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Synthetic Men of Mars by Edgar Rice…

Synthetic Men of Mars (1940)

by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Barsoom (9)

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This is one weird little book. Althoiugh the story elements are polished and shining, the imaginative leap is almost unbearable. Synthetic men are fashioned from a large pot of human remains and create themselves randomly. Most of the faces, arms and legs are absurd or ugly or monstrous, but if the thing can move, they use it as a soldier. The city-state of Marcus who makes these things is going to make millions and conquer the world. Well, they almost conquer the world all right, but also destroy themselvesw as the laboratory goes haywire and a big batch of the human life gook begins to enlarge itself and will take over tghe planet unless stopped by one element -- fire. I can not go on. there is too much silliness here. A brilliant surgeon can change heads on bodies withoujt any drugs and is so brilliant he can perform this operatiuon on a dirty, concrete floor within an hour or two. Give me stlrength!! I suggest this as a read for the unusual contents, and it is entertaining. ( )
  andyray | Apr 7, 2011 |
The ninth books in the John Carter of Mars series set on Barsoom is markedly better than the previous offering Swords of Mars.

In this book, Dejah Thoris has been injured and is in a coma, all of Helium's best doctors have proven incapable of healing her. In an effort to find someone who can help her, John Carter with the assistance of a young noble named Vor Daj sets out to locate the best scientist on Mars: Ras Thavas (a character first introduced in The Master Mind of Mars). The story is told from Vor Daj's perspective. They set out for Phundahl, the last city where Ras Thavas was seen. On the way, they are captured by a band of misshapen, but almost indestructible men and, along with a female captive, are hauled into the last swamp on Mars to the city of Morbus.

Once there, they find out that Ras Thavas is responsible for the creation of the misshapen men called hormads, the synthetic men from the title. A band of hormads has taken over and are forcing Ras Thavas to churn out more, hoping to build an unstoppable army to conquer Barsoom. Carter and Daj are given the choice to join the Morban forces or die, and choose to join up and figure out how to escape. They also find out the female prisoner is named Janai (and, as always in Barsoom tales, is a beautiful princess) and one of the hormad rulers will pick her as his consort once they settle the question of who gets to claim her. Carter and Daj pledge to help her escape.

Carter and Daj are made Thavas' bodyguards (serendipity seems to run rampant on Barsoom), and he readily agrees to try to escape if the opportunity presents itself. Daj, having fallen in love with Janai at first sight, has his brain transplanted into the body of an immensely strong but hideously ugly hormad (Thavas pioneered brain transplanting in The Master Mind of Mars), and tries to infiltrate the palace and rescue her.

Daj rescues Janai, convincing her he is a friend of Vor Daj (since he is in a misshapen hormad body at the time) just in time for civil war among the hormads to break out. He helps one of the hormad leaders to win the war and claim the title Jeddak (King), and is given Janai as his reward as well as control of the laboratory where Thavas had been making hormads. Unfortunately Carter and Thavas had vanished, and the culture vats where the synthetic men were being grown have gone out of control - one turns into a huge misshapen living mass oozing about and growing out of control.

Daj and some other hormads and normal men who had been impressed into Morban service escape from the city, there is intrigue. Daj loses and rescues Janai again. He fights some swamp dwellers. Daj and Janai are taken prisoner by warriors from the city of Amhor - the jeddak of Amhor wants Janai to be his jeddara, and wants Daj's misshapen body for his zoo. Daj, with the help of a Red Martian and a Green Martian also used as zoo exhibits, escapes again, rescues Janai again, and finds John Carter leading a fleet from Helium to find them. They go back to Morbus, find the oozing mass of flesh has taken over the whole city and bomb it into oblivion. Vor Daj's brain is put back in his own body, and he and Janai are finally together.

The story works well, the twists and turns are somewhat predictable, but not so much so as to be uninteresting. Daj in the body of a powerful monster is an interesting character to follow about. Overall, it is a good swashbuckling tale. ( )
2 vote StormRaven | Oct 11, 2008 |
Volume 9 of John Carter of Mars ( )
  stpnwlf | Jul 17, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burroughs, Edgar Riceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abbett, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burroughs, John ColemanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
D'Achille, GinoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ilmari, SeppoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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From Phundahl at their western extremity, east to Toonol, the Great Toonolian Marshes stretch across the dying planet for eighteen hundred earth miles like some unclean, venomous, Gargantuan reptile—an oozy marshland through which wind narrow watercourses connecting occasional bodies of open water, little lakes, the largest of which covers but a few acres.
"The origin of life is an obscure mystery," said Ras Thavas, "and there is quite as much evidence to indicate that it was the result of accident as there is to suggest that it was planned by a supreme being. I understand that the scientists of your Earth believe that all life on that planet was evolved from a very low form of animal life called amoeba, a microscopic nucleated mass of protoplasm without even a rudimentary form of consciousness or mental life. An omnipotent creator could just as well have produced the highest conceivable form of life in the first place - a perfect creature - whereas no existing life on either planet is perfect or even approximates perfection.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345339304, Mass Market Paperback)

John Carter desperately needed the aid of Barsoom's greatest scientist. But Ras Thavas was the prisoner of a nightmare army of his own creation -- half-humans who lived only for conquest. And in their hidden laboratory seethed a horror that could engulf all of Mars.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Synthetic men of mars" is the ninth book of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian series, this book was featured in the newspaper "Argosy Weekly" in six parts released in early 1939. Dejah Thoris, princess of Helium, is badly injured in a deadly collision of two space crafts. Ras Thavas returns as the Mastermind of Mars. Thavas creates a race of supermen on Mars that must be defeated before the entire planet faces a complete totalitarianism. This book was written in the perfect era on the brink of a World War, when the fear of world domination was close at hand.… (more)

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