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Under the Moons of Mars by Edgar Rice…

Under the Moons of Mars

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Great stories, although they get a little repetitive. John Carter is so thoroughly badass that it is hard to ever really feel tension at the danger he is in. It's a little like watching an old Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick; no matter how many bullets and explosions there are, you know Arnie will come out on top just fine. Still, rollicking and fast-paced entertainment.

A word of warning though about its datedness. Since we now know much better what Mars is like, the ideas of swashbuckling green dudes, vast beds of yellow moss, and vicious white apes might strike you as pretty silly. I suggest that you just take it in stride and think of these stories more as wholesale fantasy, rather than science fiction.

A note about this particular Barnes & Noble omnibus volume: the editing is a bit crummy. There are many typos, and you will often find yourself re-reading nonsense sentences before realizing that "fat" should be "far" or somesuch. ( )
  josh314 | Nov 6, 2013 |
This is a great omnibus edition of the first 3 John Carter books. These books were the first of the Mars swords-and-guns style fantasy/science fiction and Burroughs is still the best. After 100 years the stories are still interesting and the 'science' still out there. True, these are massively dated now - no computers, no spacechips (wait, we still can't get to Mars...) but there are still flying boats and complex weather machines. ray guhs, etc. What really makes these good though are the characters. Great stuff! ( )
  Karlstar | May 26, 2013 |
This volume is an omnibus, and I will be reviewing each of the three books within it separately. The overall star rating will be for the book as a whole, and not necessarily an average of the individual books within it.

"A Princess of Mars"

I became interested in John Carter after viewing the Disney film, which I really enjoyed despite negative reviews. What I found waiting for me was a fun adventure tale, one that bore a much closer resemblance to the movie that I would have thought. This book definitely shows its age (100+) in terms of social conventions, gender roles, etc. If the reader is willing to get past that, there is a lot to enjoy. Burroughs knows how to tell a story, stringing together a series of cliffhangers that kept me engaged right up to the end.

Rating: 4 stars

The Gods of Mars

I'm not sure whether Burroughs intended this to be the middle volume of a trilogy, but that is how it reads, the Empire Strikes Back of the series, complete with a cliffhanger ending. Despite being slightly younger, the book felt much older due to its clumsy handling of race. Clumsy for the modern reader, that is; I get the feeling it was quite progressive for its time. The same cannot be said for its gender politics, which seem hopelessly mired in the 19th century. Aside from these considerations, I really enjoyed it. It's pulpy, it's fluffy, it's fun.

Rating: 3 stars

The Warlord of Mars

I'm even more certain now that these original three books were meant as a trilogy, because this one picks up right where the previous volume left off, and gives us a climactic final battle in which the characters from the prior two volumes each get a chance to shine. The ending is fitting, rewarding our hero for his virtues in a very era-appropriate way.

The racial weirdness is still in evidence, with "yellow" men now entering the mix, alongside the red, black, and white men from earlier volumes. As always, these books should be approached with a knowledge of the era in which they were written, and appreciated in that context.

I'm glad to have read this series, and if this book was less groundbreaking than the others, it can easily be read as all of a piece with the books that came before it.

Rating: 4 stars ( )
  shabacus | Jan 23, 2013 |
In the first place, I picked this book up because my book group has some old-line ERB enthusiasts and it seemed like a good idea to revisit these stories on the arrival of the movie. This is not to mention that I had never actually read any Burroughs and wanted to get some sense of what the fuss was all about.

So; what to say about a one-time classic? Trying to put myself in the Golden Age of Science Fiction (about twelve years of age), Burroughs’ creative imagination is still quite impressive and he should get points for giving the genre pretty much its first post-holocaust society. There is also the not-insignificant matter of how these stories are still a great piece of wish fulfillment for the disappointed, a state Burroughs inhabited when he started writing; one should never sneer at real conviction.

That said, even if one cuts Burroughs every break for writing in 1912 and further considers how the sort of science romance he was writing has a new lease on life in the form of Steam Punk, I still found putting myself in the right frame of mind to read these stories tough. It may simply come down to the matter that John Carter is just too damn virtuous for his own good; a little character development would go a long way.

There is also the small matter that the further I got into this the more I started thinking of ways to satirize the proceedings; not a good sign. ( )
  Shrike58 | Mar 29, 2012 |
Edgar Rice Burroughs' "John Carter of Mars" is one of the quintessential characters of the Pulp Fiction era. With this one character and these three books (contained herein), he took many of the tenants of pulp fiction stories that had come before and created a whole new genre, the "planetary romance." These types of stories are the summation everything that is pulp fiction--amazing characters doing amazing things, all written in an amazingly short amount of time with amazingly little attention to character depth or unique plots. Simply amazing.

But truth be told, I had a hard time reading this one cover-to-cover. I had to take a break and read something else between installments. The amazing feats of "derring-do" get a bit repetitive at times, and by the end of the third book you just wish to hell that John Carter would just kill everyone and reclaim his freakin' wife finally and be done with it. But such is pulp.

I'm a great fan of the pulp genre, so I gave this one 4 stars. I'm a bit biased, though, so your mileage may vary. The things that make pulp so endearing to me (like an especially awesome B-movie) may also make modern readers cringe. So before buying, definitely test the waters to see if it is something you'd like. ( )
  WillyMammoth | Sep 8, 2010 |
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John Carter of Mars (Library of Wonder): A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Warlord of Mars Hardcover Edition Edgar Rice Burroughs

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