Edited by: John Joseph Adams
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Page Count: 368 pages
Where to buy:
Amazon, Simon and Schuster, and other fine book retailers
Readers of all ages have read and loved Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series since the first book, A Princess of Mars, was published in 1912. Now, in time for the 100th anniversary of that seminal work, comes an anthology of original stories featuring John Carter of Mars in brand-new adventures. Collected by veteran anthology editor John Joseph Adams, this anthology features stories from titans of literature such as Peter S. Beagle and Garth Nix and original art from Mark Zug, Charles Vess, and many more—plus an introduction by Tamora Pierce and a glossary of Mars by Richard A. Lupoff.
Editor’s Note: This collection is not officially sanctioned by ERB Inc.
I am beyond pleased that my first editorial duty here at She Never Slept is to introduce Floyd Brigdon’s review of Under The Moons Of Mars: New Adventures On Barsoom, the new anthology edited by John Joseph Adams and published by Simon & Schuster’s YA division. This tome, featuring stories based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom tales, brings together an impressive array of writers. And talk about a timely review, this will launch on the eve of the “much anticipated” (read: “highly publicized”) film adaptation of these classic stories — the first of which will turn ONE CENTURY OLD this year.
Before I turn this over to Floyd, I just want to point out that two of the tales in this book are available for free from the editor’s website. You can read Joe R. Lansdale’s The Metal Men Of Mars and Tobias S. Buckell’s A Tinker of Warhoon here.
So enjoy Floyds review, go read those stories, and pick up a copy of the book. Let’s show those Hollywood types that some of us still prefer to read! Or if you’re planning on seeing that guy from Friday Night Lights as John Carter, download A Princess of Mars for your Nook or Kindle and read it while you wait in line for the show…
Under the Moons of Mars is a new collection that centers around the characters and setting of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom (Mars) tales from the early twentieth century. I have been a John Carter and Barsoom fan for such a long time that I approached this particular collection with more than a little trepidation. The author line-up for the project was impressive enough and there were plenty of names that I already recognized: Joe. R. Lansdale, Peter S. Beagle, L. E. Modesitt, Jr., Garth Nix, Chris Claremont and S. M. Stirling… just to name a few. But I was worried about how I would react to the stories….. I was worried about what I would say if I happened to react badly… I was worried about.… Well, I was just worried.
And it turned out that I had no need to be.
The stories are a wonderful blend of different kinds of homages to Burroughs’ Barsoom. Some (like Robin Wasserman’s “Vengeance of Mars” and Modesitt’s “The Bronze Man of Mars”) are either direct “sequels” to things that happened in one of the original novels or else direct extensions of elements or character introduced there. Some of the stories (like Tobias Buckell’s “A Tinkerer of Warhoon” or Garth Nix’s“A Sidekick of Mars”) introduce characters who are completely new to the mythos; many of which left me wanting to know more about them and their own stories. And there are even some surprising guest stars. (See Beagle’s “The Ape-Man of Mars” for an example. Can you guess who shows up?)
There is a wide variety of different kinds of stories represented in this collection, ranging from straight-forward action/adventure to those that are very character-oriented. Some mix in a steampunk flavor more readily than I remember in the originals (though it is never distracting) and there is even one that blurs the line between Barsoom history and 18th century American history. (Claremont, I am looking at you.) Looking back through my notes, I have a very hard time saying which of the stories was my favorite, mostly because I think that they all stand out in some way. If pushed, though, I would say that Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Metal Men of Mars” was probably my favorite just because of the mixture of elements and genres that Lansdale uses (and also because Lansdale is just a great writer all around).
And the best part… the absolute best part… of all this is that you do not have to be intimately familiar with the Barsoom stories to enjoy this volume. The collection is targeted towards a YA audience and each story gives a brief and informative introduction that sets the reader up to appreciate the nuances and references that each of the stories makes. So, if you are a die-hard fan, these introductions will perhaps help you remember things that you might have forgotten and, thus, help you appreciate the stories more. If you are a new John Carter fan, these introductions will help give you a sneak peak of a world that has fascinated readers and artists for a hundred years now.
There are some elements of these stories that didn’t sit perfectly well with me (I think that Carter’s characterization is off in at least a couple of them) but these are exceptions rather than the rule. All in all, Under the Moons of Mars is a collection that is bound to delight both new and old fans of Barsoom alike. I gladly give this anthology a hearty “Kaor!” and an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 tentacles.
Floyd Brigdon , Assistant Editor/Columnist/Reviewer