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Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Title: A Princess of Mars
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Year: 1917

John Carter and his friend have just found an abundant gold seam and plan to head back to civilisation to acquire the necessary men and equipment to extract the newly discovered wealth when they are set upon by Indians. Carter’s friend is killed, but he is himself mysteriously transported to Mars, or Barsoom as it is called by it inhabitants.

I will not go into the details of the story, but let it suffice to say that it’s a heroic tale of Carter’s adventures on Mars (for some reason I despise the name Barsoom and refuse to use it!), how he falls in love with the beautiful red princess Dejah Thoris, loses her and subsequently fights to regain her.

A Princess of Mars is the essence of the pulp genre. I would hesitate to call it science-fiction, even though that is what it’s usually classified as. As such, it is extremely light-weight and completely lacks depth, but is on the other hand packed with action and adventure. Not surprisingly, this isn’t my cup of tea. At all. I can enjoy action, but then it has to be good action. I honestly think that we can improvise more interesting stories than this one when we do role-playing. The language is dull, uninspiring and further adds to the feeling that I could have done better myself. The characters are of course simple, without even an attempt at being unique or interesting.

Yes, I know, this book was written about ninety years ago, but that’s no excuse. A Princess of Mars completely and utterly fails the test of time (although I wonder if I would have though it interesting even at the time of its publication, but that’s of course only speculation). It also fails almost any other examination I can possibly put it through. This book has nothing whatsoever to recommend itself, and I strongly advise you not to read it. The only purpose would be to educate yourself about the origins of science fiction or to read some historically significant pulp, but even though I can agree to these terms, I’ll do what I can to avoid similar books in the future.

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