Monday, February 11, 2008

Lin Carter and the Trap Door Spiders

In reading our way through Lin Carter’s The Man Who Loved Mars (1973), we came across the line “I knew that the terrible predators prowled the highlands of the plateau regions - I had even heard they made their dens in pits and crevices, which they somehow roofed over with sand, not unlike Earth’s humbler little predators, the trapdoor spiders” and remembered that Carter was a member of the Trap Door Spiders, a New York City literary society whose members included fellow science fiction authors Issac Asimov, L. Sprague de Camp, and Lester del Rey.

Considering that Carter’s novel centers on the search for a lost ancient Martian city and that one of the main characters is an extraterrestrial archaeologist, we wonder if Carter might have been influenced by another member of the Trap Door Spiders, Professor Lionel Casson of New York University. A classicist and authority on ancient seafaring, Casson authored several nonfiction books about the Classical World, including Excavations at Nessana (1950) and Ancient Egypt (1965). His most recent book, Libraries in the Ancient World (2001), was reviewed by The New York Times and discussed in a 2001 interview with Lingua Franca.

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