Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tarzan 101 | Authorized Sequels

Celebrating Tarzan's 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin's Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

There have been countless unauthorized stories and fanfictions about Tarzan over the decades, but Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. has put its stamp of approval on only ten novels so far featuring the ape man written by someone other than Burroughs. Griffin actually only mentions nine, but another has been published since Griffin's book and I've included it below.

Tarzan and the Valley of Gold by Fritz Leiber (1966)

The first authorized, non-Burroughs Tarzan book was actually the novelization of the Mike Henry movie, Tarzan and the Valley of Gold. Like any good novelization, Hugo-winner Leiber (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) included several elements from Clare Huggaker's original script that didn't make it into the movie, including a carwash fight and using submachinegun bolos to bring down a helicopter.

Tarzan Alive by Philip José Farmer (1972)

An Adventureblog reader emailed to ask if I would consider doing a separate blog post on Tarzan Alive, that's how important this book is to Tarzan fans. I'm looking for an angle of attack on that, but in the meantime, Tarzan Alive (subtitled: "The Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke") was written by another Hugo-winner (multiple times, in addition to a couple of Nebulas, a Locas, and various Lifetime Achievements).

Farmer's best known works are his World of Tiers and Riverworld series, but he's probably most famous for his Wold Newton theory, the idea that all the greatest adventure heroes (from Captain Blood and Sherlock Holmes to James Bond and Nero Wolfe) not only live in the same universe, but are mostly related to each other. Farmer first presented that idea in Tarzan Alive and continued it in Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life.

Tarzan Alive is written as if Tarzan was an actual, historical person whom Burroughs fictionalized in order to protect the ape man's privacy. Farmer takes the role of a biographer who looks into other branches of the Clayton family tree while also exploring the factual possibility of Burroughs' ideas.

Bunduki by J.T. Edson (1975)

Edson was mostly known for Westerns when he approached ERB, Inc. about using Tarzan in one of his novels. A fan of crossovers and Farmer's Wold Newton idea, Edson loved including historical (Wyatt Earp, for instance) and other people's fictional characters (hello, Marshal Dillon) in his stories. He also created a complicated genealogy that connected many of his own characters, including James Allenvale "Bunduki" Gunn, cousin of the hero of Edson's Rockabye Country series.

Bunduki also happens to be married to Dawn Drummond-Clayton, Tarzan's great-granddaughter and the grandniece of Bulldog Drummond. Bunduki met Dawn when his parents were killed in the Mau Mau Uprising (an historical conflict that took place in Kenya in the '50s) and he was adopted by Tarzan and Jane. During the novel, Bunduki and Dawn are abducted by aliens and taken to the world of Zillikian, located on the other side of the sun in the same orbit as Earth.

Edson wrote four more novels in the series (Bunduki and Dawn, Sacrifice for the Quagga God, Fearless Master of the Jungle, and the unpublished Amazons of Zillikian) as well as four short story prequels set on Earth, but his ERB, Inc. contracted having ended, he left out any references to Tarzan in them.

Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Joe Lansdale (1995)

The only book on this list that I've read (so far), The Lost Adventure was originally serialized by Dark Horse Comics in four volumes. Based on an unfinished manuscript by Burroughs, the editions had covers by Arthur Suydam and interior illustrations by Thomas Yeates, Charles Vess, Gary Gianni, and Michael Kaluta.

Lansdale (Bubba Ho-Tep) didn't just finish Burroughs' story, but rewrote it in his own voice. That said, it's got an authentic Burroughs feel to it with two groups invading the jungle to look for a lost city. The good group is led by a professor and his daughter, and there's an evil group of deserters from the French Foreign Legion. Jad-bal-ja and Nkima also make appearances.

The whole story has since been collected in one volume.

Tarzan: The Epic Adventures by R.A. Salvatore (1996)

Salvatore (TSR's Forgotten Realms series) wrote the novelization of the pilot for the Tarzan: The Epic Adventures TV show. The pilot itself was a loose retelling of Burroughs' The Return of Tarzan mixed with a trip to Pellucidar.

The Dark Heart of Time by Philip José Farmer (1999)

Not a sequel to Tarzan Alive, Farmer's second Tarzan book is all about Burroughs' fictional character. It's set between Tarzan the Untamed and Tarzan the Terrible and reveals additional details about Tarzan's search for Jane in those books.

Though this was his only other official Tarzan novel, Farmer also wrote unauthorized stories in which Tarzan met Sherlock Holmes ("The Adventure of the Peerless Peer") and Doc Savage (the Nine trilogy: A Feast Unknown, Lord of the Trees, and The Mad Goblin).

Another unauthorized book, the time travel story called Time's Last Gift, references the Wold Newton universe while also serving as a prequel to Farmer's trilogy about prehistoric Opar (Hadon of Ancient Opar, Flight to Opar, and The Song of Kwasin).

Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy by Andy Briggs (2011)

I know Briggs as the writer on the last couple of issues of the comics adaptation of Kong: King of Skull Island, but I'm curious about his authorized reboot of the Tarzan legend for the Young Adult audience. I talked briefly with him about it when it was announced a couple of years ago, but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. In The Greystoke Legacy, he reimagines Tarzan as a modern teenager stranded in the jungle. With a strong environmental theme, the book recasts Jane as the daughter of the boss at an illegal logging camp.

Tarzan: The Jungle Warrior by Andy Briggs (2012)

The sequel to Greystoke Legacy has young Jane digging into Tarzan's past while the ape boy tracks Nikolas Rokoff, a hunter who's poached a baby gorilla.

Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell (2012)

Maxwell (The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn) is best known for her historical novels, but she turned her research to early Twentieth Century Africa for this retelling of Tarzan's story from Jane's perspective.

Tarzan: The Savage Lands by Andy Briggs (2013)

The third in Brigg's YA series introduces Opar and La to the updated series.


thingmaker said...

Will you be covering the unauthorized sequels?

Michael May said...

Not in any kind of organized way, simply because there's no way to know how many even exist, much less cover them all. But if you have a favorite (or more) that I should try, I'd love to hear about and possibly write about them.


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