Nothing Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote should be perpetuated for another generation

No. No. No. Making a series of A Princess of Mars is a terrible idea.

The Internets have been in an uproar over the conclusion of HBO’s Game of Thrones television series, which ended after eight seasons in 2019.

Despite the potential for multiple spin-off series, fans are of course disappointed to have the adventure and drama come to an end. To be certain, it’s a bummer on the same scale as being decapitated – but wait, hold the door!

There is another literary fantasy series, with an equally amazing monarchical atmosphere of politics, drama, action and incredible beasts – with stories that are loved by thousands, including George R. R. Martin himself, and that undoubtedly inspired the GOT author to become a writer. I’m talking about, of course, John Carter of Mars!

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoomian series would be the perfect replacement for Game of Thrones. Despite the unjustly maligned 2012 film, John Carter (of Mars, dammit), the serialized Martian stories were made for the type of adult adaptation that HBO specializes in, and they would undoubtedly appeal to the GOT audience that will be soon be suffering from sword-and-sorcery withdrawals.

Oh my god. Has this person even read those books? I have. The whole lot. The Mars books. The Venus books. The ones about space pirates and the moons of Jupiter. The hollow earth stories. Tarzan. I am not proud of this fact. As an excuse, I offer up the fact that I was a child at the time, and that my father happened to have a collection of first edition, hardbound Burroughs novels (which I scribbled all over in crayon before I was old enough to read them), so I was deeply steeped in the lore before I was old enough to know better…which was when I was 12 or 13.

In their favor, I will admit that they are rip-roaring fast-paced pulp with chapters that end in cliffhangers every time, so you can’t stop. They are classic serialized pulp fiction of their time, which was about 1915-1940. They are perfect representatives of a genre that is now dead, dead, dead, and they simply won’t work anymore.

For one, they are terribly written. I’m talking newspaper prose, straightforward descriptive text, “enriched” by a liberal sprinkling of words scraped from a thesaurus. Burroughs was a hack. His strength was an ability to churn out words at a rapid pace. He did not put any thought into his stories at all; George RR Martin should be embarrassed at the comparison.

For another, these are not complex stories. There is almost no depth at all to them. Every single Burroughs novel follows an identical template: an aristocratic white man finds himself stranded in an exotic land (Mars and Africa were equally exotic to Burroughs) where the natives are barbaric and warlike. By virtue of his intrinsic superiority to these primitives, the hero conquers all and eventually finds himself a beautiful woman to be the object of his chivalrous attentions, but who is actually a maguffin to be used and reused in multiple sequels in which brave White Man must rescue her from brutish perils.

The racism and misogyny implicit in this formula ought to be obvious to all. It made them wildly popular in a more racist and misogynistic era (and to young children who didn’t know better), and the idea gets revived now and then to make them the foundation of a new franchise — the John Carter movie was an example of that — but they’re always going to founder on the fact that the source material is shallow, simplistic, and mindlessly bigoted, so you don’t have that rich vein of complex lore that Martin (and Tolkien, and other good fantasy authors) based their stories on. I thought the John Carter movie did a good job of skating over the bad stuff in the story, but as a franchise, it was doomed. I’m impressed it made it through one entire movie without collapsing on its flimsy framework.

The one thing that would make it good HBO fodder, though, is that in the Mars stories everyone was always naked except for jeweled harnesses or a sword belt or some such skimpy thread of leather. Burroughs did not dwell on the sex or nudity beyond tersely mentioning it and allowing the readers’ imaginations to work, but I’m sure HBO could turn it into a non-stop tits and asses show.


  1. leerudolph says

    John Carter had also been a Confederate soldier—or as I am glad to have learned to say, a traitor in defense of slavery.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    Why has no one made a movie of
    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court?

  3. chigau (違う) says

    I went to the Wikipedia page and there is no mention of movies.
    I know it’s by Twain but it’s still crap. Instead of a WhiteMan being superior to Blacks, it has an American being superior to Brits.

  4. rpjohnston says

    Those descriptions reminds me of a book that I bought at a used book sale at least 2 decades ago, I’m not sure if it’s this author or not…tried googling some book covers but didn’t find it.

    What I can remember of it was, the cover had some kind of…fly-man or other insect-like or tentacled-like figure, I think in a forest, and doing something like playing hopscotch? There was another figure I think, a human. As for the content, I didn’t get very far. The protagonist was on some kind of diplomatic mission to an alien world, went through customs, everyone was naked except for the president or whatever because this world outlawed clothing.

    I know that’s all really vague but does that sounds familiar to anyone?

  5. chrislawson says

    There have been several adaptations of Connecticut Yankee but all of them fail IMHO because they dredge the novel for the jokes (like jousting in pyjamas), which are fine as light comic set pieces, but chicken out of Twain’s true message about the evils of aristocracy and theocracy and blind adherence to magical thinking (in the novel, Merlin is a Geller-like charlatan using cheap stage tricks to cement his power), which is what gives the story moral weight and its tragic arc. Like adapting A Modest Proposal without mentioning children.

  6. chigau (違う) says

    I just skipped to the bottom of the Pffft article and there were no links.
    Bad research technique, that.
    Still, I think Tarantino should give it a shot.

  7. redwood says

    I lapped up all the Tarzan and John Carter books at the same age as PZ. I went back a few years ago to reread one of them and just couldn’t get beyond five pages full of horrible writing and racist expressions. It really shows how children don’t have the ability to judge things properly.

  8. brett says

    I really liked the 2012 movie. It was a mess structurally (and they kept the unfortunate “former Confederate soldier”* aspect of him), but it was also fun to watch. Mostly because of the acting, which was appropriately hammy.

    That was a thing not just in Burroughs, but in Westerns too. The wandering former Confederate soldier – rebel without a cause, like the wandering ronin – was pretty common. I think that was in The Searchers.

  9. wzrd1 says

    @13, we actually like both films.

    I learned to never sing that number when I was on military duty, as instantly, someone would arrive to give me something to do.

  10. wzrd1 says

    @PZ, no, I disagree about carrying Edgar Rice Burroughs work forward. We should, to remind ourselves of just how damned ugly our past was until quite recently.

  11. brucegee1962 says

    The thing to remember about Connecticut Yankee is to read it in the context of the Grangerford/Sheperdson feud from Huckleberry Finn. A lot of southerners had a very romanticized vision of feudalism, which Twain couldn’t stand. He blamed Walter Scott for being responsible for causing the Civil War. So he wanted to point out that the real Middle Ages were relentlessly awful.

    It’s a muddled book, though, because he hated the commercialism and materialism of his own time with almost as deep a passion. Boss is not really the hero. He attempts to get rid of the superstition, casual violence, and ignorance of the middle ages, but ends up replacing it with crassness, large-scale organized violence, and stupidity that is probably even worse than what was there before.

    I hated it as a kid, but when I reread it as an adult I realized more of what he was trying to do.

  12. brucegee1962 says

    @rpjohnson 5

    Diplomat? Is there any chance it could have been one of the Retief books from Keith Laumer?

  13. Dunc says

    the source material is shallow, simplistic, and mindlessly bigoted

    So what you’re saying is that it’s absolutely perfect for the modern era then?

    There’s an old saying in sci-fi circles: “The golden age of sci-fi is twelve.”

  14. blf says

    @6, There are two Gor movies. Each manages to be worse than the books. At least one was mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). Amazingly, at least considering the source material, neither(?) movie has any(?) nudity or sex, and the slavery is minimised. The movies are perhaps most noted for the silliest hats / helmets ever seen (excepting deliberate comedies).

  15. Toklineman says

    ” a non-stop tits and asses show”? Podner, there’s gold in them thar hills!

  16. says

    EE “Doc” Smith:

    His eugenics keeps leaking into the story, which is basically “might makes right” in which steely-jawed aryans make space safe for curvy blondes by killing all the baddies. I.e: using the methods of the baddies because goodies or something.

  17. Roberto Aguirre Maturana says

    A first edition of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels, scribbled by PZ Myers? that should worth something…

  18. Roberto Aguirre Maturana says

    I haven’t read the John Carter novels, all I know about the subject comes from “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and the 2012 movie, which I love. I think the movie gets a lot of things right, among other, the way they turn out the “noble savage” trope in the scene where Tars Tarkas meets a scared and aggresive John Carter for the first time, and also the “princess that saves herself” trope. I think the franchise can be adapted to our more equalitarian times whitout sacrificing it’s adventure aspects.

  19. cartomancer says

    It’s a shame that humankind has lost the ability to write new stories that can be turned into television, and is thus reduced to using any old stories it hasn’t done yet. I expect the TV producers are feeling this profound cultural loss more than any of us.

    It’s weird, because when I go into bookshops I often see what look to be new stories on the shelves. But clearly those must be something else. Perhaps they are previously undiscovered old stories, from before the loss of narrative creativity (whenever that was), unearthed from hidden vaults in the mountains, or translated from papyri in the desert.

    Maybe our world has finally exhausted its reserves of narrativium? Or we’ve all spontaneously mutated and lost the storytelling genes we once had? Or the death of Terry Pratchett has caused a species-wide psychic trauma event that prevents us from writing stories anymore?

  20. Akira MacKenzie says

    OK, I admit, I’m kind of torn on Burroughs the same way I’m torn on Lovecraft.

    I mean, I know HPL was a horrible racist, anti-Semite, and xenophobe, but I love the idea of the Cthulhu Mythos with it’s cosmic horror, nihilism, and ancient tentacled god-monsters from beyond space and time. The same goes for ERB and Barsoom: I know it’s attitudes about race and women– hell, just about every story is about Carter or one his sons saving some kidnapped Damsel-without-a-dress from some horrible fate–are “problematic” to say the least. However, I love the action, the adventure, the flying ships, the sword play, the weird aliens, and… okay, I confess the thought of a planet populated by beautiful, multi-hued, men and women who run around naked is pretty appealing. I’m not the first hot-blooded heterosexual male who fantasized about Dejah Thoris before going to sleep and, unless we as a society decide to consign Barsoom to the memory hole, I doubt I’ll be the last.

    It’s just…

    While I agree we need to do away with racism and sexism, is there no room for nudity, sex, eroticism, “raunch’ or titillation is a just sexually egalitarian world? I’ve watching a lot of Contra Points’ videos lately and she brings up the point that one of the problems with The Left is that we can come off as a bit too dour and moralistic. Most people don’t like their favorite books and movies picked apart and critiqued, even when there are issues to be examined and dealt with, and it leads to hostility toward social justice issues. I agree. I think it lends to the perception that feminism is “anti-sex” or that those concerned about social justice see “racism” where there is none.

    I’m not saying we ignore the race and gender issues of previous artists as many of the fan boys would have us, but there HAS to be a way to distill what made these stories fun from their less savory elements. Is there?

  21. says

    There is no eroticism in ERB’s stories. There are frequent mentions that Dejah Thoris is a magnificent specimen of womanhood, and by the way, she’s only wearing a little jewelry, nudge, nudge, wink. They’re really quite prudish otherwise.

    The stories themselves are embarrassingly simple, as you note. It’s not as if anyone has to stretch their imaginative chops to come up with swords + aliens + airships. It’s the stuff ERB didn’t have as a writer that are hard to come up with, so why use ERB as a foundation, especially when it carries so much baggage?

  22. Akira MacKenzie says

    PZ @ 34

    Fair enough. I suppose my hormone-fueled adolescent mind was reading a lot more into the stories than the author intended.

    Being an old school role-player, I was wondering if you were familiar with Empire of the Petal Throne, which share a lot of the same “sword & planet” ethos and aesthetics as the Barsoom stories? If so, do you think it suffers from any of the same race/gender issues that plague ERB’s work?

  23. microraptor says

    The real focus on nudity that the ERB novels got was on the covers. My junior high school had nearly a complete set so I ended up reading most of them when I was in 7th grade.

    It was rather shocking that a public junior high school in such a conservative area would have a whole series of novels that had women posing provocatively while wearing little besides loincloths or jewelry on the covers.

    Oh, and another cultural icon of the time that I’ll submit for deserving to be buried in the past (but won’t): the works of Robert E Howard.

  24. Artor says

    I grew up reading and re-reading the several hardbound collections of John Carter stories, until I noticed the constant racism, and couldn’t anymore. But the one thing Burroughs did well was world-building. Someone could take his Barsoom and write an entirely new set of stories, taking only the good bits and making everything else new from whole cloth. It’s possible to make something worthwhile from it, but I suspect it would be better to just come up with a new story without the baggage to disentangle it from.

  25. Rob Grigjanis says

    PZ @34:

    There is no eroticism in ERB’s stories.

    What an odd thing to say. It’s hard to think of anything more subjective.

    A friend once took bellydancing classes. Unasked, she felt it necessary to point out that it wasn’t erotic, it was art. I was tempted to suggest it could be both, but thought better of it.

    People are funny. All of us.

  26. jackasterisk says

    There were some interesting ideas buried in the Barsoom books. The reason we don’t need a modern dramatization is the same reason we didn’t need a Ghost in the Shell movie — all the good ideas had already been explored better by later properties. We don’t need John Carter now because we’ve had Star Trek.
    One of the ideas that keeps coming up in the John Carter books is the power of illusion. In one episode Carter visits a city that is created essentially by the projection of the city-dwellers imagination. They feed him illusion food, but the illusion is so good it gives him sustenance. In another story one of his companions is a soldier, created as an illusion to defend a city, but the illusion is self-sustaining and the soldier is himself able to cast illusions. It’s a power that John Carter learns and is the basis of his ability to move between planets.
    This is all very compelling until you realize that Star Trek has been covering it since the very first episode. They’ve had 50 years of illusions casters, dream explorers, out-of-control holodecks, and an illusory doctor that wanted to become real.

  27. Ronixis says

    @5: My guess for that would be Phaze Doubt by Piers Anthony (which is the seventh book in its series). I read the series when I was younger, and I’m pretty sure I don’t really want to revisit it now.

  28. leerudolph says

    blf@32: Is that an obelisk on your head, or are you glad to see me? —You were quite right. Much worse.

  29. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    I know A Princess of Mars (POM) quite well. A few years ago I had a hobby of writing screen-plays, and for a fun challenge I did my own adaptation of POM. I had it online with some other stuff for a while, but took it down. (The movie came out a year later; I watched the trailer and declined to see the full film. But I can say confidently that there was no plagiarism at all.)

    Read closely, POM is just a stew of ugly. It was Burroughs’ first book; he was in a boring job where he had nothing to do and lots of office letterhead to write on, and he decided to write a novel to kill time. The first couple of chapters are actually the opening of a western! John Carter is prospecting, his partner is killed by “injuns”, Carter takes revenge by riding through the Indian camp firing his six shooters, killing indiscriminately. In fleeing the Indians’ pursuit he finds his way into a cave where the story takes this ninety-degree turn in which he has some kind of out-of-body transition to Mars. Burroughs clearly didn’t have any idea where the story was going and didn’t care.

    Carter’s experiences on Mars are just a long disjointed series of violent adventures. The titular Princess doesn’t enter until about a third of the way into the book, and then only seen at a distance. As PZ says, she’s never much more than an object to be carried around and protected by the hero.

    I was able to pull (what I thought was) a decent story out of this by (a) cutting it drastically and (b) turning it into a love story, where Carter falls hard for the Princess and vows to see her restored to her throne and (c) giving the Princess some agency, some character, and some lines.

    Like I say, I’m happily confident that the movie didn’t crib anything from my script.

  30. Ragutis says

    Is it too late to bring back Firefly? There was interest in Brin’s Startide Rising and the rest of the Uplift series, but that was years ago. If anyone’s looking for ideas, maybe a series based on Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? They’re making a His Dark Materials series. Pern could make a good setting, but maybe not so soon after GoT. And I hear there’s a new likely bound to fail D&D movie in the works. Maybe someone in Hollywood could take the time to read a few Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms books before setting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)? Or hell, find a good DM and plop a bunch of writers down at a table with plenty of beer, Red Bull, Doritos, pizza and wings.

    Then again, they could always try something original. I’m sure that the ideas are out there, they just need someone with guts to invest in them.

  31. whheydt says

    One of the late Tarzan books does some interesting scene setting. Lord Greystoke (Tarzan, in private life) is an RAF officer acting as an observer on an American heavy bomber that crashes on Borneo (jungles, dontcha know). In one scene, one of the US airman is puzzled because his grandfather had mentioned Tarzan and wonders why he is (a) still around, and (b) looks to be about 40 (and, of course, (c) is in magnificent physical condition). So Tarzan tells him about a shaman he met, who in thanks for saving the shamans life, offered a ritual to make Tarzan live forever. Tarzan humors him by going along. “When was that?” he asked. “About 50 years ago,” say Tarzan.

  32. Rob Grigjanis says

    Just an Organic Regular Expression @43:

    John Carter is prospecting, his partner is killed by “injuns”, Carter takes revenge by riding through the Indian camp firing his six shooters, killing indiscriminately.

    There’s lots to criticize about Burroughs’ work, and no need to make stuff up. Carter doesn’t know his friend is dead when he charges; his motive is rescue or recovery, not revenge; it’s not at all clear that he kills anyone, and he doesn’t call them “injuns”. See, you could have said “savages”, which is bad enough.

  33. whheydt says

    George Lucas wanted to to the Lensmen series, but he couldn’t get the rights because of the truly ghastly anime that was made (more on that later). So, instead, Lucas wrote his own story: Star Wars.

    The anime had a dying Lensman pass his lens on this kid (Kimball Kinnison) to carry on the tradition together with his bumbling sidekick, Peter van Buskirk. Anyone who ever read any of the Lensman books is shaking their head in disbelief by now.

  34. microraptor says

    Ragutis @44: A revised Firefly would with be a relaunch or done as The Adventures Of Captain River, since Summer Glau is way too old to play a 17 year old character anymore.

    But if it does get brought back, they need to address some of the cringier parts of the original, like Mal’s constant sexism toward Inara (no more “I respect you but not your profession” BS).

  35. unclefrogy says


    blockquote>They are perfect representatives of a genre that is now dead, dead, dead, and they simply won’t work anymore.


    well in the way they worked in the past they still work just fine, but they never worked in the way they do not work now.
    they do work on TV and TV culture which thrives on shallow pointlessness and titillation.
    it grinds up writers by the dozens, the point of using Carter would be a way to avoid having to deal with an author and royalties and have complete control especially in the beginning before becoming a hit series.
    if there is something that “Hollywood” is noted for it would be a certain lack of imagination. I would not be surprised by any kind of tripe they would try out.
    uncle frogy

  36. PaulBC says

    The only recommendation I ever read for Burroughs was that you really had to read them before you were 18. I forget who said that (Arthur C. Clarke maybe). I was about 20, and I took the advice to heart.

    I had a high school friend who read John Norman’s Gor books obsessively. Haven’t talked to him in years. Needless to say, those are best forgotten as well.

    I would be in favor of a Burroughs adaptation as long as it was designed specifically to piss off the “true fans.” I mean, this isn’t hard to do by accident (“There goes PC Hollywood again. We all know Burroughs’ Martians are supposed to be white!”) But really, just subvert it intentionally like Starship Troopers and let the confusion ensue.

  37. says

    Akira MacKenzie #33 – Read Robert Bloch’s Cthulhu stories instead. He was a better writer and a better human being. Not perfect, but better than HPL.

    Regarding Burroughs and others, so many scifi and fantasy books and series of the were trash, and multi-genenerational, fans reading it and writing their own equally sexist or racist drivel. It’s the same with anime, Hayao Miyazaki criticizing the anime industry a few years ago because it’s full of otaku who don’t understand people (and they put grotesque “fan service” into everything).

    If studios do reach into the past, at least find a writer who’s still alive (e.g. Michael Moorcock) and might be willing to rehabilitate the story and remove the unpalatable parts.

    Wendy and Richard Pini have refused to compromise and give up creative control of Elfquest, which is why it’s never hit the screen; I’d łove to see a studio cave in and let them make story they want.

  38. Ragutis says


    5 August 2019 at 1:12 pm

    But if it does get brought back, they need to address some of the cringier parts of the original, like Mal’s constant sexism toward Inara (no more “I respect you but not your profession” BS).

    I never had a problem with that. The audience loved Inara, and Mal’s attitude towards her fit into the flawed “hero” that he was. And his obvious attraction to her clearly played a part in his antagonism in a junior high school jealousy way. Plus, as we started to see, he might just have the capacity to learn and grow.

    Anyway, it’ll never happen. I should just go out and buy the comics or maybe see if anyone around here is into the game. I think that I read that a decent nerdy sci-fi/fantasy bar opened up around here. It sounds like a sports bar, but all the “sports” are tabletop or video games and RPGs with geeky movies and shows on the big screens. It might just be the place I could be comfortable (ish) in, if I can just psych myself up enough to go someplace where I have to interact with people more than superficially.

  39. PaulBC says

    The audience loved Inara, and Mal’s attitude towards her fit into the flawed “hero” that he was.

    I completely agree.

    Actually, Firefly–which is no where near my favorite–is so much better than any “Golden Age” or earlier science fiction, that I wonder what is even the point of dredging up a moldy oldie like Edgar Rice Burroughs. All these authors contributed tropes that are so enmeshed in modern science fiction, that there is little to be gained by going back to the original. Even an original plot looks hackneyed because it was used again so many times.

    On the subject of Firefly, I found it disappointing that the movie played down a lot of the quirkiness of the series, specifically the East/West cultural fusion that was never quite explained, and the way planets were populated with “appropriate” technology.

    The latter seemed to be crucial to the series, though it made little sense. Self-replicating robots will probably be cheaper than transporting horses to a planet. I had an idea for a retrofit that would make it work. What if the planets had been populated not with space transport but by one-use portals into the time periods that appeared to represent? Then you would give these colonies autonomy and trade with them. (Yes, I am a nerd.) Anyway, if I someone gave me a choice between “Let’s reboot Firefly.” and “Let’s do Princess of Mars.” Uh, like, this is a choice? And there are many things I’d prefer to rebooting Firefly. Ursula K. Le Guin’s work is deserving of film adaptations and way ahead of its time.

  40. starfleetdude says

    Actually, Firefly–which is no where near my favorite–is so much better than any “Golden Age” or earlier science fiction, that I wonder what is even the point of dredging up a moldy oldie like Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    Walter M. Miller Jr’s A Canticle for Liebowitz (1961) would be well worth doing as a film or TV series, IMO. So would Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man (1953). As for Burroughs, my guess is that Disney’s experience with its 2012 box office flop has put a damper on him for now.

  41. PaulBC says

    starfleetdude@56 Agreed on A Canticle for Liebowitz, though it might be hard to capture the feeling of it. I think I overstated my point. There are surely science fiction classics well worth preserving. However, if you just want space adventures, I would say use the best old tropes in a new story.

  42. microraptor says

    Ragutis @54:

    I never had a problem with that. The audience loved Inara, and Mal’s attitude towards her fit into the flawed “hero” that he was. And his obvious attraction to her clearly played a part in his antagonism in a junior high school jealousy way. Plus, as we started to see, he might just have the capacity to learn and grow.

    Maybe. But given that in 14 episodes he was never once called out for it, I found it grating and had to wonder if it was supposed to be an endearing trait. It would have been easier for me to accept it had, say, Kaylee or Book actually pointed out how hypocritical he was being. Even if Mal had refused to learn anything from it, it would have at least pointed the issue out.

  43. microraptor says

    Paul BC @55:

    On the subject of Firefly, I found it disappointing that the movie played down a lot of the quirkiness of the series, specifically the East/West cultural fusion that was never quite explained, and the way planets were populated with “appropriate” technology.

    The latter seemed to be crucial to the series, though it made little sense. Self-replicating robots will probably be cheaper than transporting horses to a planet.

    Some of the background material explained it: the cultural fusion was the result of massive colony ships being used to evacuate Earth, with China and the US being the two dominant countries and thus getting the most room on the ships. Because the Firefly ‘Verse lacks FTL capability, this led to the ships spending generations of the cultures mixing together.

    With the difference in tech level between the Core worlds and outer worlds, that was deliberate: the Core worlds were where the wealthy leadership settled, and they deliberately limited the amount of tech available to the outer worlds in order to insure their own continued dominance.

  44. lanir says

    Ugh. Burroughs was hard to read as a kid. I’d already read better authors and his stuff didn’t live up to the hype.

    I’d have been better off if I skipped all his works entirely and just read Heinlein’s “The Number of the Beast” where that world is revisited along with some others (Oz, Lensman, etc). While the characters (and presumably the author) fondly remember the stories the worlds are based on, they also frequently stumble over problematic issues from those stories. I find I’m pretty okay with that. If you can enjoy a two dimensional story while recognizing the pulling elements of it into our real three dimensional world would be awful then I don’t see a problem.

  45. blf says

    A Canticle for Liebowitz would indeed be an interesting film. It took me several tries over several years to first read it to completion, as I recall now, I kept failing to become engaged at first and kept giving up. My (extremely vague) recollection was it was boredom (nothing much else to do) which kept me reading on the first successful read-through, albeit after that, I appreciated the story and have re-read it several times.

  46. Rob Grigjanis says

    I would actually go to a cinema to see a film version of The Left Hand of Darkness if it wasn’t obviously fucked up. The casting of Genly Ai and Estraven would be fascinating.

  47. blf says

    Lord of Light could be an interesting film. Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge says there was an attempt to film (c.1979), that project failed but was then used by a cover as the CIA to extradite people forced into hiding by the Iranian occupation of the US embassy, and is now, maybe, being made into a TV (mini?-)series.

    I suppose just about any Roger Zelazny story could be an interesting film. The Chronicles of Amber has already been suggested (rcurtis505@11). Something like A Night in the Lonesome October (one of my favourites) seems tricky to capture on film without majorly fecking it up, but not impossible.

  48. unclefrogy says

    I heard a serialized production of A Canticle for Liebowitz on the local PBS station maybe 20-25 years ago I could not wait for the next episode.
    there are some comics that would be fun to see turned into live action series. I would love to see
    “Groo the Wanderer” by Sergio Aragonés Domenech no way to describe him great action and our hero’s luck and there is enough for years of fun
    and the web comic Girl Genius a steam punk delight with action, intrigue and plot twists, “science” and machines and lots of tough sexy female parts plus comic repartee.
    thing about using those would be the story board is already done special effects and casting would be the make or break

    uncle frogy

  49. jack16 says

    When I had access to a dial-up public address system I’d sneak in messages to and from various Burroughs characters, “John Carter the thark is calling.”


  50. Akira MacKenzie says

    I confess, I LOVE Disney’s attempt to bring the story to the movie screen. I did kind of wince at Disney’s version of Carter’s origin (which was essentially a rip-off of “The Outlaw Josey Wales”), but I could forgive all that once they got to Mars. The airships were awesome, Lynn Collins was a beautiful and smart Deja’s Thoris, Willem Dafoe was an excellent Tars Tarkas as was James Purefoy’s Kantos Kan (he was also a great Solomon Kane), and Mark Strong, as always, played a cool villain as Matai Shang. Taylor Kitsch was OK as Carter, but I imagined Hugh Jackman as the lead.

  51. Kagehi says

    Sigh.. I remember books “like” the ones written by Burroughs.. At least one series “sounds” a bit like it was cribbed from your description of people wearing little more than jewels, and, even back when I was much younger, and stupider, they bugged the hell out of me, in how they treated women (even when the women where somehow supposed to be “saving” civilization.

    Sadly, this hasn’t changed much. You get entirely non-sex based, but almost entirely nude, series, like Naked Crow, then you stumble over some slop like the one I just deleted from my library, the second after I got to the sick ending, in which the character is asked to walk around the office naked, for a TV show, is humiliated by idiots (with the boss not caring), then is asked to come in on a day off, in the same state, and is lied to, tricked into doing several things, then left crying. So.. yeah, there is probably “worse” out there than the slop that Burroughs served up. But, yeah, its hardly surprising that executives for some big company would only look at the name, and its past popularity, and not what the F is actually in the books, and be tone deaf to it as a result.

  52. Akira MacKenzie says

    Intransitive @ 52

    I haven’t read of lot of Bloch’s Lovecraftian horror, myself. I read The Shambler from the Stars and Strange Eons back in high school. The former was pretty good, the latter not so much. I too find that a lot of post-Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos stories suffer from the taint of August Derleth’s optimism, the biggest offender being Brian Lumley and his Titus Crow novels. I just don’t find them scary.

  53. blf says

    What I’m finding a bit amusing here is it seems everyone — including myself — and even the archived NPR audio version, is spelling “Leibowitz” wrong. It’s not “Liebowitz”.

  54. PaulBC says

    blf@75 Ouch! I plead guilty and I am normally good at spelling. I also pronounce it LEE-bowitz, not LIE-bowitz but that is probably wrong as well (what did Millier intend?). You can find both forms of the surname, though I believe “ei” is the original and correct form.

  55. KG says

    I enjoyed A Canticle for Leibowitz,/I>, and only realised on a second reading that it’s Catholic propaganda – it’s the Catholic Church that saves the rudiments of science and technology, while those who reject its intellectual authority are mocked, and there’s a completely out-of-place attack on euthanasia at the end.