The Dream Vaults of Opar

Introduction: Origin of the Dream Vaults

   Installments of "The Dream Vaults of Opar" appeared in every mailing of ERB-APA for fourteen years. Although initially available only to a very small group of dedicated Edgar Rice Burroughs enthusiasts, they have garnered a surprising amount of attention in wider fan circles over the years, along with requests that I give them broader circulation. These web pages are a response to those requests.
   We live in an age of unparalleled intellectual diversity, where people with shared interests, no matter how arcane, can communicate with each other across the world. This phenomenon did not begin with the Internet; only the speed and volume of communication are new. There are and have been for many years clubs and print publications devoted to an astonishing number of off-trail interests--from antique cutlery and barbed wire to Zoroastrianism. In a world where an ever increasing number of things seem to separate us, this strikes me as very heartening, the ultimate bounty of a truly free press.
   The Edgar Rice Burroughs Amateur Press Association (ERB-APA) was founded in 1984 by my friend of nearly forty years, John H. Guidry. At the time interest in Burroughs seemed to be in sharp decline. ERB-dom and the Burroughs Bulletin--two of the three pillars of Burroughs fandom (ERBania was the third)--were no longer being published. New Tarzan movies had become a rarity, with only one--the ludicrous Bo Derek remake of Tarzan the Ape Man--released in thirteen years. After forty-five years of continuous publication, the Tarzan daily comic strip had gone into reruns; after more than thirty years, the monthly Tarzan comic book had suspended publication; and--most significantly--new copies of ERB's books were becoming hard to find.
   John had a simple idea--to take the old and venerable concept of the amateur press association, which he knew first hand through his membership in SFPA (the Southern Fan Press Alliance) and apply it to Edgar Rice Burroughs. An "apa" is basically a limited-membership club in which people who share a common interest create and exchange publications related to that interest. Groups like these have been around at least since the early part of the Twentieth Century; H. P. Lovecraft belonged to one and Donald Wollheim, longtime editor of Ace Books, created the first recognized science fiction apa around 1940. John hoped, through those lean times, by this means to foster and maintain interest in Burroughs among a core group of collectors and aficionados.
   The rules of ERB-APA, based on what John knew to have succeded for other such organizations, are essentially these: A maximum of thirty-six members produce at least two pages of original material about ERB or his works every three months; each member makes fifty copies of his own "contribution" and sends them to the club's Official Editor ("OE"), who collates all the contributions into fifty complete sets, each set containing one copy of each member's contribution. The sets are comb- or spiral-bound and sent to the members, so that each member receives back one complete "mailing." Apas are designed to produce large volumes of material. In order to be assured of receiving every mailing, you have to be a member, and to keep your membership you have to contribute. Miss two mailings in a row and you're out (and have lost virtually irreplacable collectors' items). The fourteen or so extra copies go to a handful of honorary members or are sold to people waiting to join.
   To say that John's formula worked well is an understatement. In fact, ERB-APA's success has been nothing short of phenomenal, producing approximately 13,000 pages of ERB-related material in its first fifty mailings. An average mailing today is more than 250 pages long and contains more than thirty separate contributions, most of them well over the required two-page minimum and presented with amazing professionalism--a dazzling potpourri of things Burroughsian. And there are four mailings each year.
    "The Dream Vaults of Opar" covers a wide range of topics, and some installments are better than others. Written over a long period of time, in a variety of moods and under a variety of circumstances, often at the last minute to meet deadlines, unevenness in quality was inevitable. Because their audience was a small group of Burroughs cognoscenti, these pieces sometimes assume an in-depth knowledge on the part of the reader that may puzzle those with only a casual interest in Edgar Rice Burroughs, and of course the reader should view them in their historical context and realize that many of the books and other items mentioned are probably no longer generally available. Sometimes later information has disproved my conjectures, and some of my opinions have changed with the years.
   In presenting these selections, I've availed myself of the opportunity to tinker, correcting some (but certainly not all) mistakes and occasionally polishing a phrase or amending a thought. A few installments have been reworked to better make their points, but for the most part they appear here as they did originally. After much consideration, I've decided to leave in many of the "mailing comments" (discussions of other members' contributions in previous mailings), personal notes, and references to club business, since I think these provide a fuller impression of what complete mailings of ERB-APA were actually like. (Other installments of "Dream Vaults"--some of my favorites--can be read in ERBania, where they are currently being reprinted.)
   A special thank you goes to Bruce Bozarth (the mastermind behind A Barsoomian Glossary and several other equally phenomenal ERB web sites) for encouraging me to set up these pages and for his help in getting a number of early installments into computer-readable form; and to Alexander Adkins, who colored the J. Allen St. John drawing from The Return of Tarzan that is used as our masthead and drew the bookshelf graphic that helps decorate these pages. Readers interested in investigating ERB-APA for themselves may find out more about the organization by visiting the club's official web site.
   Now, let's step back to 1984 and peek in on one small but amazingly vibrant corner of popular culture, the world (and worlds) of Edgar Rice Burroughs, his creations, and his admirers.
. . .




Edgar Rice Burroughs'
Original Tarzan Books

#1.  Tarzan of the Apes (1914)
#2.  The Return of Tarzan (1915)
#3.  The Beasts of Tarzan (1916)
#4.  The Son of Tarzan (1917)
#5.  Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1918)
#6.  Jungle Tales of Tarzan (1919)
#7.  Tarzan the Untamed  (1920)
#8.  Tarzan the Terrible (1921)
#9.  Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1923)
#10. Tarzan and the Ant Men (1924)
#J1. The Tarzan Twins (1927)*
#11. Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1928)
#12. Tarzan and the Lost Empire (1929)
#13. Tarzan at the Earth's Core (1930)
#14. Tarzan the Invincible (1931)
#15. Tarzan Triumphant (1932)
#16. Tarzan and the City of Gold (1933)
#17. Tarzan and the Lion Man (1934)
#18. Tarzan and the Leopard Men (1935)
#J2. Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins with
         Jad-Bal-Ja, the Golden Lion (1936)*
#19. Tarzan's Quest (1936)
#20. Tarzan and the Forbidden City (1938)
#21. Tarzan the Magnificent (1939)
#22. Tarzan and "The Foreign Legion"(1947)
#23. Tarzan and the Madman (1964)**
#24. Tarzan and the Castaways (1965)**
   * Juvenile.   **Posthumously published.

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Copyright © 1999 Patrick H. Adkins. All rights reserved.