Barsoom – work in progress

Monday’s new release will be Cut Up Solo – Barsoom. This will use all the available texts of the Barsoom novels. There are five available on Project Gutenberg, but there are six more that are out of copyright, but they have not been digitised yet. The last novel was published posthumously in 1964, so is not yet in the Public Domain.

I started with the five that were easy to get, but two things happened. Firstly, they were not illustrated, A Princess of Mars was, but only 5 plates. The others were not. As I was looking for public domain images for the Barsoom/Mars stories I discovered that they had been serialised in magazines like Amazing Tales and Blue Book Magazine. These went back as far as 1913 and as recent as 1939.

Well, it took a long time to track down all the individual issues, but I got them. To my great pleasure they were also illustrated.

I now have quite a lot of text. I have it all in Microsoft Word and I have a developed a macro that cleans up the texts, cuts it into 5 work chunks and then cleans up common problems. It can work much faster than I can!

This is turning into the biggest project so far. There are more than 70 images, if I include the magazine covers, and the texts run to more than 735,000 words. Word was showing me 3,176 pages before I started cutting it up into snippets.

The macros have been running for a couple of hours now, it is taking a while!

I am expecting to end up with just over 147,000 snippets in the end.

There are two styles of image in this collection. The covers are full colour artists impressions, often dynamic, action scenes. The rest are greyscale ink illustrations from the magazine interiors.

You can see the two styles on the right.

The purpose of the images is to give visual prompts. If you introduce an NPC or a location, you can flick through the images and pick on that suits. A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, so this is something else that falls into the non-authoring-solo toolbox.

You do not need to invent all the details of the NPC’s appearance if you have their image in front of you.


I had considered using just some of the novels for this book, and then next week do a companion, The Barsoom Dialogues. There is a lot more conversation and direct speech in these novels than in some of the others that I have used, looking at your H. P. Lovecraft, but I have also tried to add more value to each cut up supplement, it felt slightly mean to not use all the text I had.

As it is, this will be the biggest collection to date.

The PDF version will include a simple 2d20 yes-no oracle, the same one used in Cut Up Solo – Hour of the Dragon. It seemed like the best fit given the system used in the John Carter of Mars RPG.

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