romance) in a hardbound edition in March 1930. Avon Comics adapted Maza of the Moon as a one-shot comic book called Rocket to the Moon in 1951. Walter Gibson (1897-1985) is now given credit for the script, with Joe Orlando (1927-1998) and it looks like Wally Wood (1927-1981) as artists. I have the Ace Books paperback edition of Maza of the Moon, published in 1965 with a cover illustration by Frank Frazetta (1928-2010). The events in the book begin just a year before, in 1964. Compare that to 1967 for The Moon Maid.

Otis Adelbert Kline (1891-1946) was younger than fellow Chicagoan Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) by about half a generation. There is a story that Kline and Burroughs were rivals and carried out a literary feud. I don't know anything about that, but it seems to me that Kline and his stories would have been pretty small potatoes to Burroughs. Nonetheless, Maza of the Moon has some real similarities with The Moon Maid, published nearly seven years before in the same magazine (with a different title). It seems clear to me that Kline followed Burroughs' successes by writing in each of the older writer's genres and using all of the same kinds of settings: the Moon, Mars, Venus, the jungles of Earth, and so on.

I'll say straight out that I think Maza of the Moon is a better book than is The Moon Maid. There are a few reasons for that, first of which is that Kline's prose is just plain better. Composed in a more modern style--looser, more informal, more pulpish--Maza of the Moon is actually readable, whereas The Moon Maid is pretty atrociously written. (It's too heavy with Victorian-style prose, a problem, I think, for many nineteenth-century natives who aged into the twentieth.) In some places, Maza is really exciting. There is also a lot of very vivid imagery, especially as the hero first reaches and explores the Moon. On the other hand, like The Moon Maid, Maza of the Moon is unsophisticated, more or less a story for children or adolescents. Its hero is without self-reflection, even after he inadvertently kills off scads of Moon people with a missile he shoots at their home world. In many places, too, Maza of the Moon isn't a novel so much as a simple plot summary. Some of John W. Campbell's early stories have the same kind of simplistic structure in which vast and myriad events are summarized in mere sentences or paragraphs. I guess you've got to tell your whole story within the confines of a popular magazine no matter how much skimping is involved. 

Kline's Moon book has a clever structure. Like a modern-day movie, it has several plot lines running parallel to each other. The story jumps from one to the other, moving all pretty efficiently towards a common climax. The primary plot line is a planetary romance à la ERB in which a Superior Man of Earth journeys to another world, goes through wild adventures and escapes, defeats his enemies, and wins the woman of his dreams. A secondary plot line tells of how men of the Moon invade Earth and wreak havoc here. There is also a 1930s-style super-science plot line and an Alien Abduction plot line (was that a first?), as well as elements of the older Yellow Peril-type story, what is now called an Edisonade (also an older story type), and an account of Ancient Astronauts (something new for the twentieth century). In other words, there is something for everyone in Maza of the Moon. Kline could probably have sold it to any pulp title.

As in Burroughs' Mars and Moon novels, the planetary romance part of Maza of the Moon offers a lot of description of the peoples of the Moon, their culture, their civilization, and so on. It's the same kind of ethnological and anthropological exploration you will find not only in Burroughs' work but also in other Lost Worlds-type stories. If Lost Worlds are descended from stories of Utopia, then there is a utopian element in Maza, perhaps the elusive conservative Utopia of legend. More interesting, I think, is the Alien Invasion plot line, for that is less like Burroughs than it is like H.G. Wells, or even Charles Fort. In Burroughs' earlier book The Moon Men, the Kalkars establish a tyrannical regime on Earth, in other words, a Dystopia. In Maza of the Moon, the invasion coming from our lone satellite (a former planet, by the way, one that made war long ago with Mars) is more nearly apocalyptic.

I think there is an important distinction to be made in that last part, for the Alien Invasion-type story can be either dystopian or apocalyptic. In some people's minds, there isn't much distinction to be made between Dystopia and Apocalypse. (They are especially loose with the term Dystopia. To them, Dystopia is anything unpleasant, even if its only mildly unpleasant.) In some works of fiction, one leads into the other, either by design or by happenstance. Anthem by Ayn Rand (1938) is an example of a post-apocalyptic Dystopia. THX 1138 (1971) and Logan's Run (1976) are two cinematic iterations of the type. Contrast these works with Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003), in which Apocalypse follows Dystopia--or brings it to an end. The main action in that novel is set in a Post-Apocalypse.

I think it's important to be precise in these things, though. I think that, narrowly defined, Dystopia describes a society that is perfectly awful and at the same time sophisticated, carefully constructed, carefully maintained. Order and stasis are its main features. It is, in other words, anti-utopian, but it is also, in a different way, anti-apocalyptic, for Apocalypse is chaotic, violent, destructive. And a post-apocalyptic world is one in which everything has broken down, in which structures are simple, if they exist at all, and in which there isn't any great thing either made or maintained. There just aren't the resources for it any longer, especially the resources of mind and heart and demography. Dystopia is not Apocalypse is not Post-Apocalypse. That's how I see it.

I'll have more on these things later, as I always do.

* * *

There are lots of interesting things in Maza of the Moon. I won't go into all of them, but there are:

  • Voice-activated communications (pp. 5-6) and Zoom-like visual communications (pp. 5-6)
  • Solar power (p. 6) and parabolic antennas (p. 91)
  • Atomic power (p. 6) and an explosion that destroys an island in the Pacific Ocean, sending up a great mushroom cloud in the process (pp. 10-11)
  • A United Nations-like organization (p. 6)
  • An Elon Musk-like entrepreneur in the protagonist (pp. 6-7)
  • Supersonic aircraft (p. 8), an airship (p. 9), anti-missile batteries (p. 31), and force fields (p. 133)
  • Eruptions, observed by telescope, on a distant world, which result in an airborne attack on London (p. 16) and two skyscrapers destroyed in New York City: They "toppled to the street, adding to the shambles as panic-stricken people scurrying for shelter were crushed in the ruins." (p. 17)

There are also . . . light sabers! "In her [Maza's] right hand was a short, tubular instrument which greatly resembled a flashlight," the source of a "bright, red ray" used to cut the poor hero loose from his bonds as if he were engulfed by the Sarlacc. (pp. 50 & 49)

And there is . . . a Death Star attack! "Shooting up from the center of the crater [Copernicus] was a bright band of green light." A scientists explains: "'If powerful enough, the green rays will contract and destroy all matter with which they come in contact'." (p. 98) (Han Solo was right: that is a moon.)

And there are . . . UFOs on the Moon! (p. 43) And in the skies above Earth! (p. 73) The Moon people come to Earth in flying globes rather than flying discs, but these are, I think, antecedents to flying saucers and perhaps inspired by the earlier works of Charles Fort.

* * *

So in Maza of the Moon, Otis Adelbert Kline told a Lost Worlds-type story concurrently with an Alien Invasion-type story. He effectively one-upped Burroughs by combining the events of The Moon Maid with those of The Moon Men, all in a single novel-length serial. And his Moon men are defeated in the end and everybody lives happily ever after. Kline may have drawn inspiration from (or copied) Edgar Rice Burroughs, but he was also clearly influenced by H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (1896) and perhaps also Charles Fort's speculations about interplanetary warfare and visitors coming to Earth from other worlds, haunting our skies in their wondrous craft based on the circle . . .

And speaking of circles, in ending this series, I have circled back to my previous one. But I have three other things to write and show first. Then it's on to a conclusion of "Utopia & Dystopia in Weird Tales."

Argosy, December 21, 1929, with cover art by Robert A. Graef (1879-1951). Note the cinnamon-roll hairstyle like Princess Leia's and the battle of the red versus the green light sabers.

Original text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, November 8, 2021

Summer Reading List No. 11-The Red Hawk by Edgar Rice Burroughs

"The Red Hawk" is a short sequel to "The Moon Men" and wraps up Edgar Rice Burroughs' Moon trilogy. It was originally published in Argosy All-Story Weekly as a three-part serial from September 5 to September 19, 1925. Ace Books reprinted it with "The Moon Men" in a paperback edition from 1962.

"The Red Hawk" picks up in about the twenty-fourth-and-a-half century, more than three hundred years after Julian 9th's revolt, which took place in 2122 (one hundred years and a year from now). The protagonist of "The Red Hawk" is Julian 20th, a leader of a clan of nomadic peoples living in the American Southwest. The title "The Red Hawk" refers to him, who has as his totem the red-tailed hawk.

"The Red Hawk" is a post-apocalyptic story. Its people have regressed into a society in which men are tested, by nature and the elements, more so by each other and in combat against the Moon Men. If the primitive and warlike society in which men test themselves is the conservative Utopia, then "The Red Hawk," like Burroughs' Mars novels, can be considered one of that type. And if there is an Internet American Indian Science Fiction Database (IAISFDb), then "The Red Hawk" would have a place there. Unfortunately, Julian 20th and his people keep Indians as slaves. But these Indians abide and the Red Hawk and his people move on, against the Kalkars and their human allies.

In that distant future, the Kalkars are no longer in touch with their fellows on the Moon. They are cut off from their home world and have been pushed back to a redoubt in southern California. Though still in place, the Dystopia of the Moon Men is in retreat. One characteristic of Kalkar society is forced breeding of girls and women, from age fifteen until they reach age thirty and are still childless, or age fifty as a rule, when "their usefulness to the State is over." (p. 170) The purpose is to breed warriors. It may be axiomatic that a dystopian society is always at war and always in need of warriors. In any case, in the minds of real-world utopians, Society is coterminous with the State, and what's good for Society is good for the State. Never mind the individual.

In "The Moon Men," Julian 9th understands that human society is decaying and that religion and faith in God are disappearing. In "The Red Hawk," things have reached such a state that Julian 20th believes that the earth is flat and that it was created by the American Flag, which is his object of worship. His brother, a man of ideas, tries to convince him that the earth is in fact round, but even in the end, Julian 20th still holds to his beliefs, even if he has grown in other ways. He may be one of few Burroughs heroes who grows over the course of his story.

"The Red Hawk" ends quickly enough with a victory of the men of Earth over the Kalkars, long ago of the Moon. Along the way, Julian 20th gets with Bethelda, a descendant of Orthis, and so the multigenerational feud between these two families ends. "The Red Hawk" ends, too, with the one Flag--the formerly forbidden Stars and Stripes--raised once again over America. "The Red Hawk" is a strange kind of story. There are many admirable things about Burroughs' society of the future, but there are also things that are not at all admirable. In other words, he wrote about one possible of many human societies.

* * *

"The Moon Men" as an Alien Invasion type-story is admittedly self-conscious in its connection to the dystopian-type story. Put another way, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote his book first as a Dystopia before converting it to an Alien Invasion story. An unselfconscious story of Alien Invasion/Dystopia, if there is one, might be a better example of how these two types are connected. But there were precedents--or at least one precedent, H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds--to "The Moon Men," and there were certainly successors to it. One of those was in Weird Tales in the same year in which "The Moon Men" and "The Red Hawk" were first published. But more on that after another Moon book.

Argosy All-Story Weekly, September 5, 1925, with a cover story "The Red Hawk" by Edgar Rice Burroughs and cover art by Modest Stein (1871-1958). Ironically, Stein was an Anarchist and a sympathizer with the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, his native country. But then even Anarchists and Bolsheviks have bills to pay, and so they are forced to illustrate stories written by reactionary puppets of the bourgeois regime. 

Text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

The Moon Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs-Part Two

The subject is Edgar Rice Burroughs' Moon trilogy:

Julian 5th and his crew land on the Moon in 2026. They stay for ten years, returning to Earth in 2036. Later that year, Julian 6th, son of Julian 5th and Nah-ee-lah, the Moon Maid, is born. Thus "The Moon Maid" ends. More accurately, it ends in 1967 as the Transoceanic Liner Harding arrives in Paris and Julian 5th ends his recounting of the years he and his men spent (or will spend) on the Moon. If you were reading "The Moon Maid" in 1923, you would have had to wait two years to find out what happens next: more time travel required.

The next installment in Burroughs' Moon trilogy is "The Moon Men," which picks up again in 1969. The narrator from "The Moon Maid" returns, carrying with him his customary framing device. A later incarnation of Julian--this one is Julian 9th--tells that narrator his story. When "The Moon Men" begins, the narrator is at a camp fifty miles southeast of Herschel Island in the Yukon, so we might add the introduction of "The Moon Men" to the Polar Fiction Database. Compiled by Laura Kay of Barnard College (I believe also Fauno Lancaster Cordes) the Polar Fiction Database may no longer be accessible on the Internet.

In 2050, Julian 5th's antagonist, named Orthis, returns to Earth, too. He brings with him an invading force of 100,000 Kalkars and 1,000 Va-gas. He also brings his technologically advanced weapons of war. The Kalkars are the Moon Men of the title. The Va-gas are a fierce, primitive, quadrupedal Moon race. (One of them is on the cover of the Ace edition of The Moon Maid.) All are cruel, aggressive, and well armed. The men of Earth on the other hand are almost defenseless, for they have surrendered their weapons and fighting spirit in deference to the International Peace Fleet. That fleet is, I think, descended from and a predecessor to the idea that airships (later flying saucers) are or will be the guarantors of peace on Earth, in other words, our saviors. I'm not sure that Burroughs (1875-1950) deployed his peace fleet in "The Moon Men" in any ironic way. He seems to have believed in certain progressive ideas, including Peace from Above. You can't really blame him. He was, after all, a man of his time.

Half a century passes and Julian 9th is born. The Moon Men have taken over Earth and have instituted oppressive governments worldwide. Julian 9th is born on January 1, 2100, a nice round number. His birthplace is the Teivos of Chicago. "As a boy," Julian 9th remembers, "I played among the crumbling ruins of what must once have been a magnificent city. Pillaged, looted and burned half a hundred times Chicago still reared the skeletons of some mighty edifices above the ashes of her former greatness." (p. 19) It sounds like a contemporary American city in the aftermath of a Mostly Peaceful Protest™, which is  just another expression of the socialist/progressive desire to tear down and destroy everything from the past with which it comes in contact. For the true meaning of the word "Teivos," just read it backwards.

Men of Earth surrendered their weapons before the Moon Men came, thereby setting the stage for their own defeat. But envy had set in, too, and the envious help the Kalkars in their cause:

     There might have been some hope had the earth men banded together against the common enemy, but this they did not do. Elements which had been discontented with this or that phase of government joined issue with the invaders. The lazy, the inefficient, the defective, who ever place the blame for their failures upon the shoulders of the successful, swarmed to the banners of the Kalkars, in whom they sensed kindred souls. (Emphasis added, p. 18)

More things are forbidden under the rule of the Moon Men. Years before Julian 9th was born, every clergyman had been murdered and it had become "a capital crime to worship God in any form whatsoever." (p. 39) Even to speak the word "God" is forbidden. Julian and his family hide a piece of contraband, an American flag, in their home and another, a rifle, buried in the yard. (Later on, Julian receives the gift of a third, a crucifix.) Books are forbidden, too: "To have a book in one's possession was to brand one as of the hated intellectuals, arousing the scorn and derision of the Kalkar rabble and the suspicion and persecution of the lunar authorities who ruled." (p. 19) Think here of the Khmer Rouge.

Julian's family and their friends are not permitted to speak freely and must watch their words at every turn. They meet in secret, talk in secret. They worship at a secret church (as if the coronavirus were on the loose). They are subject to cruel, arbitrary, and punitive taxes (as if one of our major parties were on the loose). One measure of a person's worth is what he or she does "to add to the prosperity of the community." (p. 51) In other words, the individual counts for little.

Women have it especially bad, for they have been enslaved by this new society:

     "If we have the hearts to suffer always it will not break," said mother, "but it is hard, so hard--when one hates to bring a child into the world," and she glanced at me, "because of the misery and suffering to which it is doomed for life. I yearned for children, always; but I feared to have them--mostly I feared that they might be girls. To be a girl in this world to-day--Oh, it is frightful!" (p. 27)

Julian 9th rescues and falls in love with a young woman named Juana St. John--her very name is an affront to the atheistic State--who wears a headband sewn with "numerous tiny shells."

It was her only attempt at ornamentation; but even so it was quite noticeable in a world where women strove to make themselves plain rather than beautiful--some even going so far as to permanently disfigure their faces and those of their female offspring, while others, many, many others, killed the latter in infancy. (pp. 39-40)

If all of this sounds familiar to you, it's not because you're imagining things. He may have been a mere popular writer, but Edgar Rice Burroughs saw as clearly as anyone what life would be like under socialist rule, and this was before the Bolsheviks had seized power completely in Russia. Of all people, he anticipated Winston Churchill, who famously said:

"Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy." (1948)


"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." (1945)

Jews are an especial target of the State. Julian and his family are friends with a man named Moses Samuels who comes to a terrible end. Rather than betray his friends, he submits to beatings and torture. Calling him a "dirty Jew," a group of Kalkar soldiers bayonet him and burn him with red-hot steel. He dies in Julian's arms. As it is in the world of the imagination, so it is in the real world, for Jew-hatred is a hallmark of socialism, among the Democratic Party in America, the Labour Party in Great Britain, member groups of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the Arab Socialist Baʿath Party, Muammar Gaddafi's socialist revolutionary movement in Libya, Stalin's Soviet Union, and of course the National Socialist German Workers' Party under Hitler and his monstrous minions. Everywhere among them: hate . . .

"But then the world [under the Moon Men] is all hate--hate and misery." (p. 51)

* * *

In every socialist society, "counterrevolution" is impermissible and "counterrevolutionary" a pejorative reserved for the worst of offenders. To plan for and work towards the upending of a carefully maintained socialist stasis is among the worst of crimes. So it is in the world of "The Moon Men." "[T]hey were always afraid of revolution," Julian observes. "That is why they ground us down so." (p. 68) And yet Julian and his friends plan for and aspire to a revolution that might restore the rights of the people, including rights of ownership and self-governance. And then comes a key passage:

"We looked for no perfect form of government, for we realized that perfection is beyond the reach of mortal men [. . . .]" (p. 99)

Unfortunately, Julian 9th and his revolution fail, and like a Jewish journalist in the world of today, he goes before the butcher.

* * *

Perfection--Utopia--is beyond the reach of mortal men. We should all know that by now and remember it. Perfection is beyond the reach of mortal men. Its only worldly substitute--the only thing that approaches it of which we are capable--is actually its opposite, Dystopia, what Julian 9th calls "the lunar theory" (p. 77) and "the lunar fallacy." (p. 104) Dystopia approaches perfection, and yet it is imperfect, for it is made by men. Beyond that, within each of us is planted the perfect seeds of its destruction: our natural freedom. As it is in the real world, so it is in works of the imagination, including in the sequel to "The Moon Men."

* * *

The point of all of this is to draw parallels between the Alien Invasion-type story and stories of Dystopia (and apocalypse or post-apocalypse, of which "The Moon Men" is also a type). Next comes "The Red Hawk."

"The Moon Men" was first in Argosy All-Story Weekly in February-March 1925. Here is the cover for the first installment with art by Stockton Mulford (1886-1960). In the center is the protagonist, Julian 9th. On the left is the woman he loves, Juana St. John (note her headband, decorated with shells). On the right is presumably one of the Moon Men or one of their degenerate allies of Earth. Juana St. John bears the name of a saint, but it's also the name of Edgar Rice Burroughs' regular artist and contemporary J(ames) Allen St. John (1875-1957). I can't help but see her name as a tribute to St. John. (Although it may also be a reference to St. John the Baptist--with Julian 9th as the Christ figure? Or is Julian the St. John figure?--consider his fate.) As for Julian 9th, I guess his name and designation are meant to evoke memories of the secular-temporal past--as in the name of a Roman emperor or a European king--possibly also of the religious-churchly past--as in the name of a pope. One of the themes of "The Moon Men" is faith, religious belief, and religious practice in a society that forbids each and all under penalty of death. This is part of the "lunar theory" or "lunar fallacy" in "The Moon Men"--and part of the socialist program in the real world of the past century: the Soviet Union was created 99 years ago next month.

Original text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley