Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Retro-Futurism 2: Revisiting a Fantasy of the Red Planet

Warlord of Mars #1 (2010). Cover by Jusco. © Dynamite Entertainment.

Broken Frontier reported on July 19 that Dynamite Entertainment would be publishing an expansion of classic Edgar Rice Burroughs's Princess of Mars.  The new series, out in October, will be called Warlord of Mars.  This series continues a current trend which revives the styles, ideas and culture from the long turn of the nineteenth century, roughly the period 1870 to 1930, and jumps headlong into the future.  Prehistoric, Medieval, Romantic and Gothic themes of pulp fiction fantasy dove-tail neatly with current real debates on Mars exploration.

A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, McClurg (1917).

Broken Frontier: "Princess of Mars is an Edgar Rice Burroughs science fiction novel, the first of his famous series, which initially began publication in serialized form within the pages of All-Story Magazine in February 1912. It is also Burroughs' first novel .... Full of swordplay and daring feats, the story is considered a classic example of 20th century pulp fiction."

Warlord of Mars #1 (2010). © Dynamite Entertainment.

Burroughs, famous as the turn-of-the-century author of Tarzan, has come back into fashion, as have his Mars pulp novels, in which the Red Planet is referred to as Barsoom.  Wiki: "The world of Barsoom is a romantic vision of a dying Mars, based on now outdated scientific ideas made popular by Astronomer Percival Lowell in the early 20th century. While depicting many outlandish inventions, and advanced technology, it is a savage, 'frontier' world, of honor, noble sacrifice and constant struggle, where martial prowess is paramount, and where many races fight over dwindling resources. It is filled with lost cities, heroic adventures and undiscovered ancient secrets."

John Carter battles the creatures of Barsoom (Mars) to protect Dejah Thoris.

The time- and space-travelling hero of Burroughs's stories, John Carter of Mars, has a site devoted to him here. A movie, John Carter of Mars, is currently in production and due for a 2012 release: "The film is based on the first story to feature John Carter, A Princess of Mars, which was serialised from 1912 and first published as a novel in 1917. Carter is an American Civil War veteran who goes to sleep in a cave after being chased by Apache Indians and wakes up on Mars, here called Barsoom. Formerly an Earthlike world, it became less hospitable to life due to its advanced age: as the oceans evaporated, and the atmosphere thinned, the planet devolved into partial barbarism with the inhabitants hardened and warlike, fighting one another to survive. Barsoomians distribute scarce water supplies via a worldwide system of canals, controlled by quarreling city-states. The Martian atmosphere is maintained by a power plant. Carter rescues a humanoid Red Martian princess, Dejah Thoris, from the belligerent four-armed Green Martians, whose respect he gains for his superior strength and fighting ability. He enlists the Green Martians' assistance in winning a civil war, and saves Mars from destruction when its atmosphere plant malfunctions."  Ironically, when Carter travels from the post Civil War era to a more advanced society, he finds himself in a space adventure which takes him back to conditions almost akin to Prehistoric times.

View all posts on redefining Retro-Futurism.

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