Monday, March 12, 2012
Ki-Gor and the Paradise That Time Forgot
I ordered the second volume in Altus Press's Ki-Gor:The Complete Series books a couple of weeks back. Finally sat down to read one of the stories last night. In this one, everyone's favorite Tarzan Knock-off tries to help the members of a lost safari get out of the jungle, mostly because he's irritated at having the three civilized people in what he considers his part of the jungle. Unfortunately he chooses the quickest route but not the safest, and one of the none too jungle savvy safari members falls into an inescapable valley.
This being a Ki-Gor story, the valley is inhabited by an unknown tribe of bushmen who have lived there for centuries and who have never seen anyone from the outside world. And they have mass quantities of gold, which leads one of the safari members to try and steal it. He manages to escape the formerly inescapable valley, using the rope that Ki-gor used to follow him down. Problem is, the bushmen hold Ki-Gor and his companions responsible for the theft and the penalty for stealing is death.
This is a pretty straightforward jungle hero adventure, and not one of the wilder sort of adventures Ki-Gor would have later in his career. The lost safari is one of the standard fall back tropes for Tarzan, Sheena, Kaanga, Bomba, and others of the jungle hero clan. However the writing in this one is much improved over some of the earlier Ki-Gor tales which appeared in volume one. Since no one is really sure who wrote which Ki-Gor stories, this could be because it was a different writer by this point. There are some attempts at characterization and the story barrels along with plenty of action.
I've mentioned before that Ki-Gor managed to outlast all the other Tarzan imitators by a long shot and the reason for that is two-fold I think. First, Ki-Gor comes the closest to the original model of all the Tarzan clones. He almost IS Tarzan. Second, the stories are almost always entertaining. Fiction House, Ki-Gor's publisher, wasn't the best paying of the pulp markets, but the Ki-Gor series is surprisingly good. Ki-Gor actually made more prose appearances than Tarzan, starring in more than 50 short novels.
The Altus Press book is a big, solid, trade paperback containing five Ki-Gor adventures. Some of the original pulp magazine illustrations are included as well. It could use an introduction, but I suppose the publishers felt that anyone seeking this book out would know who Ki-Gor was.
Anyway, I've found, much as the pulps readers of the 30s,40s, and 50s probably did, that when you've run out of Tarzan stories, Ki-Gor isn't a bad stand-in.