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A Princess of Mars
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A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
The first book we will discuss on Written Gems is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic, A Princess of Mars. Discussion will begin on Wednesday, April 18, to give anyone who wants to join in the conversation plenty of time to read (or reread) the book. This novel has inspired two movies, numerous comic books, and an amazing amount of both fan fiction and authorized sequels by the ERB’s estate, which certainly goes a long way to establishing its modern relevance. It’s also an important piece of literature in its own right as it (and its many sequels) popularized the science fiction subgenre called the Planetary Romance.

Planetary Romance is not a term that’s used a lot today, but anyone who’s seen Avatar knows exactly what this subgenre is all about. The hero (or heroine) encounters adventure on a foreign planet and moves heaven and earth because of love. Another prominent modern example is the Planet Hulk and World War Hulk comic series. Classic examples can be seen in Buck Rogers, Adam Strange, Dune, Pern, the World of Tiers, Darkover, and the Hainish Cycle.

A Princess of Mars reads as a pretty straight forward adventure piece. Earthman John Carter finds himself on the planet Mars, meets the woman of his dreams, and moves the Martian equivalent of heaven and earth to rescue her from a horrible fate. Along the way there are loyal and heroic friends, terrifying monsters and epic fights and battles. When you sum it up like this, the novel doesn’t sound that ground breaking, and yet it has inspired the dreams of generations of readers and many of those readers (such as Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Jack Vance) grew up to inspire even more children of all ages.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Edgar Rice Burroughs created some of the most popular fictional images and ideas in the twentieth century. While he is best known for the jungle adventures of Tarzan, the English nobleman orphaned as an infant in Africa and raised by apes, he has also brought generations of eager readers to Mars, Pellucidar at the Earth’s core, the Land that Time Forgot, Venus, the Moon, and so many more. In doing so, he inspired generations of readers and aspiring authors. He was such an important figure that Ray Bradbury once said, “Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world…By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special."

ERB claimed he started writing because he enjoyed reading the Pulp Magazines but was disappointed in the quality of the stories. He figured he could do at least as well and probably a good deal better. (A century worth of fans would agree with that assessment.) His first story, Under the Moons of Mars (by Norman Bean—a pseudonym he adopted to protect his reputation) was serialized in “The All-Story” from February to July in 1912. It earned him $400 (about $10,000 today) and was an instant success. It was followed in October by Tarzan of the Apes and Burroughs never looked back. By 1917, his serialized stories were appearing in book form as well, with Under the Moons of Mars becoming A Princess of Mars—the title it is known by today.

ERB was in Honolulu on December 7, 1941 and was inspired by the attack to become the oldest war correspondent (he was in his sixties) to serve in World War II. He died five years after the war at his home in Tarzana, California (named in honor of Burroughs and his most popular character), leaving behind some 80 novels which sold some 30 million copies in his lifetime. His stories and characters had always held a warm place in the heart of popular culture but in 2003 his literary impact was honored when he was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, joining such luminaries as H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Ursula LeGuin, and Michael Moorcock.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Welcome to Written Gems and our first book discussion. I hope you all enjoyed A Princess of Mars—we’ll talk about general enjoyment of the book on the last day of the discussion. Before then, over the next few days, we’ll discuss Dejah Thoris, the book’s villains, it’s supporting cast, battles on Mars, the major weaknesses of ERB’s story, and finally our favorite scenes and best retellings in alternative media.

So let’s get started by looking at the woman after whom the novel is named—Dejah Thoris. Today it is common for women in fiction to appear as strong characters every bit as capable of kicking butt and leading warriors as men do. Honor Harrington, Jane Yellowrock, Anita Blake and Lily Yu are just a few of the thousands of female characters filling the heroic role in modern fiction. But it didn’t use to be that way. A hundred years ago, women were typically relegated to at best a supporting role and at worst the Damsel in Distress. So our first discussion question is: Which is Dejah Thoris—Heroine or Damsel in Distress?


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
Ouch! You had to start with a tough one. My reaction is "sure, hero" though I have to admit of course that she's also in distress not just for much of this book, but the bulk of the next three (where honestly it gets worse). But in Princess of Mar, Dejah Thoris comes into the story on a noble mission to save the planet, dignified and brave when captured and at the mercy of the Tharks.

I thought it was interesting how ERB, a hundred years ago, sought wiggle-room for the place of women on Barsoom. He pointed out that they made the weapons and kept them in good repair; and he was at pains to state that women COULD fight, they just didn't.

In the end, I think a character is heroic if you could reasonably want to be like them. Even Jon Carter got overwhelmed and captured at times, but how do you act when you're outnumbered or helpless, that's what matters to me. And Dejah Thoris gave as good as he did when bidding defiance.


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Chris Adams (chrisladams) | 75 comments Mod
Before I launch into my feelings about one of the most famous characters ever committed to the written page, I beg you, allow me this brief preamble.

As many-a Burroughs fan, I was at that ripe age of discovery when I read my first ERB novel which wasn't A Princess of Mars , but rather, Tarzan and the Golden Lion . To say I was profoundly affected by the man's writing is to belittle the emotion.

In that day and time, it wasn't easy hunting down these novels. There existed no internet, you understand. One found these by scrounging used book stores, and getting on 'mailing lists' with dealers such as Kevin Hancer, Gorgon Books and Pandora. Thank goodness for those used book dealers. From Hancer I ordered a slew of those 'little Aces' - the 40 centers.

This is how big an impression Ed's Mars books made on me after I finished the last one: I was depressed because there was no more to read, and because I knew that place wasn't real -- that it only existed in my mind and heart. So, thanks Ed.

So, Dejah Thoris. The most beautiful woman on two worlds. Semi-nude but for her dagger, daughter of the most powerful men of her world, the scion of Helium aristocracy -- Helium being her native city, a leading city of Barsoom, the planet we call Mars.

Was Dejah Thoris a heroine? I certainly think so. Oh, it wasn't that she laid low the enemies of Helium with sword and dagger and radium pistol. And it wasn't that she was the greatest swordswoman on two worlds, or pulled-off dozens of daring rescues of dudes-in-distress. Quite the opposite, she often found herself in dire straights, in need of a good rescuing.

Dejah is a heroine because she was a wonderful stateswoman. She loved her people and wished to bridge the gap between the races to bring all peoples together in accord with the common goal of survival and the enrichment of their lives.

For theirs is a world at the end of its life-cycle. Helium doesn't wish to exist in a constant state of war where they fight with their neighbors for meager resources. Rather, it is Helium and her allies who strive to keep the planet alive with the atmosphere plant and missions of peace and beneficence.

Listen as Dejah espouses these ideas to the barbaric greenmen:

Why, oh, why will you not learn to live in amity with your fellows. Must you ever go on down the ages to your final extinction but little above the plane of the dumb brutes that serve you! . . . Come back to the ways of our common ancestors, come back to the light of kindliness and fellowship. The way is open to you, you will find the hands of the red men stretched out to aid you. Together we may do still more to regenerate our dying planet. The granddaughter of the greatest and mightiest of the red jeddaks has asked you. Will you come?
Dejah Thoris - A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs

I can't say it better than that. Dejah Thoris was a heroine because of her ideals, not because of how many notches were on her dagger.


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Alex Nguyen | 9 comments I love these classics not just for the pure fun of the story, but because they give us a snapshot of the time when they were written! 1912 I believe women's suffrage was in full swing. Some short years later the right to vote would be granted.

In light of this, I vote heroine!


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Chris Adams (chrisladams) | 75 comments Mod
Alex -- couldn't agree more. I find it captivating to think of the times in which these old pulps were written, very different times indeed. I come across quaint old sayings I don't understand, and references to people whom I have on clue who they are now.

For example, one of my favorite old sayings that Burroughs used was from one of his Pellucidar novels:

That makes about as much sense as a white pine dog with a poplar tail.


Classic! And thanks for the comment.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
William wrote: "Ouch! You had to start with a tough one. My reaction is "sure, hero" though I have to admit of course that she's also in distress not just for much of this book, but the bulk of the next three (whe..."
Will, I think that your point that we have to judge a work in the context of the time in which it was written is an important one. After all, by today's standards, Abraham Lincoln was a racist. By the standards of his time he was a progressive abolitionist. I agree that ERB was determined to make Dejah Thoris far more than a damsel in distress.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Chris wrote: "Before I launch into my feelings about one of the most famous characters ever committed to the written page, I beg you, allow me this brief preamble.

As many-a Burroughs fan, I was at that ripe ag..."

Chris, I love the fact that you credit the idea that there is more than one way to be heroic. That diplomatic scene is the perfect example. Imagine a book in our own time about a female president captured by terrorists (has that been done?). We wouldn't expect her to go all Bruce Lee on the bad guys. And we wouldn't feel it automatically made her a damsel in distress if she needed to be rescued by Navy Seals. We would judge her by how she stood up to the horrendous pressures of her circumstance. And on that level, it seems to me that Dejah Thoris is totally heroic--a gifted and self-sacrificing stateswoman.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Alex Nguyen wrote: "I love these classics not just for the pure fun of the story, but because they give us a snapshot of the time when they were written! 1912 I believe women's suffrage was in full swing. Some short y..."
Alex, that's a truly excellent point. Dejah Thoris demonstrates women can handle political power--something highly debated at the time.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Two things for us to think about this morning. First, so far, we all seem to agree that Dejah Thoris is a heroine, but is there anything that we can say about her that would support the Damsel in Distress categorization? (Other than the fact that she's taken prisoner and needs rescuing?)

And Question 2: A good villain is critical to an adventure story, and ERB provides a handful in this novel for us to hate. So who is the baddest of the bad?


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "First, so far, we all seem to agree that Dejah Thoris is a heroine, but is there anything that we can say about her that would support the Damsel in Distress categorization?"

It's probably cheating my way out of a mess, but I'm going to follow the strict rules and say "in this book, no". ERB is very careful to note that Dejah is literally the only humanoid-shaped person Carter sees at first: his desire to rescue her is driven primarily by the fact that he's fallen for her beauty of course, but it's also mentioned that she might be the "last woman on Earth"! Except, well, not on earth right now, but you get the point. It's almost the end of the book before she's out of the clutches of dudes who are fourteen feet tall with two extra arms, tusks, etc.


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "And Question 2: A good villain" Fully agree and there's no shortage here! I was going to argue Tal Hajus, but that's too easy. For me, it's Sarkoja, and NOW we're in trouble! As evil as she is, Carter's not allowed to hit... um, a lady? Hoo boy.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
William wrote: "Gilbert wrote: "First, so far, we all seem to agree that Dejah Thoris is a heroine, but is there anything that we can say about her that would support the Damsel in Distress categorization?"

It's ..."


Will, I disagree. For me, when Dejah Thoris gets angry at John Carter for not claiming her after he fights for her, I think that is a Damsel in Distress move. She's playing court games with him.

On the other hand, on two occasions she fights for Carter to save his life--once against Sarkoja and once when he is fighting Sab Than, so those are clearly heroine moves. I still think she comes down far more strongly as heroine than damsel.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
William wrote: "Gilbert wrote: "And Question 2: A good villain" Fully agree and there's no shortage here! I was going to argue Tal Hajus, but that's too easy. For me, it's Sarkoja, and NOW we're in trouble! As evi..."

Sarkoja gets my vote too. She's not just evil like Tal Hajus, she's wickedly smart in her evil. She makes things happen. She's cunning and at times subtle, but never misses a chance to be nasty and cruel.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
We've had three villains mentioned so far. Let's vote for who we think is really the baddest of ERB's bad:
A) Sarkoja
B) Tal Hajus
C) Sab Than


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Heroes almost always have strong and heroic friends. Who was your favorite?


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Chris Adams (chrisladams) | 75 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "We've had three villains mentioned so far. Let's vote for who we think is really the baddest of ERB's bad:
A) Sarkoja
B) Tal Hajus
C) Sab Than..."


I'm in agreement with Sarkoja as the most vile villain of the tale. While Tal Hajus was a good antagonist for what he was (an atypical example of a torture-loving greenman), Sarkoja exhibited those extra bits of extreme nastiness in her level of cunning and deviousness. She went out of her way - not only to secure power or further her own interests - but in simple cruelty and the enjoyment of another's emotional suffering.

Definitely a wicked old hag by any standard.


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "William wrote: "Gilbert wrote: "And Question 2: A good villain" Fully agree and there's no shortage here! I was going to argue Tal Hajus, but that's too easy. For me, it's Sarkoja, and NOW we're in..."
Can't disagree. I think it's in the right order now A, B, C. Lord I wanted to punch Sarkoja, and I remember feeling deeply angry about the reverse double-standard! Remember the old Wild Wild West show? The cartoon in the beginning where he punched the wicked woman? In the first season, he just kisses her until she's dizzy and drops the knife- I had forgotten all about that, I was so shocked that he would punch a lady. But Sarkoja, not so much.


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "Heroes almost always have strong and heroic friends. Who was your favorite?"
I took some time to flog my brain and try to come up with alternatives. But who am I kidding, it's Tars Tarkas by a mile! He's even got a character arc.


message 21: by Chris (last edited Apr 20, 2018 08:34PM) (new)

Chris Adams (chrisladams) | 75 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "Heroes almost always have strong and heroic friends. Who was your favorite?"

Tars Tarkas becomes JC's most stalwart supporter throughout the series, but for Princess I'm going to go with faithful Woola.

Carter endears himself to the Barsoomian 'hound' by showing the calot something it had never before experienced--loving kindness. And Carter's benevolence is returned ten fold.

It becomes obvious to Carter that his supposed jailer will not harm him. But the man doesn't take advantage of the beast's affection as he doesn't wish to see him harmed should his loyalty to Carter be discovered by their green masters.

The qualities of love and faithfulness to John Carter and Carter's loved ones become characteristic of one of Burroughs' most beloved characters--Woola, the Barsoomian hound.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Okay, I agree that Tars Tarkas is cool beyond cool. He's also the character most focused upon in the various comic book adaptations I've seen (most focused upon after John Carter and Dejah Thoris) so obviously a lot of people out there agree with us. He's tough! He's courageous! He's got great character and a sense of justice! He's loyal! And he's surprisingly flexible and open-minded and able to break with tradition in favor of an almost scientific analysis of his situation. That's very impressive.

Woola is the faithful hound. I've never had a dog, but let's face it, if you couldn't have Scooby Doo for your pet, you'd want Woola!

But there are at least two more "side kicks" that I think are worth mentioning. One is Sola. She becomes Dejah Thoris companion in later books, and she also has all of Tars Tarkas' positive traits. The other is Kantos Kahn. He only gets a small roll in this book, but he's always stuck in my imagination since the first time I read this novel back in grade school. How does everyone rate these two?


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Next Question: An adventure novel isn’t an adventure without a lot of fighting. So let’s break down John Carter’s martial adventures. What does ERB do right? What does he wrong? And what surprises you the most about them?


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "Next Question: An adventure novel isn’t an adventure without a lot of fighting. So let’s break down John Carter’s martial adventures. What does ERB do right? What does he wrong? And what surprises ..."
The fighting is a huge feature of the series, and I enjoyed them a lot, but it's hard to put my finger on exactly what it is. I think he gives you a terrific environment with the sword-and-pistol culture, a combination of the very highest tech and the good old fashioned melee. And you're aware of Jon Carter's prowess, which gives you some reason to believe he can stick it out against such high odds, fight so long, etc.
ERB does one thing very well- he gives you the emotional stakes, sends his characters into battle knowing what they need and letting the reader see what's driving both the hero and his opponent. The fighting is nearly constant, but it's seldom truly meaningless. ERB almost never gives you the cut-and-thrust level description, but he will let you see, for example, that Carter is on a flight of stairs, or using a narrow doorway to his advantage. It's amazing how much of the book is really about fighting, yet you sail right through it because he's not mansplaining the action.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
ERB gives us a lot of information on the Martian world. Was there anything that didn’t ring true, or that the text later seemed to contradict?


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
What is your favorite scene in A Princess of Mars?


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "What is your favorite scene in A Princess of Mars?" Argh, would you STOP with the tough questions! One scene my favorite, you must be joking... but I'd have to go with the scene where Jon appeals to Tars to make Sarkoja leave Dejah Thoris alone. I quoted it on my blog and I just love how men of honor speak to each other. You can tell, from the way Tars acts even though he denies friendship even exists, that the worm is starting to turn.


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
William wrote: "Gilbert wrote: "Next Question: An adventure novel isn’t an adventure without a lot of fighting. So let’s break down John Carter’s martial adventures. What does ERB do right? What does he wrong? And..." ::sighs :: I hate to have to say this, but Jon is a bit of a Bobby Sue character, you know? Even on the first reading I found myself thinking "gee, is there anything he's really BAD at?" Of course, he claims he can't court women, that he's a dope around them and can't read their signals, but that's just code for us boy readers, sauce for the goose. In EVERY other way, he's landed on a planet where all his natural talents and tendencies are just what the doctor ordered. I thought he might maybe have a tough time with the language at least? But no, turns out he has a gift...


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Chris Adams (chrisladams) | 75 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "ERB gives us a lot of information on the Martian world. Was there anything that didn’t ring true, or that the text later seemed to contradict?"

Although Burroughs contradicted himself in his writings as do many authors of series, Mars and otherwise, his version of Mars felt so real when I first read these novels that I still feel it to be a shame it doesn't exist.

I've read of details such as him referring to the "ten legged Barsoomian rat" and then later calling it "eight legged" or "many legged". And then there are the many temporal discrepancies that abound within the series. These cover everything from corresponding Earth dates to durations of time (he utilized zodes and xats in lieu of hours and minutes).

I admire the way the man did not allow logic or laws of nature to get in the way of a good story. As a friend of mine once commented, if ERB was writing a story set in a desert and needed a giant tree in the scene, he'd plop one down. Done. Doesn't matter it wouldn't really happen. He creates departures from reality on the fly, story continues, and we proceed to be awed and carried away with the characters and story line.

So, anything that doesn't ring true? Yeah, plenty. Nearly all of the scientific knowledge of Mars which Ed utilized to base his stories on was flawed. Remember those canals? But it don't matter. Ed wasn't writing for scientific journals. His Mars is a thousand times more interesting than the reality. I like to think of Schiaparelli's and Lowell's canals (where Ed got the idea to incorporate Martian canals into his tales) as just that - not the natural cracks and channels that occurred in the surface of the dying planet.


message 30: by Alex Nguyen (new)

Alex Nguyen | 9 comments >> Was there anything that didn’t ring true, or that the text later seemed to contradict?

I'm interested in how much scientific knowledge we had on Mars back in the day. How much did ERB make up? There was some mention of relative mountain sizes and stuff like that as I recall.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Alex Nguyen wrote: ">> Was there anything that didn’t ring true, or that the text later seemed to contradict?

I'm interested in how much scientific knowledge we had on Mars back in the day. How much did ERB make up? ..."


In 1877, an Italian astronomer named Giovanni Shiaparelli observed what he believed to be canals on the surface of Mars. The idea gained instant credibility and eventually led to Percival Lowell writing three books on the subject in which he argued that there was an extensive canal network on Mars that had been dug for the purposes of irrigation. This was the basis of ERB's dying Martian civilization. (It inspired many other SF authors as well as it seemed to be evidence of intelligent life on Mars.) The idea was finally conclusively disproved by photographs taken by Mariner 4.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
William wrote: "Gilbert wrote: "Next Question: An adventure novel isn’t an adventure without a lot of fighting. So let’s break down John Carter’s martial adventures. What does ERB do right? What does he wrong? And..."

It is true, that John Carter is a dueling machine, although his fights are overly long in terms of endurance. Generally speaking, these combats work pretty well. It is in the air battles that I think ERB went astray. I found it interesting that the Martians do not appear to have bombs. Their airships could wreck cities if they could bomb them, and they don’t. They do have some sort of broadsides that are fired from ships, but these were treated more like cannon, or at most like battleship guns.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Chris wrote: "Gilbert wrote: "ERB gives us a lot of information on the Martian world. Was there anything that didn’t ring true, or that the text later seemed to contradict?"

Although Burroughs contradicted hims..."


The biggest weakness I noticed in Princess of Mars has to do with the Martian language and telepathy. Martians get to have a language with relatively few words because their telepathy makes up for the lack—but John Carter’s mind cannot be read by Martians and yet he can still communicate without difficulty. He should have s a serious speech defect, to say the least. Also, this problem should make John Carter unable to go “undercover” since anytime any Martian spoke to him they should be able to see that they cannot read his mind.

I also think that ERB completely blew it on the whole “Martians cannot tell a lie” idea. In Zodanga, Dejah Thoris lies repeatedly. (And presumably so did Kantos Kahn as he has managed to join the Zondanga navy and it seems improbable that he could do that without lying about his allegiance to Helium.) Dejah Thoris tells Than Kosis that she has changed her mind about marrying his son because she has become convinced that he is in love with her. (This does not ring true.) She also tells the Zodangan Royal Psychologist that she did not recognize the man who slew her Zodangan guards.

The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from this is that (like Vulcans) Martians don’t lie—not that they cannot lie.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
ERB’s Barsoom appears in comic books, fan fiction, and movies. Who did the best job?


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "ERB’s Barsoom appears in comic books, fan fiction, and movies. Who did the best job?
There is a simply dreadful movie version starring the former porn star Tracy Lourdes, who gave it a brave stab (including actually using weapons). But no. However about seven years back the movies took a second shot at the tale using Taylor Kitsch (who played Gambit in the unfairly-maligned Wolverine movie) and Lynn Collins (who played Wolvie's lover in the same flick). I was very impressed with how much they changed and yet stayed true to the essential notion of the tale. So much so, I blogged about it on my site! Really enjoyed that movie. Bonus- James Purefoy played Carter's loyal friend Kantos Kan to a tee, and I also loved him in "Solomon Kane"!
When you see your heroes on the screen it triggers a lot of sentiment I think, I become very loyal to the actor if I think they did a good job in a movie I liked.


message 36: by Alex Nguyen (new)

Alex Nguyen | 9 comments Related: suspension of disbelief rocks in this context. Especially as modern readers we need to remember us as kids daydreaming of being on a Mars with a breathable atmosphere.

I'm cool with the mystical transportation to and from Mars. We hand-wave that and get on with the adventure. I have a harder time with any interpretation with two bodies existing at the same time.


message 37: by Alex Nguyen (new)

Alex Nguyen | 9 comments >> Taylor Kitsch

Yeah! I'm sad the movie didn't do well. They cancelled the follow-ups.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
I heard that Disney did some restructuring internally after approving the movie and that by the time it came out no one in real power had an interest in promoting the film so it was allowed to whither on the vine. I don't know if that is true, but if it is, it's really sad.


message 39: by Chris (new)

Chris Adams (chrisladams) | 75 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "I heard that Disney did some restructuring internally after approving the movie and that by the time it came out no one in real power had an interest in promoting the film..."

That was some of it. The actual story is, of course, long and complicated - and a shame.

I've wanted to get this book for some time on this exact topic:

https://www.amazon.com/John-Carter-Ho...


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Time for my final (I think) question (although everyone else is totally welcome to ask their own questions about the book). So what’s your final evaluation? Does John Carter rate? It’s been a hundred years since A Princess of Mars was first published. Is it still worth reading today?


message 41: by Chris (new)

Chris Adams (chrisladams) | 75 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "It’s been a hundred years since A Princess of Mars was first published. Is it still worth reading today?"

Absolutely it is worth still reading today. I've read these ERB Mars books many times in the course of my life, maybe a dozen each -- they always deliver for me. No - they're not perfect. They were/are a product of their time - but also that of an extremely fertile mind.

Some will quip about Burroughs' works being formulaic, or at this point, that they no longer seem original because the themes he created have been so over done. One has to remember, though, that he perfected that formula -- and it worked for him.

And for all the novels' faults, the prose is fantastic. I absolutely love the way Ed had with words. It is a style that is very difficult to mimic. Oh - you can copy the themes. But his manner of wording, his sentence structure, his sense of humor that just comes out of nowhere - that's hard to copy.

I feel his books will continue to be enjoyed for decades to come - maybe millennia. I like to think so, anyway.


William Hahn | 39 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "Time for my final (I think) question (although everyone else is totally welcome to ask their own questions about the book). So what’s your final evaluation? Does John Carter rate? It’s been a hundr..."

So much yes. I used to think it was a guilty pleasure, but I'm getting maybe to an age where I just drop the guilty part. These are not just stereotypes, but really archetypes and I absolutely adore Princess of Mars. ERB has such a way, the original page-turner in my view.


Gilbert Stack (gilbertmstack) | 78 comments Mod
Gilbert wrote: "Time for my final (I think) question (although everyone else is totally welcome to ask their own questions about the book). So what’s your final evaluation? Does John Carter rate? It’s been a hundr..."

I obviously agree that A Princess of Mars is still a great read today or I wouldn't have chosen it as our inaugural novel. I think one of the things that makes this point most effectively is how often the characters in this book have been reinterpreted for modern audiences. Just in my life time (and I may miss some) Marvel comics has run two series inspired by this book (one in the seventies which was awesome and a later one around the time that the second movie came out). Dynamite Comics has done a lot of series featuring the characters of a Princess of Mars. ERB's Estate is publishing novels based on ERB's books including a Barsoom Trilogy written by our own co-moderator, Chris L. Adams. (Chris, if you can, we'd love to hear a little about those books.)

So my point is that you don't get fresh growth from dead wood. The very fact that so many people are still inspired by this book today, and so many companies are willing to invest dollars in these projects is a proof all it's own that A Princess of Mars has tons to offer modern readers.


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