What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Princess of Mars -- which has been adapted for the new Disney film, John Carter, to be released March 9, 2012 -- is an old-fashioned adventure tale, a product of a different age with no swearing, little bloodshed in the many battles, and no premarital sex. First published as a novel in 1917 (serialized before that), its characters are flat, the dialogue stilted, and the male/female dynamics are practically prehistoric. And yet there is a giddy sense of invention here that can appeal to readers open to an unsophisticated but energetic narrative.
What's the story?
Former Confederate soldier John Carter is trapped in an Arizona cave and then wakes up on Mars, known to the natives as "Barsoom." Because his body is built for Earth's gravity, he has tremendous strength on Mars and can leap great distances with little effort. He quickly wins the respect of Tars Tarkas, the ferocious leader of the six-limbed, green Martian Tharks. But when the Tharks capture the beautiful humanoid princess Dejah Thoris, Carter almost immediately falls in love with her and begins plotting their escape.
Is it any good?
A PRINCESS OF MARS is a product of another age, an adventure written to entertain an unsophisticated readership. Scientifically impossible and often woodenly narrated, it may be too old-fashioned for readers used to the best science fiction now available. But the book has been hugely influential, displays a good-natured innocence and certainly doesn't lack for action.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how science has changed science fiction over the course of the last century and a half. Does it matter than Burroughs' depiction of the planet Mars doesn't match what we know to be scientifically possible? Or can the modern reader still suspend disbelief and enjoy the far-fetched adventure?
Why do you think that, rather than start the story directly, Burroughs uses a framing device to set up the circumstances of how he supposedly found the manuscript left behind by his forebear John Carter?
Why do you think the author makes a big point of John Carter treating his pack animals and his pet/bodyguard Woola with kindness?
Why do you think the characters of John Carter and the other inhabitants of Barsoom have remained popular for so long? They appear in 10 novels by Burroughs, in numerous comic book adaptations and sequels, and in the new Disney film, John Carter, to be released March 9, 2012.