Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Science Fiction Classic

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Review by Tony Vicory

When people are in love, they often make hyperbolic promises. “For you, I’d swim an ocean!” “I’d climb the highest mountain!” “I’d do your taxes!” Of course, these promises very rarely come to anything, and most of us would probably back off should the chance to fulfill them actually arrive. 

However, for Captain John Carter of Virginia, an earthman mysteriously transported to Mars, a promise made is a promise kept, and for his beloved, a princess of that distant planet, he’ll cross dangerous terrain, defy gravity, do battle with monstrous hordes, and topple ancient civilizations — just to win her “incomparable” hand. (No wonder this Southern gentleman is science-fiction’s most enduring hero, and one of literature’s finest, not to mention the inspiration for Superman, Star Wars, Avatar and countless other pale imitations.) John Carter’s debut in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ timeless adventure novel, A Princess of Mars, stands tall even today, over a century after its original publication in 1912, and packs more romance and thrills into its 198 pages than most books deliver in twice that count. Never mind the cheesy cover. Never mind the recent film adaptation. Never mind that voice in your ear saying, “I’d sooner crack open my own skull!” A Princess of Mars is one of the best books you’ve never read: a classic for the ages, filled with chivalry and passion, suspense and derring-do, humor and — well, the occasional ten-legged space dog. Sure, it’s a hard sell, but give it a few chapters; chances are, you’ll find it even harder to put down.

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