I have watched Pierce Brown being interviewed by Suvudu.com. I’ve found it interesting the “core of the story” being about “freedom”, for it deals witI have watched Pierce Brown being interviewed by Suvudu.com. I’ve found it interesting the “core of the story” being about “freedom”, for it deals with an "oppressive government"; a story set on terraformed Mars and other moons of the solar system.
Also, according to the author, because it implies a kind of social differentiation, better, a sort of “castes” system. It revolves around the concept of EUGENICS (well present in Nazi Germany). So, different types of individuals act: the tall and beautiful Golds (being extremely dexterous), the smaller miners,the Reds (with their Celtic culture), plus the Blues (good in math and astronautics), the 7-feet-tall Obsidians, typically military people, etc etc.
(Red miners at the bottom...)
Some books were evoked as possible inspiration* to the intended Trilogy, Pierce is about to write. I think he’d forgotten about Huxley’s’ Brave New World: Alphas and Betas and Gammas etc ,etc.
I hope in Red Rising someone like Bernard Marx (one “impure” sort of Alpha, plus) will show up; it would turn the trilogy into a Brave New... Solar System.
It reads like a Jules Verne book; no wonder the book had been dedicated to the Verne's readers.
An eccentric 30-year-old man called Stonewall is abouIt reads like a Jules Verne book; no wonder the book had been dedicated to the Verne's readers.
An eccentric 30-year-old man called Stonewall is about to get his 4 friends into an undreamt adventure. He’s been working in his own lab on the power of the atom; he’s "eloquent” on radioactivity; he knows about the “power” residing in a single ”grain of radium”: the so-called “inter-atomic energy”. His peers at the club Olympus understand nothing about the issue.
One day Stonewall manages to get his friends visiting his lab; soon they find they’re travelling through space; despite all initial reluctance, all thoughts of “this is kidnapping” …soon, as I said, they’re part of an “interesting expedition”…to Venus. Only one friend was left on ground: to witness the ship departing skywards. It’s a “diabolical” car disappearing westwards. Venus shines like a "diamond" , up there, in New Jersey.
Inside the spaceship, Henry and Jack can smoke freely because, as Edmund Stonewall explains, the smoke has been turned into atomic energy. Stonewall thinks Venus is more important than money; while Henry had another angle: Stonewall should be making good money, with a patent of the engine. Jack and the genius are the only “romantic souls”.
According to the counts of the eccentric Stonewall they’ll reach Venus in 15 days; no, 16, to be more exact. They’ll be introduced to “the inhabitants of another world”. In the past 5 days they had a rough time with meteors; through the “peepholes” of the craft they had , at the start of their journey, a view of the Pacific west. Their speed is of 20 miles per second.
Stonewall thinks of himself as the Columbus of space; Jack and Henry: his lieutenants. The self-entitled Columbus thinks humanity has been wasting money on steam and electricity, when in fact there’s limitless energy in the atom.
They “know” of 14-feet giants of Mars; how about those of Venus?
-I’m very curious about,….too.
“Standing on the steps...was a creature shaped like a man, but more savage than a gorilla.”
“They’re mountains of crystal!”
“Mountains of crystal!” we echoed.
“Nothing else in the world, and I am ashamed not to have foreseen the thing. It’s plain enough when you come to think about it. Remember that Venus being a world lying half in the daylight and half in the night, is necessarily as hot on one side as it is cold on the other. All of the clouds and floating vapors are on the day side, where the sunbeams act. The heated air charged with moisture rises over the sunward hemisphere, and flows off above, on all sides, toward the night side, while from the latter cold air flows in beneath to take its place. Along the junction of the two hemispheres the clouds and moisture are condensed by the intense cold, and fall in ceaseless snowstorms. This snow descending for ages has piled up in mountainous masses whose height may be increased in some places by real mountain ranges buried beneath. The atmospheric moisture cannot pass very far into the night hemisphere without being condensed, and so it is all arrested within a ring, or band, extending completely around the planet, and marking the division between perpetual day and perpetual night. The appearance of gigantic flames is produced by the sunbeams striking these mountains of ice and snow from behind and breaking into prismatic fire.”
-Who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t like to see the future? Take a peep at a screen, or enchanted crystal-ball, to have a glimpse of the shape of things yet to-Who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t like to see the future? Take a peep at a screen, or enchanted crystal-ball, to have a glimpse of the shape of things yet to come?
This was a story (Hamilton's) I read and heard about while at the same time I was getting to read other future & past-concerned stories.
One (an essay* in a Portuguese literary magazine) about the poetry of one of our major contemporary poets: M. Alegre.The main “ thesis” of the essay was that in 10 years the poet anticipated/dreamt about a new Portugal; 10 years before the 25th April of 1974, M. Alegre was already speaking about a “nation of April… and roses and “carnations”.
Another story was a mix of pleasing feelings and concern about the future of our own language: the Portuguese. Scholar Carlos Reis, despite acknowledging the diversity (even "drifts") in the language (commemorating 800 years of existence; see the Portuguese-speaking nations, a universe of 250 million speakers) , wrote:”…which motivates a doubt: within one hundred years will we understand each other in Portuguese?”**. - Was he hinting at a transformed-language, yet to come? ….
Well, the story of Hamilton is about future and past. Maybe,It will make you feel well-identified with the 15th century character, who, when transported into the future, will experience the wonder of 20th century France, and beyond, from his past viewpoint. Future as progress, vis-a-vis the obscurantism of his time.
Once an apothecary-assistant named Henry L. was charged by the Inquisitor extraordinary of the king of France, of sorcery. Basically, Henry had been seen, by several people, in a field where thunderclaps had occurred,performing suspicious activities...had been seen disappearing and …,upon returning,in his own defense, said he had “gone 400 years into the future”.
By that time that "ability" was only allowed by the recourse to the “devils”. So, Henry was facing a penalty of “death by fire”.
The apothecary, nonetheless, in his own defense, asked for the opportunity to disclose on what he had seen. So he did it.
When he disappeared in the field...:"I was buffeted as though by awful winds and seemed falling downward through terrific depths". Henry had closed his eyes and was transported to a room where two men would show him wonders, unimagined.
The two men spoke a different sort of French, but Henry could understand them; he could conclude, later on, he himself was the subject of an experiment of time-travel performed by the 20th century French scientists Thicourt and Rastin.
So, after the introduction talk (who are you? what’s your century?... ) the scientists take Henry into a series of experiences with enough contrast future/past to allow the sense of wonder to be more evident:”I could not believe”:communication by telephone,... TV: what a fascination!…winged-cars…,…cures!
"'You will want to see Paris--the Paris of our time, Henri?' asked Rastin. "'But it is different--terrible--' I said.
Henry will be taken to the streets of Paris populated by many riding “vehicles” at “unthinkable speed”;… telescope, …and the idea that earth is “round!”…and moves “around the sun”...“What magic!”.
Paris, a “mighty city”…because he had seen it from a top view, while on the airplane.
Oh, New York! The Liberty statue;…millions of people…no horses,…so much light and vehicles…he’s past a “huge vessel full of hundreds” (airplane). No more “lords”…but “each, his own master”.
Henry returned to the room and was sent back to the past.
And what do you think it happened? In spite of: “I wanted to tell them how they must work ever toward that future of wonder” …they didn’t listen. Henry was called a blasphemer and a sorcerer, still.
The inquisitor had yet some vague thoughts like: any truth in Henry’s? …but the logic of obscurantism was implacable: better not to think about the future, otherwise he,too, would be a sorcerer. ----------------- (E.Hamilton)
Very appropriate this movie/novel,while UN Climate Summit 2014 is upcoming.
"No ”Plan B” for climate action as there is no ”Planet B, says USep 29,2014
Very appropriate this movie/novel,while UN Climate Summit 2014 is upcoming.
"No ”Plan B” for climate action as there is no ”Planet B, says UN chief"
I’ve seen a 1958 British movie-adaptation of the novel. It approaches scientific issues in a very prescient way; especially the influence of (very powerful) magnetic forcefields in life forms.
In our days the topic of mutations and exposure to cosmic rays is quite studied, under the general theme of global warming. Yet, by the end of the fifties certain ideas were already brooding in the right direction. This film/novel has got a particular aspect: the intervention of (good) aliens who have a warning/preventive intervention near humanity.
The story goes this way; in a Lab, an experiment has been conducted using magnetic fields to study their effects on metals. Yet, due to some unexplained phenomena (clocks that stop in the vicinity, radio and TV interferences, freak weather) some start wondering about a “spread-out” effect going well beyond the Lab at stake.
The head of the Lab is a quite mysterious man; he had to replace his assistant, and now he’s a got a new one: a French, brilliant lady called Michelle. She’s the one who’ll assist Gil, who works there too, uncovering the whole issue.
Meanwhile there’s a strange character (Smith, he calls himself, the man with funny whiskers) that shows up first in the woods meeting a girl, collecting insects. Smith is the alien figure who plays in his dialogue with the girl: you wouldn’t believe I came from a planet in the back of a “giant dragon fly”.
Yes, he’s from planet X.But he said a very curious thing:we (Earth) are their X planet.
The police are investigating the case. It’s worrisome a tramp man with injured face; is it due to radioactive materials?. The papers show intriguing headlines: “Has Britain been invaded? …More flying saucers” [sighted].
Gil and Michelle develop a more-than-cooperative relation…and they meet Jack Smith. The alien discloses: it may get catastrophic if earth’s magnetic field is tampered with; it could mean the exposure to radioactive rays, should the Ionosphere be damaged; people could go mad; but what about those “quick breeders”: like the insects?
Smith has told them that in his planet they use “magnetic lines as a means of propulsion”…and “you brought down one of our spaceships".
Very true, mutations are already in full swing: in the woods some insects got gigantic. Michelle got caught in a giant web.
... Prescient ideas of the 1950's.
Darwin would have loved it,...I mean the movie, and those gigantic insects, certainly interesting,an idea of evolution by forces he did not dream about...,did he? ...more
This an important story (The Crystal Egg); so important that the writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote in Buenos Aires ,on the 3rd of March 1949, in his EpiThis an important story (The Crystal Egg); so important that the writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote in Buenos Aires ,on the 3rd of March 1949, in his Epilogue to "Ficciones":"In The Zahir and The Aleph I believe I can pinpoint some influence of the short story The Crystal Egg (1899) by Wells".
I’ve watched the story The Crystal Egg in the old series “Tales of tomorrow”; it’s a story bordering on personal belief and science…;a very good one.
"And in a perfect darkness, such as could be produced by velvet wrapping, the crystal did undoubtedly appear very faintly phosphorescent." (from the book)
"Suffice that the effect was this: the crystal, being peered into at an angle of about 137 degrees from the direction of the illuminating ray, gave a clear and consistent picture of a wide and peculiar country-side." (from the book)
The introductory lines are full of resonance. They would make anyone wonder about. You may hear:“what would you do if you thought someone from another world is watching you?”.
It all started in an antiques shop. A man (quite obfuscated in his appearance) seems to be interested in one item: a crystal egg,…which looks dusty…and is the focus of a brief negotiating dialogue. The antiques’ dealer wants 5 pounds for it, but the man just has 2.10. It seems they reach a sort of arrangement: the man will show up again (“I’ll be back”) to cover for the missing money.
Why the interest in that piece?; only a hint by the interested man: “I was told…”.
Meanwhile, the antiques’ dealer decides to contact a distinguished Physics professor for an analysis of the egg.
Professor Frederick Vaneck, a man of sciences, for 10 years running one department at Cambridge University. Though very busy, he accepts the task of analysis, but tells the Antiques man to show up only the next day.
Vaneck spends all night in his “lab”: all lights off, just the egg under analysis on his table…now a crystal egg with “light of its own”: yes, inside of it Vaneck discovers a “landscape”: “Mars’”…. he concludes due to the position of ascending Neptune.... Plus: he’s seen a (one-eyed) creature staring at himself.
In the morning the antiques dealer, despite being asked for some additional days of analysis, (even told “don’t sell it!” and “”it has a world inside of it”)… runs away with the coveted crystal egg.
Vaneck is desperate; he’s got to find the egg; he searches on the Antiques shop but finds about something terrible: the dealer got dead; “died in an alley”.
Then Vaneck wants an article on the issue published by his editor, an "old friend"; however, the editor gets reluctant: he wants proof for the story: “where is the crystal egg?!”.
Vaneck looks maddened: “all who see it first are mad!!” …it would be like Galileo’s” (at his telescope seeing for the first time Jupiter’s)….; Vaneck reiterates he’s seen the creature “watching us”: “through their crystal egg they are seeing us night and day!”. No way, the editor remains skeptical.
At home, Vaneck is recording his story on tape….the disk-tape is moving,… but someone enters the room…and Vaneck gets shot. No hint about who did it.
He (Vaneck) was right, those who “watch us” get sure: no proofs left behind. No loose ends. ...more
An optimistic, no-matter-what,… till the very life’s end? - Very doubtful
The book concentrates on Wells, the adult. Yet, a few lines on his upbringin An optimistic, no-matter-what,… till the very life’s end? - Very doubtful
The book concentrates on Wells, the adult. Yet, a few lines on his upbringing will help putting some more precision in the profile outline.
Born in 1866, Wells never got it hidden: he was of modest background: of that social class, the lower one, that “queer indefinite class” …his father being a gardener and mother doing business in a china-shop. At 7 he broke his leg, and during months of convalescence got immersed in books-reading.
When 10 he was doing his own writing and illustrating. By 13, he left school to become an apprentice, for a while he stopped writing. For 3 months only; that was not his calling (apprenticeship's). Soon he would join his mother (now a housekeeper) in a home with a library; again, he continued books' devouring: Swift and Plato had a great impact on him. Plato’s The Republic taught him about self-criticism.
Again apprentice at 15: he had a job at the South Sea Drapery Emporium; not for long; he told his mother: he would commit suicide if not leaving: “I can’t do it”.
He managed to find a job as teacher’s assistant; yet his parallel studying didn’t stop; he had a vast scope: Astronomy, Physics, Botany...;someone might have asked: how could he sleep??.
Finally: London university at 18; drinking from the “fountainhead of knowledge”; there, having as master reputed Huxley. It’s, no doubt here, where Wells gets this profound influence on Darwin’s theory of evolution. It’s been said that in his backyard he painted a mural, with old creatures (dinosaurs) and men; under man’s picture he wrote [after Hiroshima's]: “time to go”[pessimistic!]. No doubt: a futuristic-consideration; ever part of his own future career.
Now, Dark’s book. I would say it focuses on 3 areas: (1) bibliographical data; (2) Historical/political/sociological views (3) religious views.
(1)The 1st chapters take a close look on several of Wells books; of course the Time Machine, and others of futuristic framework. Yet, Dark considers “The History of Mr Polly” the masterpiece of Wells; it’s “all real and comic characters”…Polly being a character of “rebellion and self-assertion” who, not really in love with his wife abandons her.
The Soul of a Bishop offers great insights about the war; according to Wells, war being evil, it brought also the “greatest things” to mankind; (“national”) solidarity, namely.
I concur in a certain way with Dark; he often compared Bernard Shaw to Wells, and concluded: Shaw was always Shaw; but Wells “was never the same”. It is as if he was constantly self-actualizing.
Mr. Bristling Sees It Through, another of his books, is a self (because Bristling is Wells) view on war and God; not an omnipotent God, though.
(2) It was a well established fact: Wells was a pacifist. Also a socialist; a member (not for long) of the Fabian Society. However, he took strange (nowadays-deemed) positions on Democracy, for example. By 1914, he called it a “grey confusion” that “must pass away”. His, was a modern utopia aspiration: a “class of samurais”, “intellectual aristocrats” that would rule.
Wells had this dream of a ”world-peace”. He asked:”what are we fighting for!?”….He said publicly: “If America and Russia and the British took possession of the air…nothing could withstand them;…air out of politics”, then world peace would “endure forever”. It just didn’t happen after WWII.
He believed in a World-state, a world-currency, a world-Law. Civilization could be saved.
He had a long conversation with Lenin in Moscow; yet he thought (communist) Russia was in an “irreparable breakdown”.
(3)In some of his books he dealt with the religious question (God the invisible king). It seems Wells rejected the idea of a “God triune” and the “orthodoxy of Christianity”; apparently, there were two Gods “possibly in opposition”: the “(great) God of the stars” and the Christ-like rebel, like Prometheus and Hiawatha; he preferred the latter one. The god within his own heart.
But Mohammad was considered a “vain and egotistical leader; a shifty leader, evidently lustful”. [There goes the world harmony!!] ------------- WORLD RULE
I’ve watched recently the movie “Things to come” (1936); it’s a movie whose script had HG Wells signature. It starts in 1940 in a place called Everytown. It’s X’mas time;children play with gifts; men discuss the news; some believe it, some don’t: “warning to Europe”´… “the world in the brink of war”… “war scare”,…”war storm”. And then it happened: war came.
It lasted for 20 years or so; some communities survived, within the old system of the "warlords". Only in 1970 pestilence is conquered; half of the human race has been killed. Until it shows up this “man from the future” with new ideas: “we don’t approve independent states”: “we run ourselves”. This man speaks about a Freemasonry of Science.
---an old dream, a world-rationality rule; hardly, so far.
I can hear H. G. Wells murmuring: “Goddam you all!" That's really dark....more
I've found this edition; the cover tells a lot about the ancient myths, sort of reenacted by Wells.
The book (first published in 18
I've found this edition; the cover tells a lot about the ancient myths, sort of reenacted by Wells.
The book (first published in 1896) offers an introduction by the nephew of Edward Pendrick (EP), the main hero of the story. Heir and nephew, Charles tells us that by the year 1887 a ship called Lady Vain somehow got lost in these coordinates: 1º south and 107º west. His uncle was on board; and he was later (1888) picked up at 5º 3’ south and 101º west, drifting in a small boat. Charles got this information from the papers his uncle left him.
It’s about the story of his 11 months (of hypothetical) survival in an isle; in fact, a biological station where strange surgical procedures have been applied upon animals: beasts turned into “humans”.
“Hypothetical”, because by 1891, the HMS Scorpion visited the only isle within those latitudes (called Noble Isle) and found only: “curious white moths”, scorpions, “peculiar rats” and hogs and rabbits. No strange creatures.
According to Charles, psychologists took a look upon the memory data of his uncle. Some referred the uncle’s account as supposedly “demented”.
Again hypothetical, because the title of the book is: “The island of doctor Moreau, a possibility.”
But, true, according to the story, EP was saved by a veterinary called Montgomery, and brought upon this Island; Moreau’s. It will take some time for EP to discover what’s going on, but since the first moments he had already sighted strange creatures.
HI NON SUNT HOMINES; SUNT ANIMALIA QUI NOS HABEMUS-vivisected.
The thing is that for a while EP thought these creatures were men. Not so, would explain to him this scientist (expelled from England) called Moreau: they were humanized animals. Through methods of amputation, tongue cutting and excisions…animals were “craven and wrought into new shapes”: human shapes. So EP will encounter a Leopard-Man (on the night of his arrival) and later on: Dog-man, Swine-man, Bull-man, Monkey-man, Wolf-man…wolf-woman; the Beast people. EP got in shock and soon all he wants is to escape the terrible spot.
Moreau would tell EP: “I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter”. The scientist didn’t stop on “physical metamorphosis”; he proceeded to the next phase: education of the beasts. So he trained the beasts under the Law. He took first a gorilla, …molded his brain; made his first man; then taught him English,…and some rudimentary moral ideas. Like: >“not to go in all-fours; THAT IS THE LAW…not to suck up drink THAT IS THE LAW….not to eat fish or flesh…THAT IS THE LAW…not to claw the bark of the trees…THAT IS THE LAW”. Moreau urged them to be obedient…:>”none escape, punishment is sharp and sure; eat roots and herbs.“His, is the House of Pain…his, the hand that makes wounds …and heals”.
As predictable, the beast side of the creatures prevailed. The day came when the beasts told EP: “The House of Pain is gone;... the master is dead…no whips for ever again”.
EP managed to assemble a raft and get off the Isle. To his counts, when he left, there were around 60 creatures in the volcanic isle of doc Moreau; more males than females;they lived for some time by the Law of monogamy, but that law soon lost its force. EP witnessed the transition of the creatures, their human traces soon , though very slowly, faded away…; the creatures slipped back to their previous characteristics. -------------
Wells suggested this novel was an exercise of “blasphemy”. In my view, it was an attempt to probe into the creative power of man, into the conversion of the beasts through the Law…of the human.
Moreau, the (deified) scientist, failed. Beasts are beasts. Humans are humans, though the borderline is difficult to establish…sometimes.Where do you draw the line? -That’s the introductory picture of this review (from a 1977 film).
A more recent (1996) adaptation to the cinema by John Frankenheimer, depicts Moreau as a Nobel prize winner, a geneticist, a scientist expelled from the USA. It’s a romanticized version of Wells’ book.There are many cinematic versions of the story.
::::::::::::::::::::: Moreau's cage-birdog. Pet joke....more
Back in February of this year, in the USA, it was hot, the debate on the weather: how to explain changes, (and act upon them): like huge snow storms (Back in February of this year, in the USA, it was hot, the debate on the weather: how to explain changes, (and act upon them): like huge snow storms (in the east side) or the prolonged California droughts?
Republican Marsha Blackburn had a rendezvous (Meet the Press) with Bill Nye (the renown "Science guy") to debate those issues. The latter focused on “facts” (like Antarctica’s ice getting lesser and lesser over the years) and time coming for “innovation”. The former stressing the need for “technologies” to be affordable for the American people, a pressing cost/benefit analysis to be made and (surprise!!): the latest recordings of the carbon emissions show that they are at “its lowest”; she added even a positive side to the (polemic) global warming: it may turn to be positive for the agriculture.
Yes, it’s been a long debate (both on the political and scientific grounds), and sides sometimes are quite apart.
This 1973 book by Cooper touches on those questions (not only) also, in a very prescient way.
The story is about a grim world of the year 2077. Earth is about to die; hunger has struck the main continents; last one being India; only faring better Australia: since its deserts became fertile. It’s a time when most people on Earth never knew their planet was dying. Yet, bases on the Moon (with 2,000 people) and Mars (10,000) were viable. Mars atmosphere is now breathable.
“Naturally”, the powerful ones tried escaping. The Pope requested “300 priests” to go to the New World; the black people lobby asked for a quota of 15%; China a 1/4…. . Several spaceships are meant to leave the planet; only some will be allowed in. Those left on planet earth are doomed. There’s hope elsewhere, though.
As the last ship lifts off from Womera, Australia, its commander takes a look at a bleak scenario: a place where there’s no more sun, no blue skies…only gray, foggy weather,"eternal" rain and clouds, a place where crops cannot mature.
43 year old Australian Idris Hamilton, born on planet Earth, plus a crew of 3 Martian born ,young people are onboard the Das Hammarskjold spaceship; plus a cargo of 20 kids and 2 female teachers in hibernation. They’re heading towards Mars. The kids are geniuses (IQ above 200). The problem is that the ship carries hidden bombs too, and though the commander finally spots them and tries to diffuse them…the ship gets blown away. Presumably, all got dead.
Five thousand years later, in a planet called Minerva (yes, the 10th one of the solar system, in the vicinity of Neptune), Idris “wakes up”. He knows he’s a piece of cells inside a tank. He’s only memories and dreams and… nightmares.
An old man, in fact, a psychosurgeon called De Skun (and his assistant Zylonia), is about to tell him: “you died 5,370 terrestrial years ago”…your ship was lost “beyond the Mars …and Pluto orbits”. Yet, Minervans resurrected Idris and one teacher and some of the kids. Their advanced technology allowed it.
Idris will get a new body (a clone from his own cells). He’s about the meet the kids, the ones he considers “his”, since they’re terrestrials. Ah, English is a dead language in Minerva; and there's no monetary system.
In Minerva, the population cannot exceed 10,000 souls. It’s a perpetual-night, icy planet; they keep the Martian time; there’s been harmony for years due to a new, strict Creed: Talbot’s. Garfield Talbot*,a kind of "Moses", who took refuge in the place some time ago.
Idris has got a project: return to Earth. Will he succeed? -maybe with the help of Mary Evans...
Especially for his prescient character, this so-humane,science fiction book deserves 4 stars. Immortality gets a touch too, evidently.
* a utopian communist; had 14 children from 8 women. ...more
He died at 75, with a wish-list for the afterlife: “I want to travel through the space to visit other planets”.
Edgar Rice Burroughs outsold the comb He died at 75, with a wish-list for the afterlife: “I want to travel through the space to visit other planets”.
Edgar Rice Burroughs outsold the combination of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner, at his time. He ventured far (and wide) in the realm of imagination. Maybe he "caught" kids and teens first, then adults, definitely. I was one of the "caught-ups" in this vast world imagined, when I was a teen; I read Tarzan whenever possible and all the pulp fiction I could grab.
Ray Bradbury was right saying about Burroughs: “astronomers and biochemists fell in love with John Carter and Tarzan; B. put us on the moon; all technologists read”… him. So, no wonder Bradbury called him the “most influential writer of the world”. I agree in some way, for a certain genre of writing.
The Barsoom world (which this novel of John Carter adventures on Mars is a part of) started before Tarzan. It was a shy start up, so to speak, because Burroughs didn’t even pen it with his own name, but under the name Norman Bean. The 1st version was called Under the moons of Mars; later then it became A princess of Mars, published in 1912. Burroughs was in a sort of “existential desperation”; the business of writing saved him; he had started at 35; he acknowledged: his earlier career had been disappointing.
APoM struck me first for its introductory lines. John Carter the civil war hero (the one we all love, writes the narrator,…grey eyes ,black-hair…a typical southern gentleman), finds himself looking for gold in the Arizona landscape; his musings inside a cave are lapidary: >“I am a very old man…possibly I am 100 possibly more…I have always been a man of 30”.
And shortly after he’s catapulted to another sphere: Mars; he’s just seen his terrestrial body laying inside the cave; now, he’s bare naked contemplating this incubator of eggs…of strange creatures, hatching.
The whole panoply of creatures will unfold before his eyes: male, green Martians with “scrawny” bodies, “6 legged creatures”, 15 feet high, 400 pounds-weight.Then females, 10 to 12 feet tall. Beings made for war; “naturally” selected and raised for war. A population with curious statistics: of 300 years of average life,they can live up to 1000 years, only 1 in 1000 dies of disease; there’s a continual warfare between their communities. Carter's only friends are Martian Sola (a "motherly" young woman of 45), a loyal watch "dog"…and surely the girl,the loved princess, Dejah Thoris.
A “nomadic race”…whose only thoughts are for "the today". A race of brutes. 5 million martians.
Carter discovers his new abilities on the surface of Mars: he’s capable of super human leaps: 30 feet into the air. Even Martians are astounded. He noticed some buildings are “out of proportions” when compared to these green Martians; maybe another civilization, a different one, had been responsible for its construction.
But there are other types: the colossal ape-like white creatures:”hairless except a bristly hair upon its head”. And more.
The two Martian moons are closer than ours; so nights are different; if both moons visible, than light,...if not, total darknesss.
Nights are cold, on Mars. -----
So much’s been written on these stories of Burroughs; from so many angles…. Recently, I’ve read this political Marxist view (by a blogger): "the politics of A Princess of Mars are rooted in a 19th century colonialism that more accurately reflects the wishes and problems of modern imperialism"*.
I think you can read politics in (to) Burroughs. His aim will always go far beyond that; because imagination needs no politics. When I was a kid,my eyes didn't read politics; I was mesmerized, ...not by ideology,certainly not.
Back in the late nineties I was a member of The Planetary Society. I used to receive, at home, their magazine. I always took notice of that naPrologue
Back in the late nineties I was a member of The Planetary Society. I used to receive, at home, their magazine. I always took notice of that name: Ray Bradbury, among the long list of other famous names as board of directors and Advisory Council members: Carl Sagan (co -founder), Bruce Murray,David Brin, Arthur Clarke …. Maybe I knew one day I would read the Martian Chronicles. And now I had the chance. For some time I still held in my mind the names of the missions (to Mars) and the photos of TPS magazines: Pathfinder and Sojourner roving through the Mars dust and rocks …and then I’ve started reading this idealization of a planet.
Bradbury told this story once. He was in San Diego, back in 2001, at Point Loma Nazarene University. He was lecturing about the “hygiene of writing”. He told the students: Christopher Isherwood told him: Aldous Huxley wanted to meet with him; they met and Huxley told Bradbury “you are a poet”. Bradbury got delighted.
In an interview he explained how, when he was 29 years old, he went to New York: a journey of 4 days and nights by Greyhound, to get his short stories published. The Martian Chronicles were a collection of separate short stories, but they got together in a tapestry that is the present book (first published in 1950).
The Martian Chronicles
The book is a collection of short stories that cover the period of about 60 years of Mars colonization by men,starting in 1999.
A place with Blue Mountains,… golden fruits and houses with crystal columns. People (Martians) with gold yellow eyes and brown skin, capable of telepathy (of understanding other languages)… who read on metallic books with salient hieroglyphs. That’s truly poetic. Planet Mars has a Dead Sea…and violet water canals…and twin white Moons. Children play with golden spiders.
Poetic as well the conversation between Lady Ttt and Mr Iiii and Mr Aaa….on planet Tyrr. From their planet they see Earth as green. But not so poetic for commander Williams,and his men, who conclude later that he’s been visiting a madhouse, and that Martians think “we’re crazy”. This was a story of hallucinations.
In another story there’s a character who would like to organize Mars in a way it would resemble Earth;he,himself and fellow men conclude there’s a collective hypnosis: a woman thinking she’s still living on planet earth; a crew member thinks he meets his brother;… and Marylyn. In the end 16 men are dead.
Yes, planet Mars harbors a dead civilization. Hathaway, a geologist, concludes: “by the look of their cities it was a beautiful, gracious and philosophical people”. Martians fuse Art and life: not like Americans.
When Benjamin Driscoll arrived to Mars there were no trees: he wanted to see a green Mars; the air-like-the-Andes was not satisfactory.
By year 2002, 90,000 people arrived …rockets arrived like grasshoppers. Someone says: I must forget earth; I have a lot of fun with the weather here: day hot as hell, and the night cold.
Martians look like blue spheres. Stone is having a conversation with a priest. Stone had been saved in an avalanche of stones, by the blue lights; the priest says: that proves they have a soul: there’s compassion: they’re not animals. “What kind of Christ they adore?”.
A Martian explains: “it’s been 10,000 years… we have abandoned our bodies…we live in happiness, we live in the grace of God…we once were humans, with bodies like you…we live in the mountains and the wind…we have abandoned material life”.
(…) And yet in Red City the Martians killed a man.
November 2005 news: there’s war on earth. We need to get back. It’s still our homeland.
Sam got a territory from the Martians the size of half of Mars. He receives a message from Earth: the Australian continent exploded, London and LA were bombed.
Hathaway, a former State governor, says Earth science went ahead of us: wars killed Earth. The governor wants to start a new life on Mars. Hathaway and family are fishing in the Mars canals; and the kids want so badly to see a Martian. Father tells them to look at the image reflected on the waters. Martians are earthlings.
The Bradbury chronicles tell little about Martians, but a lot about humans.