Bound for Barsoom.
I bought a copy of “The Martian Tales Trilogy” a few months ago and only recently completed the series. It’s a large book comprising the first three Mars novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs; A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, and The Warlord of Mars. For a series of books written close to a century ago, these stories have absolutely withstood the test of time. I loved every page.
(Before I go any further, I know there are more than three books in the Mars series, but The Warlord of Mars ended on a tidy note and with great closure, so I decided to stop there. From what I’ve been told it’s a fair decision, because while all the books are apparently very entertaining the first three are the best.)
John Carter is a classic hero in every sense of the word, and his adventures upon Barsoom (what the natives call Mars) are the very stuff of pulp science fiction. The stories are surprisingly ahead of their time while still keeping the flair and fun of old-fashioned adventure. For books nearly one hundred years old I found myself surprised by some of its progressive views on religion, tolerance for native peoples, and respect for women. There were a handful of times when the narrative showed its age and I was reminded that it was written before women had the right to vote in the United States, but never in a way that made me uncomfortable or lessened my enjoyment of these books.
Speaking of respect for women, I don’t think I’ve ever read a love more intense and passionate than that between John Carter and Dejah Thoris. The way Carter describes his alien princess makes me picture her as nothing short of perfection, and the effect their adoration for one another has on those around them is truly uplifting. For all the fighting with alien beasts, savage duels with alien swords, gruesome battles across distant skies, and close encounters with unknowable things crawling beneath the surface of a dying world, I actually consider these books a love story.
I could go on and on, but instead of spoiling everything I’ll leave you to discover all the gems these essential classics have to offer. Like Carl Sagan, you may find yourself standing outside on some clear night with your arms outstretched, waiting to be whisked away to distant Mars for an adventure of your own.