Last night I dreamt of Barsoom again.
It doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Last night I dreamt of Manderley again,” but then I’m no Daphne Du Maurier. What’s odd about this phrase are two things:
One, I was never the biggest fan of Burroughs. While there has been a lot of research since then to counterbalance this setback, when Viking landed on Mars I was the ripe old age of one. That means that for the majority of my life, Mars has been considered a rusted orb, lifeless and devoid of water. It has only been in recent years that both of those suppositions have begun to be turned back. Despite a penchant for fantasy and science fiction, the Viking results ingrained in me a certain worldview perspective. I had a hard time reconciling the Mars of Burrough’s writing with the Mars I (thought I) knew. Even giving it some leeway for being written in 1911, my weak, immature brain couldn’t cope with that dichotomy of reality and fiction being so disparate.
Adding to that, I have a distinct distaste for travelling to any known planet via astral projection. Edgar Cayce aside, the thought of traversing the aether to arrive on a distant planet seemed ludicrous to me. Even if I were to grant the possibility of a mind leaving the body and exploring the solar system a’la astral projection, how did Carter get a new physical body? Yes, that’s right, these are the things that plague me into disbelief.
Two, I really did dream of Barsoom last night.
I’m not sure where in the subconscious it came from. I know I’ve seen at least one reference to John Carter of Mars (the movie) in a Best/Worst of 2012 list recently, and maybe that was enough, but this dream wasn’t like the movie. It was unearthly, comforting, and exciting. I don’t recall the scantily clad ladies of a Boris Vallejo or Michael Whelan cover – this was grittier, more “real” if you will. And it was beautiful. Architecture that scaled higher and further than my eye could see; martians and thoat and the dreaded white apes; danger oozing from under every rock and on the other side of every wall. Whatever the catalyst, I was on a quest (but of course), and completing it was the only thing that could save both Jasoom (Earth) and Barsoom (Mars) from mutual destruction.
It was fantastic. I would pay to go back there again.
And now I am back in the here and now, in my study, staring out the window at the cold winter’s day just a few feet and inches of glass away, daydreaming of going back to Barsoom.
P.S. When I attempted to explain to my wife that I dreamt of Barsoom last night, she gave me a blank stare and our soon to be nine year old piped up with “Were there white apes?” Fatherly pride, folks, fatherly pride.
- “Barsoom” Covers by d’Achille (politicalstrife.wordpress.com)
- T-Shirts & Apparel : Mars Planet Pendant (thinkgeek.com)
- Exploring Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: Episode 5, “Blues for a Red Planet” (tor.com)