Nothing is new under the…moon

Of late I have been rereading some of the books of my youth…viewing faintly remembered material through a much older, presumably wiser, lens.

One of my guilty pleasures has been rereading the works of teenage Ron’s favorite sci-if/fantasy writer. A giant in the age of pulp fiction, Edgar Rice Burroughs wasn’t much of a writer, but he was a fantastic story teller.

All of his books had the same basic plot: Our hero is transported to a savage world, fights all manner of barbarians and beasts (usually with a sword) and wins the love of a fair maiden.

Hey, I said I was a kid! Heck, the lurid book covers alone were irresistible.

Funny thing though. In rereading his lunar trilogy, beginning with “The Moon Maid,” I ran across a passage that made me wonder whether Burroughs was prescient as well as imaginative.

In the book, first published in 1922, our hero, Admiral Julian, crash lands on the moon, where he discovers Va-Nah, a once great civilization that has descended into ruin and savagery. Befriending a fellow prisoner (all of Burrough’s heroes inevitably become prisoners…again and again) Julian asks him how his society fell into such disrepair.

And this is what he was told:

There developed a cult of ignorance and resentment.

That inevitably metastasized into class warfare.

Until the combatants were reduced to rearranging the rubble.

Fantastic of course. And highly unlikely. I mean, where did ERB come up with this stuff?

Retrogression indeed!

Or should I ask: How did he know? Beware the Kalkars among us who think they think.

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