Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Earthling on Mars:The Princess of Mars Book 1 of the John Carter Series

I'm sure everyone has heard of John Carter, since the movie was in the theater not so long ago. I remember thinking, "John Carter what the heck is that." However, I have now discovered it's based off a series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs--the same guy who wrote Tarzan. There are 11 books total the first one being The Princess of Mars, which by chance I downloaded when i discovered my new Smart phone had a kindle app, even though I'm more a I need a physical book type i said I'll take some free ebooks. and just downloaded some random classics only to find I had the first John Carter book.

The book is told from the first person. John Carter is an old man who has lived much longer then humans usually live and he fears his own mortality and so he is writing his story down. He states he will tell how he went on an adventure and how he died twice. He was an ex-confederate soldier who--with his friend--went west after the war to prospect for gold.  They found a rich vein and when his friend is heading out for supplies John Carter notices something isn't right as he was watching from a distance. On riding to inspect he finds his friend was apprehended and killed by Apaches. In trying to save his friend he ends up in the Apache camp and then being pursued. He escapes into a cave some strange noises emit from the cave and the Apache are terrified and flee. After blacking out and then waking to find himself naked and looking upon his own corpse  he flees and then finds himself drawn to Mars where he finds warlike races on a dying planet. He finds himself able to jump high and with super strength and he must use these new found powers to survive in this hostile world.

The story is very interesting but its written more like a journal of recollections where some incidents and things are explained in detail while other things are summarized briefly and time skips quickly at places. In fact there is no dialogue until about  one third of the way through when John Carter learns the language of Mars. The lack of conversation and the story pace don't take away from the story. Because it is someone recounting the past it seems appropriate. It's written just like someone remembers their life with some things being vivid while other things are just incidental and so you don't really remember much so just a passing sentence would do. It gives it more realism as an autobiographical style of writing.

I wouldn't say its the best thing I've ever read but its a good read. It's enjoyable and definitely fun to read. It's good science fiction even though the science that it was based off has been disproved in more recent times its still good fun. In fact I'm going to read more of the series. Fortunately the first 5 novels are available free in the Kindle free classics. So I fully expect to enjoy them.