Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Influence on the Development of the Star Wars Franchise


Great article from the New Yorker:

From “How Star Wars Conquered the Universe,” the new history of the sci-fi franchise, by Chris Taylor, I learned many incredible facts. Among them: Brian De Palma, the director of “Carrie,” helped to write the opening crawl (“Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire”). Christopher Walken was originally cast as Han Solo, and Solo was partly based on Francis Ford Coppola. (At the time, he was a young, seductive, swashbuckling smoothie who had impressed George Lucas by talking Warner Brothers into funding “Apocalypse Now.”) Lucas studied briefly with Jean-Luc Godard—a title card from one of his student productions reads “A film by LUCAS”—and he got the idea for the Force from “21–87,” an avant-garde film by the Canadian director Arthur Lipsett. “Many people feel that in the contemplation of nature and in communication with other living things, they become aware of some kind of force, or something,” a man’s voice says, over images of city life. Sometimes, “they call it God.”

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John Carter is a film directed by Pixar alum Andrew Stanton that follows Civil War veteran John Carter on his astounding trip to the planet Barsoom, which we know as Mars. There he meets a princess leading a rebellion, fights against an evil empire, and meets a variety of strange aliens on a desert wasteland of a planet, gets powers far beyond the abilities of normal men, and encounters a strange religion. There are times where he’s captured, thrown into an arena to fight bizarre monsters, and other times where he’s forced to rescue a princess.
Source: StarWars.com

An Intern Saved a Museum by Finding This Revolutionary War Treasure in the Attic



Once in a very long while, a rare book or manuscript discovery is so remarkable that it makes national headlines.  In 1988, for instance, an anonymous Massachusetts collector recovered an 1827 first edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane from a roadside barn. Many will also recall the 1989 story of the man who found an original broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden inside a picture frame that he bought at a Pennsylvania flea market for $4 (and later sold at Sotheby’s for $2.4 million). Or the discovery of the manuscript of Lincoln’s last address found in a secret compartment of an antique table in 1984 (and later purchased by Malcolm Forbes for $231,000). Yet another “believe it or not” tale is that of the Nashville man who paid $2.50 at a thrift store in 2006 for what he thought was a worthless facsimile of the Declaration of Independence that turned out to be a rare, unrecorded copy of an 1820 print. He sold it for nearly $500,000.

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(Manuscript Courtesy of Morris-Jumel Mansion)


Beginning of ERB’s Planet of Poloda

The beginning of ERB’s Planet of Poloda that created his sci fi thriller BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR.


I can appreciate, in a small way, the swell time God had in creating the universe.
Burroughs’ letter to Prof. J. S. Donaghho, November 23, 1940

Thus, seventy-five years ago today, did Burroughs conclude a brief but fascinating correspondence Prof. Donaghho, an astronomer at the College of Hawaii regarding the science of the author’s new creation, a distant solar system for BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR. This is how Irwin Porges introduces it in his ERB biography.

Apparently feeling too confined in the worlds of Mars, Venus, and Pellucidar, Burroughs envisioned an entire new solar system as a setting for an adventurer from the earth. With his novelette “Beyond the Farthest Star” almost finished—it was again designed to launch a three- or four-part series—he became aware of a number of astronomical problems and sought the advice of an expert. On November 1, 1940, he began a correspondence with Professor J. S. Donoghho, also living in Honolulu, obtaining his name from a friend, Dr. Livesay. Ed wrote, “The problem is in relation to one of those very profound classics which I have been inflicting on a very tolerant world for a quarter of a century,” and explained the nature of his enclosed pencil sketch: “…a diagram of an imaginary solar system consisting of a small sun and eleven equally spaced planets. An atmosphere belt rotates about the sun at the same speed as the planets.”

To Donoghho he posed four questions concerning the orbits of the planets, their visibility at night and day, the type of ocean tides that might be produced on a certain planet, and the particular visibility to the other planets of a “sphere” about eight thousand miles in diameter. (Porges, p. 669)

Donaghho proved quite helpful to Burroughs in most respects but not quite all: the atmospheric belt would most assuredly not, in the professor’s words, “stay put.” Porges goes on to wrap up his story of their exchanges.

In the final letter of correspondence, on November 23 Ed wrote, “You have proven yourself a real benefactor to the human race of Poloda (Planet P) by lowering the tides so as to permit ocean navigation.” However, the atmospheric problem had not been solved, and Ed commented jokingly, “In the little matter of the atmosphere belt, there are two schools of thought on Poloda: One adheres to the Donaghhoan theory, while the other, hopefully anticipating inter-planetary navigation, clings stubbornly to the Borroughsian theory.” Concerning the fun Donaghho had found in the queries, Ed stated, “I find fun in the imaginings which prompt them; and I can appreciate, in a small way, the swell time God had in creating the universe.” (Porges, pp. 670-1)


“Planetary System of Omos” and “Poloda,” from the Canaveral Press book, TALES OF THREE PLANETS (1964)

Frank Frazetta cover art for the 1964 and 1969 Ace editions of BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR

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