Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review: The Barsoom Series

Kaor, John Carter, Warlord of Mars!  

Kaor, Edgar "I Can Write Stories Just As Rotten As That" Burroughs!  

And Kaor, Carlos, who loaned me the eleven delightful books of Barsoom!

Kaor (it means hello in Barsoomian, the tongue spoken on Mars) to you also, dear reader.  

May I heartily recommend you borrow, scrounge, or have downloaded into your cerebellum these fine stories of the warlike red planet Barsoom.  (I just can't stop saying it!) 

These books spin a tale of pulpy high adventure from the days almost one hundred years agone, when men of Earth were men of Earth, red women of Mars were red women of Mars, and hideous giant fish-faced caterpillars from Jupiter were hideous giant fish-faced caterpillars from Jupiter.

Probably you know Burroughs best for his character Tarzan, at least if you are someone who's ever heard anything about anything.  

Now, me?  I like the version of Tarzan that Eddie invented first: the immortal Civil War veteran John Carter, who somehow astral projects his naked butt to Mars, battles the hordes of green barbarian Tharks, rescues the equally but incomparably naked butt 
of the Incomparable Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, and inside of a few short books is running the whole damn planet (shown here) with his good right arm and phenomenal abs.

What courage!  

What stamina!  

Optimism up the wazoo!  

After nine days without food and water you won't catch me winning any hundred-to-one swordfights (Book Three).  

Carter meets an array of bizarre creatures, from the vicious four-armed white apes to the ever-mutating vats of synthetic men.  He gathers (or sires) a veritable army of stalwart companions, from humorless Tars Tarkas to the spidery kaldane, to his spirited grand-daughter Llana of Gathol.
There can be a certain same-y-ness to these books if you read them in a matter of months (as I did) instead of over the forty years they were printed.  You may find yourself nodding through another tale of dungeon escape, swashing buckles, and primary-colored princesses just-barely-saved from marriages worse than death. 

But the sheer energy!  The madness!  The creatures!  The passion!  When Edgar Rice Burroughs decided he could write "just as rotten" as the pulps of his time, he started down a path that made him an unstoppable immortal. Kind of like Carter himself. 

One day they'll be reading these on Barsoom itself, probably in the Burroughs crater, with genetically-engineered six-legged frogs snoozing at their feet in front of a roaring red moss fire.  But they'll probably still wear pants, though.  

Real Mars is chilly.


The Doc said...

I read these a LONG time ago and I hardly remember a thing about them. I borrowed them from my father and I'm just about to start the second book; maybe we can chat about them when I'm done!

Clovis Cithog said...

the book series is free on project gutenburg

if you would like a glossary of Barsoomian terms and places check out my blog - - >

the movie will be released 8 June 2012 by Pixar