Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Classic Adventure Pulp: The Resurrection of Jimber Jaw - Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of my favorite authors when I was a kid, but there was plenty of his work I never got around to, and I've read him only sporadically since then. I want to go back and catch up on some of that unread stuff, and I've started with "The Resurrection of Jimber Jaw" (great title!), a novelette that was published originally in the February 20, 1937 issue of ARGOSY, the lead story with a good cover by Emmett Watson.

This story involves a couple of American scientists who are flying over the wastes of Siberia for reasons that are convoluted and, frankly, not all that convincing. When they're forced to land by an engine malfunction, they find a prehistoric man frozen in a chunk of ice. Since one of the scientists just happens to specialize in freezing living things and bringing them back to life, they decide to thaw out the guy they find, who they nickname Jimber Jaw because he resembles a grizzly bear of that name one of the fellows once saw.

Now, there are usually only two ways a set-up like this can go: comedy or bloody horror. Burroughs opts for comedy, and there's plenty of the dry wit that crops up so often in his later work. It's pretty funny, too, and the story is well-written overall.

The problem with "The Resurrection of Jimber Jaw" is that the plot is rather thin, and Burroughs merely summarizes much of the action, so that some of it reads more like an outline than a story. This is a yarn that's really crying out for more length and a better developed plot.

As it is, the humor and the fast pace kept me reading effortlessly, and overall, I enjoyed it. I can't help but feel, though, that it could have been much better. That won't stop me from reading more of those Burroughs stories I haven't gotten to yet.


Robert R. Barrett said...

I love Edgar Rice Burroughs and have read basically everything that he wrote(published and unpublished). Howard Browne took Burroughs' idea and wrote a better story titled "The Man From Yesterday" that appeared in a 1948 issue of FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, under one of Browne's pseudonyms: Lee Francis.

James Reasoner said...

Thanks! I actually own the ebook edition of that story but have never read it. Time to dig it out of the Kindle Library.

Spike said...

I was a voracious ERB reader as a child. I would forgo lunch and spend my 50 cents (or was it a quarter) on the latest ACE release on the local 5 and 10 spinner. I reread everything at least twice and sometimes 3 times. The first (of many) authors I was crazy about.

Did not get to some of his more obscure works like this until later in life. But funny you mention his dry humor, as a child I was puzzled by some of that in the Carson of Venus series, I figured he was being funny but didn’t “get it”. Later in life, in rereading some, I certainly smiled at the asides.

Todd Mason said...

This was the first and one of the few ERB stories I've read, and the missed opportunities and Not Badness were among the reasons I've not gone on to a lot more ERB reading...this one being published in his years of somewhat declining popularity, even if he could easily get a cover on an ARGOSY issue...and FANTASTIC ADVENTURES was founded in large part to showcase ERB fiction (even when by other writers!) Though it is almost inarguably cool that it appeared in the issue that was probably on the racks on the day my mother was born...I read it in Peter Haining's THE FANTASTIC PULPS in probably 1978...