A Princess of Mars
About the Author
Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950)
Burroughs was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1875 to a wealthy businessman and his wife. Burroughs failed the entrance qualifications to get into West Point Military Academy and was later discharged from the military for having a faulty heart. Burroughs was at many jobs such as gold-miner, cowboy, and policeman until he read some low-quality science fiction material and decided he could do better. He became one of the most prolific and influential early science fiction writers. His Tarzan series and Barsoom series were immensely popular in his time and the film rights to his work along with the books made him a wealthy man. He moved to a large ranch which he named Tarzana, and the community that grew around his ranch named their town Tazana, too. Burroughs died of a heart attack in 1950. (From Biography.com)
A Princess of Mars (1912)
First serialized in the pulp magazine “All-Story Magazine” between February and July of 1912, “A Princess of Mars” is the first novel in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s classic “Barsoom” series, set on the planet Mars. At the center of the series is the protagonist John Carter, a Confederate Captain of the American Civil War, who finds himself mysteriously transported to the planet Mars. Upon arrival John Carter discovers that the lower gravity of the planet has endowed him a super human strength and agility. This prowess helps him to win the allegiance of the Tharks, a nomadic war-like tribe of green six-limbed aliens. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars is a desert world, a dying planet which is caught in the conflict between the “Green Martians”, or the Tharks, and the “Red Martians”, a group of humanoids who inhabit a loose network of city-states and control the planet’s canals and agriculture. John Carter soon finds himself embroiled in the political conflict between the two “Red Martian” city states of Zodanga and Helium when he rescues and falls in love with the beautiful Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium. “A Princess of Mars” is both a romantic adventure and a science fiction tale of fantasy which has been an inspiration to countless science fiction writers ever since its first publication.
Questions for A Princess of Mars
Did you lose your suspension of disbelief anywhere in the book? Did you care? Why or why not?
John Carter sees the green Martians and is appalled because he thinks they are hideous. Have you ever judged someone based on his looks? By what should you judge people?
How do the green Martians and the red Martians treat their eggs and children differently? With the low death rate and lack of resources, are the green Martians justified in their actions? Why or why not? How does this compare to how our society treats children?
Ignorant of Barsoom’s customs, John Carter angers Dejah Thoris when he does not ask her to marry him after he fights for her. Have you ever unintentionally made someone angry? How was the situation resolved? Is there anything you could have done differently?
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