Well, I was wrong. Not all of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books have the same feel – his Moon Maid trilogy is a notable exception. The Moon Maid, first of the set, is kinda like his other books, but not quite; The Moon Men and The Red Hawk are radically different from his usual style. Moon Men, in particular – it’s almost a post-apocalyptic thriller. One of the primary differences from his usual work is that books 2 and 3 are set in North America, albeit reimagined as being under the oppressive rule of savage invaders from the moon.
This series is also different in that the 3 stories happen hundreds of years apart, not back-to-back about the same hero as most of his series do. He wrote The Moon Men first, and it wasn’t originally about Lunar, but Communist invaders. First written in 1918, when the Bolshevik Revolution was so recent as to not even be part of history yet, “Under the Red Flag” was rejected by editors 11 times. So he sat down one day and rewrote it, turning Bolshevists into Kalkars from the moon. A few months later, he’d written both a prequel and a sequel and all 3 had been published – in the proper order, of course.
In The Moon Maid, Earth has finally discovered space travel and the first spaceship is sent out with a crew of 5: Julian 5th, Orthis, and 3 others. Through Orthis’s treachery, they crash-land on the moon – or rather inside it, where they find a strange world. A somewhat typical Burroughs story follows; capture and escape; Orthis allies himself with the “evil” race, Julian with the “good;” Julian falls in love with Nah-ee-lah, the maiden of the title; and Julian, Nah-ee-lah, and the 3 other crew members repair the ship and return to earth.
About 100 years later, Julian 9th (Julian 5th’s great-great-grandson) lives in what used to be Chicago under the oppressive rule of the Kalkars. In the introduction to The Moon Men, we learn that Orthis helped his allies the Kalkars build a fleet of spaceships with which to attack earth. Under Kalkar rule, everyone is “equal,” no one owns anything, marriage is illegal, and freedom is a thing of the past. Julian 9th leads a rebellion that ends in the slaughter of those who fight with him and his own death, but not before he gets his pregnant wife to safety. This sets the stage for the 3rd and final installment of the Julian saga.
Another 300 years pass before the events of The Red Hawk occur; Julian 20th is the great chief of the Julian clans and is known as the Red Hawk. During the intervening 300 years, the “Yanks,” as the Kalkars derisively call them, have driven their oppressors ever westward until their backs are to the Pacific Ocean. Here, in California, the Kalkars have held the tribe of the Julians at bay for 100 years. The Julians are a tribe of 100 clans living in the Mojave Desert. What used to be the United States is now a vast wilderness dotted with “ancient” ruins and peopled by various tribes whose social structure and culture is very much like Indian tribal culture. When Julian 19th dies and Red Hawk becomes chief, he determines to drive them into the sea and end this nearly-500-year-long feud. How he goes about this, allying himself to descendants of Orthis and even falling in love with an “Or-Tis” along the way, is the story told in the final book, which I think is my favorite of this awesome trilogy.