by Philip José Farmer
Enclosed is my dime for your Tarzan on Mars Project. I'll contribute more if needed, not so much because I think this novel may be what you say it is, but because I admire your sheer guts and because, when I was a child and an adolescent I shared your attitude toward Tarzan, John Carter, David Innes, Julian and the rest of that adventurous company. But I'm flabbergasted at your statement that Annas, Byrne, Shaver, etc., are such great writers, especially when you admit you furnished them with so many of their plots and elsewhere have stated that you had to re-write much of their stuff. These boys are imitators of Burroughs, and not very good at it. Burroughs himself was a superb story-teller, but even one who loved him as much as I did can easily see his faults and terrible inadequacies in handling the English language, his ineptness at characterization—with some minor exceptions—his monotonous use of cliches, his unreal people, and so on down the line. Anybody whose aesthetic sense is even slightly developed may see that. Nevertheless, I am grateful to him for the golden happy hours I spent with him, and I am very curious to follow Tarzan all the way to Mars. But, if this is another hoax Ray, if this novel has been written by you, I'm coming up all the way to Amherst, clad in my leopardskin, and tearing you apart. It had better be what you say it is. In grade school my nickname was Tarzan because I spent so much time in the trees playing at being him. I'm thirty-eight now and haven't climbed a tree for a long time, but my hands are still strong, and I can utter the victory cry over a dead profaner of the blesser of my childhood.
Philip Jose Farmer
4034 Bryer Place
These words, from a writer as fine as you are, Phil, are music to my ears! We agree that you write a polished story; but not that Burroughs did not (nor those others you mentioned). A story that holds you fascinated in spite of the word usage, is a STORY! And it is does that, it doesn't matter a tinker's damn how well written it is. As an editor, I've rewritten, yes (EVEN BURROUGHS), but sometimes I think I didn't help any. No, this isn't a hoax. This is just the most wonderful adventure of Tarzan and John Carter I have ever read, and I "swang" through those same trees! As for being written by me—let's get this straight—I just ain't capable of anything near as good as Burroughs, and I'm the first guy to admit it. Annas, Byrne and Shaver are just beginning— so let's leave their final ranking up to future history, eh? —Rap.