I read the first of the Barsoom books about 3 years ago. I regret to admit I've yet to journey back to that world. I do not know why. It was a short book, packed with story, action, adventure and all that sort of thing, but it took me a really long time to read it. I never got into ERB's prose style. I had the same problem with Tarzan, and to a lesser extent with some of REH and Lin Carter's very ERB-Esq writings. The story though was great. I enjoyed every minute of the reading process. Sure I had my problems with the book. It is woefully out of date. The setting of Mars is of course preposterous now even as it was at the time ERB was writing it. The same problem befalls the Eric John Stark books of Leigh Brackett, C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy and countless other books which take place on the Moon or Mars or Venus. The book doesn't leave you a lot of time to really dwell on this though. The planet itself might as well be Alderan or Arrakis. It's completely alien and though dying, still teeming with persistent, pugnacious and strange life forms.
If you haven't read the book, I don't know if I would recommend it at this point. Obviously for any serious Fantasy, Sword and Planet or Sword and Sorcery fan it's a must read just as DUNE and the LORD OF THE RINGS and the HOUR OF THE DRAGON are. ERB's John Carter brand is stamped across all of these genres. Inescapable even if you don't know you are seeing it. This is the problem that is arising now, with people accusing John Carter of "Ripping off" Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clone's Arena of Death scene. It's no slight against Star Wars for it to have been created as an homage to creations of earlier writers and filmmakers. That's why Star Wars is perhaps one of the most important American films ever made. . Star Wars wears it's Wild West, Far East, Anti-Fascist, American Revolution, Civil Rights era Multi-cultural Melting pot thesis clearly on it's sleeve. But without ERB, Leigh Brackett, Frank Herbert, and others, Star Wars wouldn't exist. It's really not possible to stress this enough. Despite all of it's flaws, I recently saw the new 3D re-release of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, and even though Jar Jar was just as annoying as ever, and the cast was just as wooden as ever.. I had a hell of a lot of fun. I had forgotten how much FUN Star Wars was. It got me extremely excited for John Carter.
Over the last two weeks a lot has been happening in my life. I cannot wait to be transported to Mars along with John Carter and do battle alongside Woola and Tars Tarkas. I need a Vacation, and I hear Mars is nice this time of year.
Save the Unicorns!
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