A Map of Barsoom: Or Mars as John Carter knew it.

Returning to the Red Planet – or more properly one man’s vision of that same Red Planet, I present to you A Geographical Chart of the Planet Barsoom as beautifully drawn by Larry Ivie in 1962. This map was intended to illustrate the locals visited by Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter in his adventures which began in A Princess of Mars. This 11 inch by 17-inch map was included as a supplement to The Reader’s Guide to Barsoom and Amtor by David G. Van Arnam “and others” (1963). An unbound 84-page “fanzine”, the Guide is something of a “Holy Grail” for Edgar Rice Burroughs fans and is not commonly encountered in today’s collector’s market. Perhaps it is best to describe the Guide as quite rare. Two editions were published with the first numbering 500 copies of which 200 were signed and numbered. Signed first printings can sell for upwards of $500.00 USD. The unsigned the second printing also produced in a very limited run. This map comes from a copy of the second printing.

Barsoom Map

Above: Larry Ivie’s map of Barsoom (Mars) which was included as a supplement in The Reader’s Guide to Barsoom by David G. Van Arnam (1963).  11 inches by 17 inches, Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia.

The map is in many ways the culmination of John Carter fans attempts at overlaying Burroughs’ Barsoom (the name given by Burroughs’ Martians to their home planet) with the geographical features of the real planet Mars. Naturally, this process has met with mixed results at best given the ever-changing amount of knowledge available on Mars itself. In 1963 when this map was created Mars was still that canal-crossed planet that captured Percival Lowell’s imagination some 80 years earlier.

Barsoom Map Detail

Above: A detail from Larry Ivie’s map of Barsoom depicting Burroughs’ hero John Carter along with one of the huge multi-armed green Martians to the left of Carter’s and at right Carter’s ever faithful pet calot named Woola. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia.

Barsoom Map Detail 2

Above: A detail of the main portion of A Geographical Chart of the Planet Barsoom. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia.

ERB-In-His-Office

Above: John Carter creator Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) in his office with another of his wildly successful creations Tarzan. As a young man, Burroughs would serve as a trooper in the 7th U.S. Cavalry at Fort Grant, Arizona Territory before receiving a medical discharge in 1897. He would then launch himself into a career as one of the great science fiction/fantasy authors of the early 20th Century. Image: thejohncarterfiles.com

While several dozen maps of Barsoom have been published at various times and places – Burroughs created the first himself – none have been able to reconcile the real and imagined versions of the planet with any great success. The reason for this is quite simple – Burroughs wrote The Princess of Mars in 1917 when almost nothing was known about the actual surface of the planet. In a way, this worked out quite well for the author since he was in no way constrained by actual planetary science and could give his fertile imagination free reign to create at his own whim which he did with great abandon. A good example of his sidestepping what one might have considered major technical issues, Burroughs had his hero John Carter fall asleep in an Arizona cave and simply wake up on Barsoom. He would later return to Earth in much the same manner.

Barsoom Map Krenkel

Above: The special title plate by illustrator Roy G. Krenkel which was included in the Guide. 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia. 

Barsoom Map Preface

Above: The Guide’s preface by Dick Lupoff gives an excellent impression of the publication’s overall look and handmade quality. Mostly typewritten, the Guide’s 85 pages were unbound and mailed to subscribers looseleaf in a large envelope. In a nod to fans, Lupoff signed and dated the preface from “New York, Jasoom”. Jasoom being the Martian name for Earth in the John Carter stories. 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia.

 

 

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