Friday, 3 July 2015


Edgar Rice Burroughs gave us John Carter who was a Captain in the Army of the Confederate States of America, then a chieftain of Thark, a prince of Helium and Warlord of Mars. We are told that there are some malcontents in the empire of Helium but we know little about them, except that such characters are always dishonest and cowardly...

SM Stirling gives us John Rolfe VI, Captain in the US Army and descendant of Confederates. Is Rolfe an all round admirable character like Carter? Stirling gives us different perspectives. Our other hero Tom calls Rolfe ruthless and the sympathetic character, physicist Ralph Barnes, not only refuses to help Rolfe conquer other universes but also calls him a fascist to his face - a misuse of the term "fascist" but it helps to identify Barnes' social milieu. Despite this defiance, Barnes is allowed to flourish in New Virginia although not, of course, to leave it, and even becomes a friend and adviser of Rolfe's rebellious granddaughter.

Stirling shows us social and psychological complexities that were beyond ERB's horizons.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I would not call Adrienne Rolfe a rebellious grand daughter of old John by the time CONQUISTADOR began. She was apparently never estranged from her shrewd and wily grandfather and was eventually reconciled to her father Charles Rolfe (who at least TRIED to be good father to her). Adrienne even admitted SHE was partly to blame for some of these family troubles.


  2. Sean,
    Sure. I think she was in a rebellious phase on pp. 272-274, though?

    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I've only reached page 104 of CONQUISTADOR, so I've not seen that, yet. I had more mind Adrienne talking about her family to Tom Christiansen in the earlier part of the book.

      And, I'm sure you remembered how, on page 103, Tom asked Adrienne if she read POUL ANDERSON, and she did. Nice, to see two fictional fans of Anderson!