Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Princess of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

After hearing the modern take on Burroughs (The Sky People) I had to go back to the master and listen to the first of Burroughs's many Barsoom books.

Librivox had it here:

I found this a great way to experience a classic - fun especially because there were a variety of people (men and women, American and European) involved in the reading project - very different from your usual single reader book or "full cast" drama.

What is stunning to me to realize is that A Princess of Mars was written in 1911! Massive air battles, with battleships and one man fighters. Thousands (millions!) marching across the desert to pitched battles with high and low tech weaponry. There are times you'd swear you'd died and gone to Star Wars.

The Gods of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

More classic swashbuckling "sword and planet" SF from the master. This is the second of the first Barsoom trilogy (there are many more books):

At the end of the first book, A Princess of Mars, John Carter is unwillingly transported back to Earth. The Gods of Mars begins with his arrival back on Barsoom (Mars) after a ten year hiatus, separated from his wife Dejah Thoris, his unborn child, and the Red Martian people of the nation of Helium, whom he has adopted as his own. Unfortunately, John Carter materializes in the one place on Barsoom from which nobody is allowed to depart: the Valley Dor, which is the Barsoomian heaven.
I listened to the Librivox version, which you can get at Gutenberg ( That link is better than the Librivox listing since it includes an iTunes copy - which you can set for "faster" reading (unlike mp3's).

This really covers a huge sweep across Barsoom - and deals with a belief system that apparently 1) encompasses all the sentient races of Mars, and 2) is founded on fraud - a fraud that only the heroic John Carter is man enough to reject - and lead his followers to do the same. Really, this could be an atheist manifesto. Not sure what to make of that.

The sequel, "The Warlord of Mars" isn't available (yet) from Librivox.. BUT I discovered it is available in abridged form at so that's now cued up on the old iPod.

[CORRECTION: Librovox now HAS Warlord - and I've replaced the abridged version with this one - it's in my iPod and part of the multiple book rotation.]