Barsoom: The Lost Chronicles of Edgar Rice Burroughs


An Old Friend
Barsoom: The Lost Chronicles of Edgar Rice Burroughs

Although Edgar Rice Burroughs died in 1950 (or, perhaps, he merely passed on to another world where he is young, strong, immortal, and fighting for truth, justice, and the ERBian way), he left behind a great library of adventure stories, intriguing worlds, and awe-inspiring characters. What most people don't know, however, is that Burroughs secretly deposited a cache of manuscripts with an ancient monastery in Africa. The monastery was burned to the ground by bandits in 1951 and all knowledge of the manuscripts was lost.

However, in 1994, Ronald K. Innes II, great-grandnephew of the renowned David Innes of Pellucidar, was given a copy of a letter by Burroughs in which he made an obscure reference to having shipped the manuscripts to the monastery. Intrigued, Innes made some inquiries, learned that the Bothuku monastery had indeed once existed (it was founded by missionaries more than a thousand years ago), and in 1995 he led an archaeological expedition to uncover the lost secrets of the Bothuku.

Needless to say Innes had many adventures along the way, mostly of the ordinary sort one encounters while travelling, but in August 1995 he reached the hilltop in central Africa where the broken ruin of the former monastery yet stands today. The final stage of the trip was not without its perils, for even today the wild tracks of inner Africa teem with unsavory villains and fantastic landscapes the like of which few modern men have seen and reported.

There was little left of the monastery but tumbling rocks. Yet Innes persevered and early in September 1995 he uncovered a hidden underground vault which had once lain beneath the main building. Art traced into the walls indicated the vault had once been a burial chamber for local chiefs, and it may be as old as the monastery itself. The vault consists of a seemingly endless maze of tunnels and alcoves in which the bones of old warriors, monks, and hapless travellers were laid to rest, generation after generation. To this day Innes -- who has returned to the dig twice since 1995 -- estimates he has mapped only a tenth part of the vault.

The manuscripts were located in the vault in 1997. Innes was ecstatic, but they had unfortunately suffered some damage in shipment, or perhaps in storage. The bandits who destroyed the monastery never found them, of course, so the paper is still in relatively good condition. But the dampness of Africa and the underground conditions combined to produce an unforeseen growth of mold on much of the paper. Dr. Innes was forced to call in the help of experts from several universities who have been relatively successful in fighting the mold (which, strangely, appears to be a new species -- so the biological community has not been entirely enthusiastic about destroying the only known samples of this stuff).

To date, my correspondence with Dr. Innes has produced only a few fascinating glimpses of the contents of the lost ERB manuscripts. But it appears that Burroughs had been contemplating an entirely new series of adventures for the family of John Carter, Warlord of Barssoom. I can only post here summaries of a few of the stories (as conveyed to me by Dr. Innes' assistant, Ms. Emily Richter, a research student from a northern university).

I did let slip the plot and storyline of one of the books on the news group It was this unfortunate slip of the tongue which led me to conclude it would be better to share what I have learned with all true ERB fans than to wait for the final revelations from Dr. Innes himself. Dr. Innes agrees that we should indeed anoint the world which awaits with hope of new and delightful stories of Barsoom....

The Perfect ERB Plot
I wrote this summary of an ERB plot some years ago. I thought I would include it here for reference' sake. It may or may not coincide precisely with the details of the lost chronicles.
A Fighting Man of Art
It should be noted this is only a working title. A note attached to the manuscript says that ERB was fascinated with the idea of bringing an artist to the forefront of the Carterian adventures. The story undoubtedly would have undergone some revision, and the title may eventually have been changed to something else.
The Barsoomian Conspiracy
A four-part adventure ERB considered writing about a great project to save dying Barsoom.
The Rebels of Mars
As the nations of Barsoom come together to build a great fleet to bring water back to their dying planet, John Carter stumbles upon a devious plot with far-reaching ramifications.
The Water Pirates of Mars
Second installment of the four-part adventure details how John Carter unravels the schemes of Kalvan See and restores hope to dying Barsoom.
The Moon Maid: How Hollywood Would Mangle It
ERB fans keep hoping for the perfect ERB film adaptation. Of course, there probably will never be one. But Hollywood might delve into the treasury of ERB's fiction for new story ideas one day, and here is a speculation on what television producers might do with The Moon Maid, perhaps one of the overall best ERB stories ever written.
A Timeline for John Carter of Mars
This is a relatively incomplete timeline I compiled for John Carter a couple of years ago. I hope to make it more complete eventually.
Sounds like fiction to me. The guy talks about the summary for a story, which I think this is, a story!