The Story Behind ‘Under Strange Suns’ by Ken Lizzi

UnderStrangeSuns_medYou can blame this one on Edgar Rice Burroughs. ERB popularized the sword-and-planet genre with his “A Princess of Mars” back in 1912, the first of the John Carter stories. Others writers joined the game.

Leigh Brackett, with her Eric John Stark novels, took sword-and-planet stories beyond the confines of our solar system. Brackett added notes of mysticism to her stories, hints of magic where ERB would employ mesmerism, or psychic powers.

C.L. Moore preferred to set her tales on Mars or Venus, like ERB. Though her Northwest Smith character was more apt to ply a pistol instead of a sword, the Indiana Jones of the genre. But the settings paid homage to ERB: ancient, dwindling civilizations found amid long-dead Martian seas.

In fact, Moore and Brackett both wrote a more convincing dying Mars than did ERB. (Brackett’s “Sword of Rhiannon” is set on Mars.) ERB’s Barsoom is home to more than one thriving civilization, whereas the Mars of Moore and Brackett is truly on the cusp of extinction.

Edgar Rice Burroughs did not let consistency or narrative rigor get in the way of a good story. Telepathy? Here when needed, forgotten when the convenience of telepathy would lessen the drama. Rifles that cannot miss across intervening miles? Well, not when aimed at a hero. Need to convey someone to another planet? Why not simply have him wake up there?

That’s all fine and good. I loved the Barsoom stories. But what cut it with readers in 1912 might raise some eyebrows a hundred years later. So when I decided to dip my toe into the sword-and-planet genre, I knew that getting my characters to another world would require a bit more heavy lifting on my part. The resulting novel, “Under Strange Suns,” works the mechanism of space travel into the narrative itself, driving the plot (in addition to driving the characters to their destination.)

And there are swords. Did I mention swords?

I’ll leave you with what Steve Perry (New York Times best-selling author) had to say about “Under Strange Suns.”

Ken Lizzi’s new novel blasts off in an action-packed flight to worlds far away, in a cross between John Carter and Star Trek, with just a dab of Starship Trooper tossed in. And it’s swords and guns and aliens, oh, my … What’s not to like?


Title: Under Strange Suns

Genre: SF

Author: Ken Lizzi


Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Read Chapter One

Amazon / B&N / OmniLit / Twilight Times Books

Under Strange Suns is on sale now until August 28th: Only .99 cents!

About the Book:

In the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars, Under Strange Suns brings the sword-and-planet novel to the twenty-first century. War is a constant, and marooned on a distant world, former Special Forces soldier Aidan Carson learns there is nothing new Under Strange Suns.

About the Author:

Ken Lizzi is an attorney and the author of an assortment of published short stories. When not traveling – and he’d rather be traveling – he lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife Isa and their daughter, Victoria Valentina. He enjoys reading, homebrewing, and visiting new places. He loathes writing about himself in the third person. Connect with Ken on Facebook and Twitter.


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