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Dizzying Intellect » Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow

Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow

I don’t really consider myself a huge science fiction fan — even though I’m reading more and more of it lately, since general fiction seems to be regressing toward nothing but chick lit geared toward making the reader cry. (Just what we need in these cheerful times!) But I especially get a kick out of science fiction that was written before the space age.

When I bought my Kindle, I downloaded “A Princess of Mars,” by Edgar Rice Burroughs (the guy who wrote Tarzan, for the non-nerds in the audience) and I really liked it. I read a few light books in between, but then went back and got the second book in the series, “The Gods of Mars.”

They were written almost 100 years ago (1917 and 1918, respectively), so they’re really nostalgic and the old classic “martian” flavor is all there. The green-skinned natives and the martian canals and all of that. But there’s a surprising amount of sensible science in there, like dealing with the decreased gravity; complex machinery to create an earth-like atmosphere; and the two moons, moving at different speeds, which is a really nice touch to me, personally.

But the lack of science — trying to write about space ships when airplanes and cars had barely been realized — is the really intriguing part. The ships are all like, well, ships. They have anchors and rudders and flat tops with bridges just like a sailing ship. Even though they’re flying 1000 feet above the ground. The crew stands on top, and they can look over the edge at other ships flying below, or be shoved overboard, and they board each others’ ships with grappling hooks and rope. And they fight almost exclusively with swords.

And they have this advanced technological equipment, but no phones (or the second book would be half as long as it is). But as hilarious as it sounds, it doesn’t really distract from the story or the action. They’re beautifully written and exciting to read. It’s just an added quirk factor. If you’re into that kind of thing.

5 Comments

  • By Robb Allen, March 20, 2009 @ 11:11 am

    Now, imagine what our current Sci Fi will read like in 100 years (assuming you have to read it at all and not simply recall it from stored memory).

  • By Liberty Girl, March 20, 2009 @ 11:25 am

    ERB’s Martian books (and the Pellucidar series) were an integral part of my formative years. Probably why I married the man I did.

  • By Robb Allen, March 20, 2009 @ 11:35 am

    Heck, just read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Computers in the future still take up entire rooms, require cooling, and the mere introduction of dust will kill them ;)

  • By Nathan, March 20, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

    Never read any Burroughs.

    Am giving Princess a try tonight.

  • By OrangeNeckInNY, March 20, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

    You should read the entire series. It is truly awesome. One thing that was never answered was how John Carter travels back and forth between Earth & Mars. Or maybe it was and I just forgot it. Guess it’s time to reread the entire series.

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