John Carter of Mars

I was cruising around the interwebs sometime around Thanksgiving, and a trailer caught my attention (link). It had swords, giant aliens, and quite a bit of action. I thought that the name sounded familiar, and I really felt that it was based off some books. I looked it up on my kindle and saw that it was, but not only that, the books were old and free! So I spent money on a collection (a whole 99 cents) and started reading them.

And to my delight, I found them quite entertaining.

So far, I’ve read the first three books, A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Warlord of Mars. The basic premise is this: A civil war vet named John Carter get transported to Mars and seems to fight with everything he finds. He makes friends and falls in love with the titular princess. He always seems to find himself fighting incredible odds, which have to be even more exaggerated since he is super strong. His Earth muscles give him super strength on Mars where there’s less gravity.

Like I said before, these books are quite entertaining. They are not award winners and I would actually probably define them as pulp fiction. John is a fully developed character that is incredibly moral and you’re just along for the ride as he gets into these crazy situations and adventures. You’re getting a sermon on how a man should act in a non-boring way. Real men never back down from a fight, they always fight for the woman they love, they don’t stand around and let injustice happen. John teaches those uncivilized people living in a hostile and unforgiving environment how to be civilized.

John himself doesn’t mature, doesn’t come to any realizations or revelations about himself – he doesn’t grow as a character.

Another interesting thing I really enjoyed about these books, was the fact that they are so old. The first book was written in 1917 and the way that Mars was envisioned as a dying planet with canals and life on it, reminds me of the hope and sense of adventure that was so definitive of early science fiction. Other science in the book is completely implausible and at sometimes laughable, but it never really detracts from the story.

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