Master of Adventure: The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs

By Richard A. Lupoff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
Wrong-Way Carson

There is a third science-fiction series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which I have not discussed to this point because the stories were written relatively late in Burroughs' career. This third series, concerning the deeds of Carson Napier on the planet Venus, date from the early 1930s, constituting four books plus an additional novelette which appeared in the posthumous collection Tales of Three Planets.

According to Sam Moskowitz's Explorers of the Infinite, Burroughs' Venusian stories were written as the result of a squabble between Burroughs and one of his imitators. Certainly the breadth and success of Burroughs' prolific writing gained for him the admiration and the emulation of many writers, and to this day the influence of his many adventure tales is visible in new works appearing in the fields of scientific romance and jungle adventure.

During his own lifetime Edgar Rice Burroughs held an equivocal opinion of such sincere praise as imitation proverbially constitutes. He was a personal friend, for instance, of the late Ralph Milne Farley, whose stories of Myles Cabot the “radio man” show a strong Burroughsian influence. But one such imitator whose efforts were not appreciated was the late Otis Adelbert Kline whose novel The Planet of Peril, very much in the Barsoomian tradition although laid on Venus, appeared in Argosy in 1929. The following year a sequel, The Prince of Peril, ran in Argosy.

And in 1931 Kline produced not one but two pseudo-Tarzans, Tam, Son of the Tiger, which was published in Weird Tales magazine, and Jan of the Jungle, which ran in Argosy.

Now Burroughs wrote a Venus novel himself, completing it in November, 1931, and sent it off to Argosy. The story, The Pirates of Venus, preempted the pages “reserved” for Kline's third Venus novel, Buccaneers of Venus. The Kline work appeared instead in the lesser-paying Weird Tales.

Stung now, Kline retaliated for Burroughs' invasion of his Venusian do-

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