Friday, 2 June 2017

Mysterious Characters

I have found three more "mysterious characters of literature" (see here):

ERB's John Carter;
Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion;
Donovan's Universal Soldier.

These are characters who can appear in different times and places and might travel through the megamultiverse.

Holger Danske is Poul Anderson's version of such a character. The speculation about such characters was inspired by Anderson's inter-universal inn, the Old Phoenix, and by the 4N dimensions in his Time Patrol universe.

Any warrior in an old heroic fantasy might be an earlier phase of John Carter.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    At least any great warrior of either a historically recorded legend or modern fantasy not reported as dying. I thought of included Beowulf in your list here, but realized that would not work because the poem BEOWULF has him dying in battle against the dragon.

    And I like the suggestion about Holger Danske!


  2. Paul:
    Worthy of note in this context: one of the manifestations of the Eternal Champion was Michael Kane, a.k.a. "Kane of Old Mars," a Terran scientist whose teleportation experiment accidentally projected him to a habitable (and very Barsoom-like) Mars of many millennia past.

    Fritz Leiber's sword-and-sorcery characters Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser have also been known to travel to other times and universes ... and Leiber explicitly described them as being "more skillful masters of the blade even than Cyrano de Bergerac, Scar Gordon, Conan, John Carter, D'Artagnan, Brandoch Daha...."

    1. David,
      Alan Moore's versions of John Carter and Gulliver Jones wonder whether Kane could have been "one of us" but conclude that he was so long ago that his Earth-like name must have been a coincidence.

    2. Kaor, DAVID!

      Dang! Yet another gap in my SF/F reading experience. I'm NOT familiar with the Michael Kane stories. But I have at least read some of Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser tales!


    3. Paul:
      I THOUGHT of mentioning that *League of Extraordinary Gentlemen* crossover, but got distracted.

      It's particularly funny because some reviewers believe Jones' adventures were the inspiration for Carter's, although Jones was never as heroic, or at least not as successful in his attempts to be heroic.

      Wikipedia says:
      Richard A. Lupoff, the first critic to argue for the connection of the two works, has suggested that while Burroughs' Mars was inspired by Arnold's, his hero may hearken back to an earlier Arnold creation, the ancient warrior Phra from his first novel, *The Wonderful Adventures of Phra the Phoenician* (1890).

    4. Sean:
      I haven't actually READ the Michael Kane stories. I just know OF them, with a few details.

    5. They are a good pastiche with rationales of how Mars is inhabited and of how the hero goes there with sword-fighting skills.

    6. Kaor, DAVID!

      Well, that makes my battered and fragile SF fan boy personality feel a bit better! (Smiles)