Pulp Classic The Swordsman of Mars Rescued from Publisher's Brutal Hack Job

Illustration for article titled Pulp Classic iThe Swordsman of Mars/i Rescued from Publishers Brutal Hack Job

Otis Adelbert Kline's fantastic pulp taleThe Swordsman of Mars was first published in Argosy magazine in 1933. Reprints from the 1960s hacked and slashed at the original text, chopping away entire chapters and completely rewriting huge sections. But now, the entire story has been published in its original form for the first time in over 70 years thanks to Paizo Publishing's Planet Stories imprint. Check out this excerpt that compares the original text to the 1960 Ace version.We first told you about Planet Stories back in July - it's Paizo publisher Erik Mona's labor of love to bring classic sci-fi and fantasy stories back into print. The Swordsman of Mars is the latest edition, following protagonist Harry Thorne, who changes bodies with a Martian and goes back in time. In the Mars of the past, he has a series of very pulpy adventures in which he dispatches various creatures and enemies at the tip of his expertly wielded sword. Over at the Paizo message board, Mona gave a brief example of the sort of "editing" that was perpetrated on Kline's story:

ORIGINAL ARGOSY VERSION (from the A.C. McClurg & Co 1929 harcover edition): "Robert Ellsmore Grandon stifled a yawn with difficulty, as the curtain went down on the first act of "La Tosca." Opera bored him utterly. He silently wished that his well-meaning aunt would not drag him with such clocklike regularity to these monotonous matineés. She had taken a box in the Chicago Auditorium for the season, and so far he had not escaped a single performance." 1961 ACE PAPERBACK EDITON (published 15 years after Kline's death): "Robert Ellsmore Grandon stifled a yawn with difficulty as the curtain went down on the first act of Don Giovanni and wondered what was the matter. It wasn't that opera bored him, or that tonight's performance was inferior; in fact, what he had been able to give his attention to struck him as among the best performances he had ever seen."


On his blog, Mona has an entire chapter from both versions for you to compare. The original text is about four times longer than the chopped 60s version! Image by: Paizo. Two Swordsmen of Mars! [Paizo]

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crashedpc /sarcasm

So in this example, they excised the part talking about how boring opera was, and replaced it with how exciting opera was, if he wasn't so distracted? There must be some sort of history there; was not liking opera likely to label one as a communist or something? Or did Big Opera "convince" the publishers to change the content? My gods, a whole novel could be written based on these premises alone!