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A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs is termed “pulp fiction.” Outside of the movie of the same name starring John Travolta, most readers these days don’t understand what that means. Originally the term was formed to describe inexpensive magazine serials of escapist fantasy which were printed on cheap “pulp” paper which were highly popular in the 1930’s and 40’s. Serials like this are making a comeback with the advent of e-books today (See Wool).
The genre rocketed Edgar Rice Burroughs and other authors into immense stardom during a time when Sci-Fi adventures like he wrote were nearly unheard of. Science Fiction, Horror, and Hard-boiled detective stories found a home in the hands of the general populace, and they loved it. Conan the Barbarian, John Carter, Tarzan, and Sherlock Holmes were some of the names that became famous during the era. Tales of manly men rescuing naked women and dominating hostile planets ruled.
And that is A Princess of Mars in a nutshell. John Carter is the courageous hero who rescues a naked princess (because everyone on the planet is naked) on a hostile Mars riddled with war and conflict. He unites the cultures of Mars and launches it into a period of prosperity and peace, ruled by him of course, and his princess.
My introduction to this book came in the watching of John Carter (2011) on DVD. A rocketing fun adventure which comes from a story over a hundred years old. Elements of Burroughs’s stories have influenced the sci-fi community so heavily, I was left in awe of his tremendous imagination. I had to read the book.
I immensely enjoyed the rocketing fantasy of the book, but reservedly, I think I’ll skip the rest of the series. My son, on the other hand, is reading the whole lot; he just finished the 4th book. It must be the weak female character that will keep women like me from finding this series a great read. If she had been the sort of strong character portrayed in the most recent film adaptation, I believe it would draw in more of the “weaker sex.”
Or watch the movie: John Carter on DVD or Blu Ray