Proper review time:
Princess of Mars is just a fun book. Edgar Rice Burroughs blew clear through my expectations and gave me a dime-store delight style pulp science fiction read that left me grinning. After H.G. Wells’ In the Days of the Comet, I was expecting something stuffy and a bit of drudgery to work through. However, it was obvious pretty early on that Burroughs’ writings were definitely more compatible with my tastes.
Like so many others in early science fiction, it features an All Powerful White Male that finds himself fighting for truth, good, and the heart of a fair maiden at every turn. Actually, truth be told, the one thing I didn’t really like about A Princess of Mars was John Carter. I loved Burrough’s vision of alien life on a dying planet. Everything from the races to the culture made me grin. Especially the guard dog thingum that just needed some loves. But John Carter? Dude comes across as a self-important douche canoe. You know, one of those characters who is a good guy, but likes to let everyone around him know that he is a GOOD GUY. A brave guy. A strong guy. The bestest guy. Etc. Gag me.
Action, adventure, and tons of epic battles whilst John Carter establishes his reputation and then get the girl pepper A Princess of Mars. There’s plots, secrets, treachery, and last minute saves on a level that most soap operas would envy. As for other characters, they’re pretty much all stereotypes, but at least they’re fun stereotypes. You have the old jealous crone, the homely but good-hearted ‘sister’, and of course the drop-dead gorgeous (but slightly stupid) love interest, etc.
There were several good lines in A Princess of Mars, but the one that made me cackle was:
“In one respect at least the Martians are a happy people; they have no lawyers.”
A definitely positive step forward for science fiction in general, A Princess of Mars is one of those books that you must read. It’s not a classic that’s going to make you yawn as you shift through hundreds of pages of tedious detail and boring conversation. Instead it’s a page-turner where you get to snark and snicker at a hero with over-inflated sense of self-worth that’s only aided by the fact that he’s on a planet where his heavier-gravity adjusted body gives him an ability that sets him apart. But even while you’re rolling your eyes at him, you’re actively rooting for him. You want this guy to get his girl and save the day.
Overall, I really liked A Princess of Mars. In fact, I liked it enough that only a firm grip on my purse kept me from picking up a hardback collection of the whole series at the bookstore a few days after I read it.