Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cities of the Red Martian Night

Drop the swords (or maybe keep the swords) and add a little spy pot-boiler paranoia enhanced by heavy use of strange drugs and you can get a Barsoom as envisioned by William S. Burroughs rather than Edgar Rice. Brackett’s Low Canal cities become even seedier as they blur with the hallucinatory Tangier, Interzone.

There’s plenty of material in the ERB corpus that needs only a slight twist: think of the rykors and kaldanes, the synthetic men, the planet men, or the realist and etherealist factions of Lothar. Ras Thavas might get along well with Dr. Benway.

No reason not to borrow from Burroughs’s spiritual descendants too: the atavistic drug shanga, Ramas’ mind-transference, or vampiric Shambleau hustlers. Living turbans from the Vaults of Yoh-Vombis would be all the rage.

You get the idea. It doesn’t take much and Mars gets a lot a more alien.

17 comments:

Dariel Quiogue said...

I just love the concept of Shanga.

Sean Robson said...

Great idea! So, when can we expect the martian supplement for Weird Adventures?

Jeremy Duncan said...

Now I'm thinking of P.J. Farmer's "The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod."

Trey said...

@Jeremy - As well you should be. :) Too bad Farmer never got around to writing a William S. Burroughs Barsoom pastiche.

@Sean - Not for WA, but I'm going to continue to work on my Pulp Spelljammer riff.

@Daniel - Me too.

garrisonjames said...

I'd play in a game like that in a heart-beat. The Two Burroughs make a good combination, and when you roll-in some Brackett...not to mention Moore & Smith...it just gets more fun all the way around. You really should consider running with this--and don't forget to drag along Gulliver Jones and maybe the spider-creatures from Moorcock's pastiches of Mars...then there's Venus...

Michael Moscrip said...

Very cool, and I have always loved the Spratt Mars comics :)

richard said...

yesyesyes. All that red dust is bug powder (or dried blood, or everything at once). I've been wondering if it would be missing the point too insultingly to try to do a Thomas Pynchon game - Barsoom never seems to be far from Bill Burroughs' subconscious nor Lovecraft from Pynchon's.

Hunter S Thompson of Mars. Think about it.

Trey said...

@Garrisonjames - Of course, Gullivar Jones and his magic carpet is a must.

@Richard - "We were 80 haads outside of Helium when the Plutonian drugs began to take hold."

Needles said...

Mind if I add in elements from this to Atomic Wasteland Mars! The Nova Mob has made an appearance in one of my games in awhile! I think they've been operating on Mars for awhile!

Trey said...

Add away. None of this is my creation. :)

Alexander Osias said...

IIRC, there is a short story I read that combined elements of both Burroughs authors. Will try to find it.

Trey said...

That was the Tarzan-ish story "The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod" mentioned above by Jeremy.

garrisonjames said...

Thanks a lot Trey. Now I frikkin dreamed of this place last night. I also kept hearing Marlon Brando's voice: 'The Horror.' Good thing I'm going out for a couple of beers tonight...

Trey said...

The red sand seeped into your dreams. ;)

knobgobbler said...

Excellent kindling to set my mind ablaze. Thank you!

Robert Parker said...

Quite excellent.

Trey said...

Thanks.