January 25, 2013 by bck1402
Some months back, I got my copy of Jane, The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell and then pondered on the aspect of pulp adventures. At the time, I was slogging through the weird and very surreal Kraken by China Miéville. That was a fairly tough read. I’ll admit that I’m not entirely used to this kind of surreal urban fantasy. It’s easier in comic book form where all those strange and unusual scenic descriptions are already translated into pictures. I suppose it would help if you had some knowledge of London as a city, or at least some knowledge of the cities and towns in the UK.
I’ve never really been big on Fantasy adventures. Never got into the whole Dungeons and Dragons scene or those Dragonlance books my cousin kept on harping about. Sure, I liked dragons… more when I was younger, but I could never really get into reading fantasy adventures. Even the Lord Of The Rings was tough and I got fairly lost (or bored) halfway through The Two Towers (I did try). Honestly, I initially thought of Middle-Earth as being somewhere in the middle of the Earth – on the inside.
I always leaned a little more to Science Fiction. It was that sense of the possible whether it was a few years or a few centuries away. It didn’t always have to be in the future tho. A majority of the pulp adventures also dabbled in strange and unusual scientific possibilities- unusual technologies; scientific advancements; advanced civilisations; lost cities; the occasional ray gun…
For most of Jane, it’s about her first encounter with Tarzan, but from her perspective with a touch of an update. This Jane Porter is very much a scientist with some gusto, following her father in search of Darwin’s missing link between the apes and humans. She’s also quite the modern woman in the late 19th century, very unlike the one from Burroughs’ original adventure, and yet not too much.
Burroughs’ narrative was straight-forward, but even then, in the opening, he writes that he is simply relating a tale that was told to him. And as a writer, chronicling an adventure of the time, certain liberties were supposedly taken to create a proper adventure suited to that day and age with simple sentences and really short paragraphs, keeping the pace zipping along. The narrative in Jane is a little more drawn out, taking its time at times, zipping like a pulp adventure at others, but it’s supposed to serve as the inspiration for Burroughs’ adventure. In that, there are some similarities, but not too much so as to have something a little more original and yet familiar.
It is an old fashioned adventure with little action in the middle portion as Jane and Tarzan bond. The ending falls straight into that pulp adventure mode that I mentioned above as several mysteries come to light, which makes this for a really fun read.
No, I didn’t really take that long to read the book. I pushed on to finish Kraken first (using a RM50 note as a bookmark and determining that if I wanted the money back, I needed to finish the book) and then got into Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. That one took a while with its varied narrative- six stories in six different forms of narrative. Each story is referenced in the next, in some way, and also influenced by it. It takes us from the late 19th/early 20th century somewhere in the Pacific, all the way into the post apocalyptic future and around the world – and then going back. Each of the first five stories stop halfway (literally in mid sentence for the first story) until the sixth, which runs complete, and then we get the concluding halves of each of the five stories. Quite a read. Really want to check out the movie, if it ever comes to the screens here.
Anyway, Kraken took most of November and a little into December. Cloud Atlas took the rest of December and into early January, then Jane kept me company for no more than a week. And yesterday, I finished Darwyn Cooke’s graphic novel adaptation of Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter (brilliant and so atmospheric, reminiscent of the great Will Eisner but far grittier).
Next up is Genocidal Organ by Project Itoh. Picked up on a whim just based on the title. Originally published in Japan, this is a translated edition and the blurb on the cover suggest it’s a futuristic thriller of some kind. Just what is a genocidal organ? Well, time to dive in and read it.