John Carter of Mars

First off, congratulations to Deonandia regular “Brad Parker” (name changed to shield the guilty) for having soundly kicked my ass in squash last night, despite being somewhat of my advanced generation. Methinks ’tis almost time to restart the fabled squash wars of yore!

Don’t have much time for anything meaningful today, so instead you get this: the UK Times‘s list of the 10 greatest science fiction films that were never made.

On the list is the aborted attempt to create an animated version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter of Mars series. There’s a great summary of that attempt on the AMC Blogs. It’s particularly useful for its snippet of test animation that was made at the time, 70 years ago. To see the full marketing push for the film that never was, click here.

See, John Carter of Mars was a standard space opera tale of swashbuckling heroes…. on Mars. It actually inspired by boyhood hero, Carl Sagan, to become an astronomer. In Sagan’s Cosmos, he tells of spending many a New York night as a child, out in the yard, wishing himself to Mars, just as John Carter had done. And Sagan, in turn, inspired me to become a scientist.

The John Carter books are pretty unsatisfying and silly to our modern tastes. And they’ve been ripped off so many times that they read as tired and cliched. But for a taste of of laddish, adventure-y early 20th century yarn-spinning, of a genre that some (not I) would call “science fiction”, try reading some of Burroughs’ John Carter books.