East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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I feel like Jock Mahoney.
No, wait, let me explain.

Jock Mahoney was a former Marine that starred in two Western TV series and a few Western movies, and ended up playing Tarzan in the ’60s after auditioning for the role in the ’40s.

In particular, Mahoney starred in Tarzan goes to India, in which Burroughs’ character moves from his home turf in Africa to Asia,  in order to save the elephants endangered by the works for a new dam.

And no, it’s not that I’m about to start wearing a toupée.

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Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle

Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle

I was talking with my friend Claire, last night, and the discussion shifted – as it is only natural, between a man and a woman during a stormy summer night – to the Tarzan animated series from Filmation.
Called Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, and it was originally released in 1976.

According to my friend Claire, the series was horrible.
I beg to differ. Continue reading


World Elephant Day

WED LOGOS CIRCLE_2015-1So, depending on your time zone, yesterday was the World Elephant Day, or today is the World Elephant Day for a few hours yet.

Elephants are majestic animals, creatures of wonder that have been with us throughout our history.
Transportation, heavy lifting, war machine, simple show of might and power, avataras of wise gods… humans have cast the elephants in a lot of roles.

And then there’s ivory, of course – a precious commodity, and the main reason why African elephants are an endangered species.

Now, when I think of elephants, there’s four things that come to my mind, as in a rush… Continue reading

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Edgar Rice Burroughs

Today’s the birthday of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the writer responsible for the creation of characters like Tarzan, John Carter, David Innes and many other friends that kept me company when I was a solitary kid in suburban Turin.

Edgar Rice Burroughs


I remember Zanthodon

“…there are still lost lands in the remote corners of the earth where fantastic monsters roam, where chaste and beautiful women remain to be rescued from sneering villains, and where adventure and peril and heroism thrive amid exotic and bizarre scenery.”


I was just sweet sixteen…
Well, no, I was a tad younger, actually, when I found, on a shelf of my favourite bookstore, an old copy of Lin Carter’s Journey to the Underground World, published by DAW book.
A very small pocket-sized paperback, the pages crispy with age, and a cover with… well, with a pterodactyl carrying away a busty blonde.

Now, I do not know if it’s still like this out there, or if it was ever like this anywhere else back then, but when I was a kid of ten or thereabouts, the general practice was, they handed you a thick Jules Verne book, maybe for Christmas, or for your birthday – because you were a kid, and kids “just love” adventure stories.

OK, so let me tell you – there’s nothing worse, when you are a kid of ten/twelve in the seventies, to be handed a 1950s translation of Journey to the Center of the Earth.
It’s boring.

So I went through Verne’s Center of the Earth as a kid, being bored silly, when I found out there were actual real books with Tarzan in them.
Tarzan, the guy from the movies.
Only, I found out, much better than in the movies.

Having read a few Tarzans, I started looking for something I really thought should be a smash – At the Earth’s Core, from the same guy that did Tarzan, but… wow, with dinosaurs! And adventure! And babes!

But the novel was not translated in Italian, so I put it on my list for my project of starting and reading in English.

And then, I found Zanthodon.

ZNTHDNVVJN1980Lin Carter’s Zanthodon books – the first in the series being the afore mentioned pterodactyl-with-blonde book – are a pastiche of Burrough’s Pellucidar series.
And they are fun.
They are, probably, the best stuff Carter wrote – I love the John Dark novels, I enjoyed his Lemurian tales, but Zanthodon is more tongue-in-cheek, more happy-go-lucky in its approach to the exotic adventure, more modern, and fun.
In an classic Burroughsian twist, Eric Carstairs journeys by drilling-mole to a huge cave beneath the Sahara, where the classic cast of babes and dinos awaits.
His sidekick is eccentric Professor Percival Penthesileia Potter.
You can guess the rest.
Carter follows the Burroughs standard plot closely – but provides us with a highly psaeudo-scientific rationale for the existance of his subterranean worls, which is actually slightly more plausible than the classic Hollow earth scenario.

Blimey, it was fun!

A few months later, I left Zanthodon for Pellucidar, having found a copy of teh Signet edition of the first book.
But Carter’s slightly parodic and yet not-ridiculous-at-all approach to his stories and characters remained with me a long time.

Right now, I’m going through my Pellucidar and Caprona books, and I’ll probably post some ideas here.
But before I start, I wanted to pay homage to Lin carter’s Underground World.
It was great fun.