The John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs
In the first book, A Princess of Mars, Civil War veteran and Virginia gentleman John Carter finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars. He is captured by huge green-skinned six-limbed Martians. He meets strange and wondrous creatures, falls in love, wins her, loses her, escapes captivity, gets captured again and battles across the face of Mars to reach the woman he loves.
Why I’m reading it:
Several people in my Google+ groups and blogs I read which talk about science fiction have mentioned ERB and his hero John Carter. I bought an anthology of five novels (ERB wrote eleven) and I’m into book 4. Now I’m reading the first book aloud to my sons. The next two, Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars, the boys can read themselves.
What I think of it:
I’ve had a blast reading these books. Carter’s voice is evocative. The action is exciting, ERB’s vision of Mars is outstanding in its descriptiveness and imagination. I want to be John Carter when I grow up – a clear headed gentleman, a fighter who teachers the virtue of compassion. ERB had a big influence on science; a generation of young people decided to pursue science careers as a result of growing up reading ERB.
Will I finish it?
I’ve already finished books 1-3. I’m into Thuvia, Maid of Mars now and I’ve still got Chessmen of Mars to go. I will definitely finish the anthology, and probably head straight on to the following books.
Would I recommend it?
Yes. John Carter is a wonderful antidote to the tide of sour, angsty anti-heroes that we see so much of today, such as the uninspiring Man of Steel of the two most recent films. Read ERB and see how inspiring a hero can be.
I cannot recommend the 2012 Disney film, although it’s not terrible. As is often the case with book-to-film transitions, it loses in story quality what it gains in visuals.
Gimme a quote:
From The Gods of Mars. Carter and his Green Martian friend Tars Tarkas as in a desperate fight against a horde of huge plant-men. They find a cavern opening just big enough for one of them.
"It was ever your way, John Carter, to think last of your own life," [Tars Tarkas] said; "but still more your way to command the lives and actions of others, even to the greatest of Jeddaks who rule upon Barsoom."
There was a grim smile upon his cruel, hard face, as he, the greatest Jeddak of them all, turned to obey the dictates of a creature of another world—of a man whose stature was less than half his own.
"If you fail, John Carter," he said, "know that the cruel and heartless Thark, to whom you taught the meaning of friendship, will come out to die beside you."
"As you will, my friend," I replied; "but quickly now, head first, while I cover your retreat."