The Gridley Wave #329 ~ February 2010
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Avatar and Burroughs 

Bill Hillman’s ERBZINE #3038 covers this subject extremely well by producing Michael Sellers' "Avatar and ERB," illustrated with over 100 excellent photographs, so we hope you will get a chance to view this at:
To sum up, James Cameron's Avatar seems to follow the themes of ERB's John Carter of Mars where a heroic human
male is thrust alone into an alien world. Film maker and critic Michael D. Sellers (a friend of Danton Burroughs) reports that
Cameron had Burroughs in mind when he created Avatar, observing: 

"What was ERB-like was the creation of a complete world with detailed flora and fauna and an indigenous culture that was well thought out and presented in detail that made me think of Burroughs."

Avatar's hero is "a male warrior in an exotic, alien land, overcoming physical challenges and confronting the fears of difference ... The biggest similarity for me was the one thing that Burroughs did better than anyone else, and that is to create a world that feels complete. Barsoom became real in my mind ... I could have drawn a map of the planet; I could write the history; I even tried playing Jetan; even today, decades after reading the books, I remember the names of the creatures ... banth, thoat, calot, orluk, sith. 

"The vividness with which Burroughs created Barsoom, Amtor, Caspak, Pellucidar, and Tarzan's jungle has been captured for the first time cinematically. And that means the experience of viewing Avatar is every bit as immersive and satisfying as was the experience of reading Burroughs tales and getting lost in the worlds he created.” 

This is a high-tech film which impresses ordinary viewers as well as confirmed sci-fi fanatics. Phil DeLeo, a Burroughs Bibliophile member, sent us his impressions of Avatar after seeing the film: “I thought I saw close relatives of thoats, banths, thags and those winged bird-like creatures that Venusians rode on. In fact, the planet Pandora strongly resembles ERB's Venus or even Pellucidar if you turned up the horizon with computer generated imagery. Every Burroughs fan ought to see this film. 

"It’s a pity that ERB himself could not have lived to see what can be done with today's technologies. It's too bad Cameron is
not making A Princess of Mars. That would be something to see.”

Bob Barrett also writes: “John Cameron has stated in numerous interviews that when he was a youth he was influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard. Avatar is a pure delight to see! It is the kind of story that Edgar Rice Burroughs might have written today if he was still alive. A grand adventure!” 

... "Ye Editor"
This page and front: scenes from Avatar. Below left: Michael Whelan’s cover painting
for Warlord of Mars.

See 100 more at:

Avatar Gallery I
James Cameron at Work
Avatar Gallery II
Poster Display
Avatar Gallery III
Command Centre
Avatar Gallery IV
Pandora's Na'vi
Avatar Gallery V
The Mission


Michael Whelan Images of Barsoom
Barsoom art by Whelan


The Gridley Wave #329 ~ February 2010
Published monthly for the Burroughs Bibliophiles as a supplement to The Burroughs Bulletin. Edited by George T. McWhorter,
The Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection, William F. Ekstrom Library, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292.
© Copyright 2010, The Burroughs Bibliophiles. E-mail: Telephone: (502) 852-8729.

Official Burroughs Bibliophiles site:
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