The Windy City Pulp & Paperback Show is one of my highlights of the year. I find all sorts of paperback books and pulp magazines at that show. My most interesting find last weekend was Heritage of the Flaming God by Frank J. Brueckel and John Harwood. This is a collection of essays about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ lost city of Opar. An outfit called Waziri Publications published this book in May 1999. There were only 500 copies printed. The editors are Alan Hanson and Michael Winger. Cover is by Thomas Yeates. Total length of book 126 pages.
Table of Contents:
Heritage of the Flaming God by Frank J. Brueckel and John Harwood
Farmer’s Vision of Ancient Opar by Alan Hanson
Destruction of Atlantis & History of the Region by Michael Winger
The City of Unseen Eyes by John Harwood
Autobiographical Sketch by Frank J. Brueckel
Autobiographical Sketch by John Harwood
I spotted this book at a dealer’s table, balked at the price of $50.00. Thought about it, later in the day negotiated a lower price. I am glad I did because a search of addall, Abebooks, and Bookfinder revealed no copies available.
I love this sort of fan scholarship. A former editor of one self-styled academic publication has dismissed this sort of thing as “Hyborian Scholarship.” My personal opinion is this sort of non-fiction is a great way to grow readership. Tolkien did it with the appendices in the back of Return of the King. There is John Flint Roy’s A Guide to Barsoom, Lee Falconer’s A Gazetteer of the Hyborian World of Conan. There would not be a market if The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time and most recently George R. R. Martin’s The World of Ice & Fire were not published.
I have heard the plaintive cry that “We need _____ taught in college!” My answer is always: why? A good way to drive potential readers away is to have some PhD candidate droning on and making popular fiction boring. Put together a book with entertaining essays, maps, histories, and good artwork instead.
I first heard of the Brueckel and Harwood essay in Philip Jose Farmer’s Hadon of Ancient Opar (D.A.W. Books, 1974). It originally appeared in The Burroughs Bulletin, Summer 1974. Farmer must have read the piece before publication. Farmer included maps and a chronology of Khokarsa. For whatever reason, I just don’t run across Edgar Rice Burroughs’ small press magazines. So, I had thought I would never read the original essay.
For the uninitiated, Opar is a lost colony of Atlantis that Tarzan visited in The Return of Tarzan. Tarzan would return to Opar in three more novels. The inhabitants are degenerate men who are rather beast like. The women are beautiful, especially high priestess La. The Oparians have a habit of sacrificing any visitors to the Flaming God. Tarzan almost met this fate.
Brueckel and Harwood created a history for Opar going back 14,000 years. Philip Jose Farmer was so taken with the idea that he wrote two very entertaining novels set in the world of Opar in its prime with a stalwart hero, Hadon.
Brueckel and Harwood placed Atlantis within a large inland sea in Africa that sunk. They also made the case that some of the other lost cities encountered by Tarzan were also Atlantean colonies. Farmer renamed Atlantis as Khokarsa for his books.
So take home point for authors. Create some maps, history, and chronologies for your invented worlds.