| name = A Princess of Mars
| title_orig = Under the Moons of Mars
| translator =
| image =
| image_caption = dust-jacket of A Princess of Mars
| author = Edgar Rice Burroughs
| illustrator = Frank E. Schoonover
| cover_artist =
| country = United States
| language = English
| series = Barsoom
| genre = Science fiction novel
| publisher = A. C. McClurg
| release_date = 1917
| english_release_date =
| media_type = Print (Hardback)
| pages = xii, 326 pp
| isbn = NA
| preceded_by =
| followed_by = The Gods of Mars
A Princess of Mars is an Edgar Rice Burroughs science fiction novel, the first of his famous Barsoom series. It is also Burroughs' first novel, predating his Tarzan stories. Full of swordplay and daring feats, the story is considered a classic example of 20th century pulp fiction.
It is a seminal example of the planetary romance genre, which became highly popular in the decades to follow, and also has some elements of Westerns. It is set on a dying Mars, informed by ideas popularized by astronomer Percival Lowell in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
It inspired a number of well known 20th century science fiction writers, including Ray Bradbury, John Norman and Arthur C. Clarke, and was also inspirational for many scientists in the fields of space exploration and the search of extraterrestrial life, including scientist Carl Sagan, who read the novel as a child.
John Carter, a Confederate American Civil War veteran, goes prospecting in Arizona and, when set upon by Indians, is mysteriously transported to Mars, called "Barsoom" by its inhabitants. Carter finds that he has great strength on this planet, due to its lesser gravity. Carter soon falls in among the Tharks, a nomadic tribe of the planet's warlike, four-armed, green inhabitants. Thanks to his strength and combat abilities he rises in position in the tribe and earns the respect and eventually the friendship of Tars Tarkas, one of the Thark chiefs.
The Tharks subsequently capture Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, a member of the humanoid red Martian race. The red Martians inhabit a loose network of city states and control the desert planet's canals, along which its agriculture is concentrated. Carter rescues her from the green men to return her to her people.
Except for some jewelry and harness for weaponry, all of the planet's races seem to eschew clothing. Burroughs describes Dejah Thoris thus:
Subsequently Carter becomes embroiled in the political affairs of both the red and green men in his efforts to safeguard his princess, eventually leading a horde of Tharks against the city-state of Zodanga (the historic enemy of Helium). Winning Dejah Thoris' hand, he becomes Prince of Helium, and the two settle down happily until a failure at the Atmosphere Plant which sustains the planet's waning air supply endangers all of Barsoom. In a last-ditch attempt to stave off doom, Carter seemingly sacrifices his own life in restoring the facility to functionality. He awakens back on Earth, left to wonder what has become of his family and adopted world.
*John Carter: Captain John Carter is an Earthman, who originated in Virginia. He fought in the American Civil war on the Confederate side.<ref name="sampson177">Sampson: 177.</ref> After the war he moved to the southwest US to work as a prospector. In 1866 he and his prospector partner strike it rich, but the partner is killed by American Indians and Carter takes refuge in a cave where he is overcome by smoke produced by an American Indian woman and wakes up on Mars. He effectively disappeared for ten years [while on Mars], believed dead, but re-emerged in New York in 1876, settling on the Hudson. He appeared to die in 1886, leaving instructions for Burroughs, who refers to him as an 'uncle', to entomb him in a crypt, and leaving Burroughs with the manuscript of A Princess of Mars with instructions not to publish it for another 21 years.<ref name="bleiler96">Bleiler & Bleiler: 96.</ref> He has no memory before the age of 30 and seems never to age. He is adept with command, horsemanship, swords and all weapons. He is 6'2" tall, with black hair and steel gray eyes.<ref name="sampson177"/> He is honorable, courageous and eternally optimistic, even in the face of certain death.<ref name="holtsmark21">Holtsmark: 21.</ref>
*Dejah Thoris: A Martian Princess of Helium, who is courageous, tough and always holds her resolve, despite being frequently placed in both mortal danger and the threat of being dishonored by the lustful designs of villains. She is the daughter of Mors Kajak, jed of Lesser Helium and granddaughter of Tardos Mors, jeddak of Helium, highly aristocratic and fiercely proud of her heritage.<ref name="holtsmark28-9">Holtsmark: 28-9.</ref> She introduced early in the novel, and is the love interest of John Carter.<ref name="holtsmark22">Holtsmark: 22.</ref> A central character in the first three Barsoom novels, whose capture by various enemies, and subsequent pursuit by John Carter, is a constant motivating force in these tales.
*Tars Tarkas: A fierce Green Martian warrior,known as a Thark unusual among his savage race for his ability to love, who is much affected by the loss of his lover while being away on a raid. He befriends John Carter and fights many battles at his side. Carter helps him become Jeddak of the Green Martians and negotiates an alliance between the Green Martians and the city state of Helium which results in the destruction of their enemies the city of Zodanga at the end of the novel.<ref name="bleiler96"/>
Burroughs began work on A Princess of Mars in the summer of 1911 when he was 35.<ref name="porges2-3">Porges: 2-3.</ref> He wrote most of the first half of the novel while working for his brother in a stationery company, penning the words on scratch pads produced by the business.<ref name="porges110">Porges: 110.</ref> He had been struggling for some time to establish himself as a businessman, so far with little success, and with a wife and two children to support, turned to writing in desperate need of some kind of income. Despite the lack of success in his business affairs he had accumulated a wealth of unusual experiences to draw upon from work a variety of jobs which had brought him into contact with miners, soldiers, cowboys and American Indians.<ref name="porges2-3" />
While writing A Princess of Mars, Burroughs initiated what soon became a regular writing tool - maintaining worksheets relating to the piece he was working on. The sheets included start and end dates of writing, titles of chapters and characters.<ref name="porges192">Porges: 192.</ref> By August 11 of 1911 he had completed a large section of the novel. He was apprehensive about revealing what he was working on, and told only his wife that he was doing so. He still hoped to find business success, and thought the tale to be indicative of a childish nature, and so outlandish that potential business contacts would think him ungrounded if they discovered what he was working on. At this point he had already decided to adopt the pen name of "Normal Bean", an attempt to suggest that despite the incredible nature of his story, he was still a sane, reliable character. He struggled to find an appropriate title for the novel; My First Adventure of Mars, The Green Martians, Dejah Thoris, Martian Princess were all early attempts to solve this problem.<ref name="porges4">Porges: 4.</ref>
===Submission for publication===
Before completing the novel, he considered options on publishing, and realized he knew little about this world or how to submit a story, but he was familiar with All-Story Magazine, and impressed by it. He submitted 43,000 words to the magazine under the title "Dejah Thoris, Martian Princess", explaining he thought he could produce another two parts of similar length. The Managing Editor of the magazine, Newell Metcalf, wrote back on August 24, 1911, offer some criticisms of the pacing and focus of the tale, and suggested omitting the chapter "Sola Tells Me Her Story" (it was restored for the novel version); he suggested that if Burroughs could finish the novel at under 70,000 words, he would seriously consider publishing it.<ref name="porges6">Porges: 6.</ref> After further work on the novel, and further correspondence with Metcalf which included suggestions for plot devices and structural changes, Burroughs submitted the finished novel. On November 4, 1911 Burroughs received the acceptance letter from Metcalf, offering $400 for the serialization rights, with the request to change the title and further edit the opening section of the novel.<ref name="porges7">Porges: 7.</ref>
When Burroughs received an acceptance letter from Newell Metcalf, Managing Editor of All-Story, Metcalf told Burroughs that it would be published under the name of In the Moons of Mars, however, when the first part of the serialization was published in the February 1912 edition of All-Story, it bore the title of Under the Moons of Mars.<ref name="porges7" /> For serial publication, Burroughs used the pen name of "Normal Bean", chosen as a type of pun, stressing that he was in his right mind, being concerned he might suffer ridicule for writing such a fantastic story. The effect was spoiled when a typesetter changed "Normal" to "Norman" on the assumption that the former was a typographical error.<ref name="stecopoulos">Stecopoulos & Uebel: 170.</ref>
By 1914, Burroughs had become very popular with the reading public and Publisher McClurg decided to publish a number of his formerly serialized tales as novels. McClurg began with three Tarzan novels, and on October 10, 1917 published A Princess of Mars.<ref name="porges291">Porges: 291.</ref> Newell Metcalf had thought the chapter "Sola Tells Me Her Story" slowed the piece, and it had been omitted for the Under the Moons of Mars serialization. The chapter was restored for the novel version.<ref name="porges6" /> The novel was illustrated by Frank E. Schoonover, who spent some time carefully reading passages about the costumes and weapons as described in the novel, developing a reasoning behind the designs for illustrations, even ensuring that John's Carter's pistol and belt in his cover illustration reflected their origins in Green Martian craftsmanship.<ref name="porges293">Porges: 293.</ref>
A Princess of Mars was one of the few works for which Burroughs, in his inexperience as a new writer, relinquished all serialization rights. Others included the sequel The Gods of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes.<ref name="porges156">Porges: 156.</ref>
While the novel is classed as science fiction, it also belongs to the genre of planetary romance, which has some affinity with fantasy.<ref name="westfahl">Westfahl: 37.</ref> The genre is similar to sword and sorcery tales, but includes scientific aspects.<ref name="harrisfain">Harris-Fain, p. 147.</ref> Planetary romances take place primarily on the surface of an alien world, often include sword fighting and swashbuckling, monsters, supernatural elements such as telepathic abilities (as opposed to magic), and civilizations that appear to echo those present on Earth in pre-technological eras, particularly with the inclusion of dynastic or religious social structures. Spacecraft may appear, but are usually not central to the story (which makes them distinct from space opera, where these craft are usually key to the narrative). While there were earlier examples of this genre, A Princess of Mars and its sequels are the best known, and were the dominant influence on those that followed. While initially published in more general magazines, in the 1930s these types of stories become very popular in the emerging science fiction pulp magazines.<ref name="westfahl" />
The novel also shares a number of features of Westerns in the inclusion of desert landscapes, women taken captive and a final confrontation with the antagonist.<ref name="white">White, p. 143.</ref>
Burroughs employs a literary device for A Princess of Mars to which he returned to in several sequels — introducing the novel as though it were a factual account passed on to him personally. In this case he frames John Carter as an avuncular figure known to his family who has given him the manuscript earlier, and instructed him not to publish it for 21 years.<ref name="bainbridge131">Bainbridge: 131.</ref> Burroughs used the same device in the sequels, The Gods of Mars, The Chessmen of Mars and Swords of Mars.<ref name="porges144">Porges: 144.</ref> In a The Chessmen of Mars, Burroughs even includes a reference to the chess games he played with his real life assistant, John Shea, while writing the novel.<ref name="porges348">Porges: 163.</ref>
A Princess of Mars is similar to many of Burrough's tales: it is characterized by copious action of a violent nature. It is basically a travelogue, a tale of a journey and various encounters on that journey, which does not necessarily have a defined plot. It is also a captivity narrative - involving a civilized hero being captured by an uncivilized culture and being forced to adapt to the primitive nature of the captors to survive.<ref name="sharp3">Sharp: 93-4.</ref>
As is the case with the majority of the Barsoom novels to follow, it portrays a hero facing impossible odds, forced to fight a range of lurid creatures, in order to win the love of the heroine.<ref name="sampson4">Sampson: 183.</ref> Burrough's Barsoom is also morally unambiguous; there is no sense of moral relativity and characters are either good or evil. The tale portrays a hero with a sense of honor transcending race or politics. Compassion, loyalty and bravery are celebrated, and callousness, deception, and cowardice are frowned upon.<ref>Hogan, p. xvi.</ref>
The vision of Mars in the novel was loosely inspired by astronomical speculation of the time, especially that of Percival Lowell, that saw the planet as a formerly Earthlike world now becoming less hospitable to life due to its advanced age.<ref name="baxter">Baxter: 186-7.</ref> A million years before the narrative commences, Mars was a lush world with oceans. As the oceans receded and evaporated, and the atmosphere grew thin, the planet has devolved into a landscape of partial barbarism;<ref name="bainbridge132">Bainbridge: 132.</ref> living on an aging planet, with dwindling resources, the inhabitants of Barsoom have become hardened and warlike, fighting one another to survive.<ref name="sharp">Sharp: 94.</ref>
Barsoomians distribute scarce water supplies via a worldwide system of canals, controlled by quarreling city-states. The thinning Martian atmosphere is artificially replenished from an "atmosphere plant" on whose smooth functioning all life on the planet is dependent.<ref name="slotkin">Slotkin: 205.</ref> The days are hot and the nights are cold, there appears to be little variation in climate across the planet, except at the poles <ref name="clareson1">Clareson: 230-32.</ref>
In 1895 Percival Lowell published a book entitled Mars which speculated about an arid, dying landscape, whose inhabitants had been forced to build canals thousands of miles long to bring water from the polar caps to irrigate the remaining arable land.<ref name="baxter"/> Lowell built upon ideas introduced by Italian astronomer, Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, who in 1878, observed geological features on Mars which he called canali (Italian for "channels"). This was mistranslated into the English as "canals" which, being artificial watercourses, fueled the belief that there was some sort of intelligent extraterrestrial life on the planet.<ref name="seed">Seed: 546.</ref>
In the early 20th century Lowell published two more books, further developing the concept of a dying Mars. Burroughs was aware of these theories and appears to have consciously followed them. However, Burroughs does not seem to have based his vision of Mars on precise reading of Lowell's theories, as there are a number of errors in his interpretation which suggest he may have got most of his information from reading newspaper articles and other popular accounts of Lowell's Mars.<ref name="clareson3">Clareson: 229-230.</ref>
The ideas of canals with flowing water and an inhabited, if dying world, were later disproved by more accurate observation of the planet, and fly bys and landings by Russian and American probes such as the two Viking missions which found a dead, frozen world where water could not exist in a fluid state.<ref name="baxter" />
The first science fiction to be set on Mars may be Across the Zodiac: The Story of a Wrecked Record, by Percy Greg, published in 1880. Another Mars novel, dealing with benevolent Martians arriving on Earth was published in 1897 by Kurd Lasswitz, Auf Zwei Planeten. Not translated until 1971, Burroughs likely did not know of it.<ref name="hotakainen">Hotakainen, p. 205.</ref>
H.G. Wells' novel, The War of the Worlds, influenced, as was Burrough’s novel by the ideas of Percival Lowell was published in 1898. It assumed Mars being an ancient world, nearing the end of its life, being the home of a superior civilization, capable of advanced feats of science and engineering.<ref name="baxter" />.<ref name="Basalla" /> Burroughs, however, claimed never to have read any of H.G. Wells books.<ref name="holtsmark38">Holtsmark: 38.</ref>
It is possible, as Richard A. Lupoff argues in the book Master of Adventure: The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs, that Burroughs took some inspiration from the earlier novel Gullivar Jones, which also featured an American military man transported to Mars. Lupoff also suggested John Carter has strong similarities to Phra, hero of Arnold's The Wonderful Adventures of Phra the Phoenician (1890), who is also a master swordsman who appears to be immortal.<ref>Lupoff, pp. vii-xvi.</ref>
This book and its series are noted as early inspiration by many later science fiction authors including Robert A. Heinlein. Arthur C. Clark and Ray Bradbury. Bradbury admired Burrough's stimulating romantic tales, and they were an inspiration for his The Martian Chronicles (1950), which used some similar conceptions of a dying Mars.<ref name="dick2">Dick, pp. 239-240.</ref><ref>Parrett, pp. xiii-xvi.</ref> Burroughs' Barsoom novels have also been cited as a model for H. P. Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.<ref>Price, pp. 66-68.</ref>
Burrough's Barsoom series was extremely popular with American readers, helping inspire their support for the US Space Program, and also scientists who grew up on reading the novels. These include pioneers of space exploration research and the search for life on other planets. Scientist Carl Sagan read the books as a young boy, and they continued to affect his imagination into his adult years; he remembered Barsoom as a "world of ruined cities, planet girdling canals, immense pumping stations - a feudal technological society". For two decades a map of the planet, as imagined by Burroughs, hung in the hallway outside of Sagan's office in Cornell University.<ref name="Basalla">Basalla: 90-91.</ref>
===The American frontier===
A Princess of Mars has a number of aspects similar to Westerns including a desert setting, a heroine taken captive, and a showdown with the antagonist.<ref name="white" /> Burroughs worked as a soldier at Fort Grant, Arizona, where he patrolled the desert to protect white settlers. During this time he gained a great respect for American Indians, and their warriors, such as Geronimo.<ref name="rabkin">Rabkin, p. 125.</ref> It is possible that Barsoom is a kind of Martian Wild West. Indeed, John Carter is an adventuring frontiersman, who is cornered by Apache warriors in the Arizona desert before his transition to Mars. When he arrives on Barsoom, he discovers a savage, frontier world, with scarce resources, where strength is respected, and the civilized Red Martians have are kept invigorated as a race, by repelling the constant attacks of the Green Martians. The Green Martians are a barbaric, nomadic, tribal culture with many parallels to stereotypes of American Indians.<ref name="sharp">Sharp: 93-96.</ref>
The desire to return to the frontier became a common nostalgia in the early twentieth century. As the United States become more urbanized, the world of the 19th century frontier America became romanticized as a lost world of freedom and noble qualities.<ref name="sharp" /> Similar ideas are perhaps reflected in the fate of the original White Martians of Barsoom, from which all Barsoomian Races are descended, who are described as having become degenerate by becoming weak and too dependent on the trappings and comforts of civilization.<ref name="slotkin2">Slotkin: 203-5.</ref>
Race is a constant theme in the Barsoom novels. Barsoom is distinctly divided along racial lines. White, Yellow, Black, Red and Green races all appear across the novels, each with individual traits and qualities which seem to define the characters of most of the individuals within them.<ref name="slotkin2" /> This can be seen clearly in A Princess of Mars with the Green Martians, the savage four armed dwellers of the dead sea bottoms. While John Carter is able to befriend Green Martian Tars Tarkas, and he shows some civilized noble qualities, he is an exception, and even he remains unable to understand art or much improve his grasp of technology and still takes pleasure in cruelty and violence.<ref name="sharp2">Sharp: 95.</ref> John Carter himself, is white skinned, a race now mythical on Barsoom, and due to the lower gravity, imbued with strength and agility. This makes him a kind of mythical, supernatural figure able to achieve what none of the existing races on the planet have been able to.<ref name="slotkin2" />
The Red Martians are the dominant culture on Barsoom, organized into imperial city-states controlling the planetary canal system, as well as more isolated states in the hinterlands. The Red Martians were interbred from the ancient Yellow Martians, White Martians, and Black Martians, when the seas of Barsoom began to dry up, in hope of creating a hardy race to survive in a dying world.<ref name="bainbridge132" /><ref name="bleiler3">Bleiler & Bleiler: 95-101.</ref> The Red Martians are highly civilized, respect private property, are honorable have a sense of fairness. Their culture is lawful, technologically advanced, and they are capable of love and family life.<ref name="slotkin2"/>
The Green Martians are ten to twelve feet in height, have four arms and eyes at the side of their heads. They are nomadic, warlike and barbaric, do not form families, have little concept of friendship or love and enjoy torture. Their social structure is communal, with no concept of private property - and rigidly hierarchical, with various levels of chiefs, the highest being an all powerful Jeddak, who reaches this position through combat. They are tribal, and war among one another.<ref name="slotkin2" /><ref name="bleiler">Bleiler & Bleiler: 96.</ref> They are primitive, intellectually backwards, and have no art or written language. Any advanced technology they possess is stolen from the Red Martians. They inhabit the ancient ruined cities of Barsoom.<ref name="sharp" />
<!--===Death and Descent into the Underworld==
The descent into some kind of underworld is a common theme in the Barsoom series. The archetypal enactment of this theme is that of Odysseys in his journey into Hades and stories of this type typically involve a journey of a hero into John Carter appears to enact this theme in A Princess of Mars. . In the opening of A PRincess of Mars, John Carter enters a cave-->
*The Gods of Mars (1918)
*The Warlord of Mars (1919)
*Thuvia, Maid of Mars (1920)
*The Chessmen of Mars (1922)
*The Master Mind of Mars (1928)
*A Fighting Man of Mars (1931)
*Swords of Mars (1936)
*Synthetic Men of Mars (1940)
*Llana of Gathol (1948)
*John Carter of Mars (1964)
The copyright for this story has expired in the United States and, thus, now resides in the public domain there. The text is available via Project Gutenberg.
- Main article: John Carter of Mars (film)
A full-length feature film of this story has been attempted and aborted many times. Currently, a feature project is in production. The feature film version of the story was originally called A Princess of Mars, but was renamed John Carter of Mars during pre-production. Originally due in 2006, Jon Favreau (Zathura, Elf) was slated to direct, while Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News was supposed to be producing. However, the latest news is that the film will be produced by Disney/Pixar combining live action and animation. This would put the film's arrival out to some time after the 2010 delivery of Toy Story 3. It was reported on Ain't It Cool News that Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins (who both appeared in the 2009 movie Wolverine), were respectively cast as John Carter and Deja Thoris.
The Asylum is due to release a feature length direct-to-DVD "mockbuster" titled Princess of Mars in December 2009.
*The Official Princess of Mars site from Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
*ERBzine.com Illustrated Bibliography: A Princess of Mars
*Text of the novel at Project Gutenberg
*Hypertext version of Project Gutenberg text of A Princess of Mars
*Audio recording of the novel's text at LibriVox.
* Template:Isfdb title
*Edgar Rice Burroughs Summary Project page for A Princess of Mars
*A Recent Brazilian TV Movie A Princess of Mars
*Audio review and discussion of A Princess of Mars at The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast
de:Die Prinzessin vom Mars
it:Sotto le lune di Marte
pt:A Princess of Mars