Monthly Archives: March 2016

Blue in ancient times

No one could see the color blue until modern times:

In “The Odyssey,” Homer famously describes the “wine-dark sea.” But why “wine-dark” and not deep blue or green?

In 1858 a scholar named William Gladstone, who later became the prime minister of Great Britain, noticed that this wasn’t the only strange color description. Though the poet spends page after page describing the intricate details of clothing, armor, weaponry, facial features, animals, and more, his references to color are strange. Iron and sheep are violet; honey is green.

So Gladstone decided to count the color references in the book. And while black is mentioned almost 200 times and white about 100, other colors are rare. Red is mentioned fewer than 15 times, and yellow and green fewer than 10. Gladstone started looking at other ancient Greek texts and noticed the same thing — there was never anything described as “blue.” The word didn’t even exist.

Our eyes are basically the same, but ancient man just didn’t notice it.

John Carter on Mars began 150 years ago today

Gino D'Anchille, A Princess of Mars

Gino D’Anchille, A Princess of Mars

On March 3, 1866, 150 years ago today, John Carter began his journey from the Arizona hills to the planet Mars.
Amazon // Kindle // Gutenberg // Librivox ]

The book itself was first serialized in 1912. The adventure took decades for Captain Carter to wind up back on Earth, and then for his nephew to get the story.

The movies (one big budget, and one knockoff) didn’t do them justice. The big one tried but turned Carter from a warrior with “Virginian fighting blood” into a discouraged vet — the only kind that Hollywood thinks it knows about.

The knockoff blew a huge opportunity to have the better version.

It’s book number 62 on Gutenberg. That should tell you something of its worth.

Michael Whelan, A Princess of Mars

Michael Whelan, A Princess of Mars

Many of us started reading this series with covers by Gino D’Achille (above) or Michael Whelan (right). These links go to pages on Scott Dutton’s website showing their original full wraparound cover paintings without the text.

Dutton also has a page for earlier covers by Robert K. Abbett. This also includes some virgin art as well.

These pages also have links to Dutton’s own Barsoom sequel, Return to Barsoom.