Hi folks, today we have a special guest reviewer- if you follow the Technicallyfunny blog you will be familiar with the name - gadget guru and my little brother, Sikander Yasin. I'd like to congratulate Sikander, his review will also be appearing in Sci-Fi Now magazine - in a special profile on author Edgar Rice Burroughs.
(If you don't follow Technicallyfunny, here's the link - http://technicallyfunny.blogspot.com/ Check it out.)
Released in 1912 as a serial, then in 1917 as a novel, A Princess Of Mars is the beginning of the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs which started an influx of science fiction novelists and a whole new attitude towards Mars and space.
John Carter, a soldier of the American confederacy in the 19th century is in Virginia and at war with red Indians. He follows a fellow soldier due to concerns that he may be ambushed and being proved right, ends up rescuing his friend who dies during the fight and along with his friends dead body, takes refuge in a cave and BAM! He's on Mars.
The events surrounding how Carter ends up on Mars is very mysterious and is left like that. There's an out of body experience involved and Carter sees Mars in the sky but that's it. He just gets there. What ensues after is a combination of the Avatar movie and The Last Samurai.
After finding giant green Martians called Tharaks, Carter is a prisoner but befriends the war mongering race and learns their Martian ways. He falls in love with a captured princess of another nation and race that look more like humans and upon her capture, helps to rescue her and unite other nations to give hope to a dying Martian planet. With the aid of less gravity and atmosphere, Carter possesses near superhuman strength on Mars and becomes a formidable warrior which helps him in the numerous battles within the novel.
The novel starts off in a typical sci-fi fashion but bearing in mind the date that it was written, the imagination and thought of the author is fully evident. The era of aliens and UFO's was 20 years away when this novel was published so it really was ahead of its time. The undertone of the story is more of a warning to our race as our fate may be similar to the Martians with our worlds resources drying up quickly and nations more interested in killing each other rather than unite and fight for the future of our planet.
The message is put across in a brilliant way with Burroughs masterful storytelling and vivid descriptions of Mars' destitute valleys and deserted mega-cities. Some plot holes do exist however but the pace of the story and the unfolding events seem to make up for the lack of information regarding time frames and Carters ease in getting used to the Martian way of life as well as how Carter got to Mars in the first place. This does not take away from the fantastic storytelling or emotion within the novel. You will find joy, love, sadness, bravery, death and mystery all laying in the dying world of Mars and this is exactly what Burroughs was looking to cement into the Martian world and succeeded. Check out the website for gadgets and technology with a hint of humour. A hint mind you. http://technicallyfunny.blogspot.com