Tales of Three Planets Edgar Rice Burroughs

An unusual collection published long after Burroughs had died. It contains four tales. Jimber-Jaw was initially published in Argosy. The rest have a colourful history. My copy is the 1969 Edition published by Canaveral Press and illustrated by Roy G. Krenkel.

Cover by Roy Krenkel

Cover by Roy Krenkel

“The Resurrection of Jimber-Jaw” (1937)
“Beyond the Farthest Star” (1942)
“Tangor Returns” (1964)
“The Wizard of Venus” (1964)

All of these have an interesting publishing history best left to Lupoff’s fine introduction.

The Wizard of Venus is the final short tale in the Venus series where Carson Napier meets – yes you’ve guessed it – a wizard. Jimber-Jaw Burroughs: dealing with the primitive in us, an early and rather clever hint of cryogenics but nothing particularly special beyond American humour of the era.

However, “Beyond the Farthest Star” and “Tangor Returns” are something else altogether. These novelettes are the first intimation that Burroughs was somewhat tired of the glories of war. The second was discovered in his posthumous papers the other published in 1942.

The man who calls himself Tangor, to protect his family name, is shot down on earth in an air battle in 1939 and is miraculously transported to the farthest star where he finds a world at war. The woman are weary and stoic, the men brave and resigned. It’s a chilling picture, well told with all the feel of realism and sadness of war. The story for me remains one of the first truly modern sf tales with its barren and bleak prose and terse war correspondent style. The first part ends on a chilling,‘Listen! The sirens are sounding the general alarm’, as the eternal war continues.

The second part of the Tangor tale is more typical Burroughsian with Tangor becoming a spy. It reads like a journal critique of communism but is nonetheless effective in a sparse and predictable way.

Recommended reading for those who would write Burroughs off as a loincloth and brawny muscles fellow