"John Carter" of Mars

Shaw (Watha T. Daniel) Library

"John Carter" of Mars

Cover for A Princess of Mars, 1917 ed. courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsThis weekend John Carter hits the theaters. Now a lot of you have asked us, “who is John Carter, and what is this about?”

Well, I’m glad you asked.

John Carter is a character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of Tarzan, who appeared in a series of stories entitled Under the Moons of Mars that ran inThe All-Story in 1912. The individual stories were collected in Burroughs’ first book under the title A Princess of Mars. This launched an entire line of John Carter stories collectively known as the Barsoom Series, where Barsoom is the indigenous name for the Martian home world. 

Though the bulk of the story takes place on Mars, John Carter himself is an Earthling. He lived in Virginia and served as a confederate soldier during the Civil War. After the crushing defeat of the confederacy, he goes prospecting in Arizona. While hiding from a band of Apache Indians during a raid, John is mysteriously transported to Mars. There, due to the difference in gravity, he performs amazing feats because of his earthly body's strength. 

Though in its day it was far more popular than Tarzan, the John Carter film adaptations always floundered. The Atlantic has a great article about the numerous attempts to bring John Carter to the movies, and asks the big question, "why did it take 100 years to bring John Carter to the movies?" The film, released by Disney this week, is primarily based on the first novel in the series, A Princess of Mars, and depending on the success of this film, there are ten more novels to work with. 

If you want to read A Princess of Mars and other titles from Burroughs’ Barsoom Series, we have them available as downloadable eBooks. Additional eBook and eAudio editions are available on Project Gutenberg. Check it out!
-- by Eric Riley