My first introduction to Edgar Rice Burroughs was when my father read Tarzan of the Apes to me when I was five or six, and I re-read our thread-bare family copy when I was in Jr.High. I've since read all twenty-six Tarzan books, but that's not because I'm a Tarzan fan. In fact, I feel that Tarzan is just an okay adventure. I read them because I'm an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, particularly of his science fiction.
The late sixties/early seventies was a great time for science fiction readers. Most of the really good science fiction from the past was being reprinted. I first read Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars in the late sixties and this was when I realized that Burroughs was my favorite writer. I found that I had wasted 15 years by not following up on Tarzan. I have been reading and re-reading Burroughs ever since.
In 1911, with A Princess of Mars, Burroughs was creating a new style of science fiction writing. The earlier works of the genre often emphasized science over story or the science was merely window dressing that had no real importance to the plot. Burroughs made science an integral part of a story that also contained elements of adventure and fantasy. It was so different that he believed that some might think him crazy, so he used the pen name Normal Bean. Unfortunately a copy reader at All-Story thought this name a typo and re-set it as Norman Bean.
In many of Edgar Rice Burroughs' works, he combines the genres of fantasy, adventure, and science fiction into a story that cannot be described in terms of any of these genres alone. He was one of the first authors to do this and after Burroughs, modern science fiction followed his lead. His work is fast paced. It jumps from one adventurous image to the next.
Burroughs was like John Wayne. In general, you either like his work or you don't. He was not a great writer, but he sure was fun.
I hope our friends at The Nostalgia League reprint other works by Edgar Rice Burroughs as they become available. Works like Beyond Thirty (reprinted by Ace as The Lost Continent), H.R.H. the Rider, or The Land of Hidden Men.
G. Edward Kymala