A/N 1... Just last week, I had occasion to see the movie "John Carter of Mars" which I have been awaiting now for quite some time. Before I continue, allow me to state that while it may seem, durring the course of this discourse, that I am giving a negative opinion of the movie, this is not the case. I totally enjoyed it and have ordered the DVD. When it arrives it will proudly take it's place among my collection of favorites, right alongside Firefly, Serenity, the original Star Wars trilogy (the one with Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher), Terminator and Avatar and last but not least, Star Trek (The ones with William Shatner).
That said, while I liked the movie, I feel that it could have been done much better by another producer, other than Disney. I'm not saying that I dislike Disney productions, just that in the case of this particular story, I feel that another producer could have done a better job, of bringing it to the "silver screen" than Disney and keep it more in character with the original works of ERB.
While most of the scenes in the movie did in fact occur in the novel, they were much changed in the movie version. I could go on forever about this, but I'll let you see for yourself as you read it. There are, however, a few points that I feel compelled to point out at this time.
In the novel, the Heliumites were never a conquered and subjugated people as it appeared, to me anyway, in the movie.
Dejah Thoris' father, Mors Kajak, a Heliumite jed and her grandfather, Tardos Mors, Jeddak of the entire Heliumite nation, would have never forced her into a marriage with Sab Than to save themselves. Conversely, they and the entire Heliumite nation would have gladly fought to the last man, rather than to even suggest such a, as one Heliumite put it, "unholy alliance."
This proposed marriage was completely her idea, as a self-sacrifice to save the Heliumites and only after she came to believe that John Carter was dead. Her father had nothing to do with influencing her decision, nor could he have, as she was a prisoner of the Zodangans at the time.
The movie seemed to portray her father as somewhat "wishy-washey" and almost cowardly, IMO, which could not be farther from the truth.
Tars Tarkas was never challenged and defeated by an underling (Tal Hajus) as in the movie. (If he would have, he would have been dead, as that was always a fight to the death) Also, at the beginning, when they first came upon John Carter, Tars Tarkas was only a chieftain under command of the jed, Lorquas Ptomel. Tal Hajus, was actually the Jeddak of the entire Thark tribe, of which Lorquas Ptomel was the jed of one out of many hoards, under Tal Hajus' command.
John Carter was never subjected to any indignities, while he was among the Thark hoard of Lorquas Ptomel and Tars Tarkas, like in the movie. He was treated with respect and while he was technically a prisoner, he rose to a high position among them. Also, the scene in the arena was not while he was with the Tharks. That happened after he was captured by a rival tribe of green men, the Warhoons.
Tars Tarkas and Sola were not there with him, but rather a Heliumite by the name of Kantos Kan, whom he met while imprisoned by the Warhoons.
Again, while I enjoyed the movie and thought that it was very well done, I think that if another producer would have done it, in say an epic four hour production, like "Ben-Hur," "The Ten Commandments" "Dances With Wolves" or "Return of the King," it would have been much better in doing justice to the original story, but that's just not Disney's style. Hopefully this might happen someday, as the source material "A Princess of Mars" is in the public domain and nobody has exclusive rights to it.
A/N 2... If you have seen the movie but have never had the opportunity to read the original story (the people that this posting is primarily aimed at) the titles of Jed, Jeddak etc might be somewhat confusing to you, as the movie didn't seem to explain it too well.
A "Jeddak" is the almost universal term on Barsoom for what we on Earth would consider an "Emperor." Each nation or tribe (Helium, Zodanga, Thark or Warhoon, as examples.) have but one Jeddak, who is their supreme commander. Each Jeddak has under his direct command several Jeds who in turn have many lesser "Lieutenants" under their command.
The terms for these lesser commanders are different for each race, of which there are five...Red Men, Green Men, White Men (Therns), Black Men and Yellow Men.
Among the Green Men the term for these lesser commanders is "Chieftain," while with the Red Men it is "Padwar." The other races do not appear in the first book (A Princess of Mars) so I will not bother with them at this point.
In most Barsoomian cultures, who becomes a "Jeddak" is determined, for the most part by blood lineage and/or marriage, but occasionally, under certain circumstances, they can be appointed or voted into office. With the Green Men, however, this is determined exclusively by mortal combat.
A/N 3... These notes, commonly referred to as "Author's Notes" are actually, in this case, a contradiction of terms. With the exception of a bit of minor editing, which I will discuss briefly in the next note, I am authoring absolutely nothing. Edgar Rice Burroughs is the author and I am merely presenting the first book of his marvelous, trend setting, Barsoom series (on which the movie was, for the most part based) for the benefit and convenience for those who may frequent this site and perhaps never had the chance to read it.
You may use it for reference for your own stories, copy from it or whatever you please, because like I stated earlier, it and the next four books of the series (The Gods of Mars, The Warlord of Mars, Thuvia Maid of Mars and The Chessmen of Mars) are in the public domain. Nobody has exclusive rights to them.
Depending on the response I get from the posting of this story, I may go on to post the next two, as the first three (A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars) are actually a trilogy, with cliff hanger endings and if you read the first, you will certainly want to read the others.
Reviews are actually a bit silly, in this case, as I didn't write it. I would however like to see a few comments as to rather or not you are reading it and if you would like me to present the others as well. Even just a comment on what you think of the book would be nice (Giving all credit to ERB of course), as I have been a huge fan of this series since the 1970's, when I first read them.
If the response is favorable, I might even present "Thuvia, Maid of Mars," as it is one of my favorites and there were elements from it, that were borrowed for the movie.
Although this is just a posting of another authors work, it still takes time, which I have precious little of these days. Plus I am also doing work at the "Firefly/Serenity" site, where, I might add, I am tardy in the extreme with updates, due to my new time restraints. If, however, it is the will of you, the readers, I will find time, as the Barsoom stories are my all time favorites.
A/N 4... Editing: I did do a bit of editing. However, if you were to read one of the chapters from my version then immediately the original, you would be hard pressed to notice the difference, other than my version might seem to read a bit easier, hopefully. Most of it is in the area punctuation and sentence structure.
Mr. Burroughs first started writing "A Princess of Mars" in 1911 under the title of "Dejah Thoris, Martian Princess" and under the pen name of "Norman Bean." It was accepted for publication in early 1912 by "All Story Magazine," where the chapters appeared as a weekly serial, with cliff hanger endings. They also changed the title to "Under the Moons of Mars." Later, in 1917, it was compiled and republished under it's currant title, as the first book of a trilogy and under ERB's real name.
It was his first work and he started writing it, in his spare time, while working in a pencil factory in 1911.
No disrespect to Mr. Burroughs, but at that time he was quite amateurish in his writing. He had ideas 100 years ahead of his time and penned a story that has virtually defined science fiction from then on, but his punctuation and even sentence structure, at times, was atrocious. It was like it had been written by a little kid.
That, combined with the language of the time (words and adjectives that have all but dissapeared from the English language of today) made certain parts rather hard and awkward to read, by a lot of modern day readers. This is why I decided to do a little editing.
None of the original text has been changed (except in a couple of places, which I will also explain) no matter how archaic it might be, unless absolutely necessary, to shorten or break up long, run on sentences. There was one sentence that contained over 60 words without even so much as a single comma; just a lot of "ands", as one example.
To put your mind at rest, that the story you area about to read is unchanged from what ERB intended to convey to the reader, I will exhibit a few examples...
"It was daylight when I was awakened by the sound of stealthy movement near by.
As I opened my eyes Woola, too, moved and, coming up to his haunches, stared through the intervening brush toward the road, each hair upon his neck stiffly erect.
At first I could see nothing, but presently I caught a glimpse of a bit of smooth and glossy green moving among the scarlet and purple and yellow of the vegetation.
Motioning Woola to remain quietly where he was, I crept forward to investigate, and from behind the bole of a great tree I saw a long line of the hideous green warriors of the dead sea bottoms hiding in the dense jungle beside the road."
"It was daylight, when I was awakened by the sound of stealthy movement near by.
As I opened my eyes, Woola also moved and coming up to his haunches, stared through the intervening brush, toward the road, each hair upon his neck stiffly erect.
At first I could see nothing, but presently I caught a glimpse of smooth glossy green, moving among the scarlet, purple and yellow vegetation.
Motioning Woola to remain quietly where he was, I crept forward to investigate and from behind the bole of a great tree, I saw a long line of the hideous green warriors, of the dead sea bottoms, hiding in the dense jungle beside the road."
"Every plant and flower and vegetable and animal has been so refined by ages of careful, scientific cultivation and breeding that the like of them on Earth dwindled into pale, gray, characterless nothingness by comparison."
"Every plant, flower, vegetable and animal has been so refined by ages of careful, scientific cultivation and breeding that the like of them on Earth dwindled into pale, gray characterless nothingness, by comparison."
As you can see, nothing has been done to change the meaning in any way.
There were, however, a few instances, that after much thought, I did change some actual text. They were just a few occasions of this and it also in no way effects the plot or storyline. My reasoning was because, in the original it was completely silly in one instance and completely out of character for the character involved in the other.
The first was at the very beginning, where John Carter noticed a plateau "White with hundreds of Indian Tepees."
These were Apaches in Arizona we're talking about. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Native American cultures knows that the tribes in the desert southwest never lived it Tepees, nor did they wear "feathered war bonnets" as he also described. I know that a strict literary "purest" would scream bloody murder, but as it was just a passing reference and has no bearing on the plot whatsoever. I went ahead and changed it.
I always wondered why ERB wrote this, as he himself rode with the 7th US Cavalry, out of Fort Grant, in the Arizona Territory until 1897. You would think he would have known better.
The other occasion was where Sola referred to herself as a "green Martian woman" a few times. Being a native Martian, she of course would have referred to herself as a "green Barsoomian woman" and more than likely just as a "green woman." So that's what I changed it to. I just deleted the word "Martian" from the text. in those few places (about 3).
Other than the couple of instances noted and some minor corrections in punctuation and sentence structure, it is the original story, as told by the father of all modern day science fiction. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Also, I would like to add, that the "Forward" at the beginning of the story is completely original and unedited. This is because this portion was actually written in 1917, when his original "Under the Moons of Mars" series from 1912 was republished as a complete novel. By that time he had gained much polish as a writer, thereby making corrections unnecessary.
Be forewarned, however, to have ample time on your hands when you begin. If you're like me, you may have a very difficult time putting it down once you begin...
It's an excellent, exciting and suspenseful story. I think that ERB was also the father of the "cliffhanger" concept.
I proudly present, for your enjoyment; ...
A PRINCESS OF MARS
Edgar Rice Burroughs
To My Son Jack
To the Reader of this Work:
In submitting Captain Carter's strange manuscript to you in book form, I believe that a few words relative to this remarkable personality will be of interest.
My first recollection of Captain Carter is of the few months he spent at my father's home in Virginia, just prior to the opening of the civil war. I was then a child of but five years, yet I well remember the tall, dark, smooth-faced, athletic man whom I called Uncle Jack.
He seemed always to be laughing; and he entered into the sports of the children with the same hearty good fellowship he displayed toward those pastimes in which the men and women of his own age indulged; or he would sit for an hour at a time entertaining my old grandmother with stories of his strange, wild life in all parts of the world. We all loved him, and our slaves fairly worshipped the ground he trod.
He was a splendid specimen of manhood, standing a good two inches over six feet, broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, with the carriage of the trained fighting man. His features were regular and clear cut, his hair black and closely cropped, while his eyes were of a steel gray, reflecting a strong and loyal character, filled with fire and initiative. His manners were perfect, and his courtliness was that of a typical southern gentleman of the highest type.
His horsemanship, especially after hounds, was a marvel and delight even in that country of magnificent horsemen. I have often heard my father caution him against his wild recklessness, but he would only laugh, and say that the tumble that killed him would be from the back of a horse yet unfoaled.
When the war broke out he left us, nor did I see him again for some fifteen or sixteen years. When he returned it was without warning, and I was much surprised to note that he had not aged apparently a moment, nor had he changed in any other outward way. He was, when others were with him, the same genial, happy fellow we had known of old, but when he thought himself alone I have seen him sit for hours gazing off into space, his face set in a look of wistful longing and hopeless misery; and at night he would sit thus looking up into the heavens, at what I did not know until I read his manuscript years afterward.
He told us that he had been prospecting and mining in Arizona part of the time since the war; and that he had been very successful was evidenced by the unlimited amount of money with which he was supplied. As to the details of his life during these years he was very reticent, in fact he would not talk of them at all.
He remained with us for about a year and then went to New York, where he purchased a little place on the Hudson, where I visited him once a year on the occasions of my trips to the New York market—my father and I owning and operating a string of general stores throughout Virginia at that time. Captain Carter had a small but beautiful cottage, situated on a bluff overlooking the river, and during one of my last visits, in the winter of 1885, I observed he was much occupied in writing, I presume now, upon this manuscript.
He told me at this time that if anything should happen to him he wished me to take charge of his estate, and he gave me a key to a compartment in the safe which stood in his study, telling me I would find his will there and some personal instructions which he had me pledge myself to carry out with absolute fidelity.
After I had retired for the night I have seen him from my window standing in the moonlight on the brink of the bluff overlooking the Hudson with his arms stretched out to the heavens as though in appeal. I thought at the time that he was praying, although I never understood that he was in the strict sense of the term a religious man.
Several months after I had returned home from my last visit, the first of March, 1886, I think, I received a telegram from him asking me to come to him at once. I had always been his favorite among the younger generation of Carters and so I hastened to comply with his demand.
I arrived at the little station, about a mile from his grounds, on the morning of March 4, 1886, and when I asked the livery man to drive me out to Captain Carter's he replied that if I was a friend of the Captain's he had some very bad news for me; the Captain had been found dead shortly after daylight that very morning by the watchman attached to an adjoining property.
For some reason this news did not surprise me, but I hurried out to his place as quickly as possible, so that I could take charge of the body and of his affairs.
I found the watchman who had discovered him, together with the local police chief and several townspeople, assembled in his little study. The watchman related the few details connected with the finding of the body, which he said had been still warm when he came upon it. It lay, he said, stretched full length in the snow with the arms outstretched above the head toward the edge of the bluff, and when he showed me the spot it flashed upon me that it was the identical one where I had seen him on those other nights, with his arms raised in supplication to the skies.
There were no marks of violence on the body, and with the aid of a local physician the coroner's jury quickly reached a decision of death from heart failure. Left alone in the study, I opened the safe and withdrew the contents of the drawer in which he had told me I would find my instructions. They were in part peculiar indeed, but I have followed them to each last detail as faithfully as I was able.
He directed that I remove his body to Virginia without embalming, and that he be laid in an open coffin within a tomb which he previously had had constructed and which, as I later learned, was well ventilated. The instructions impressed upon me that I must personally see that this was carried out just as he directed, even in secrecy if necessary.
His property was left in such a way that I was to receive the entire income for twenty-five years, when the principal was to become mine. His further instructions related to this manuscript which I was to retain sealed and unread, just as I found it, for eleven years; nor was I to divulge its contents until twenty-one years after his death.
A strange feature about the tomb, where his body still lies, is that the massive door is equipped with a single, huge gold-plated spring lock which can be opened _only from the inside_.
Yours very sincerely,
Edgar Rice Burroughs.