Happy Birthday to Edgar Rice Burroughs!

Friday , 2, September 2016 2 Comments

Ray Bradbury called him the most influential writer in the entire history of the world. What are people saying on his birthday today…?

Bob Leeper at Nerdvana emphasizes the epic scope of the man’s influence:

“If the artists, authors and filmmakers who created every single one of those pop culture mainstays, and the professionals who worked on developing the scientific and engineering marvels that allow space-travel had never read an Edgar Rice Burroughs story it’s possible that none of these things would have ever happened.”

Meanwhile, whoever writes the headlines at The Telegraph poses the question: was Burroughs a xenophobic hack or master storyteller? I think that’s a no-brainer.

The man solved the problem of how to get a very large amount of people interested in reading. He made it look so easy, a whole lot of people dove in and created their own answers to Burroughsian heroism. That includes A. Merritt, E. C. Tubb, Jack Vance, and Leigh Brackett. And those authors lead directly Dungeons & Dragons, Traveller, and Star Wars. Given that Burroughs himself directly inspired Superman, there is very little today in either gaming or popular culture that is not impacted by his work.

And here’s the thing: Burroughs’s approach to storytelling really holds up. The stuff that you read in anthologies today that follow his lead are going to be the sort of thing that has the most wide-ranging appeal. The critics and the pundits may not be convey this without ritually denouncing what they deem to be “problematic” aspects of his novels, but who cares what they think?!

The fans know better, don’t they? Right?

Well let’s check that. You’d think that a guy this big would get tributes at all the science fiction sites out there, but… well… I don’t seem to be finding much to that effect. Maybe the fans don’t know better….

Or maybe my Google skills aren’t so hot anymore. Anyway… there’s still a couple hours left in the day. If you see any Edgar Rice Burroughs posts that I missed, please link to them in the comments.

  • H.L. says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I haven’t noticed any posts, but in honor of ERB’s birthday I’m going to pull out the first of his Martian books I ever read, SWORDS OF MARS, and re-read.

  • Jon M says:

    You can also grab free audiobook versions of The Gods of Mars, A Princess of Mars, Tarzan of the Apes, and Warlord of Mars from the Project Gutenberg site:


    I haven’t listened to any of these, so can’t vouch for the quality of the recording. The couple of H. Beam Piper books that I’ve listened to have been very professional, so it’s worth a shot.

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