Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author who is responsible in many ways for most science fiction related stories since he first began writing in 1912. The novels he wrote are so manly and awesome that they should be taught in schools.

Why do we read The Bell Jar in High School when these are readily available?

Just The Facts

  1. Edgar Rice Burroughs created characters and worlds like Tarzan of the African Jungle, John Carter of Mars, and David Innes of the inner earth Pellucidar.
  2. These characters, in turn, inspired just about everything in science fiction, fantasy, and adventure fiction that was written post-Burroughs.
  3. The adventure stories he wrote comprise an encyclopedia of manliness that should be required reading for everyone who ever wants to be a man.

Early Life (the Boring Years)

Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in 1875, and didn't really do anything that important for several years. He was unsuccessful at several jobs until he began to work a (still unsuccessful) job as a Pencil Sharpener Salesman. Now two things that are always true about Pencil Sharpener Salesmen are that they have an excess of pencils and an extreme lack of customers. So what do you do when you put the both of those things together? You write like hell, and forever change the face of modern day fiction as we know it.


What do you get when a human baby is shipwrecked and raised by gorillas to hunt with his bare hands and eat raw meat while growing up in the deepest, darkest jungle? If you said the superhero origin for an unspeakably manly action hero, you'd be agreeing with almost a hundred years of pop culture. Tarzan's long lasting popularity has led him to be one of the most often portrayed characters in film, and has bridged into just about every imaginable form of media, including movies, TV shows, comics, video games, stage plays, and Broadway musicals. His popularity is so great that numerous unauthorized sequels have cropped up, even some written by the each of the opposing sides of the Israeli and Arab conflict claiming that Tarzan has joined their side.

The trademark Tarzan call sound effect is also known the whole world over, and has doubtlessly led to countless imitations in the most appropriate, and inappropriate situations.

Killing a lion with your bare hands: Appropriate; Job interview: Inaproppriate

Pictured: Appropriate, and inappropriate situations.

While most people think of Tarzan as a barely literate, almost cave man like figure who speaks exclusively in third person; the original character is far more complex. The book itself is a thinking man's commentary on the over simplicity of the pulp stories of the time, presenting a situation where an all powerful hero who lives in a black and white world of absolutes is suddenly thrust into our world of endless complications. He man of the jungle who has knows nothing of man and has thus gained an absolute morality outside of (and above) that of the so-called civilized man's, finds himself suddenly transported to a world of unwritten rules and gray areas. Most complicating of all, he comes to love a woman who loves another man. Even though he is physically, mentally (and later monetarily) superior to this suitor, no feat of strength nor display of prowess can win over his heart's desire from a man she already loves. In reality, there is a Tarzan within all of us, longing for the simplicity of the world of the pulp novel, but forced to exist in our world, where good does not necessarily triumph over evil, and where the hero does not always get the girl.

That and he totally fights Nazi's and discovers Atlantis.

John Carter of Mars

If you've ever found yourself in particularly nerdy circles, no doubt you've heard certain people claim that Star Wars is a total rip-off of Dune. This is, of course, complete bunk. Star Wars shamelessly copied several sources, including in several ways John Carter of Mars, and everything it copied from Dune, Dune also had copied from John Carter of Mars.

The Martian Tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs tell the ongoing tale of John Carter, an American Civil War veteran (Confederacy; represent!) who suddenly finds himself suddenly on Mars (no seriously, he collapses in a cave, and then suddenly he's there.) No explanation is provided, as no explanation is necessary for a character who proceeds to kick truly ridiculous amount of buttocks. We're talking more than John McClane, The Incredible Hulk, and Alexander the Great combined; in other words, Roosevelt levels of pure butt kicking. He also meets up with the most beautiful Martian princess, who looks like a human only with a reddish skin color, and she's so totally hot that everyone on the planet wants her, thus leading to even more butt kicking.

With one book, A Princess of Mars, the first in a series, Edgar Rice Burroughs would set in motion events that would inspire just about every single science fiction writer to exist within the next several decades. Keep in mind, that this was his second book, the first being Tarzan and we already know how that turned out. Michael Crighton would name an E.R. character after John Carter; Ray Bradbury would admit several times that Burroughs was hugely his inspiration own several counts; and Frank Herbert would pen Dune with the express idea of making a "grown up" version of the Martian Tales (seeing as how replacing butt-kicking with interstellar politics is the golden mean in making "grown up" versions of anything.) When Star Wars came along, it basically took Dune and re-inserted the ungodly amounts of action back into it, and Sci-Fi was made right again. Oh, and did we mention that James Bond and Captain Kirk both share Carter as a part of their inspiration? You may ask which part, and we would respond: only the best part.

The VERY best part.

The very best part.

That's right, infamous ladies men spanning multiple genres pale in comparison to the amount of alien babes that practically (and sometimes literally) throw themselves at the feet of John Carter.

Even beyond this, there still appears to be a consensus agreed upon by multiple writers that the reason H.G. Wells' tripod Martians left Mars in the first place was because they were trying to get away from John Carter. So, yeah, he's pretty much a stone cold badass.


In what is probably the third most popular and famous of Burroughs work was his series about a young man named David Innes who makes his way into the "inner world" of Pellucidar, the world inside the earth's crust that is chock full of dinosaurs, cave men, and psychic pterodactyls. If at this point you would like to point out the copious amounts of reasons as to why the very notion of an inner world is ridiculous, then screw you, you're no fun and we're going home. If you would like to point out that any book about fighting dinosaurs, cave men and psychic pterodactyls is pretty close to the highest level of pure awesome and manliness that human literature has ever achieved, then yes, you would be right.

Book Covers

Sure, fine, some of you are not going to be easily swayed by mere literary history and characters who represent the pinnacle of manliness alone. If you need any further proof that Edgar Rice Burroughs is probably the greatest author who ever lived, let me simply show you Exhibit C:

A picture's worth a thousand words...

A picture's worth a thousand words�¢ï¿½�¦