Monday, March 26, 2012

Negative John Carter review from 84 years ago

On the first submission—as was his wont with startlingly new ideas—Farnsworth Wright rejected “The Call of Cthulhu.” The following summer, however, he asked to see it again. Lovecraft sent it in with two other stories and one of his defeatist letters. He berated conventional interplanetary stories like Burroughs’s tales of John Carter (which he had loved as a youth), with its stalwart human hero in love with a beautiful extraterrestrial princess:

If I were writing an “interplanetary” tale it would deal with beings organized very differently form mundane mammalia, and obeying motives wholly alien to anything we know upon Earth—the exact degree of alienage depending, of course, on the scene of the tale; whether laid in the solar system, or the utterly unplumbed gulfs still farther out….All very well—but will readers stand for it? That’s all they’re likely to get from me in the future—except when I deal with definitely terrestrial scenes—and I am the last one to urge the acceptance of material of doubtful value to the magazine’s particular purpose.

Despite Lovecraft’s negative salesmanship, Wright bought the story for $165. It appeared in Weird Tales for February, 1928.

—L. Sprague de Camp, Lovecraft: A Biography

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