Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Princess of Mars

As I mentioned in my last post, A Princess of Mars was the first audio-book I actually finished listening to.

APoM is a typical sci-fi trash novel, written about a century ago. It was considered pulp fiction a century ago, and age doesn't seem to have improved it much. In fact, it's completely silly for a reader of the modern times.

Captain John Carter, a Confederate veteran, is magically transported to Mars, and ends up spending ten years there. Captain John Carter is pretty awesome on Earth, but he becomes super-awesome on Mars because Mars has less gravity than Earth. Because his muscles are used to Earth's gravity, he can perform superhuman feats on Mars - jump several hundred feet at one go, kill Martians with just one blow of his fist, etc.

This ability continues even after ten years on Mars. But I wondered - wouldn't the muscles get adjusted to Martian gravity in ten years?

Such questions are clearly too practical for this book. The author's focus is on keeping the action fast and furious. There is an endless procession of strange creatures for the good Captain to fight. There are also endless missions for him to accomplish - saving a Martian princess, saving the Martian princess's kingdom, and finally saving life on Mars itself!

I learnt after reading the book that Edgar Rice Burroughs also wrote Tarzan of the Apes. Which makes complete sense - think James Bond dressed like Tarzan on Mars, and you've got Captain John Carter.

Disney apparently attempted to start off a series based on these books last year, which didn't exactly turn out to be a great success. Again, I'm not surprised - audiences today probably (hopefully, rather) require a tad more plot and subtlety than these books offer. The only subtle side-plot in this book was a musing that green Martians are such emotion-less creatures because they bring up their young communally - none of them ever get to know their parents. Whereas we humans know what love is because we experience it from our parents first.
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