How cool would this be? Imagine if the Indiana Jones movies were based on a series of adventure novels that had really been written back in the 1930s, in the same way that the James Bond movies were based on Ian Fleming’s series of novels written in the ’50s and ’60s. Wouldn’t that be one of the most fun series of books to read of all time?
This was a little fantasy I had when I was a kid and through my early teens. I was 9 when the original Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, 12 for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and 17 at the time of Last Crusade. Since (like Borges) I love to dream about books that were never written, I thought it would be fun if some adventure writer back in the 1930s really had written a series of pulp novels starring the intrepid archaeologist, who decades later was portrayed on the screen by Harrison Ford. In reality, of course, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg came up with the idea of Indiana Jones in the late 1970s, as an homage to the old adventure serial movies they grew up with. Most everybody knows that.
I even made up a whole list of titles for these nonexistent books, together with the years I imagined they were written. I wrote down the list a long time ago. Mind you, I never wrote any of these stories, and neither has anyone else, but don’t the titles sound cool? I envisioned the Indiana Jones series, like James Bond, as evolving, with the first books being very clunky and formula, and the later ones becoming more fleshed-out and deeper. I also would expect that if the author (who I never made up a name for) was still writing them at the time World War II broke out, he would invariably support the war effort by sending his hero into battle, which is why the later books sound like wartime adventures.
In my fantasy, the movies from the 80s would have been “based” on the books that came out in the year each of the movies took place.
Here’s the list:
Indiana Jones (1930) [the debut novel, of course]
Indiana Jones in Africa (1931)
Indiana Jones Across the Pacific (1932)
Indiana Jones and the Mayan Codex (1933)
Indiana Jones and the Lost Emperor (1934)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1935)
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1936)
Indiana Jones on the Asian Caravan (1937)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1938)
Indiana Jones and the Curse of Cotopaxi (1939) [I have no idea what this means, but it sounds badass!]
Indiana Jones and the Seven Cities of Cibola (1940)
Indiana Jones’s Secret Mission (1941)
Indiana Jones at War (1942)
You will note that I do not include Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was dreamed up decades after I came up with my list. No comment on the 2008 film, which remains controversial.
Somebody ought to write these books! Not me, though–I’ve got enough on my plate.