Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Summarizing ERB's works one chapter at a time
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Articles, Contributors: Tangor Responds, Edgardemain, ERB: In Focus, Nkima Speaks, Beyond 30W, Tantor Trumpets, Dime Lectures, Korak in Pal-ul-don, Public Domain novels of ERB
Worlds of: Barsoom, Pellucidar, Moon, Amtor, Caspak, Pal-u-don
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by A. Flea

It is unusual to say the least for a flea to be writing, but this is something I MUST do. I must reveal the entire truth about John Carter and his advent into Barsoom. As everyone knows, he was transported to that planet by a strange and wonderful means perhaps induced by the atmosphere of a cave in which he took refuge. Little did Carter know, but I was residing at that time in his hair, courtesy of his horse and had enjoyed a happy meal from his scalp. As a result, I was affected by the same atmosphere and my bodiless self joined him in his spaceward journey.

You might wonder how I can write this. I have heard about a certain cockroach who has written a best-seller –and he could not even manage the shift key! I am luckier. I stuck with JC all those years and when he contacted his publicist, I, to put it mildly “put a flea” in ERB's ear. Hence, no problems with shift keys. I must say that I was disappointed that ERB chose not to publish my MS, but put it under lock and key (by that time his stuff was selling like hotcakes). It is only recently that I have found a sympathetic ear who after some consternation, believed my tale and managed to obtain a bootleg copy of the hidden MS.

Now, you know the history as JC has told it. It is substantially factual, but he has left out key items. For instance, his initial leap to get away from the Green Men of Barsoom carried him 30 feet into the air and some 100 feet away from his starting point. Now, if Barsoom's gravity is the same as Mars, he should have only been able to jump about 3 times as far as he could on Earth –say, 18 or 20 feet. Instead, he made a mighty leap of 30 feet. The difference was me. I bit him and so galvanized him that he outdid himself. Indeed, throughout his subsequent adventures, were it not for my timely intervention (nipping him awake in time to avoid sudden death, for instance), he would not have survived to return to Earth.

The truth then is that John Carter was a marvelously strong and courageous man, but he has not been honest with you. He had assistance during his adventures and has never acknowledged it. I know he knows I exist. I've bitten him enough times! But he has never tried to get rid of me. On Earth he killed dozens of my siblings daily. He has carefully preserved my life, which has, like his, been extended by our stay on Barsoom.

I will let you muse on the truths I have mentioned in this short introduction while I sit back in the middle of JC's hair-part and listen, with him, to Lawrence Tibbett's rendition of Musorgsky's "Song of the Flea."