Thursday, May 19, 2011

New "John Carter of Mars" Anthology to Be Released in 2012

It would not be an understatement to say that Edgar Rice Burroughs is the reason I read as voraciously as I do today. My introduction to SF/F were the Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson. My first glimpse into modern Fantasy was Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. The author who came to define the genre for me was Michael Moorcock. But it was Edgar Rice Burroughs who showed me all that SF/F can be. His fiction had everything. If I wanted to read "lost worlds" fiction, Burroughs was there. Historical fiction that bordered on Fantasy? Burroughs was there. Wild visions of other worlds that combined soap operatic romance with pulse pounding action? Burroughs was there. Westerns? Cave men? Dinosaurs? Bizarre Aliens? Post Apocalyptic adventure?

Burrough's imagination has always seemed limitless to me. His writing style was workmanlike and efficient in delivering its tale, and finding poetic beauty in one of his tales isn't always an easy task, but the story telling and the ideas are truly remarkable. He arguably created the genre of Planetary Romance with his John Carter stories (though they become formulaic at times), a genre that Leigh Brackett then mastered, but Burroughs returned to the genre in his Venus adventures and did a little post-modern deconstruction of the genre.

Burroughs showed me that written stories were the best tool to open up the imagination. He showed me in ways that a less prolific author, or a better writer, never could have. My mind filled in the details of the gaps in his writing, and it wondered what new genre Burroughs would be introducing me to in the next book I picked up.

What made Burroughs great, and why he inspired me to be a voracious reader, was that he wrote essentially every genre. My love for one author made me a lover of stories. Not a lover of stories of a particular genre, but of stories in the broader sense. It's the reason I'll read anything, and it's also the reason I'm able to talk with people about Gossip Girl, Hellcats, and uncountable Romantic Comedies. I love story, and I have Burroughs to thank for that.

I mention that Burroughs created my love of story because it was just announced that Simon and Schuster books will be releasing a new anthology of John Carter stories written by many of today's leading authors. The book is being edited by one of my favorite anthology editors, John Joseph Adams, and is scheduled to be released just before the new John Carter movie next year.

But it wasn't just the announcement that made me think about why I love Burroughs was the list of authors who will be contributing to the tome. If you were to ask me to create a list of authors "I would select" who would write in a publication featuring new tales of John Carter, it might look like the following:

1) Michael Moorcock
2) Lois McMaster Bujold
3) James Enge
4) Chris Roberson
5) Howard Andrew Jones
6) Ursula K. LeGuin
7) George R. R. Martin
8) Mike Resnick
9) C.J. Cherryh
10) Michael Chabon

Those would be the "big names" I would include off the top of my head. Some of these authors would be chosen for their own confessed love of Burroughs, and others to see what they would do with Burroughs' characters. I'm particularly interested in what Bujold would do.

Surprisingly, not one of those authors is listed as a writer in the upcoming publication. I actually find the lack of Moorcock and Roberson shocking...shocking I tell you.

Instead, this is the list of authors:

1) Joe R. Lansdale
2) Jonathan Maberry
3) David Barr Kirtley
4) Peter S. Beagle
5) Tobias S. Buckell
6) Robin Wasserman
7) Theodora Goss
8) Genevieve Valentine
9) L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
10) Garth Nix
11) Chris Claremont
12) S. M. Stirling
13) Catherynne M. Valente
14) Austin Grossman

There are many talented authors on the list, as well as a few I've never read. What sets this list apart from the list I wrote earlier, is that I wonder what exactly a John Carter story would look like from each of these authors. I have a good idea of what a Moorcock one would look like -- he did do his own Mars planetary romance series after all -- but I have no idea what Theodora Goss' version of planetary romance is. These authors come from across the speculative fiction spectrum. The list includes authors who write Young Adult Fiction, Horror, Short Fiction, Comic Books, "Literary" SF/F, and Classic Fantasy.

I excitedly await the volume and will be investigating the fiction of some of its authors -- the ones I haven't read yet -- to get a glimpse of what Adams has in store for us as Burroughs fans.
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