Ron's Reviews > A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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's review
Mar 05, 12

bookshelves: ebook, science-fiction, gutenberg
Read from March 04 to 05, 2012

A surprisingly good read. Solidly space opera.

As an adventure, it works just fine.

Others have documented Burroughs' shoddy research, but cut the guy some slack--he lived before the invention of modern physics. That said, he commits several gaffs which are perplexing for their crudeness. For example, after he identifies Mars' year as twice as long as an Earth year, he has his hero staying on Mars ten years and returning to Earth with only ten years elapsed. He doesn't even try to explain how John Carter comes to have two apparently-functional bodies.

The whole "radium" thing is a hoot. Like SF writers before and since, Burroughs uses the then-new element as the solution to every technical problem. Think: electric/electronic, nuclear, positronic, quantum and anti-matter. He had no more idea than most of the others how his Deus ex machina worked, it just did . . . he said.

The birth-by-egg business is hopeless, of course, but plays a critical plot purpose, so what can we say? Burroughs says there are no birds or bugs on Mars, yet everyone dresses in silks and decorates with feathers. Huh? His getting the sand storms and mountains wrong is excusable, given the state of our knowledge of the Red Planet a hundred years ago. He at least knew that Percival Lowell was all wet.

A fun read.
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