I have always enjoyed Edgar Rice Burroughs writing. The challenge of today is that some of his earlier work is so old that it uses some language that is a bit archaic. I recently finished up a project that resulted in an annotated (footnoted) version of this book to help readers with the language that can be found on Amazon in kindle and print forms.

This book is really interesting, even today. First published in 1912, more than a hundred years ago, doesn’t stop it from containing themes that make you think about the society we are faced with even today.

First, let’s just say this up front, his information about Mars is a bit old. He did base the descriptions of Mars based on an 1895 work by Percival Lowell who speculated that the red planet was an arid and dying landscape. Percival went on to say that the inhabitants of that planet had been forced to build canals so that they could bring water from the polar caps to the usable land more near the equator. In the early 20th century Lowell published two more times developing the concept of a dying planet, and Burroughs used those ideas in this science fiction novel very well.

The book starts out as a western, but rapidly turns science fiction when John Carter, our hero, is transported to Mars through an ancient Indian cave out in Arizona. The book then touches on race, race relations, and even brings up population control with a strange form of abortion of babies that just weren’t quite perfect (post birth). He then weaves in narratives of love, dominance of the greater warrior, and even fairness in warfare. He seemed to be a real believer that in order for warfare to “count” it would only be honorable if both sides used similar weapons.

Those are all certainly topics that apply to the world in the early 21st century. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction, and also just to kick off some philosophical thoughts of any number of inter-human (or Martian?) relationships.

 

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