Barsoomian summer

Cover art for A Princess of Mars
Original cover from 1917 publication

The Barsoom series

I recently checked out the DVD “John Carter” from the library. The film was based on the book entitled “A Princess of Mars” by pulp fiction writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. The book was published in 1917 and it was the first in a series about Barsoom (Mars). The Barsoom series envisioned Mars as a dying planet with different races battling over dwindling natural resources. Seeing this motion picture brought back a flood of memories.

It was the summer of 1966 and it was my last year of elementary school. I can remember the days; breakfast at 6:00 am, fishing from 7:00 am to 8:00 am, playing sandlot baseball until lunchtime and skim-boarding on the front lawn in the afternoon.

I would join my father in the kitchen as he prepared breakfast and I learned the basics of cooking by observation and pitching in. Many of my friends would say how they enjoyed staying up late and sleeping in during summer vacation. Even if I tried I couldn’t sleep late and to this day I’m usually awake at 5:00 am.

By 7:00 am it would be light outside. I knew from experience from fishing in Florida during the hot, wet summer that many freshwater fish would actively feed in the low light and cooler temperature of the early morning and late afternoon. I’d use a dark plastic worm rigged Texas style and walk the bank of the canal behind the houses on my block.

I’d return from fishing and by now my friends were outside on the street and attempting to get a game of baseball going. I have to admit that I found baseball somewhat boring and it seemed to me that there was a large amount of time spent waiting for something to happen. I wished football was a sport that was played all year.

After lunch it would be the hottest part of the day and we’d hang around inside in the air-conditioned comfort or go swimming.  In the summer the weather in Florida is fairly predictable; it was usually clear and calm in the early part of the day and possible gale force winds from thunderstorms in the later part of the day. Some of these squalls were fifty miles wide and could drop two inches of rain in a matter of minutes. This was the perfect time for skim-boarding across the puddles that formed in the yards a few feet from the street.

Sometimes it didn’t rain and this was a good opportunity to collect discarded soda bottles to return for cash or mow lawns to make some money. Collecting bottles wasn’t always productive and the payoff was small. More money could be made by mowing lawns. You’d push the mower down the street and if you saw a yard that looked like it needed cutting you knocked on the door and offered your services. In the wet season the grass could grow two inches in a week and it was easy to find customers.

I mowed quite a few lawns that summer because I wanted to buy the entire John Carter series of paperback books. A classmate had written a book report about “John Carter of Mars” and I became interested when he read it to the class and when I learned that it was a series I was determined to read each of them. My efforts to locate the full series in local bookstores were futile so I decided to earn the money and purchase the entire collection through the mail.

The day finally came when the package of books arrived and that night I began reading “A Princess of Mars”, the first novel in the series . I found the story and the characters fascinating and the books held my interest until the last page of the last novel was read.

I’m in the process of building a back list of e-Books that I plan to publish through the Smashwords aggregator. Originally I was in the early developmental stages of a novel entitled “Mastodon Mike’s Weird West Show”; it was inspired by a novel I read by Harry Harrison entitled “The Technicolor Time Machine”. Mastodon Mike had undergone an evolutionary process over the last two years. At first I planned to make an animated short film, but, hardware, software and budgetary constraints forced me to abandon that idea. I became exposed to the e-Pub format during a project I was involved in and I decided to write and publish Mastodon Mike to the iBook store. Smashwords provides a wider range of publishing platforms and the author receives 85% of the net profits.

Mastodon Mike has been temporarily postponed while I develop the e-Book back list. The marketing publication supplied by Smashword says that series books are popular sellers and I’m going to try writing a supernatural detective type trilogy. I even speculated on a continuation of the Barsoom series about Jane Carter, a modern-day descendant of John Carter.