Ripping Book Review — A Princess of Mars

DSC00068WARNING: Ripping Book Reviews are solely the judgments of Professor VJ Duke on an unlucky book that has caused him much repulsion—in one way or another. Therefore, blame must be put on the professor and nobody else. With that in mind, read on—if you are brave enough to take it.


Oh boy. Here we go…

A Princess of Mars was originally published as a six-part serial in a magazine under the pseudonym of Norman Bean. Personally, I think Burroughs was rather clever hiding behind a pseudonym; especially the kind of pseudonym he picked. (Norman Bean fits the disposition of the book rather well.) I know that I’d have wanted a pseudonym and would have wanted one bad. Burroughs should have been loyal to Mr. Bean and not regressed to his own name; for had he remained Bean, Burroughs would have saved himself much embarrassment and shame.

Interestingly enough, as Burroughs was writing A Princess of Mars, he was working for his brother. Apparently, Burroughs was quite apprehensive about letting anyone in on the secret that he was writing. You see, Burroughs thought his story to be childish in nature, and so outlandish that, if anyone found out what he was writing, potential business contacts would find him ungrounded. A very understandable thought—and a clever idea to hide his work. Too bad Burroughs didn’t have more of those clever ideas while writing the book; it would have saved us from a novel born in defect.

Originally, Burroughs tossed around many different titles for his novel: My First Adventure of Mars, The Green Martians, Dejah Thoris, Martian Princess… If he had asked my opinion on the matter, I would have told him plainly that none of the above would help his dilemma. I would have said: Don’t try and choose a good name for a worthless manuscript; rather, write a worthy manuscript, and then worry about a good title.


The story centers around Civil War veteran John Carter and his adventures on Mars, the red planet. He deals with green Martians, white apes, and red Martians—which happen to be…humans. That’s right. The red Martians are basically humans.

It should be pointed out here that all of the characters in the story (including John Carter) go about completely naked. Now that’s interesting, seeing that the average temperature on Mars is roughly -81.5 degrees Fahrenheit (-63 degrees Celsius). I would think that clothes would be most needed, wouldn’t you? Burroughs tries to explain this away by stating that the Martians have a machine which regulates the atmosphere’s oxygen. I suppose he could have thought that it regulated the temperature as well, but I doubt it. He was probably having one of his childish and outlandish moments.

But that’s not the way Dejah Thoris, Carter’s love interest, felt about clothes at all. What follows is a quote from her:

“…nearly every planet and star having atmospheric conditions at all approaching those of Barsoom (i.e. Mars), shows forms of animal life almost identical with you and me; and, further, Earth men, almost without exception, cover their bodies with strange, unsightly pieces of cloth, and their heads with hideous contraptions the purpose of which we have been unable to conceive…”

Miss Thoris answers a question that has bothered scientists for years. Thanks to her, we now know what types of otherworldly things we shall find on the other planets. No, we shan’t only find Martians, aliens, things of incredible hideousness, and animals that have never been imagined… No, we shall also find nude creatures that look completely alike to us.

Miss Thoris goes on to say show her disdain for wearing clothing, and hats. Interesting. I suppose modesty of any sort does not exist on Mars. Further, I suppose that the temperatures aren’t that unbearable after all. Who knows? Maybe there is a machine which regulates the red Martians’ body temperatures. It is possible—during an outlandish moment, that is.

Interestingly, Miss Thoris claims that almost all Earth men wear clothes. Hmm… I wonder who was (or is) the exception… Definitely worth pondering.

In the end, John Carter marries Miss Thoris, and together they have an…egg. That’s right: an egg. You see, there’s a child in the egg, but before they get the child, the egg must hatch.

I would almost rather the green Martians and white apes (which are very ugly and brutal) to these naked, egg-laying, humans. The latter is definitely more terrifying.

So, that’s A Princess of Mars. What to say?

But, what can we expect from the writer of Tarzan?

Again, I ask: What to say?

Perhaps Ray Bradbury said it best: “I stood on the lawns of summer, raised my hands, and cried for Mars, like John Carter, to take me home. I flew to the red planet and never returned.”

Hmm… I see. He was fooled too. But he got something right. He never did return from Mars.


51 Responses to “Ripping Book Review — A Princess of Mars”

  1. 1 krugthethinker August 1, 2013 at 16:43

    An egg! What a fun twist. That clothing issue is a funny one. I love seeing how space is imagined…reminds me of the Lumiere Brothers’ A Trip to the Moon. Fun!

    • 2 Professor VJ Duke August 1, 2013 at 17:00

      Yes, it is always interesting to see how space is imagined. The author definitely had an imagination!

  2. 3 Kaela Moore July 31, 2013 at 03:15

    Hmm…to read or not to read? Probably not. The egg at the end is completely strange and it doesn’t sound captivating. I prefer to settle for nothing less in my literary life.

    As for the movie: forgettable, although well-intentioned.

    • 4 Professor VJ Duke July 31, 2013 at 11:16

      Yes, the egg was quite bewildering, to be sure. Though if you like utter madness in books…well, it might just be for you!

      Too bad! I suppose the movie could be ripped too…

  3. 5 Carl D'Agostino July 30, 2013 at 22:59

    I read every book in the series, 11, I think , by age 14. John Carter movie was lambasted as flop but I was absolutely memorized to see my mind’s visions while reading half century ago portrayed on the big screen.

    • 6 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 23:06

      Ah, that’s neat! So you would recommend the movie? I’ve been thinking about it.

  4. 7 The Dancing Rider July 30, 2013 at 21:22

    I’m aware of the book, and have done my level best to stay away. ;-) Unfortunately, I’m also familiar with the John Carter movie character. :/ Loved your review though!

    • 8 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 22:07

      Yes, the book is crazy! Was the movie that bad? I haven’t seen it.

      Thank you!

      • 9 The Dancing Rider July 31, 2013 at 01:50

        As I recall, it was about two stars out of five. Vaguely boring, but with some ok portions here and there. Its been a while, can no longer remember the details. I think it was a Disney production – and bombed.

      • 10 Professor VJ Duke July 31, 2013 at 11:14

        Oh dear. That’s what the professor has been hearing about it. I think I’ll skip it!

  5. 11 L. Marie July 30, 2013 at 17:58

    Ha ha!!! Hilarious! I read this book ages ago, but didn’t bother seeing the latest movie adaptation.

    • 12 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 18:08

      I didn’t either. I wonder if it’s any good…

      In truth, the professor does like this book!

  6. 13 deanthefish July 30, 2013 at 15:42

    Maybe I should reprise my quirkish comment? Perhaps I will think better of it and respectfully abstain.

    Great review though… even if it does elicit incredulous snorts.

    • 14 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 15:49

      It’s really up to you, Mr. Fish.

  7. 15 Andy July 30, 2013 at 14:43

    Hmm…not really tempted. Good review though.

    • 16 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 14:44

      I understand. The ripio was a real bad one, wasn’t it?

  8. 17 weggieboy July 30, 2013 at 12:51

    Dear me! Or -if I’m using it correctly- manothunder! He should have left the genre to Jules Verne!

    • 18 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 13:22

      You used it perfectly!!! He really made a funny!

  9. 19 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 12:35

    Great rip! Though I think the author made this one too easy for you – naked, egg-laying humanoid Martians?? :lol:

    I must say it’s quite clear Miss Thoris would have changed her mind about strange, unsightly clothing had she ever been fortunate enough to see Rafa’s shorts…

    • 20 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 13:23

      Thank you. But, yes, he did. It was even easier to rip than Doyle! ;)

      Well, Thoris did say there was one exception… Perhaps Rafa and his incredible shorts?

      • 21 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 15:38

        The problem is that, while I really don’t think I want to read this, I really feel I must know what happened to the egg? It’s a dilemma…

      • 22 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 15:48

        I could tell you, if you want…

        I’m not sure if you’d like the book or not. On second thought, probably not.

      • 23 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 16:33

        I think I might like it – just not enough to bump to the top of the massive TBR pile. You could tell me…but wouldn’t that be a major spoiler for anyone who read the comments? See? A dilemma…

      • 24 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 16:45

        The author would probably like to think it’d be a spoiler, but it really isn’t. The answer makes the book all the more rippable. Besides, I think I inspired everyone not to read it anyway, and that’s :cool:

      • 25 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 19:19

        OK, C- :cool: – :cool: , tell me then… but whisper so no-one else will hear…

        Personally I always felt womankind missed out by not laying eggs. The idea of sitting on an egg for nine months while the male deals with all the household tasks & food preparation quite appeals…imagine how many books I could read. But since I live in up north, I think I’d rather keep my clothes on.

      • 26 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 22:07

        So be it! (At the end, Thoris and Carter are waiting for the egg to hatch. I think it’s in a incubator or something. But the oxygen on the planet is running low. So, Carter, hero that he’s not, rushes to save Mars. Of course, he fails and wakes up back on earth. He looks up at Mars and wonders what happened. Very unsatisfactory end, but intriguing at the same time.)

        There are sequels. Thousands of them.

        :lol: For some reason, I’m not surprised. You might just like the book after all! :)

    • 27 deanthefish July 30, 2013 at 22:04

      If you really must know, they crack it fry it and have a tremendous breakfast!

      • 28 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 22:08

        That’s sick, fish, but what can be expected from you, hmm?

      • 29 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 22:31


      • 30 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 22:33

        I know; quite weird. But oddly enough, it really fits with the rest of the book… :cool:

      • 31 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 22:38

        So…how did he get back to Earth? Please don’t tell me it was all a dream a la Bobby in the shower (that’s Bobby Ewing not Bobby the Cat – that would just be too weird…)

        And, I’m sorry but I need to know the outcome of the whole egg scenario, so could you please read all the sequels and report back? Thanks in advance, Chicky! ;)

      • 32 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 22:47

        He ran out of oxygen, fainted, and subsequently appeared on earth. Okay…just read the others….

        Carter returns to Mars 10 years later and goes through a bunch of vexing adventures. The egg hatches and they get a son, Carthoris. It goes on and on, but it’s really rather dry.

        Isn’t the professor good-natured?

      • 33 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 22:53

        It takes 10 years for it to hatch?? I take back my desire for egg-laying – even I would get bored after the first six years or so…

        Yes, the professor is not just good-natured but also very, very :cool: . And an incredibly fast reader! Could you please read my entire TBR list and summarise them for me? On second thoughts just read the last 40 pages of The Enlightenment – I’ve been reading it for nearly as long as it took the whole dadblamed thing to happen…

      • 34 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 22:59

        No, no, he comes back 10 years later. The eggs already hatched by that time. :lol:

        That’s great. I’m sensing a ripio review…

        (I’m reading Baskervilles now.)

      • 35 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 23:05

        I will be ripping the writing style, that’s for sure. Content pretty great but ninety-word sentences with about 14 clauses each? Good grief!!

        Ooh, I’m thrilled! :D :D I hope you don’t get too scared… :eek:

      • 36 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 23:07

        I can’t wait for the review! This professor loves long sentences, but they need to be constructed correctly!

        I hope so too. But, it seems we might get a ripio review… Doyle just can’t help himself.

      • 37 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 23:11

        This FF loves long sentences too, when they’re written by Dickens – but not so much when written by Pagden, somehow…

        No way! If you don’t like this one, then it’s not Sir Arthur, it’s you!! A really :cool: person would love this one…

      • 38 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 23:22

        You’re speaking the professorish tongue! :cool: And, of course, FF loves long sentences written by the professor…

        I think we’re in a perpetual war. I feel bad for Watson. Holmes treats him so miserably. (I’ll keep this mind, though Salami is already mean with his son.)

      • 39 FictionFan July 30, 2013 at 23:55

        Of course! :)

        Well, you know I prefer Watson too – but though Holmes is cold and calculating, he loves Watson more than anyone else…and Watson knows that, though he sometimes gets hurt. And Holmes would give his life for Watson in an instant. Great characterisation in fact by the master of storytelling…

      • 40 Professor VJ Duke July 31, 2013 at 00:05

        And I would have to agree! ;)

      • 41 FictionFan July 31, 2013 at 00:20

        I wish there was a smiley for ‘fainted’! ;)

      • 42 Professor VJ Duke July 31, 2013 at 00:24


      • 43 FictionFan July 31, 2013 at 00:25

        The shock of you agreeing…

      • 44 Professor VJ Duke July 31, 2013 at 00:28

        You were right… The professor doesn’t lie, remember.

      • 45 FictionFan July 31, 2013 at 00:33


  10. 46 Susan P July 30, 2013 at 12:35

    I’m going to be chortling all day after this. And maybe a ladylike snort now and then. The lack of clothing is less titillating and more terrifying than not.

    • 47 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 13:23

      Nothing wrong with a ladylike snort! I agree. Too terrifying!

  11. 48 Professor VJ Duke July 30, 2013 at 11:27

    Reblogged this on The Punchy Lands! and commented:

    A point must be made with this ripping review. The professor rips anything–even books that he loves. This is an example of a favorite that must needs be ripped. The point is this: No book at any time can be spared a ripping wrath review, for if the professor rips books that he enjoys, what does that mean for books that he abhors…?

  12. 49 deanthefish June 3, 2013 at 01:12

    I never read this book, but I know a barracuda that did.

    • 50 Professor VJ Duke June 3, 2013 at 12:24

      Really? That is…interesting…

  1. 1 TBR Thursday 25… | FictionFan's Book Reviews Trackback on May 8, 2014 at 12:34

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