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A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Princess of Mars (original 1912; edition 2001)

by Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Bolen (Narrator)

Series: Barsoom (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,607952,297 (3.63)1 / 227
Title:A Princess of Mars
Authors:Edgar Rice Burroughs
Other authors:John Bolen (Narrator)
Info:Tantor Media (2001), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, Sci Fi

Work details

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1912)

  1. 40
    Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherwordly Stories by Leigh Brackett (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Brackett was inspired by Burroughs and often does him one better.
  2. 20
    In the Courts of the Crimson Kings by S. M. Stirling (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: In the Courts of the Crimson Kings is an homage to Burrough's Barsoom books.
  3. 10
    The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Two early 20th century works of speculation on extraterrestrial life from two of the great unfettered imaginations of English-language literature.
  4. 10
    Almuric by Robert E. Howard (Michael.Rimmer)
  5. 00
    The swordsman of Mars by Otis Adelbert Kline (Sylak)
  6. 12
    Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock (artturnerjr)
  7. 12
    Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker by George Lucas (artturnerjr)
    artturnerjr: Anyone notice any similarities between the two?
  8. 01
    The dream-quest of unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft (artturnerjr)

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A Princess of Mars is the archetype of the planetary adventure story, a blend of heroic fantasy and science fiction. The hero and narrator is John Carter of Virginia, a former officer in the Confederate army who has gone prospecting for gold in Arizona. Pursued by Apaches, he takes refuge in a cave where he soon senses a strange, invisible presence. Carter is overcome by sleep. He awakens in full sunlight on a barren plain covered in strange, mossy vegetation. He knows with a certitude he cannot explain that he is on the planet Mars. (He is also stark naked, but that proves to be the least of his problems because no one on Mars ever wears any clothing--a fact which gives a slight erotic edge to the story.)

It isn't long before John Carter encounters his first Martian, a 16-foot tall green giant with four arms, bulging eyes, huge tusks, and a foul temper. But Carter, an accomplished fighter already, discovers that Earth's stronger gravity has given him a strength and leaping ability that makes him more than a match for any single Martian. Once he kills one of their chieftains, the green men make him an honorary member of their tribe. As he masters their simple language, Carter learns that the locals refer to their planet as "Barsoom."

Days later, Carter gets his first glimpse of a Martian more like himself. She is Dejah Thoris, a princess in her own land and a prisoner of the green Martians. Dejah Thoris is an exquisitely perfect human specimen with copper-colored skin and long black hair. It's love at first sight, and the rescue of the princess, in parallel with their sometimes rocky romance, is the core of the story.

Compared to later novels that Burroughs would write, A Princess of Mars has a very simple and straightforward plot. Much of the novel's appeal comes in the setting. The author superbly evokes a dying planet with an ecosystem reduced to a few species. The green men are a degenerate, savage race dwelling in the ruins of great cities. They stable their beasts in palaces filled with magnificent works of art they can neither understand nor appreciate. The red men, always at war with the green men and one another, huddle in walled cities where each house is a fortress. They are users of technology, but dependent for their survival on a science they no longer understand.

As to the science in this work of science fiction, it is better to simply suspend disbelief than to try to make any sense of it. Basic laws of physics are violated left and right. There are small inconsistencies as well. For example, John Carter tells us there are no birds on Mars, yet somehow the green men adorn themselves and their animals profusely with feathers.

The use of feathered headpieces is one of several deliberate parallels between the green Martians and the Indians of the American West. The green Martians are a cruel but proud race with a strong sense of honor and tradition. Their society bears a number of characteristics we might consider Utopian: They have no private property except the ornaments they wear and the weapons they carry. There is no class structure except for the chieftains who have proven their worth in combat. Nor is there any institution of marriage or family. A council of chieftains directs who will mate with whom for the sake of improving the species, and children, to the extent they get any nurturing at all, are the collective responsibility of the community. We don't learn as much about red Martian society except that it is an hereditary monarchy, but the red and green Martians each learn to tolerate and cooperate with the other, which helps make A Princess of Mars an uplifting tale as well as an exciting adventure story. ( )
  StevenTX | Sep 21, 2015 |
It was a lot of fun. It was very interesting to read a book where the hero is NOT flawed in some sort of way. Carter was this crazy super man who was devoted, loved and loved by the 'perfect woman,' strong, brave; everything one could cram into a character. It was completely unbelievable and way over the top, but was fun because this is what every modern hero is a reaction to whether they know it or not. But it is was very fun and ran exactly like the cover of the book looked. ( )
  FarmerNick | Aug 31, 2015 |
The science in this hundred year old science fiction novel by the author more famous as the creator of Tarzan is obviously ludicrous. However, his imagination in describing alien cultures and ways of thinking draws the reader in and makes this for the most part an engaging read, though the literal "with one bound (in low Martian gravity) he was free" and many fight scenes become a bit repetitive. The final scene where John Carter returns to Earth is strange and haunting. I am sure I read at least some of the many sequels. ( )
  john257hopper | Aug 21, 2015 |
I understand that a lot of people love this book, but to me the narrative is stodgy and the story too picaresque to be really involving. Also the Idea that one could astral project as it were from one planet to the next is just too silly to be acceptable. ( )
  EnsignRamsey | Aug 8, 2015 |
A Princess of Mars is a pulp fiction space western. Filled with colonial ideology, the tale follows John Carter, a military American who escapes being chased by Native Americans only to find himself mysteriously transported to Mars. As he learns about the various cultures on the planet and tries to fit in, his American ways of living often prove better and more successful than the traditional methods of Martians. First captured by the giant green men of Mars, Carter finds his great strength (due to being used to Earth’s gravity) and abilities gain him power and prestige. Later, he attempts to aid another captive of the green men, a red woman similar in size and number of limbs to Carter, and to return her to her home city.
The tale does have some fun and clever aspects (such as the description and personality of Woofa), but it is clearly a very old paperback, not focused on deeper-meanings or creating well-developed and explained societies. While the Martians live in an extreme environment, the detailed and sophisticated societies of Le Guin or Herbert are not to be found here. Overall, the book is a quick read, and it is fun to tag along with Carter through his adventures. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burroughs, Edgar Riceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abbett,BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, RayIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ilmari, SeppoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nelson, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schoonover, Frank EarleCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my son Jack
First words

To the Reader of this Work:
In submitting Captain Carter's strange manuscript to you in book form, I believe that a few words relative to this remarkable personality will be of interest.
I am a very old man; how old I do not know.
"Was there ever such a man!"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the French version of "A Princess of Mars," even though the literal English translation of the French edition's title might suggest otherwise.
Norman Bean is a pen name for ERB
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
This swashbuckling adventure on Mars isn't strictly a space opera, since protagonist John Carter doesn't use a spaceship to reach the red planet. But Burroughs' 1911 novel, the first in a long series about Barsoom (the natives' name for Mars), depicts aliens and other planets in ways that will be familiar to anyone who has seen Star Wars. It's one of the most influential interplanetary adventures in the genre. You can read io9 contributor John Marr's posts about the Barsoom novels here, if you'd like to learn more about the books.
A Duel to the Death

The Green warrior decided to close in and end the battle; just as he rushed me, a blinding light struck full in my eyes, so that I could not see Zad's approach and could only leap blindly to one side to avoid his mighty blade.
It caught me in the left shoulder; but as my vision cleared a sight met my astonished gaze that almost made me forget the fight Standing on her chariot with Sola and Sarkoja, my beloved Dejah Thoris turned on Sarkoja with the fury of a tigress and struck something that flashed in the sunlight from her upraised hand. Then I knew what had blinded me at the crucial moment, and how Sarkoja had found a way to kill me without herself deliver the final thrust!
Sarkoja, her face livid with baffled rage, whipped out her dagger and aimed a terrific blow at Dejah Thoris - and Zad was once more advancing on me with reddened blade, I felt the steel tear into my chest and all went black before me ...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345331389, Mass Market Paperback)

Although Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) is justifiably famous as the creator of Tarzan of the Apes, that uprooted Englishman was not his only popular hero. Burroughs's first sale (in 1912) was A Princess of Mars, opening the floodgates to one of the must successful--and prolific--literary careers in history. This is a wonderful scientific romance that perhaps can be best described as early science fiction melded with an epic dose of romantic adventure. A Princess of Mars is the first adventure of John Carter, a Civil War veteran who unexpectedly find himself transplanted to the planet Mars. Yet this red planet is far more than a dusty, barren place; it's a fantasy world populated with giant green barbarians, beautiful maidens in distress, and weird flora and monstrous fauna the likes of which could only exist in the author's boundless imagination. Sheer escapism of the tallest order, the Martian novels are perfect entertainment for those who find Tarzan's fantastic adventures aren't, well, fantastic enough. Although this novel can stand alone, there are a total of 11 volumes in this classic series of otherworldly, swashbuckling adventure. --Stanley Wiater

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:26 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Let the adventures begin, as Captain John Carter finds himself transported to the alien landscape of Mars--where the low gravity increases his speed and strength exponentially. Taken prisoner by Martian warriors, he impresses them with his remarkable fighting skills, and quickly rises to a high-ranking chieftain. But the heroic Carter's powers thrust him right in the middle of a deadly war raging across the planet--and a dangerous romance with a divine princess.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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13 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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The Library of America

An edition of this book was published by The Library of America.

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Tantor Media

3 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100186, 1400109108, 1452606781

Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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