“We made a most imposing and awe-inspiring spectacle as we strung out across the yellow landscape; the two hundred and fifty ornate and brightly colored chariots, preceded by an advance guard of some two hundred mounted warriors and chieftains riding five abreast and one hundred yards apart, and followed by a like number in the same formation, with a score or more of flankers on either side; the fifty extra mastodons, or heavy draught animals, known as zitidars, and the five or six hundred extra thoats of the warriors running loose within the hollow square formed by the surrounding warriors. The gleaming metal and jewels of the gorgeous ornaments of the men and women, duplicated in the trappings of the zitidars and thoats, and interspersed with the flashing colors of magnificent silks and furs and feathers, lent a barbaric splendor to the caravan which would have turned an East Indian potentate green with envy.” – A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Burroughs’ Barsoom saga – which spanned 11 novels, I believe (written from the 1910’s to the 1940’s) – had a huge influence on young writers like Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke, to name just a few. References and homages to Burroughs’ Barsoom have appeared in countless novels over the decades, including Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower II: the Drawing of the Three.
So, with that said, I’m hoping that people don’t lose sight of the significance of Burroughs’ Barsoom when the John Carter movie opens. These novels are pretty much sacred to me, so if the movie is successful, I’m hoping that it inspires droves of young readers (and old) to visit (or revisit) Burroughs’ wondrous, adventure-filled world. If the movie flops, I hope that it doesn’t unfairly taint the legacy of this beloved, truly classic series.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
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