The Tarzan Centennial

Edgar Rice Burroughs seems to have had an annus mirabilis in 1912; that year saw the appearance of both John Carter and Tarzan. For any lover of science fiction and action adventures, these two characters serves as the gate-keepers of a new “20th-century” literary phase. Burroughs was a hack writer and admitted openly that he had started writing yarns to earn money for his poor family. But he possessed a peculiar flair for story-telling that still attracts readers.

The ecology of literature is vicious — look at what other action characters from the Edwardian era you will find in 21st-century bookshop. Sherlock Holmes and perhaps one or two more? The others have long since faded out of sight by getting outdated.

Washington Post today has an article about the Tarzan centennial in the literary world. The author has a few pertinent points to what are the particular qualities of the Jungle Lord.
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Apocalypse then — 13 days when the world trembled

Fifty years ago this week, a nuclear third world war was imminent. In mid-October 1962, a superpower confrontation began when the US military photo reconnaissance service discovered that the Soviet Union was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba. The crisis ended peacefully after 13 tense days and the event has since then been analyzed from one end to the other by historians and political scientists. (Today I leave that angle aside with the recommendation to to read the excellent book Essence of Decision by Graham Allison. Make sure that you get the revised version, updated with Soviet information that surfaced after the Cold War.)

The crisis involved common people in all sorts of professions. Here is a good article about the the photo interpreters who did some of the “heavy footwork” on the American side: (Link >>>>)

Lessons learned

This weekend I visited the Swecon SF convention in Upppsala. I had gotten the unexpected opportunity to participate in a shortstory-writing workshop with US author Kelly Link as an instructor. Four courageous Swedes had submitted one story each in English for her scrutiny.

This was my first experience of training my authorial craft in this format and it was rewarding. Kelly made two good rundowns on various dos and don’ts and taught me some good points on catching the readers’ attention in individual scenes. I have already started to look into my current writing projects for weak spots in need of revision.