Cirsova: The Revenge!
The second volume of one of my favorite new anthology magazine…things…arrived some time ago, and it’s high time it got the proper reviewing that it so richly deserves. This second volume leads off with a new header – The Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense – and we’ll have to see if it lives up to the hype. As usual we’ll go through one story at a time and use the entire issue as content fodder for the blog mill.
Things kick off with the cover story, which has an insane pedigree. As described on the publisher’s website:
Based on a fragment from 1930, this previously “Lost” Tarzan adventure takes place in the Jungle Tales period and, in addition to being a cool adventure in and of itself, ties into and resolves some issues from The Jewels of Opar. Young Tarzan ponders his nature among his ape family in the jungle when he hears there may yet be another such as he! Who is the white-skinned she who lives among the Gomangani tribes, and is it she whose visage haunts the ape-man’s dreams?!
The first publication of an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, all these many years later, represents a huge coup for Cirsova. That this didn’t make a much bigger splash in the SF/F culture over recent months represents a strong symptom of just how fallen and insular the mainstream publishing world and its sycophants have become. The Tarzan brand is strong even after all these years. Letting this slide past them really marks the modern mainstream fandom as the clueless MOPs they are.
But the story…is it any good?
Of course it is. Michael Tierney did the heavy lifting here to prepare the work for publishing, and his stitch-work comes off as invisible. Tierney has made more than a few appearances in previous editions of Cirsova, including the excellent frontier fantasy The Bears of 1812 in Volume 1, Issue 5 and the dream-like man versus nature(?) tale Shark Fighter in Volume 1, Issue 2. He’s a solid writer that’s hard to pigeonhole, as his stories always speak with a different voice. He dons the voice of Burroughs in his Tarzan narration, and it works well.
It’s been a fair few decades since I’ve read Burroughs, but reading Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She takes me right back to high school when I powered through a stack of library sale paperbacks. Here, Tarzan has yet to fully realize how much of a stranger he is in a strange gorilla land. The eponymous SHE turns out to be the first white face Tarzan ever encounters, and both she and her tribe turn out to be as deadly as any of the she-gorillas of Tarzan’s own tribe. It’s a haunting tale both for how it conveys Tarzan’s deep melancholy and loneliness and for the more direct magic of the confrontation with the villain of the piece. As such, it stands as a fitting posthumous tribute to one of the all time greats.