Sunday, August 21, 2011

John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burrows

When I went to see the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie, I saw a trailer for a future movie titled John Carter. What an odd title for a movie, especially since it's not based on a historical character like Rob Roy, Ali, Ray, Che, or Bobby. This made me wonder: who IS John Carter?

File:John carter of mars burroughs cover.jpg
As it turns out, it's a sci-fi series written by Edgar Rice Burrows. Does that name sound familiar? It should! He is the author who developed Tarzan.

John Carter is a series based on what Burrow called "Barsoom", his vision of a dying Mars.

A tidy summary from Wikipedia:
A Princess of Mars, the first novel in the Barsoom series, is a stand alone piece. However it connects with the following two novels, The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars, to form a trilogy (although there is a ten-year gap between the first and second). The trilogy focuses on Earthman John Carter and Martian princess, Dejah Thoris, with Green Martian Tars Tarkas making frequent appearances. John Carter and Dejah Thoris's son, Carthoris is also introduced as a minor character in The Gods of Mars, as is Thuvia.

While John Carter appears in many of the Barsoom series, he does not make it to all eleven of the books.

All-in-all, I don't think I would be interested in seeing the movie, which stars no one with whom I am familiar except Willem Defoe and Thomas Haden Church. This movie summarizes the first book, the stand-alone novel Princess of Mars. However, I will probably read it. The fact that it was published in 1912 makes it all the more intriguing.

As a side-note, Princess of Mars was made into a movie in 2009, starring Antonia Sebato Jr. as John Carter and (of all people) Traci Lords as Princess Dejah Thoris. I suspect this new one (can I call it a remake if only two years have passed?) will be quite a bit lower key, with the absence of a notorious porn star.

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