The Martian Chess of Edgar Rice Burroughs


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About the Book

Throughout its hundred-year history, the game Jetan has influenced many writers and game designers. Invented by author Edgar Rice Burroughs for his 1922 novel The Chessmen of Mars, Jetan has been played by enthusiastic fans and serious gamers alike.
This first-ever book on Jetan explores the game’s rules in depth and provides new interpretations based on up-to-date research. It chronicles the game’s history, explores tactics and variants and provides a complete standard for notating games. Also included are three annotated Jetan playthroughs and several practice exercises. Over 80 diagrams and photographs are used as illustrations, and an essay about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ lifelong interest in sports and games further contextualizes the game.

About the Author(s)

Fredrik Ekman is a middle school teacher living in Sweden. He is an active member of Edgar Rice Burroughs fandom, and often writes on various ERB-related topics.

Bibliographic Details

Fredrik Ekman
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 211
Bibliographic Info: 149 illustrations, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8793-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4761-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1­
1. The Rules 5
2. The History of Jetan 10
3. Games and Sports and Burroughs 43
4. Jetan in The Chessmen of Mars 60
5. Jetan in Popular Culture 78
6. A Proposed Notation Standard 98
7. Tactics of Jetan 105
8. Sample Games 128
9. Jetan Problems and Exercises 142
10. Variants of Jetan 152
11. Conclusion 179
Acknowledgments 181
Image Credits 183
Appendix I: The Original Rules of Jetan 185
Appendix II: The Rules of Thuria Jetan 188
Appendix III: The Rules of ­­Jetan-Sarang 192
Bibliography 197
Index 199

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Fredrik Ekman has done a masterful job with Jetan, the Martian Chess of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Rules, history, variants, sample matches and problems, it’s all here in a book that will interest gamers, science fiction buffs, and pop culture fans. Even the most ardent Burroughs enthusiast will learn something new in this comprehensive guide to the game at the heart of the sword-and-planet classic The Chessmen of Mars.”—Scott Tracy Griffin, author of Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration and Tarzan on Film

• “Sometimes, you don’t realize there’s an important gap in the scholarship about a famous author until someone fills that gap….Eckman has done excellent and indepth scholarship. He pulls up every dollop of information about Jetan from Burroughs’ books…Eckman’s prose is clear, readable and entertaining. He’s a good writer who has indeed filled in an important gap in Burroughs’ scholarship.”—Tim DeForest, producer and co-host of the Edgar Rice Burroughs podcast

• “If you read Jetan: The Martian Chess of Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of your takeaways will likely be a head-shaking admiration for the complete grasp and understanding of jetan rules, tactics and notations found between these covers. … In short, the book is brilliant, and long overdue.”—Chris L. Adams, ERB Book Reviews

• “A thorough investigation of Jetan has been seriously lacking up to now. Ekman has filled the gap with his new book…the definitive guide on the topic. Everyone interested in Jetan, or simply collectors of game literature, will need to have a copy….a unique book on an unusual game…. This new book by Fredrik Ekman is an excellent introduction to the game, complete as far as it goes in bringing together the various strands that make up Jetan culture. The author makes a clear and compelling argument for coming back to Jetan to better understand its special fascination, both as a game in itself and because of its ‘virtual theme’…[the author’s] enthusiasm is infectious. I highly recommend this book.”—Abstract Game

• “The book devotes considerable space in providing a lot of research into jetan ‘fandom’ as Ekman cites numerous sources…a labor of love. This is an in depth look at jetan and its background. Because it is so specialized, the audience for this book is one comprised of fans of the work of ERB, particularly his Martian series and for those fans of chess variants of which jetan is one. If your interests fall into either category, this book is for you!”—Gamers Alliance Report

• “The research and thought that [Ekman] has put into this work is awe inspiring. This will surely never be surpassed as a reference for the game and is highly recommended for all Burroughs fans and gamers.”—The Anotar, Journal of The British Edgar Rice Burroughs Society

• “A unique contribution that is a ‘must’ for the legions of Edgar Rice Burroughs fans…strongly recommended”—Midwest Book Review

• “The book is one that should be sought out by chess variant fans”—Yorkton This Week

“This book is so thoughtful and comprehensive that another like this need not be written… Interesting… Important… Offers readers great historical appeal… The author takes the time to thoughtfully explain origins of the game, general functionality, and strategies for playing.”—The N3F Review of Books

• “A copy of this book would have been of inestimable value to me and saved me quite a bit of fretting and time spent researching had it existed nearly ten years ago…The book offers an intriguing ‘History of Jetan,’ richly diving into actual games of living chess…If you readJetan: The Martian Chess of Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of your takeaways will likely be a head-shaking admiration for the complete grasp and understanding of jetan rules, tactics and notations found between these covers. … I wish I had the darned thing ten years ago. …the book is brilliant, and long overdue.”—ERB Book Reviews