RICHARD A. LUPOFF
For much of the past hundred years, one of the more popular American authors has been Edgar Rice Burroughs. From the appearance of Burroughs' first story in 1912 until just a couple of years before his death in 1950, hardly a year passed without the publication of some new Burroughs yarn, either in the lamented pulp magazines of that era, or in book form.
He was best known, of course, for his jungle adventure stories, most of them featuring the famous character Tarzan. There were two dozen Tarzan books, and then there were a few others featuring such Tarzan-like creations as Thandar, Bulan, and the revived prehistoric hunter Nu.
John Carter, an earthly adventurer on the red planet Mars, runs a close second to Tarzan in popularity among Burroughs fanciers; a good many, in fact, place Burroughs' science fiction above even his jungle stories in their personal favor. And it's a fact that Burroughs wrote plenty of science fiction—the John Carter stories, the Pellucidarian adventures of David Innes at the earth's core, Carson Napier's Venusian sojourn, the Moon Maid and Land that Time Forgot trilogies, and more.
And, almost as if in moments of whimsy, Burroughs poured out other kinds of stories, too—historicals, westerns, realistic novels, even a few detective stories. His words were marked with vivid characters, colorful backgrounds, breathtaking pace and suspense, and almost always a thinly submerged sense of humor and satire that provides a second level of appreciation of any Burroughs book for the reader whose taste calls for other than simple action-and-adventure stories.
Burroughs died peacefully in the spring of 1950, full of years, fame, and accomplishments. Let other authors make profound social statements in their works; his contribution had been the entertainment and stimulation of two generations of readers in his own lifetime, and many more to follow.
Almost immediately upon Burroughs' death a strange thing happened.