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Why I Wrote Forgotten Sea of Mars

Mike Resnick

Resnick's Barsoomian pastiche. Click image for larger view.

David Bruce Bozarth

Behind any legend there are bits of real fact and real people. One of the most enduring "legends" of ERB fandom is the Barsoomian pastiche written by a young boy, Forgotten Sea of Mars. The legend continues to exist as there are few copies of this story available for ERB collectors.

Young Mike Resnick(1942-) grew up and eventually became a writer: a Hugo award winning author. He has maintained his connection with ERB friends over the years--both old and new. I first met Mike on Jim Thompson's ERBCOF-L list back in 1997. About once a year we exchange an email or two. This last exchange included a request for a short article for ERBmania! as regards how Forgotten Sea of Mars came about and the state of ERB fandom at the time. Mr. Resnick graciously sent the following.

I wrote THE FORGOTTEN SEA OF MARS in 1962 or 1963 because at the time I wanted nothing more than to write books in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs. These days I want nothing less than to do so.

As I recall, it took 8 nights and an afternoon.

When I was 12 or 13 years old, I had read Ray Palmer's ridiculous attempt to get Stu Byrne ("John Bloodstone") appointed ERB's legal successor because of TARZAN ON MARS, and since I thought I'd never get a chance to read it -- years later I did get my hands on a copy; it's pretty awful -- I thought I'd write my own.

Why would Tarzan go to Mars? Because John Carter needed help. Why would John Carter need help from Tarzan rather than the millions of men under his command? Because Tarzan could bring a talent they didn't have -- he could swim. I wrote perhaps 40 pages on it, then set it aside (not many 12-year-olds write 75,000-word books) and never thought about it again until Caz offered to publish a novella using ERB's characters. I stuck Tarzan back in the jungle where he belonged, kept the water, and made it a sequel to LLANA OF GATHOL.

Goddess of Ganymede

A couple of years later I replaced all of ERB's characters with my own, kept a number of the plot elements, set it on Ganymede, and titled it THE GODDESS OF GANYMEDE. I sold it to Don Grant in hardcover, then sold it and a sequel to Paperback Library in paperback, back in the late 1960s. They're pretty good Burroughs pastiches, but they're absolutely terrible Resnick books. I didn't write any science fiction all during the 1970s to give people time to forget. Then I came back to the field, writing things that were important to me rather than things that were important to Burroughs, and the record speaks for itself: 40 novels, 130 stories, editor of 25 anthologies, 4 Hugos, 19 Hugo nominations, a few bestsellers, and major awards not only in America but also in France, Japan, Poland, Spain, and Croatia.

I'm sorry to admit it, and I don't mean it as a perjorative...but I simply outgrew Burroughs. I haven't picked up one of his books in perhaps 20 years now. But I appreciate what he did, and I still enjoy the company of many of my old friends in Burroughs fandom.

-- Mike Resnick