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“Barsoom” (A Filk Song)

23 Feb



This is the edition of A Princess of Mars that I first read

 I’m posting a recording  of  “Barsoom,”  a filk song Gary Robe ran in his fanzine Tennessee Trash for the Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA) a few years back. At the time, I commented on it in my zine, Dumbfounding Stories, and Gary’s next issue featured a revised version of the lyrics, which I also commented on. This process continued back and forth in our zines for almost a year. For trufans and Burroughs Bibliophiles the title will be a tipoff: the song concerns Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels. Many moons now, I been meaning to record Gary’s finished version of the lyrics. When I got ready to finally do it, I noticed that his finished product was one verse shorter than John Prine’s “Paradise,” to which the music of “Barsoom” is set. I came up with another verse for the recording (verse two), and I made two or three tweaks to Gary’s words–which I hope he’ll forgive me.

I hope you’ll click on the audio icon below and check out the lyrics beneath it. If you like filk, and especially if you like filk and Edgar Rice Burroughs, I think you’ll be glad you did.




A big box of books handed down generations

We found Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars

All summer we spent meeting adventure

With Captain John Carter and his green buddy Tars


And Edgar won’t you send me ‘neath the moons of Barsoom

In the red desolation with Dejah and Tars

I’m sorry, cadet, you’re too late to go there

The lander’s cold data has turned it to Mars!

We flew in airships, rode thoats cross the wastelands

Lived by our wits and our swords of cold steel

Faced foes and monsters and found our one true love

It was larger than life and realer than real


So what can you do with a dusty dead planet?

Make it our second home with some water and air!

It’ll take some nerve and a few generations

But someday we’ll send John Carter up there!


Grandpa will you see me to the Moons of New Barsoom?

The colony’s ready; I’m starting to pack!

Heads up, Grandson; just get up on that spaceship!

Cause the Terraform Project’s done brought it all back!


And Edgar won’t you send me neath the moons of Barsoom

In the red desolation with Dejah and Tars?

No problem, my friend; it’s all there in the pages

Just remember it’s Barsoom; it never was Mars!

“Barsoom” was recorded in Garage Band. I’m doing all the parts except the bass, which my  wife, Dorothy, added.

dumbfounding stories 2 cover

Cover by Pablo Vitruvian



The Force Awakens & the Contemporary Zeitgeist

7 Feb

Drawing by Robert E. Gilbert

Just got around to seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Everyone who’d been saying  the movie pretty much duplicates the plot of the original Star Wars was  on the money. A few differences did emerge and seemed to mirror  changes in popular consciousness during the thirty-eight years separating the two films. First, the young person learning to wield The Force (and a light saber) this time around is a woman. Plus, she becomes involved in an understated interracial romance, which would’ve  raised eyebrows in some corners back in 1977. Oh yeah, and the new improved (bigger, badder) Death Star is solar-powered.

On the Cusp of Dark Fantasy & Magic Realism

10 May

Dark Fire Fiction just posted “Howard Vancil’s Dilemma,” a short story whose genre would fit the  description up there. It’s at, and the site is free.


dark fire

Dark Fire Fiction


A Fantastic Cover

6 Jul


Fantastic Stories of Imagination, August, 1962 Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, August, 1962

I’ve always thought the cover to the left, from August, 1962 Fantastic Stories was great.

An internet search for the names of most Sixties Fantasy or SF artists will usually garner significant information. But I found virtually nothing when I Googled the name of Vernon Kramer, who created this cover. All I can tell you is that Kramer did quite a few covers in the Sixties for Fantastic and her sister publication, Amazing Stories. Most of them were arresting paintings, but this would be my favorite.

I’ve just always thought it was haunting and beautiful and evocative. It illustrates (and I suspect inspired) a pretty nice story, “Sword of Flowers.” Back then SF magazines would often buy a well-executed painting and then pay a writer to create a story around it. I’d bet that that was the case here. In any case…

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