Jeffrey's Reviews > A Princess of Mars

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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M_50x66
's review
May 16, 12

bookshelves: science-fiction, read-in-2012, young-adult
Read from May 02 to 16, 2012, read count: 1

There's a lot of credit given to people who (at least claim to) get there first. Christopher Columbus and Sir Edmund Hillary come to mind. In that regard, Edgar Rice Burroughs does do a great job of creating an alien world of vast potential in Barsoom, a savage land of many warring tribes.

But in actual execution it falls rather flat. The perspective, told by the protagonist John Carter, is admittedly a product of its time: racist, sexist, and judgmental of other cultures. Furthermore, the character cast into a role of a superman among these people, cannot fail to reiterate just how powerful he is. It is rare that you feel he is ever endangered by his opposition. In part, this is because of the brevity of the combat scenes, which can be blamed in part as its original presentation as a serial. But that some brevity then makes you question why Burroughs continues on and on about Carter's physical and martial prowess.

Enamored with first Martian woman he meets, whom he basically wins by being a savage badass, despite his lamenting how savage the native Martians are and commenting that badass men have difficulty wooing women and that less masculine ones are better disposed to doing so, Carter seeks to save his love from a variety of threats in episodic format (see serial publication) and provides a narrative that doesn't really have an overall arc, more just a collection of lesser stories in a potentially richer world.

That's the thing though. The world is what sticks with you. Airships, secret machines that provide the world life. Exotic beasts of war. These things can fill an imagination, when they have time to sit back and imagine how they should be. Burrough's (for some reason I keep wanting to attribute Carter to Robert E. Howard absence of detail lets so much be filled in by the imagination, and there are many many places that imagination can go.
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Reading Progress

05/02/2012 page 23
11.0% "As narrated by Carter, a former Confederate officer, the book is more entertaining when you read it with a Foghorn Leghorn or Ulysses Everett McGill voice."
05/03/2012 page 40
19.0% "Unfortunately, the library says I have to give this one back. So it's on hold for the moment."
05/09/2012 page 51
24.0% "I'm not apologizing for Robert E. Howard, the omnipresence of his controversial viewpoints is undeniable. But it makes a certain sense, given the narrative viewpoint that it is so judgmental towards difference. Not that it validates the viewpoint, but it makes sense. It also enhances the alien quality of the Martian society"
05/10/2012 page 69
32.0% "I knew in advance how racist Howard was, did not realize but should not be surprised to find him sexist as well."
05/11/2012 page 77
36.0% "Howard has a habit of using fifty-cent words when five cent words would do. It makes reading the text laborious"
05/14/2012 page 117
54.0% "A not-daring not-escape?"
05/15/2012 page 147
68.0% "I was discussing this work with a friend who compared it to a Manifest Destiny mindset. What comes to mind for me is the modern equivalent, American Exceptionalism (i.e. it's okay when WE do it)"
05/16/2012 page 197
91.0% "Wrapping up"

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