Saturday, 24 September 2016


A fanzine article once formulated one of the rules of the ERBian universe, i.e., a woman about to be assaulted will be inevitably be rescued at the last moment. It remains only to compile a list of examples, e.g. Jane, about to be assaulted by an ape, rescued by Tarzan; Jane, about to be assaulted by Tarzan, rescued by the power of her purity etc. Some practical guidelines emerged, e.g., watch out for those Emperors of Abyssinia; if the assault occurs in a boat, then the assailant can be laid out with an oar etc.

It is also a truth universally acknowledged that a woman rescued from barbarians will turn out to be a young and beautiful princess who will marry her rescuer. SM Stirling plays with this idea in Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Fifteen:

"'So, Colonel, I hear it's a princess we rescued,' he said. 'A young, beautiful princess at that.'" (p. 234)

But what would be the implications of rescuing a princess? Stirling immediately spells it out:

"'Paddy, for once rumor does not lie - and there's all sorts of political implications involved.'" (p. 235)

The news that there is a surviving member of the Mitannian royal family is a complicating factor just when everyone is declaring independence and the Aramaeans are burning and looting. The Babylonians are stretched thin and the Nantucketers do not want complicating factors like a beautiful young princess.


David Birr said...

Anderson played with the rescued "young and beautiful princess" notion in *The High Crusade*, given that she had green hair and feathery antennae.

"But the humanlikeness, and exceeding gratitude, of the Vashtunari ... did much to cheer lonely Englishmen. Whether or not the prohibitions of Leviticus are applicable is still being hotly debated."

(L. Sprague de Camp, in *The Hostage of Zir*, has a Scots character specifically state that Leviticus DOESN'T apply. "The guid beuk forbids fornication with human beings and bestiality with sheep and other dumb brutes, but it says nocht about wimbling with extra-terrestrial hominoids. It's giving the terran preachers a hell of a time." The aliens in question had feathery antennae and blue-green hair, so this may be a salute to PA.)

David Birr said...

I forgot to mention that *The Hostage of Zir* includes a bit of a slap at Edgar Rice Burroughs AND Otis Adelbert Kline, who wrote similar works. Fergus Reith, main character of *THOZ*, remarks at the end that it's too bad "Otis Burroughs or whatever his name was" is long dead, because Fergus would like to have words with him concerning what adventures with alien princesses are REALLY like.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Very amusing, these notes of yours! Of course, a devotee of PA like me would have read THE HIGH CRUSADE! And I have a copy cf L. Sprague De Camp's THE HOSTAGE OF ZIR. Yes, from what I remember, I can see how De Camp was gently satirizing Burroughs and Kline's books.