My life in outer space

The Red Hawk – Edgar Rice Burroughs (1926)

The Red Hawk

The conclusion of Burroughs’ ‘The Moon Maid’ takes us centuries into the future from the time of ‘The Moon Men’ where the Kalkars have been wiped almost from the face of America. Their last stronghold is a lush coastal valley surrounded by desert in which dwells a tribe led by Julian 21st, also known as ‘The Red Hawk’
By this time the population of America has devolved into Amerindian tribes, but tribes who still follow ‘The Flag’ although (something which questions Burroughs’ notion of American ideals) they also still practice slavery. Admittedly, Burroughs points out that the slaves are treated with honour and decency, but they are nevertheless still slaves.
Julian’s tribe vows to invade the stronghold of the Kalkars and rid America of the last of them. In true Burroughs style he meets along the way a beautiful woman. The obstacle to their love is that she is the sister of the Or-Tis, leader of the Kalkars.
The Red Hawk prevails, the Kalkars are driven out and it is discovered that Or-Tis and his family have no evil Kalkar blood, but are genetically American.
‘The Moon Maid’ was originally written (or at least the ‘Moon Men’ section) set in a future America under the rule of Communists. Unable to find a publisher willing to print, Burroughs rewrote the story with the Communists replaced by the evil alien Kalkars, and subsequently topped and tailed it with the other two sections.
It’s an uneasy read from a modern perspective. Burroughs’ ideas on the purity of race have disturbing echoes in both America’s past and its future during the twentieth century.
There is an attempt at one point to put forth a view that the two sides should forget the ancient enmities of centuries before and live together in peace. From a dramatic point of view it would have been more interesting if the Kalkars had evolved during the elapsed time into a different sort of society, and peace been achieved.
The Kalkars however have not changed and are therefore exterminated (or at least driven into the sea) leaving the Americans victorious.


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