A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I'm not saying I didn't like it, but what in the hell was that?!
Okay, I kinda am saying I didn't like it, but I didn't HATE it either.
A Princess of Mars is a forerunner in the sci-fi genre and as many of them suffer from ignorant science, so suffers this one. Modes of transportation are silly, alien races are simplistic at best, etc etc...(I know I'm nitpicking).
On the other hand, one has to be impressed with the guesswork a fictional novelist made regarding living conditions on another planet, considering he was writing at a time prior to space exploration. Hell, this was written a mere nine years after the first flight by man.
The real reason this didn't resonate with me had to do with the story's hero, John Carter. He's just too good at everything to be interesting. "Oh yeah, he can do that, too? Ho-hum..." I found myself saying at about the mid-way point...a point at which I was still trying to suss out how he'd actually arrived on Mars.
The writing also suffers from stiff formality. The rigidity of the language Burroughs' used lacked elegance and deflated exciting action scenes. However, there was plenty of action and that alone kept me turning pages.
All the same, the errors mounted. Burroughs made the mistake of giving the game away. Use of the diary style of narration is a technique in fiction that should never have happened. If the hero of the story is writing about his adventures ten, twenty, whatever number of years after it all went down, it completely gives away the fact that he lived to tell the tale and thus takes the wind out of tension's sails. Present tense for action, always present tense!
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