In the November, 1955 issue of Other Worlds, publisher-editor Ray Palmer, who had
Dear Mr. Palmer:
I don't know when the November, 1955 issue of Other Worlds hit the newsstands, but hope I am among the first to respond to your "Tarzan Never Dies". editorial. Since I am out of the country most of the time I doubt that I can be much help to your campaign with the Burroughs interests but I'm your man! Because your plea comes from an obvious adherent of John Carter and reflects my own feelings, I'm taking the liberty of telling you the following little story which should please you:
I am on home leave from foreign service with two weeks to go. Every two or three years during such leaves rereading various items in my Burroughs collection is one of my chosen relaxations from a demanding job—when I'm not wandering the wooded hills of Vermont. This time I worked backwards thru the Mars stories having read the first ones so many times. I got to thinking what a shame it is that there will be no more additions to the map of Barsoom I made years ago while convalescing from a severe illness.
Then I looked at the excerpt from Amazing Stories, February, 1943, containing
Act two of this little drama finds me in the local magazine emporium looking at sf magazines but with little enthusiasm, since post-war trends don't "send me" as they say. My eye was caught by a cover—poorly reproduced but not so bad but what I recognized old friend J. Allen St. John's handiwork. I said to myself, that requires a closer look, and there was your title "Tarzan Never Dies", so I bought a copy, learned you are the man I should write to ask the above questions. I also was delighted to learn that someone in the business was moving in a direction which revives a long lost hope of my own. Here endeth my little story with the hope that your efforts will meet with every success and result in many more stories of adventure in Burroughsland—particularly Mars and Tarzan's country. Zane Grey, the Oz stories, Bulldog Drummond and many others did not die with their creators and I doubt that any of these had as many followers as John Carter and Tarzan.
I have often wondered about Kar Komak and also have always thought that doughty Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol deserved a story after nobly renouncing' his claims to Thuvia. Speaking of Jupiter reminds me of several unanswered riddles to whit: John Carter and Dejah Thoris were not reunited at the end of the story which also left Barsoom under the threat of invasion from the Morgors. As you point out, the possibilities are legion.
Whoever carries on might be interested in the results of my mapping which reveal that unexploited territories of considerable extent, on a flat plane basis, exist in the northern hemisphere from 60 degrees north latitude to the Great Ice Barrier; in the southern hemisphere from 60 degrees south latitude (except for Tjanath and the Valley Hohr) to the Otz Mountains and southern ice fields; the western hemisphere is unknown from about 60 degrees west longitude to 180 degrees except for Toonol at 165' degrees west and thirty degrees north and possibly Koal on the equator. The old master tripped over his geography once in a while—re: Aanthor and Jahar and Lothar—but for the rest is pretty consistent.
I've gone on a bit beyond your request for a one-line indication of support but hope this letter will encourage you. Incidentally, I've made a small copy of my map to take with me to Beirut in case you succeed before I get back—a little challenge for you!
J. Nevins Beirute
Washington, D. C.
The "new series" referred to was never continued because Burroughs went abroad en a government assignment, and then because he died. Yes, somebody else is writing in the same vein—John Bloodstone, who has done the magnificent novel I'm trying to bring to you; and Howard Browne, who has penned several "Tharn" stories, very similar to Tarzan, and also very good. "Warrior of the Dawn" was the first, and it appeared in book form as well as magazine. Browne is far better than Kline. Well, Kar Komak has put one of those empty spots on your map into the "known" category, and we sure hope you can add the details to your map before too long! To do it, we need EVERY reader of Other Worlds to add his name to my growing list. And to those doubting Thomases who think it can't be done, they should read some of the letters we get! We'd say it's GOTTA be done! You never saw such eagerness! Just recently, out of curiosity, we visited a very large newsstand to find out just how much. good adventure fiction anywhere near the calibre of Burroughs, etc, is available, and we were appalled. There ISN'T ANY!
I* * * *
A fan letter. My god! Haven't done that since the 30's, with the exception of want lists to FFM. Your new Other Worlds and the Tarzan plug prompted me. Let's get oriented. In the lingo I'm a collector. Have 'em all with exception of Weird Tales No. 1, Thrill Book and the like. Read avidly in the old Argosy, S&I, early Gernsback, a member of the ISA (1931-32). Have read only sporadically since then—sf, that is. Still prefer sf to other literature, but would rather forego it than to do without, say something like Jas. Aldridge's Diplomat, Heroes of the Empty View, Gwyn Thomas' World Cannot Hear You, B. Traven, the best of Howard Fast.
Currently my preferences are Ray Bradbury, the Ballantine selections, and in the magazine field I suppose it would be Boucher's F&SF as top dog, though I really don't know since time does not permit me to do more than scan the lot. Time nor, I admit, inclination. I wait for Conklin and the novels and anthologies that appear in pocket book form. Jerry Sohl kept my interest. So did Wilson Tucker. David Duncan's Beyond Eden, Chad Oliver's, Shadows in the Sun, Arthur C. Clarke's Earthlight—these I found stimulating and exciting. The birth of Science Fiction Plus filled me with an old-time thrill. I did read most of the stories and found them to my liking. Can't understand its short life.
My dislikes are cold-war psychology, (John Wyndham's Out of the Deeps was ruined by dragging this up incessantly.) ; variations on the "1984" theme in which the author himself projects his own cynical, anti-humanitarian, anti-scientific outlook into the framework of the story, (Hell's Pavement was good extrapolation I felt, Gladiator-At-Law left a bad taste in my mouth) ; finally prejudices against races, etc. (Whatever Reynolds and Brown's intentions were, their Dark Interlude, in Frontiers is Space, is questionable).
Oh hell, I'm prejudiced also. I'm afraid Bill Hamling and I would not get along nohow. He admires Joe McCarthy.
Pardon the above long dissertation on my likes and dislikes, but it should be interesting for an editor to know how someone who grew up on science fiction and Tarzan stands today. You see, Ray, I also knew Tarzan lived and John Carter's Barsoom was as real as Market St. and more vivid.
Burroughs' faults were numerous. Everybody knows them (What fate is worse than death? I'd like to know. Certainly, not what Edgar Rice had in mind!) His big failing was picking up the current prejudices and exploiting them. His last Tarzan and the Foreign Legion is typical of Burroughs' mind, in his references to the Japanese. O. K., it was written in war time. I still say it was a poor swan song for Lord Greystoke. Or go back to the original book and his caricature of Esmeralda—the stereotype Negro servant.
But you're right that no one could surpass Burroughs in making other worlds live. This is undeniable—at least to those of us who have experienced them. If this author of yours can give us Burroughs magic without Burroughs' prejudices and faults, then I say, go to it. You have my support.
You know, I never particularly admired OW, but maybe you'll make the grade. I admit I'm wary of your [new magazine] Mystic. I don't understand all your mental gyrations, admire some of your stands, am fascinated by your editorials. You know what? I think I'll wish you luck with the NEW OW. O.K.? Must go. My daughter's calling to finish Glinda of Oz.
San Francisco, Calif.
Being such an old timer, maybe you'll understand what's happening to Ray Palmer these days. And, of course, to OTHER WORLDS. We've gotten all wound up, and we're going to make the biggest impression on science fiction we've made yet, and we hope, the best. We have long-range plans, and also results already in sight. By this time next year, we predict there'll be a bit of excitement in the ranks of the readers of science fiction, and a brand new look that will settle for once and for all just where science fiction is going. You say a lot of things I agree with—and when I'm through, I expect you'll place your preference for science fiction before Aldridge, Thomas, Traven and Fast. You see, I have the firm conviction that science fiction has to be that good—and I'm going to make it so, or fry every author in peanut oil and feed them to the banths! As for Bloodstone avoiding the Burroughs prejudices, he does!
I* * * *
Enclosed is my dime for your Tarzan On Mars project. I can contribute more if' needed, not so much because I think this novel may be what you say it is, but 1 because I admire your sheer guts and because, when I was a child and an adolescent I shared your attitude towards Tarzan, John Carter, David Innes, Julian, and the rest of that adventurous company. But I'm flabbergasted at your statement that Annas, Byrne, Shaver, etc., are such great writers, especially 1 when you admit you furnished them with so many of their plots and elsewhere have stated that you had to re-write much of their stuff. These boys are imitators of Burroughs, and not very good at it. Burroughs himself was a superb story-teller, but even one who loved him as much as I did can easily see his faults and terrible inadequacies in handling the English language, his ineptness at characterization—with some minor exceptions—his monotonous use of cliches, his unreal people, and so on down the line. Anybody whose aesthetic sense is even slightly developed may see that. Nevertheless, I am grateful to him for the golden happy hours I spent with him, and I am very curious to follow Tarzan all the way to Mars. But if this is another hoax Ray, if this novel has been written by you, I'm coming up all the way to Amherst, clad in my leopardskin, and tearing you apart. It had better be what you say it is. In grade school my nickname was Tarzan because I spent so much time in the trees playing at being him. I'm thirty-eight now and haven't climbed a tree for a long time, but my hands are still strong, and I can utter the victory cry over a dead profaner of the blesser of my childhood.
Philip Jose Farmer
These words, from a writer as fine as you are, Phil, are music to my ears! We agree that you write a polished story; but not that Burroughs did not (nor those others you mentioned). A story that holds you fascinated in spite of the word usage, is a STORY! And if it does that, it doesn't matter a tinker's damn how well written it is. As an editor, I've rewritten, yes (EVEN BURROUGHS), but sometimes I think I didn't help any. No, this isn't a hoax. This is just the most wonderful adventure of Tarzan and John Carter I've ever read, and I "swang" through those same trees! As for being written by me ‑ let's get this straight—I just ain't capable of anything near as good as Burroughs, and I'm the first guy to admit it. Annas, Byrne and Shaver are just beginning—so let's leave their final ranking up to future history, eh?
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Mr. Ray Palmer:
Been reading science fiction since before Amazing Stories was born when Gernsback found that the boys were buying Science and Invention just to read the stories in it.
Do you remember "Dr. Hackensaw's Secrets", and "Around the Universe"? Read almost every issue of Amazing until it went to pot a couple of years ago and has not been worth reading since. Subscribe to four SF mags, and usually find at least one story in yours that is superior to all the rest each issue. Going to remain on your subscription list as long as we last.
Like that idea of yours to keep alive Ed Burroughs characters, and I will certainly take your word when you say you have found a writer good enough to do the job properly. Thought a lot of old Ed both as an author and friend. Knew him when he lived in Waikiki at the Niumalu Hotel, and later when he flew with me when I dropped bombs on Jaluit and Ailingalap from a B-24—he was representing the Los Angeles Times as war correspondent. After observing him under Jap ack-ack fire, I could see why he was so well qualified to write about guts and courage. He had plenty himself.
Never wrote a letter to a magazine editor before, probably never will again. Simply had to join your campaign to keep Burroughs characters rolling, though, so had to write something to wrap my dime in.
In case you publish this, I want to go on record to certify that in my opinion a chap named Ray Palmer has done more constructive and intelligent work in the field of science fiction, both as a writer and editor, than anyone else. After reading, observing, and enjoying it for nearly 35 years, I am grateful. Thank you, Mr. Ray Palmer.
O. R. Franklin Lt. Col. USAF Retired,
Fort Myers, Florida.
Your letter telling about Burroughs' wartime experiences is vastly interesting to us. We had our series in Amazing Stories interrupted by that very jaunt, and we certainly regretted it. Thanks for your kind words—and we hope we can continue to live up to them!
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The only reason that I picked up the November issue of OW was the word "Tarzan" on the cover. Really, Ray, I'd like to read this new novel, but can you picture Tarzan on Mars? That stretches the old imagination a bit, don't you think? I've read about all of ERB's books and the idea is way off base, to my way of thinking.
You say that the Burroughs' interests want to let all the characters die, well then, how come one sees Tarzan and John Carter in the comic books on the stands and in the newspapers? This does not speed up the process of dying a bit. How come?
If this story and author is so red-hot you could publish it with different names. There's nothing wrong with copying Burroughs' style, characters and ideas; witness the rash of Ki-Gor, Kaanga and assorted Jungle Lords in the magazines for the past ten years.
Fiction House published "Ki-Gor" in Jungle Stories for years and as far as I know, no law suit from anyone. I guess this magazine has folded now and the way could be open for you to take over and if these stories are any good, you could make yourself a mint, boy. Especially if you could get St. John to illustrate.
By the way, what's the chances of purchasing a St. John original for my study?
As for your "crusade", even though I can't see it myself, I'll send loads of letters to the Burroughs' interests for you when you give the word. That's the least I can do for you in return for the many hours of reading and relaxing in Amazing Stories since 1938. I got sick and tired of the tripe in 1949 and still look back at the early forties as the "Golden Years".
I've always liked your "personal" interest in your magazines and feel that this is a big selling point. It's something the other mags lack. As a bit of idle speculation, I
Anyhow Rap, I'm with you, and here's hoping that you get back on your feet financially and stop reprinting illustrations and covers from a few years back, and by the way, give Hal Annas back to the Indians. Bring back the Science Fiction and Fantasy I like and you'll be sure of selling at least one copy a month.
Grand Haven, Mich.
You've raised a vital point. And as Ray Palmer, I find myself agreeing with you 100%. No, I couldn't picture Tarzan on Mars. And maybe I've misled everybody, because actually, this isn't Tarzan on Mars—this is JOHN CARTER. By this I mean that as far as science fiction goes, John Carter IS science fiction; while Tarzan is not. Thus, I myself could never picture Tarzan on Mars—until John Bloodstone. did it for me. Fred, Tarzan is no longer the ape-man, the Ki-Gor type, but a "character" like John Carter, as wonderful as he can be! I could not believe my eyes, as I read the story ... but THIS is the Tarzan that he was in his early days, only many times better.
In publishing Burroughs' material in OTHER WORLDS, we promise you that we intend to publish science fiction. Real science fiction. This novel should be described as another of the Mars series, rather than another of the Tarzan series. It is definitely not a Taman story. If you line up the books in two categories, there can be no hesitation in putting it in the category labeled "John Carter." Thus, I admit, perhaps I've misled many. I myself did not like many of the Tarzan books, and was disappointed in my hero in his antics in them. But THIS Tarzan I like! He's terrific, and he FITS on Mars like a glove.
Yes, we can get St. John to illustrate. In fact, we wouldn't think of anything else!
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A few months back I didn't share your belief that sf needs the adventure type of story to make a comeback. I didn't understand why everyone said that sf was beginning to stink. I didn't understand because I was a newcomer to the field and I thought every story was simply terrific! But soon I found out that the same type of story was printed in Galaxy and Astounding month after month.
I went downtown and bought up some back-issues. Most of these were Palmer mags. The first story I read was a 45,000 worder, "The Last Days Of Thronas" by John Bloodstone. I read it through and I was completely fascinated. The same goes for "The Land Beyond The Lens", and a host of others. I had that "sense of wonder" when I read those stories. So, I made up my mind: I'm with Palmer.
Bronx, New York
Read Stuart J. Palmer's John Bloodstone novels:
The Land Beyond the Lens (free)
And read Raymond A. Palmer's Tarzanesque series
Toka, King of the Dinosaurs
Toka and the Man Bats
From FuturesPast Editions