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The Master Mind of Mars

(Barsoom #6)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  4,271 ratings  ·  114 reviews
Mass Market Paperback, 160 pages
Published April 12th 1979 by Ballantine Books (first published 1927)
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,271 ratings  ·  114 reviews

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Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Probably more like a 4.5 or 4.75 . . .

For this volume we're back to first-person narration, but it's not John Carter -- it's Ulysses Paxton, another Earth man who makes his way to Barsoom from the trenches of WWI-era Europe. Paxton already has a basic familiarity with Barsoom because he's read ERB's previous books, although he thought they were fiction. (Burroughs was meta before meta was a thing.)

This is an interesting installment -- it has much more of a science fictional feel to it than other
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
"The Master Mind of Mars" is book #6 of 11 John Carter adventures that Edgar Rice Burroughs gave to the world. It first appeared in the magazine "Amazing Stories Annual" in July 1927, and John Carter himself only puts in a cameo appearance near the book's end. Instead, our hero is another Earthman, Ulysses Paxton, who mysteriously gets transported to Barsoom (Mars) after being critically wounded on the battlefields of WW1. Paxton becomes an apprentice of the eponymous mastermind Ras Thavas, and ...more
Mary Catelli
Ulysses Paxton, fighting in World War I, finds himself transported to Mars with no more reason than John Carter -- though this goes more briskly than in Princess. He finds himself in the lair of Ras Thavas, a slightly mad scientist who transplants organs, including brains, and can often revive the dead. He has room after room of bodies suspended as if time did not pass.

He trains Paxton, thinking that a man with nowhere to go is the most trustworthy he can find, and knowing he needs someone to tr
Jun 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
“The Master Mind of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs is the sixth book in the Barsoom series. Burroughs moves further away from John Carter by introducing a new hero, Ulysses Paxton, who uses his Martian name Vad Varo for most of the book. Ulysses is a much different hero than John Carter, or for that matter Cathoris or Thuvia from “Thuvia Maid of Mars” or Gahan of Gathol or Tara of Helium from “The Chessmen of Mars”. Ulysses’s connection with John Carter is that when on Earth he read the stories o ...more
An Odd1
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy

Fun body switches. Do you love the person inside? Or does outside / inside influence other side?

Ulysses Paxton narrates death in Civil War, waking naked on Mars, apprenticeship to transplant expert ancient Ras Thavas of Toonol, who calls him 'Vad Varo'. Ras does good, giving arm to worker whose own was crushed, new brain to "demented child .. from violent deaths" p 394

Into lovely body, they put brain of Xaxa, old ruler of Phundahlia although "She is an ig
The Master Mind of Mars completes the little mini-arc of philosophy I've described. In Thuvia, Maid of Mars, we meet a city of realists and etherealists, the latter of whom believe that none of us exist but both of whom are so focused on the creations of their minds as to ignore reality; in The Chessmen of Mars, we meet a race of Martians who have developed into all brain (the kaldanes) and all body (the rykors), neither of whom enjoys the fullest pleasures of life; and in The Master Mind of Mar ...more
Stephen Brooke
Aug 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Although Burroughs’s earlier Barsoom novels are nominally science fiction thanks to their setting, ‘The Mastermind of Mars’ moves closer to true SF and away from the fantastical romances of its predecessors. They still, however, have a lot in common including many of the same basic plot elements ERB recycled throughout his writing career.

All in all, I find it a lesser effort. The sense of wonder and adventure we enjoyed in the previous novels is downplayed in favor of a slower pace and a smaller
Sep 13, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
This story follows the adventures of an unrelated hero, Ulysses Paxton, an Earthman. Like John Carter, Paxton arrives on Mars via astral projection and ends up being trained by mad scientist Ras Thavas, the titular Mastermind of Mars, in the techniques of mind-body transfer. Paxton uses these techniques to restore his beloved Valla Dia's brain into her own beautiful body after her brain had been swapped with that of the hideous Xaxa of Phundahl.

These stories are not high art, or even good sci-fi
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
John Carter is not the only one who travels to Mars. Enter Captain Ulysses Paxton, US Army. While on the fields of battle in the Great War, Paxton suddenly mortally wounded and fixes his gaze on the twinkling red planet in the dark night sky. He stretches out his arms toward this sparkling light and in almost a blink of an eye finds himself laying flat on his back gazing up into a bright sun-lit sky. Standing over him is Ras Thavas, Barsoom’s greatest scientist. Thus begins the adventurers of an ...more
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This one has some horror elements in it that really make it sing. Sword & Planet as it should be done. However, it doesn't feature John Carter but Ulysses Paxton, an admirer of John Carter who also gets transported to Mars. I didn't think there was any letdown for going with a new character.
Zach Naylor
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Burroughs continues his post-script Barsoom trilogy with another well-meaning, idea-laden, and unfortunately rather rote experience.

"Master Mind" embraces yet more self-awareness of Barsoom's offbeat pseudoscience. Ulysses Paxton, a World War I soldier, is familiarized with John Carter's past adventures (in yet more of Burroughs' low-key humour). A dire injury and desperate reach send him to the red planet, where he becomes the involuntary aide to the eponymous mastermind. He hatches a plan to e
Jeremy Michael Gallen
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
In this tale of Barsoom, author Edgar Rice Burroughs shifts perspectives again, this time focusing on a newcomer to the franchise named Ulysses Paxton, who became acquainted with John Carter in the autumn of 1917. While on the battlefields of the First World War, with maimed legs, Paxton becomes drawn by the scarlet glow of Mars, where he becomes whole again. Paxton first meets an old man on Barsoom, whose life he saves, after which the elder leads him to a cave where he conducts sundry experime ...more
Kameron Sanders
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Mastermind of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs was pretty good. I especially loved that it gave some food for thought, allowing us to reflect on what we should truly aspire to; perfection in some aspects with a lack thereof in others, or imperfection in all aspects without a dramatic difference in any of them. My favorite character is Ras Thavas, but only because he is kind of insane and paranoid, two things I love in a character. My favorite quote from it is said by Ulysses in chapter 12, stati ...more
JJ Hill
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
JJ Hill
J Campbell
6th Period honors English

I thoroughly enjoyed The Master Mind of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The exiting adventure of Ulysses Paxton, or Vad Varo, joined by one of the weirdest groups of people imaginable, a resurrected assassin, a guy in someone else's body, and a 10 foot tall Martian ape with half a human brain, was to retrieve the stolen body of his love, who was killed and became a test subject and was resurrected in the body of a shriveled old lady. They traveled t
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great addition to the Warlord of Mars series. Unlike the other books in the series, this story delved into more science fiction aspects such as false gods and crazy medical experimentation. There was a mix of mailicous political intrigue and manipulation with some of the Mars rulers as a result of those "gods" and experiments which the main protagonist faced in his efforts throughout the book.
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, pulp-adventure
On of the good potboilers. Introduces Ulysses Paxton to Barsoonm and takes us to a couple of new cities. The real new introduction is mad scientist/surgeon Ras Thavas, whose person and lab are the best part of the first half but sadly dissappear from the second. Body-swap plotting, swipes at religion, some derring-do and lots of posturing nobility. A fun read
Hannah Russell
Jun 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: classics, scifi
This book is proof that no matter how bad a series is, it is entirely possible to jump the shark.

I mean, the main character is morally questionable, there's no other way to say it. I understand why we needed a new earthling, and though I appreciate what Burroughs was trying to do with Ulysses Paxton...

The entire plot is stupid...I don't know what to say.
Emily Catherine
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's picking up again. There are more layers and better story-telling. I think we may have moved past some of the (I want to say lower-level descriptions and plot developments) hang-ups the previous two books seemed to have. And I am looking forward to the next!
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adventure
Another earthman makes it to Mars where he becomes involved in organ transplants that include brains. He falls for one of the girls and seeks to get her body back. Although written in the 20's, there is an interesting reference to wireless telephones and cameras.
This one is an unusual read in the series. While the first half seems to take forever to get going, the second half is much more straight forward and to the point as usual without the endless plot twist. So uneven but on average the same entertaining easy read as you expect from the barsoom saga.
James Troxell
The mad scientist stuff is pretty fun. As is the satire of militant atheists and religious fanatics. But it's adventure aspect is a bit boring and predictable even if his comrades are interesting. The later Barsoom books seem more like a cash in and lack the power of the earlier entries.
Allen Perry
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A much better story then the last several books on the series. They should be read in order though. A quick but fun read.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of the entire ERB Mars series. Downloading again to reread and share with my grandson.
Dan Reese
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely an amazing series.
It was cool to see yet another character introduced to the world. I thought the brain swapping thing was super bizarre and cool too.
Roddy Williams

Former Earthman Ulysses Paxton served Barsoom’s greatest scientist, until his master’s ghoulish trade in living bodies drove him to rebellion. Then, to save the body of the woman he loved, he had to attack mighty Phundahl and its evil beautiful ruler.'

The Sixth in Burroughs’ Martian series sees a new Earthman, Ulysses Paxton, transported from the Hell of the trenches of World War I to the red sands of Barsoom. We know this, because he took the trouble to write a letter to Edgar
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The real mastermind in this 6th Barsoomian adventure is actually Burroughs himself. This installment finds him back in that prime inventive mode that carries through his better works and that tends to be absent in many of his sequels. While there were a lot of strengths in “The Chessmen of Mars”, I feel like “The Master Mind of Mars” is where the series really regained strength.

The story followed WW1 soldier Ulysses Paxton who admires John Carter and yearns to be on Mars. Paxton is shortly on
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
Despite being the 6th novel in the series, in this story Burroughs proves that there are plenty of stories left to tell on Barsoom, and that John Carter or Carthoris don't need to be present to have a compelling story.

Our protagonist is a World War I soldier with the incredibly badass name Ulysses Paxton. When he gets blown in half by an artillery shell, he finds himself on Barsoom, a planet he knows well from Edgar Rice Burrough's stories. I like that--as with John Carter's original teleportati
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Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author, best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic John Carter, although he produced works in many genres.

Other books in the series

Barsoom (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1)
  • The Gods of Mars (Barsoom #2)
  • The Warlord of Mars (Barsoom, #3)
  • Thuvia, Maid of Mars (Barsoom, #4)
  • The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom #5)
  • A Fighting Man of Mars (Barsoom #7)
  • Swords of Mars (Barsoom, #8)
  • Synthetic Men of Mars (Barsoom, #9)
  • Llana of Gathol (Barsoom, #10)
  • John Carter of Mars (Barsoom #11)