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http://www.amazon.com/LET-WIND-BLOW-THROUGH-ebook/dp/B004ZZT0XE Before STAR WARS, before STAR TREK, before FLASH GORDON,
JOHN CARTER OF MARS
written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
100 years ago, science fiction was still in its infancy, and a hero named John Carter enjoyed the sort of popularity that characters like Luke Skywalker and Captain Kirk do today.
Love knows no bounds for science fiction heroes, even across the cold depths of space. A major focus of the first Barsoom novel, A Princess of Mars (and the upcoming movie adaptation), is the growing bond between Earthman John Carter and Martian princess Dejah Thoris.
John Carter/Dejah Thoris relationship most reminds me of the romance in James Cameron's Avatar. As in Avatar, it's a relationship that builds from two strangers
(one of them a soldier from another world)
attempting to understand one another, and it grows during the looming threat of war. Various physical and existential divides threaten to keep the two apart, but in the end, love prevails.
Decades earlier, Burroughs wrote of an Earthling who found himself an alien on another world, gaining strength from the lower gravity.
Even as Burroughs was doing his part to build the science fiction genre, he was also becoming the first author to merge science fiction and Western elements.
John Carter is a hero who wouldn't be out of place in a Wild West movie. He's an ex-Confederate soldier who headed west after the Civil War to seek his fortune as a gold prospector. He even battles a tribe of Apache warriors before his fateful journey to Barsoom.
A number of popular films and TV series have sought to blend science fiction with Westerns. Joss Whedon's short-lived Firefly features a crew of space-faring heroes who live in a very grungy, lawless galaxy. The popular anime series Cowboy Bebop follows a similar crew of rugged bounty hunters who seek fortune and adventure as humanity slowly begins expanding throughout the solar system. They'd have found a kindred spirit in the rough and tumble John Carter.
It wasn't long before John Carter began to inspire similar sci-fi adventures.
Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon were two heroes who debuted in the pulp era and who were direct results of Carter's popularity. Both men hailed from Earth, with Buck even being a war veteran like Carter.
In the case of Buck Rogers, exposure to a gas caused him to fall into suspended animation for almost 500 years and awaken to a very different sort of civilization. Flash Gordon, meanwhile, travels by rocket ship to the planet Mongo and battles the evil emperor Ming the Merciless.
So keep all this in mind when you go to see John Carter on March 9th the debt we owe Burroughs' creation for the sci-fi we all enjoy today.
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If Neil Gaiman ever wrote this about me or about you, we could die happy writers :
I Teach Because I Love
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