November 02, 2023

#08-354: John Carter of Mars

John Carter and Dejah Thoris (Gutenberg)

Note: Tarzan wasn't the only "manly man" created by Edgar Rice Burroughs: Meet John Carter, veteran Civil War officer and beloved of a Martian princess!

Get Ready: Do you fell "cheated" when an author makes something happen (like being transported to Mars and back) without explaining how?

Most people know of Tarzan--with his visceral yell, his elegant girl Jane, and his zany buddy Cheeta the Chimpanzee--but few realize that he is not the only character from the pen of his creator, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs, in fact, wrote nearly 80 novels (26 about Tarzan alone) in the genres not only of adventure, but also fantasy, science fiction, and westerns and historical novels.

Second only to Tarzan in number and fame are the 11 novels in the Barsoom or Martian series, with their protagonist, John Carter.

In the first book in the series, A Princess of Mars, Carter--a veteran of America's Civil War--is prospecting in Arizona, where he is chased into a sacred cave by a band of Indians.

From there he is transported to Mars; Burroughs never explains how. He meets the inhabitants, who call their planet "Barsoom," and joins a nomadic tribe of green Martians called Tharks. These are a war-like people with green skin and six limbs.

Carter--used to the greater gravity of earth's atmosphere--is stronger and more agile than the natives. This, with his experience as a Confederate officer, makes him a formidable fighter. He soon rises in the ranks of the Tharks.

In a battle with the humanoid red Martians, the Tharks capture Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium. But Carter, attracted to the girl (small wonder, since the red Martians wear no clothes, except for some jewelry) frees her from the Tharks.

This noble action puts him at odds with Martians on both sides. In addition, the red Martians occupy a federation of cities who sometimes are at war with each other. Carter leads a coalition of Tharks and the residents of Helium against the city-state of Zodanga, Helium's historic enemy.

His derring-do wins him the hand of Dejah Thoris, and he becomes Prince of Helium.

They live together happily for nine years, until the mechanism that sustains the artificial Martian atmosphere breaks down. In attempting to repair it, Carter is asphyxiated--and wakes up back on earth. He is now a wealthy man (thanks to a gold mine he discovered in Arizona) but pines for his wife and his life on Mars.

Don't worry, John Carter: you'll return in several sequels--and you'll be with Dejah Thoris again!


Practice: Match the term to its definition:

  1. asphyxiated
  2. derring-do
  3. formidable
  4. humanoid
  5. inhabitants
  6. limbs
  7. pines (for)
  8. prospecting
  9. visceral
  10. zany
  1. bravery; daring acts
  2. funny and strange
  3. deprived of air
  4. people who live somewhere
  5. impressive
  6. arms and/or legs
  7. longs (for); misses
  8. from the belly
  9. looking for gold
  10. formed like a person

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for November 2, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. a; 3. e; 4. j; 5. d; 6. f; 7. g; 8. i; 9. h; 10. b