Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Burroughs' politically incorrect hero

Funny that Bob Wallace was writing online about his love for Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars series while I was revisiting the series myself. I just finished the third novel, The Warlord of Mars, this afternoon. I hadn’t read it in probably 35 years or more, and I still found it exhilarating when the gorgeous Phaidor, daughter of the Holy Hekkador of the Holy Therns, plunged her gleaming blade deep into the heart of the vile Thurid not once but five or six times before shoving his carcass off the deck of the flier and into the yawning depths of the chasm outside Kadabra. This book completes the “John Carter trilogy” that began with A Princess of Mars (1912) and continued through The Gods of Mars (1913). There are eight more Mars books beyond Warlord, which was written in 1914, but they deal generally with characters other than John Carter, including Carter’s son Carthoris. John Carter remains my favorite Burroughs character, other than Tarzan.

The Mars (aka Barsoom) novels are still terrific, filled with fantasy, swordplay, pageantry, and always a heavy, heavy dose of coincidence. But today, John Carter is the most politically incorrect of heroes: a former Confederate officer from Virginia, spirited away to Mars to rescue again and again the love of his life, Helium’s beautiful Princess Dejah Thoris. Kerry Conran, the guy who wrote and directed last year’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, is now working on John Carter of Mars for release sometime in 2006. I wonder if John Carter’s roots in Dixie will even be mentioned. And Dejah Thoris will probably give Xena a run for her money.


At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were many Southerners who did not believe in slavery but fought for their home state right or wrong. You can figure John carter was one of those.
Burroughs did show a good deal of Scientific Racism much like Sir Richard Francis Burton. But not the sort you associate with the KKK or pro slavery sort.


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