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Pirates of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Pirates of Venus (1934)

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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    The Sky People by S. M. Stirling (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: The Sky People is an homage to Burrough's Carson of Venus series.

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It is hard not to compare Carson Napier with Edgar Rice Burroughs's other interplanetary adventurer, John Carter of Mars, though the two have very little in common. While Carter and Barsoom represent an American audience looking back on the conquering of the frontier, Napier and Amtor very much represent the social concerns of the 1930s. The John Carter books feature a self-assured hero and a pervading sense of nostalgia for a world near its end. Pirates of Venus lacks a cohesive plot and, though Carson Napier is a more realistic protagonist than John Carter, he feels less interesting and exciting for this. The world of Amtor is jumbled and so is the story of Pirates of Venus.
Here again, Burroughs creates a unique world. His Venus is Amtor, not the Cosoom of the John Carter series. The inhabitants are geographically separated with little linking them physically or culturally. And they are completely unaware of their planet's spherical shape! The series requires the same suspension of disbelief as Burroughs earlier John Carter books since the modern reader will know that Venus could never have supported life except possibly very shortly after its formation and that its day, rather than the 26 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds of earth time that Burroughs ascribes to it, is actually 116 days and 18 hours in earth time. The ray-based weaponry and ever-present swords will remind readers of the weapons of Barsoom, though the description of its function uses a more up-to-date understanding of radiation. Finally, Burroughs spends an inordinate amount of time interrupting what plot there is to explain the language of Amtor, whereas in the John Carter books he briefly described any necessary terms so the reader could picture the subject or left it up to context to define the terms.
Carson Napier, rather than a poor knock-off of John Carter, is Burroughs's attempt at an autobiographical character. Readers and Burroughs himself would like to be John Carter or Tarzan, but most are actually more like Napier. For the fan of Burroughs, Pirates of Venus is interesting, but it is unlikely to appeal to the casual reader, especially as it ends like a serial film without a proper resolution. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Jun 1, 2015 |
I decided to bite the bullet and read through Edgar Rice Burroughs “Venus” series in 2012. Pirate is the first book and recounts how a man named Carson travel from earth to Venus, and gets stranded there. He is able to communicate his adventure back to earth via telephathy. Chief among those adventures is, batteling giant spider-like ape creatures, falling in love with Duare the forbidden daughter of the King, being kidnapped and taken as a slave, then finally leading a mutainy and becoming a pirate. ( )
  Rosenectur | Oct 19, 2013 |
The first of ERB's Venus novels is one of poorer books in the series, presenting mostly a plotless adventure with a sub-par hero. The series does get better, however.

Extensive review: http://realmofryan.blogspot.com/2011/08/edgar-rice-burroughss-venus-part-1.html ( )
  Z-Ryan | Oct 9, 2011 |
The first of Edgar Rice Burroughs' five-book Carson of Venus series (well, 4⅓ books, given that the last installment, the posthumously-published Wizard of Venus, is only 50 pps. long), Pirates of Venus is a sad come-down from the zest and vigor of the first few books in ERB's John Carter and Tarzan series.

Pirates of Venus is essentially a yarn told in a distracted, not fully-present way about a lesser permutation of ERB's supermen -- this one named Carson Napier, and quite the self-satisfied lunkhead is he -- who designs a rocket to take him to Mars (John Carter and his progeny are quite unknown in this continuity, so it's "Mars," and not "Barsoom"; OTOH, specific reference is made to the adventures of Tarzan in Pellucidar, the hollow-earth land where dinosaurs yet dwell, as depicted in the 1929 Tarzan At the Earth's Core, in the first few paragraphs of PoV), forgets to factor Earth's Moon into his calculations, and as a consequence winds up on Venus, or Amtor, as the natives -- who have but a single language throughout the entire planet -- call it. Carson soon falls in with a group of comely, robust and vigorous humans who wear precious little in the way of clothing, fixes upon an inamorata, and fights various fauna who seem more suited to H.G. Wells' The Food of the Gods -- or a Bert I. Gordon low budget SFX'er -- than the type of full-blooded sword & planet adventure that ERB himself helped pioneer. Carson also fights other, less comely -- and, therefore, villainous -- humans of the faction called Thorists. (Despite the fact that the name hearkens to Norse mythology, the Thorists are stand-ins for Earth's Soviets.) Pirates concludes with a cliff-hanger; but A Princess of Mars it ain't.

By the time Pirates of Venus was published -- 1934 -- Burroughs was apparently on auto-pilot: his fortune, largely built on Tarzan, was well and truly made; Tarzana, a district of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, had already been named in Lord Greystoke's honor (indeed, ERB has a bit of drollery in the opening chapter, when he has his avatar aver, "I detest business and everything connected with it" [p. 13 of Ace Books ed., F-179]: pretty funny given that he was something of a real estate mogul); and his writing here is undistinguished enough to prompt anyone previously unacquainted with it to wonder just what all the fuss was about. The book is almost halfway over before anything of real interest or consequence occurs; I found myself at times recalling fondly Lin Carter's pastiche of ERB and A. Merritt, the five-book Green Star series.

In short, Pirates of Venus is probably of interest only to ERB fans; it makes a pretty tepid introduction to his work. Honestly, I'd only rate this book two stars, except I gave it a quarter-star because it picked up a bit in the last couple of chapters (although I still wanted to dope-slap Carson for being so utterly clueless), and another quarter-star because of the hints of ERB's politics and philosophy peeking through the flimsy scrim of the adventure. If things don't improve by the second book (Lost on Venus, 1935), I'll probably either re-read the first few John Carter books, pick up where I left off with Tarzan, or move on to one of his other series. Maybe The Mucker.... ( )
2 vote uvula_fr_b4 | Oct 13, 2009 |
I liked these, but I liked the John Carter series better. The dangerous jungle planet of Venus is an interesting location. This was based on what was speculated at the time about Venus, we now know a lot different. ( )
  Karlstar | Sep 7, 2009 |
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"If a female figure in a white shroud enters your bedchamber at midnight on the thirteenth day of this month, answer this letter; otherwise, do not."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803261837, Paperback)

The shimmering, cloud-covered planet of Venus conceals a wondrous secret: the strikingly beautiful yet deadly world of Amtor. In Amtor, cities of immortal beings flourish in giant trees reaching thousands of feet into the sky; ferocious beasts stalk the wilderness below; rare flashes of sunlight precipitate devastating storms; and the inhabitants believe their world is saucer-shaped with a fiery center and an icy rim. Stranded on Amtor after his spaceship crashes, astronaut Carson Napier is swept into a world where revolution is ripe, the love of a princess carries a dear price, and death can come as easily from the blade of a sword as from the ray of a futuristic gun.
Pirates of Venus is the exciting inaugural volume in the last series imagined and penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This commemorative edition features new illustrations by Thomas Floyd, the original frontispiece by J. Allen St. John, an afterword by Phillip Burger, a glossary of Amtor terms by Scott Tracy Griffin, a map of Amtor drawn by Edgar Rice Burroughs that appeared in the first edition, and an introduction by acclaimed science fiction and horror novelist F. Paul Wilson.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:59 -0400)

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