A local writer's new book builds upon the “Tarzan” author's literary legacy.

As a lifelong fan of sci-fi stories, writer Matt Betts has spent years exploring other universes. Now he has the rare chance to build one.

Earlier this year, Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. hired Betts to revive a fictional pulp series started more than 80 years ago by its long-gone namesake. Burroughs was an American literary institution, best known for his 1914 breakthrough bestseller, “Tarzan of the Apes.” He was also among the first authors to incorporate himself, and that company still exists to oversee his works. When director of publishing Christopher Paul Carey decided to breathe new life into several of Burroughs’ characters, he turned to Betts, an author who lives on the West Side of Columbus.

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

It was a big ask. In addition to resurrecting the work of an icon, Betts’ story also kicks off a series of four novels featuring interconnected characters in what’s being dubbed the “ERB Universe”—a bit like recent cinematic crossovers from Marvel. “The Edge of All Worlds,” the book Betts is writing, revives the character of Carson Napier, an adventurer stuck on Venus. Burroughs wrote four novels and a novella about Napier, and though Betts wants his book to feel like an extension of that series, he also has creative freedom—like inventing an evil leader who attempts to conquer the planet.

“The Edge of All Worlds” is slated for a spring 2020 release. At PulpFest in Pittsburgh in mid-August, Betts discovered Napier already has fans, who are (warily) excited about the character’s return. He says, “We had a few people that gave us those looks like, ‘This better be good.’”

***

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to Columbus Monthly magazine so that you keep abreast of the most exciting and interesting events and destinations to explore, as well as the most talked-about newsmakers shaping life in Columbus.