Science Fiction History: 1912 Edgar Rice Burroughs Under the Moons of Mars

About the 1912 sci-fi novel Under the Moons of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs of Tarzan fame.

--1912. Under the Moons of Mars (title later changed to A Princess of Mars) appeared from the talented hand of someone no one had ever heard of. The book's hero, John Carter, Civil War veteran and Indian fighter, teleported himself to Mars--"a desert, dying planet"--whose atmosphere was supplied by one--and only one-air machine. Some of the Martians were green and had 6 limbs, as did many of the Martian animals such as the thoats, which one rode, and the banths, which one hunted (and was hunted by). Some of the other Martians, however, were red, including Princess Deja Thoris, whom John Carter rescued and married. After a decorous length of time (the Martians being oviparous), the Princess laid an egg.

So, for that matter, did the book. But a few years later the author, Edgar Rice Burroughs, published Tarzan of the Apes, which didn't. Burroughs--a natural-born storyteller who had never taken a course in creative writing in his life--wrote a number of John Carter of Mars books, as well as several about one Carson Napier of Venus. All were good, clean action stories and great fun. In addition, they may well have contributed more popular zeal for our space program than is generally realized.

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