Missed It By Just One Planet

As Burroughs readers will recognise (though you don’t need to be a Burroughs reader to spot two moons too many for Venus), this Frazetta scene is supposed to illustrate one of Burroughs’ Mars stories, not this Venus story:

Pirates of Venus

On the other hand, the following scene, clearly intended for one of Burroughs’ Venus stories, is being used to illustrate Poloda instead:

Beyond the Farthest Star

And the low-hanging stone moon in the background indicates that this scene is actually supposed to be Pellucidar, not Caspak:

Out of Time's Abyss

I’m just sayin’.


12 Responses to Missed It By Just One Planet

  1. David Friedman March 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Your first example is two planets off, not one.

    • Roderick March 11, 2012 at 1:48 am #

      That depends on the time of year and angle of approach.

  2. Geoffrey Allan Plauché March 13, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    You might be interested in Matthew Alexander’s review of John Carter (of Mars) on Prometheus Unbound.

    • Roderick March 14, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      Thanks. I haven’t seen the movie yet; I await it with hope and fear intermix’d.

      Some of the reviewer’s complaints (such as the size of the moons) seem based on an apparent unawareness that this is based on a hundred-year-old book.

      • Geoffrey Allan Plauché March 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

        I haven’t read the books yet myself. Burroughs got those facts about the moons wrong in the books and the movie producers faithfully reproduced that on purpose? Would it have been a bad thing to get the facts right about the moons?

        • Roderick March 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

          Well, one of the iconic images from the books is seeing the two moons in the sky. If in reality they just look like dots indistinguishable from stars, that doesn’t seem an aesthetic improvement.

          I mean, we already know that Mars doesn’t have inhabitants, breathable atmosphere, cities, or canals — and that the gravity difference isn’t actually great enough to permit humans to leap tall buildings at a single bound. It seems odd to accept all those things and then balk at the moons. (A version of Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros that reproduced the airlessness and surface temperature of Mercury would hardly be ideal either.)

  3. Matthew Alexander March 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Hello, Roderick. Thanks for reading the review!

    The scientific complaints weren’t meant to be scathing indictments. As I said, “For a fantasy movie, maybe a thing like that is not important, although it does seem to me that any verisimilitude one can add will only flesh out the world and enrich the experience.”

    They say if you have to tell a lie, tell as much of the truth as possible. Writing fiction is similar to lying, but it’s not really what made the movie fall flat for me. It was more of a nit I picked because I was not engaged enough.

    As for the books being one hundred years old, knowledge of Mars’ moons is half again as old as that. I would be surprised to discover that their size was not known. This was the same time, after all, that we were starting to realize that our galaxy was one of many, and did not constitute the entire universe.

    By the way, I love your video about reaching the left. I’ve watched it three or four times in the last few months, and I now use the terms “Aristocratic Left” and “Anti-Privilege Left” when discussing the topic.

    • Roderick March 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

      Well, Burroughs cites facts and figures about the moons. (Princess of Mars, ch. 5.) I don’t know whether he a) read mistaken figures, or b) read accurate figures and then misinterpreted/misapplied their implications for the moons’ appearance, or c) just invented the figures (which is possible — his style is more science fantasy than hard sf).

      But my point about the hundred-year-old book wasn’t so much that Burroughs’ inaccuracy was justified. It was more that the two large moons looming in the Barsoomian sky have been part of the sf community’s collective psyche for a hundred years (and mine for about 35 years). Taking them out now would be like removing the ghost from a film version of Hamlet, or the “seacoast of Bohemia” from a film version of The Winter’s Tale, because these details aren’t realistic.

      My main misgiving about the movie (which I haven’t seen yet) is that it threatens to subvert Burroughs’ artistic intentions regarding the Therns.

      Thanks re the left video!

  4. Matthew Alexander March 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    …the two large moons looming in the Barsoomian sky have been part of the sf community’s collective psyche for a hundred years.

    Aha. Well, then it probably was the right choice as far as Burroughs fans are concerned.

    My main misgiving about the movie (which I haven’t seen yet) is that it threatens to subvert Burroughs’ artistic intentions regarding the Therns.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news. So I won’t say anything more!

    • Roderick March 18, 2012 at 1:11 am #

      Now that I’ve seen the movie I have to quibble about just one more part of your review: “he is ambushed by a strangely dressed man with seemingly magical powers … the reason for the ambush is never made clear.” Well, he’s a thern, and we see him teleporting into the cave (it’s established later in the movie that therns travel regularly between Mars and Earth, and that the cave is one of their transport points), and is surprised to find Carter there. I assume he tries to kill him in order to keep the existence of therns secret from humans.

      I agree with you that the movie is too rushed.

  5. Anton Sherwood March 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Are you sure that the Pirates cover is by Frazetta? It doesn’t look like his work from here (though the other two do).

    • Roderick March 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      Oops! You’re right; that’s not Frazetta, that’s Roy G. Krenkel (originally done for Fighting Man of Mars).

      Well, I missed it by just one artist.

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