Edgar Rice Burroughs – Gods of Mars

I just finished reading the second book in the John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was first published as a serial in All-Story magazine in 1913 and later put into book form in 1918. Gods of Mars, follows A Princess of Mars on which the recent movie John Carter (of Mars) was based.

This book ends with one of the most exasperating cliff hangers known to literature. It begins with John Carter returning unexpectedly to Barsoom (Mars) as he did in the movie, although in a different manner. In many ways the movie does a better job of creating an explanation for the cause of John Carter’s leaps between worlds, but I confess to preferring the reason for his return to Earth in the books to that in the movie. Nonetheless, both work very well within their own frameworks.

Amazing how in those days writers like Burroughs could publish such stores in magazines without the the benefit of a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree or teaching credentials. Thankfully telling good stories was the only requirement at that time. That is what allowed a pencil sharpener wholesaler from Chicago to become one of the most regarded writers of his time and ours.

The speech patterns of the day are quite interesting. One thing I note as I read these books is the way that the characters speak in uninterrupted monologues several paragraphs long. I am not sure if that was just the way Burroughs wrote or if the politeness and respect of the time allowed people to finish their thoughts without being talked over and interrupted every time they paused as is the case today. It is an interesting contrast. Is that the way it was or simply the way Burroughs wanted it to be?

Either way, I am having fun discovering the hundred year old series for the first time. As I said in an earlier post, I was a huge fan of the Tarzan series as a child and am a big fan of Burroughs. The cliffhanger, as noted, is huge and forced me to jump right into the next novel, which proved to leave the reader quite a ways before it will be resolved. I look forward to finding out the resolution when it comes.

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