A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

2012 Book 131: A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (9/8/2012)

Reason for Reading: Coursera Science Fiction and Fantasy course. 🙂 

In the post-Civil War era, John Carter enters an Arizona cave and is unexpectedly whisked away to Mars. There, he witnesses the depravity of a “highly developed” race of people who, because medicine helps them to live long lives, they perform population control by warring with each other. In some ways, though, they’re happier than people on Earth, because they have no lawyers. John Carter takes Mars (and a Princess’s heart) by storm. I’m not a huge fan of pulp fiction, so I expected very little out of this book. Because of that, I was impressed at how “not bad” it was. Actually, it was sort of interesting in a history-of-science-fiction sort of way. It did have some rather racist comments about Native Americans (an artifact of when it was written), and the Princess was a weak annoying little thing whose only virtues were rare beauty and a penchant for getting into trouble so that we could witness the excitement of her rescue (this is an artifact of being pulp). Overall, not too shabby. But not literature, either. I DID wonder whether John Carter was meant to be some sort of pulpy Christ figure. He was very good at saving people. And he had the right initials. 😉

8 thoughts on “A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

  1. Glad you enjoyed the book. I picked up the book a handful of years ago having not read any Burroughs and I really enjoyed it (and the next two). It is fun pulpy adventure to be sure and is also a nice nostalgic look at a time when people could still believe that perhaps there was life on our neighboring planets. There was such a sense of wonder in those days and I enjoy going back and experiencing that in books like this. The recent film was a very nice homage to the book while also putting in some modern touches, like a less helpless woman who was strong but also feminine at the same time. Worth checking out.


  2. I've heard bad reviews and good reviews about the movie. I admit I'm quite curious now. 🙂 It will be nice to have the princess be a little more Xena-esque. 😉 I'll probably see if I can get it from my RedBox.


  3. I think by and large fans of the book have been vociferous in their praise of the film because for us it really does capture the sense of wonder and pulpy adventure that is A Princess of Mars.


  4. Well, I watched the movie last night and I have to agree with you–it certainly did capture the spirit of the story. I'm glad I read the book first, though, I don't think I would have appreciated it as much if I hadn't. 🙂


  5. I'm glad to hear it. And I too am glad I had read the book previously as it gave me a good foundation going into the film. I doubt you are interested (I'm very geeky about John Carter), but as you mentioned the good and bad reviews I thought I'd share this link to a really great review of the film and what went wrong with the marketing and critics:


    Believe me, I won't be offended if you don't have time to or want to read it, it is a long piece.


  6. Thanks for the link Carl. I just read that (very long) blog post. 😉 It was interesting. I tend to be more of a reader than a movie-watcher, though, so I tend to think MOST movies could have been “done better.” Especially movies based on books. I guess that makes me less passionate about flaws in movies than some people are. 🙂


  7. I love both art forms and tend to be somewhat forgiving of both, really. How much I can get engaged in and be entertained by the story makes a big difference. If I can get engaged the flaws are never as much of a big deal for me. When I can't though, and it is something I think I would otherwise love, I do like to speculate on what would have done it for me as far as changes in story, editing, etc.


  8. I find movies interesting in a psychology-of-how-things-are-conveyed sort of way. That's why I found Taranaich's blog interesting. For instance, I noticed the pastel blue blood, but never considered WHY they chose to use it. Now that I think about it, pastel blue seems less violent than dark blue would, too. I like cinema as an art form, but for some reason I have a short attention span for it. 🙂 I'm not sure why.


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