Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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

"The Moon Men" was originally published as a four-part serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly, from February 21 to March 14, 1925. It's really the center of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Moon trilogy, not because it's the second of three stories but because it was written first. "The Moon Maid" is a prequel to it and "The Red Hawk" is there to bring Burroughs' saga to a happy ending.

"The Moon Men" was originally entitled "Under the Red Flag." It told the story of America under the rule of Bolsheviks, not under the Kalkars, the Moon Men of the published version. Either way, the story is dystopian, perhaps an overlooked work in the history of Dystopia. I wish that the original manuscript or typescript could be found and published. It's nice to think that it still exists.

"The Moon Men" is dystopian and therefore political, but that doesn't mean it's all talk. In fact there's a lot of action. (I read it and took notes on possible illustrations.) But for some reason, cover illustrators over the years have come up short when it comes to "The Moon Men." Ace Books published a paperback edition called The Moon Men, but the illustration on the cover is from "The Red Hawk." (See below.) The original cover illustration from Argosy All-Story Weekly is static and doesn't indicate much at all about the story:

Stockton Mulford (1886-1960) was the artist. In his treatment, "The Moon Men" could be a simple historical drama or costume drama. It's interesting, though, that the villain here is depicted as bestial or subhuman. Note the small cranium and the low forehead. Remember that "The Moon Men" was published during the Progressive Era, one feature of which was the Eugenics Movement. Then do an online search for images using the word "eugenics." What you will find is lots of photographs of supposed scientists measuring people's heads. So many people hold science and scientists in such esteem when so often science has been used to justify atrocities and scientists have been eager participants in such things.

"The Moon Men" was reprinted in the hardcover book The Moon Maid in 1926. From November 1928 to February 1929, Modern Mechanics and Inventions reprinted the contents of The Moon Maid as a four-part serial called "Conquest of the Moon." The first installment made the cover:

But that's not a scene from "The Moon Maid." It's actually from the opening sequence of "The Moon Men." The cover artist is unknown. As far as I can tell, this was the last cover illustration for "The Moon Men" before the era of bad art, which started sometime after the 1980s. I don't want to show any of that kind of thing, so it's on to "The Red Hawk."

"The Red Hawk" was originally published in Argosy All-Story Weekly as a three-part serial, from September 5 to September 19, 1925:

Again, the image is static and not very informative. Ironically, the artist was a sympathizer with the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, Modest Stein (1871-1958). Maybe he took on the assignment thinking the title character was a Marxist. At least he got to use his favorite color.

"The Red Hawk" was combined with "The Moon Men" in paperback and entitled The Moon Men. Here is the Ace edition from 1963:

The cover artist was Ed Emshwiller, also known as Emsh (1925-1990). His illustration is from the climactic battle in "The Red Hawk." Later artists followed his lead: although the book was called The Moon Men, the cover illustrations are from "The Red Hawk."

Once again, Burroughs got the Frazetta treatment--and what an extraordinary image this is. I wrote the other day that Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) seems to have read "The Moon Maid" before making his cover illustration. But maybe not. Frazetta was notorious for procrastination and for working late into the night and into the morning on the day of his deadline. Maybe his cover for The Moon Maid is actually just a reworking of the elements of Roy Krenkel's cover from 1962. Call it a Frazetta-fied version of somebody else's picture. That is almost certainly the case here. One way of knowing is that the last Moon Man with whom the Red Hawk does battle is not described in the book in the way that Emsh and Frazetta depicted him on their covers. It seems like Frazetta just took the elements of Emsh's picture--a man dressed in Indian garb, a blue-skinned giant, and a woman shrinking from battle--and made them his own. I can't complain. How could you? But we should know the facts, I guess, one of which is that the woman, Bethelda, actually helps the Red Hawk in his battle with the Moon Man by holding a lamp behind her lover's head in an attempt to blind the onrushing Kalkar. She isn't helpless.

British and Dutch publishers of the 1970s followed suit:

Here's the cover for the Tandem edition of The Moon Men from 1975. This one, too, illustrates "The Red Hawk." The cover artist is again unknown. He or she looks to have been influenced not only by Frank Frazetta but also by Richard Corben (1940-2020). I'd call this another nice cover from Tandem.

Ridderhof of Holland published De Maanmannen en de Rode Havik in 1973, again with cover art by Jad (1934-2014), who still seems to have been stuck on cavemen and cavewomen. Note that the main title combines those of the two stories found inside. This conceptual illustration is ambiguous. It could actually be from either story, I think. Don't ask me what the Moon Man is doing with his sword.

Finally, Del Rey/Ballantine issued a paperback edition in 1992, again with cover art by Laurence Schwinger (b. 1941), and again the cover illustration is for "The Red Hawk" and not "The Moon Men." I wonder when "The Moon Men" might get its due.

I'll have more on Burroughs before long, but this entry brings the current series on his Moon trilogy to a close. As always, thanks for reading.

Text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley

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 in 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 third. 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 definitive, 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.

Update (Dec. 4, 2021): Here is an additional entry and an obvious one: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932), part of which takes place on an Indian reservation in New Mexico.

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

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Summer Reading List No. 10-The Moon Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Ace Books reprinted The Moon Maid, the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Moon trilogy, in 1962. The second and third books were combined into a single edition entitled The Moon Men, also issued by Ace in 1962.

The second book in the Moon trilogy was originally published as "The Moon Men," a four-part serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly from February 21 to March 14, 1925. The third book, "The Red Hawk," also appeared in Argosy All-Story Weekly, this time as a three-part serial from September 5 to September 19, 1925. Ed Emshwiller (1925-1990), also known as Emsh, did the cover art for the Ace edition of The Moon Men, but his picture actually illustrates the climactic action in "The Red Hawk." By a strange coincidence, Emsh was born in the same month in which "The Moon Men" was first in Argosy All-Story Weekly. His birthdate was February 16, 1925.

According to Irwin Porges, Burroughs' biographer, "The Moon Men" was originally an anti-communist story called "Under the Red Flag." Burroughs composed the first version of his story in April-May 1919 and submitted it to a number of popular magazines. It was rejected eleven times. Not one to give up so easily, Burroughs rewrote "Under the Red Flag," changing the Bolshevik overlords of his future United States into invaders from the Moon.

Now, a halt, so that I can point out two things:

First, my thesis in these related series on my blog has two parts. Part one is that Utopia made its way into pulp magazines by way of the Lost Worlds-type story (an imperfect idea, but I'll keep after it). Part two of my thesis is that Dystopia made a similar move by way of the Alien Invasion-type story. This double-thesis started developing in my little brain earlier this year, before I read Burroughs' Moon trilogy. I didn't read that trilogy because I was looking for evidence in support of my thesis. My reading was actually for an art project; reading The Moon Men was purely serendipitous. But here is as good as evidence as any for part two of my thesis: before they were tyrannical rulers from Earth's lone satellite, the Moon Men were Bolsheviks.

Second, if Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote "Under the Red Flag" in April-May 1919, then his Bolshevist president of the future United States, named Lantski Petrov, is a candidate for the first totalitarian in English literature, possibly in all of literature. Unfortunately, "Under the Red Flag" wasn't published in its original form. I wonder if it still exists in that form as a manuscript or typescript.

So "The Moon Men" came first, but before it could stand as a story, it would need a prequel, a setup. That's where "The Moon Maid" came in. It's pretty clear to me that "The Moon Men" is the real heart of Burroughs' Moon trilogy and that "The Moon Maid" and "The Red Hawk" are merely outgrowths of it. "The Red Hawk" flows naturally from "The Moon Men." I imagine it was a pretty easy work to complete. "The Moon Maid," written in 1922, is another story.

The Moon trilogy has a good reputation among Burroughs fans, but "The Moon Maid" really struggles in my opinion. In fact, I found reading it to be an unpleasant experience. There are flashes of real imagination to be sure, but Burroughs' prose, in this book at least, is pretty dreadful. It's not an attempt to describe a reality, even a fictional reality. It's more just a construction of words. Burroughs' characters are not recognizably human. They don't have human feelings. They don't talk like real people. As evidence, I offer some passages from "The Moon Maid":

The crewmen of The Barsoom face a dire choice, and so Julian speaks to them:

"I may speak only for myself, but to me it would be highly preferable to die immediately than to live on thus, knowing that there was no hope of rescue. Had Orthis not destroyed the radio outfit we could have communicated with Earth and another ship been outfitted and sent to our rescue inside a year. But now we cannot tell them, and they will never know our fate. The emergency that has arisen has, however, so altered conditions that I do not feel warranted in taking this step without consulting you gentlemen. It is a matter now largely of the duration of our lives. I cannot proceed upon the mission upon which I have been dispatched, nor can I return to Earth. I wish, therefore, that you would express yourselves freely concerning the plan which I have outlined." (p. 30)

Orthis lashes out at Julian and lays his claim to the Moon Maid:

"Go then to your hut and stop your meddling in the affairs of others--a habit that you developed in a most flagrant degree on Earth, but which will avail you nothing here within the Moon. The woman is mine. Ga-va-go has given her to me. Even if her father should fail to send the ransom her life shall be spared as long as I desire her. Your interference then can only result in your death, and do her no good, for provided you are successful in keeping me from her, you would be but condemning her to death in the event that her father does not send the ransom, and Ga-va-go has told me that there is little likelihood of that, since it is scarcely possible that his messengers will be able to deliver Ga-va-go's demands to Sagroth." (p. 87)

Julian sees his chance for escape and so speaks to the Moon Maid, a woman he loves by the way. Remember, time is of the essence here:

"Come," I said, "there has been given to us this chance for escape. Never again may such a fortuitous combination of circumstances arise. The Va-gas will be hiding in their huts, crouching in terror of the storm. I do not know whither we may fly, but wherever it be, we can be in no greater danger than we are here." (p. 92)

The problem of the complex physical environment (and the problem of the mechanistic solution to the hero's problems) arises:

"In the mouth of the tunnel," explained Nah-ee-lah, "there are long poles, each of which has a hook at one end. Ages ago there were no other means of ingress or egress to the city and those who came out to hunt or for any other purpose came through this long tunnel from the city, and from the ledge below they raised their poles and placed the hooked ends over the rim of the crater, after which it was a simple matter to clamber up or down the poles as they wished; but it has been long since these tunnels were used by the people of Va-nah, who had no further need of them after the perfection of the flying wings which you saw me using when I was captured by the Va-gas." 

For those keeping score at home, that second sentence is 112 words long.

Finally, the Moon Maid's city Laythe is being destroyed by Orthis and his Kalkar soldiers. Disaster hangs over them, time is of the essence once again, and so Julian naturally speaks at great length and with great verbosity:

"Now, I understand, my Jemadav [i.e., ruler]," I said, "and I am commencing to have some slight conception of the time that must have elapsed since I first landed within Va-nah, for even since our escape from the Va-gas, Orthis has had time to discover the Kalkars and ingratiate himself among them, to conspire with them for the overthrow of Laythe, and to manufacture explosives and shells and the guns which are reducing Laythe this moment. Even had I not heard the name, I might have guessed that it was Orthis, for it is all so like him--ingrate, traitor, cur."

Boy, is he worked up. And that pithy first sentence, spoken while the bombs are falling, is only 72 words long.

I have gone through all of this excruciating prose so that you can see for yourself just what "The Moon Maid" is like. The evidence stands on its own. But I think this evidence and more points to the idea that Burroughs actually hacked out "The Moon Maid" (and didn't do much revision) so that he could get to "The Moon Men," a story into which he put far more effort and emotion. "The Moon Men" is not just a building up of words. There is genuine human feeling and human suffering in it. In "The Moon Men" Burroughs had something important to say. I think he made it a much better work as a result.

I'll quote once more from "The Moon Maid." I thought of these words as I finished reading this first book in Burroughs' Moon trilogy:

"[. . .] and I was more than relieved when the unpleasant function was concluded." (p. 145)

To be continued . . .

Original text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, November 1, 2021

Summer Reading List No. 9-The Moon Maid by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Moon Maid by Edgar Rice Burroughs was first published as a five-part serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly, from May 5 to June 2, 1923. I have the Ace paperback edition from 1962 with cover art by Roy G. Krenkel. Krenkel's illustration is essentially a reworked version of an earlier illustration by J. Allen St. John, who did so many covers for Weird Tales. That's nothing at all against Roy Krenkel. He was just doing what editor Donald A. Wolheim wanted him to do. (1) We'll hear a little more about J. Allen St. John in the next part of this series.

* * *

As it turned out, The Moon Maid was the first of a trilogy that included a part two, The Moon Men, and a part three, The Red Hawk. All three parts have been published together as an omnibus edition with the all-inclusive title The Moon Maid. To make things more confusing, The Moon Maid is actually a prequel--a kind of back-construction--to The Moon Men, which was written first and in a different form. The Red Hawk is a short sequel to The Moon MenAce Books put out a combined printing of parts two and three in 1963. I'll cover that one book and its two parts in the next two installments in this series. Then there will be one more Moon book before I get back to my series on Utopia and Dystopia in Weird Tales. I've been working on that series for ten months now, which is way too long. I might reach a year by the time I'm finished with it.

* * *

I could write a lot more about The Moon Maid than what you'll read here, but I'd better not. I'd better stick to the subject, which is Utopia/Lost Worlds versus Dystopia, eventually as they appeared in Weird TalesThat "Dystopia" needs a second part, though.

The first part of my thesis is that Utopia made its way into Weird Tales by way of the Lost Worlds-type story. I'll let you know now that the second part of my thesis is that the Alien Invasion-type story can be seen as the popular equivalent of Dystopia, just as Lost Worlds is a popular equivalent of Utopia. (There is reason to think that Utopia is actually a kind of Lost Worlds story rather than the other way around. In other words, whether it came first or second, Utopia was subsumed at some point by Lost Worlds, especially after Lost Worlds became a staple of science fiction and fantasy, and especially as the Lost Worlds story was cast into the future or into the past.) As I have already written, Utopia and Dystopia seem to me high, refined literary genres. They are taught in literature classes and are the subject of scholarly research. They may work better in academia than in popular (or subliterary) forms, such as popular magazines, pulp magazines, mass-market paperbacks, comic books, and movies. Maybe it's through Lost Worlds that Utopia found its way into the pulps. Likewise, Alien Invasions might represent Dystopia in those same pulpy pages. Taken together, Lost Worlds and Alien Invasions make up a really large percentage of science fiction and fantasy stories. I'll have more on all of that as I finish off my previous/current series.

* * *

Burroughs cast The Moon Maid into what was then the future. It begins on Mars Day--June 10, 1967. A half-century of war has come to an end and the world is relieved and overjoyed. (2) The story begins on board a transoceanic airship called the Harding. (3) It begins, too, with a framing device, a needless framing device, I might add, except that Burroughs had to figure out how to write The Moon Maid as a setup for The Moon Men, which is the true and original center of his Moon trilogy (and not just because it's part two). His solution was to create a series of characters who live through the centuries as reincarnations of a man named Julian. So we have to let the framing device slide. The Moon Maid is also a club story, recounted by Julian 5th in the Blue Room of the airship Harding on its way from Chicago to Paris. 

It's called Mars Day because it's the day that Earth has established contact with Mars, John Carter's Barsoom in fact. That makes the Moon trilogy peripheral to Burroughs' Mars novels. Well, why not? If you've made one success, why not try for another by hanging the second onto the first? Anyway, there is a detailed account in The Moon Maid of how men of Earth make radio contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence. I'm reminded of James E. Gunn's book The Listeners, about which I wrote not very long ago. I wonder if this was one of the first instances of such contact in American science fiction, or science fantasy, which is a better term, I think, for Burroughs' work.

Julian 5th is from the future and so remembers things that haven't happened yet. One of them is the establishment of the International Peace Fleet, "which patrolled and policed the world." Here, then, is an even more striking parallel than with James E. Gunn's book, this time with the film version of Things To Come by H.G. Wells (1936). In both are decades of disastrous war. Then comes an air fleet designed to police the world, to make peace, to keep the peace. In both, power comes from above: the all-seeing eye of the superior and altruistic airman looks down upon the Earth's surface, helping to ensure that no evil is done by men. In one, tyranny is imposed by those airmen, specifically their leader, Cabal (who wants to conquer the Moon by the way). In the other, tyranny comes from without by way of an alien invasion. I will add that sometimes men of Earth are the aliens and the invaders.

* * *

Julian 5th tells of how a crew of Earthmen leave on board a rocketship to Mars. One of the crew, named Orthis, is twisted inside. (Ironically, ortho- denotes something straight.) By his actions, the rocketship, called The Barsoom, is forced to land on the Moon, which proves to be a Lost World. As in so many Lost Worlds stories, there are anthropological or ethnological descriptions of peoples, cultures, languages, customs, and so on. And as in so many--if not every--Burroughs story, there is a maid, here the Moon Maid, who needs rescuing. Maids or damsels are always in distress. They are always getting themselves kidnapped and threatened, often with marriage to unwanted suitors. That's an old story. But I wonder if George Lucas could have gotten his Princess Leia from Burroughs' many maids, damsels, and princesses in need of rescuing. (4) The Moon Maid is also like a Ruritanian romance, which is simply a Lost Worlds story set in modern Europe.

* * *

Orthis reminds me of Weston, the villain in C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. In Lewis' first book, Out of the Silent Planet (1938), Weston seeks to conquer Mars as a first step towards conquering other planets, "planet after planet, system after system, till our posterity--whatever strange form and yet unguessed mentality they have assumed--dwell in the universe wherever that universe is habitable." (Weston and Cabal also have their similarities.) In Perelandra (1943), Weston hopes to bring about a fall from grace among the newly made people of Venus. If Eden or Paradise is God's Utopia, then Weston's goal in Perelandra can be seen as anti-utopian, in other words, perhaps, dystopian. (Weston is the alien invader on both Mars and Venus.) In That Hideous Strength (1945), the final installment of Lewis' trilogy, the threat is in fact dystopian. But that new Dystopia to be established on Earth doesn't come by way of an alien invasion. Instead it is homemade: it comes from Earth, for the men of Earth are "bent" (vs. straight, or orthic, my new word), thus the status of our world as a cosmically quarantined or "silent" planet in Lewis' trilogy. I'm reminded of a quip from Immanuel Kant: "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made."

* * *

It's worth noting that Burroughs wrote first and Lewis came after. It's also worth noting that Lewis' gripe was against Wellsian science fiction rather than with fantasy or science fantasy. Lewis once read Burroughs and "disliked it," he wrote. Lewis didn't go out of his way to poke fun at Burroughs, though, maybe because Burroughs was an American pulpwriter rather than a British man of letters. Burroughs was low; Wells was high. More to the point, Wells was an unbeliever, an advocate of science and maybe even Scientism, a socialist, almost certainly a materialist, possibly a believer in what we should all know by now is the specious idea of Progress. (Jack Williamson had a different opinion about Wells and Progress.) In other words, Wells believed in many things that were anathema to C.S. Lewis in his maturity. The two were in natural opposition to each other.

* * *

Like Weston, Orthis travels between worlds seeking to conquer them, corrupt them, ultimately to overthrow them or tear them down. He has his sights set first on the Moon Maid's people, then on Earth itself. In The Moon Maid, Orthis enlists the aid of other Moon Men and he leads them to victory. Those men--the same Moon Men of the second of Burroughs' trilogy--are called Kalkars. They are destroyers of civilization and of "the old order." (p. 89) They were to have been Bolsheviks or communists in Burroughs' original version of The Moon Men. In reworking that story, he turned them into aliens who eventually invade and subdue Earth.

The Moon Maid, Nah-ee-lah says of the Kalkars:

"They will make slaves of us [. . .] and we shall spend the balance of our lives working almost continuously until we drop with fatigue under the cruelest of taskmasters, for the Kalkars hate us of Laythe and will hesitate at nothing that will humiliate or injure us." (p. 109)

I don't know about you, but to me they sound like socialists. I'm sure that was Burroughs' intent.

A fellow prisoner explains to Julian 5th the origins of the Kalkars:

"The Kalkars derive their name from a corruption of a word meaning The Thinkers. [. . .] (5) There is a saying among us that 'no learning is better than a little,' and I can well believe this true when I consider the history of my world, where, as the masses became a little educated, there developed among them a small coterie that commenced to find fault with everyone who had achieved greater learning or greater power than they. Finally, they organized themselves into a secret society called The Thinkers, but known more accurately to the rest of Van-ah [i.e., the Moon] as those who thought that they thought. It is a long story [. . .] but the result was that [. . .] The Thinkers, who did more talking than thinking, filled the people with dissatisfaction, until at last they arose and took over the government and commerce of the entire world. [. . .] The Thinkers would not work, and the result was that both government and commerce fell into rapid decay." (pp. 120-121)

Stupid, poorly educated, ignorant, illiterate. Pseudo-intellectual, full of talk, lazy, destructive, incompetent. Hateful, envious, always seeking to enslave, hurt, and humiliate those who oppose them: Yeah, they're socialists.

In the historical past, the Kalkars tore everything down and destroyed all books and written records. They lack intellectual powers and are ignorant of science and technology. Although they themselves are not numbered, their cities are, for example City No. 337: Burroughs foresaw the dehumanization that is part of the socialist program. (6) Unfortunately, the Kalkars succeed in taking over the Moon, and The Moon Maid ends like The Empire Strikes Back: abruptly, without a clear resolution, and with some dissatisfaction on the part of the reader. Like I said, the first book was meant to set up the second. Readers had to wait a couple of years to find out what happens next.

* * *

I finished reading The Moon Maid on August 30. On that day, the Kalkars took Laythe and the Taliban took Afghanistan.

To be continued . . .


(1) See the interview with Roy Krenkel in The Edgar Rice Burroughs Library of Illustration, Volume Three (Russ Cochran, 1984), specifically page 112.

(2) In the real world there was also an end to war on June 10, 1967. This one--the Six-Day War--was on the opposite end of duration to the half-century in The Moon Maid. In it, Israel proved victorious and Jerusalem was liberated, we hope forever.

(3) Warren G. Harding was president when The Moon Maid first went to print. He died two months to the day after the last installment appeared.

(4) There are similarities in the names of planets, too: Barsoom and Jasoom. Tatooine and Dantooine. And with C.S. Lewis: Malacandra, Thulcandra, Perelandra.

(5) Kalkar is a homophone for calcar, meaning "spur." Burroughs was a horseman. Maybe his name for his Moon Men was meant to evoke the imagery of men who ride other men or put the spurs to other men.

(6) 337 is a prime number by the way. Significance? Some or none?

Original text copyright 2021 Terence E. Hanley