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Synthetic Men of Mars

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John Carter desperately needed the aid of Barsoom's greatest scientist, Ras Thavas, who is now a prisoner of a nightmare army of his own creation.


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John Carter desperately needed the aid of Barsoom's greatest scientist, Ras Thavas, who is now a prisoner of a nightmare army of his own creation.

30 review for Synthetic Men of Mars

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    Edgar Rice Burroughs had this problem in all of his series: After a while, the quality of the books would start to slip -- maybe he was getting bored or maybe he'd just start repeating himself. Arguably, this is where the Mars series begins its downhill slide (which means that, percentage-wise, John Carter has less dross than the other major series -- Tarzan, Venus and Pellucidar). This book is again narrated from the perspective of a native Barsoomian, Vor Daj, who accompanies John Carter on one Edgar Rice Burroughs had this problem in all of his series: After a while, the quality of the books would start to slip -- maybe he was getting bored or maybe he'd just start repeating himself. Arguably, this is where the Mars series begins its downhill slide (which means that, percentage-wise, John Carter has less dross than the other major series -- Tarzan, Venus and Pellucidar). This book is again narrated from the perspective of a native Barsoomian, Vor Daj, who accompanies John Carter on one of his adventures. Carter plays a fairly minor role in the book, really, and is off-stage for much of it; otherwise he'd probably overshadow Vor Daj. Ras Thavas, the Master Mind of Mars also returns, so this book again has some science fictional elements -- brain transplants and artificial life and the like. Naturally there's a beautiful woman; naturally Our Hero falls for her; naturally, the Fates conspire to make things as difficult as possible for them until the end. This isn't so much an actively bad book as it is somewhat tired and occasionally silly. I wouldn't say it should be avoided, but I wouldn't say it needs to be sought out unless you absolutely, positively have to read more Barsoomian adventures. (For which I wouldn't blame you -- I've certainly read the book many times over the years.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Curtiss

    Although not generally well-thought of compared with other ERB stories set on Barsoom, this is a personnal favorite aside from the openning sequence of the first three John Carter books. How can you resist a character grown in a culture vat, whose name Tor-Dur-Bar means four-million-eight, and whom the hero first encounters as a severed head which complains it can't see from where it is being carried in a net strapped to the back of a giant man-carrying bird?!? Especially, when later on our curre Although not generally well-thought of compared with other ERB stories set on Barsoom, this is a personnal favorite aside from the openning sequence of the first three John Carter books. How can you resist a character grown in a culture vat, whose name Tor-Dur-Bar means four-million-eight, and whom the hero first encounters as a severed head which complains it can't see from where it is being carried in a net strapped to the back of a giant man-carrying bird?!? Especially, when later on our current hero Vor Daj has his brain transferred into Tor-Dur-Bar's repulsive body in order to rescue princess Janai, the current damsel-in-distress, after first transferring the loyal Tor-Dur-Bar's brain into the well-built and handsome physique of erstwhile opponent, Gantun Gur. All of this in aid of finding and retrieving the Mastermind of Mars, Ras Thavas, whose skills are required to heal John Carter's beloved, 'the incomparable' Deja Thoris, who lies at death's door following an injury. Meanwhile, back at Ras thavas' laboratory, things have gone horribly wrong with the culture vats, and the resulting immense, multi-headed monstrousity breaks free from confinment and threatens to engulf the entire planet as it grows beyond all constraints to overwhelm Ras thavas' entire island base. Fortunately Helium's airforce is up to the challenge of fire-bombing the repulsive, oozing mass of protoplasm and turning it into a stinking, festering, char-broiled cinder. These stories are not high art, or even good sci-fi/fantasy; but they are terrific yarns with exotic Barsoomian locales, fantastic beasts, flamboyant princesses, dastardly villains, and cliff-hanging adventures in which the hero gets the girl and the bad guy meets his (or her) just deserts. I've read and re-read these stories over the years, and even recorded them onto DVD for the local radio station for blind and reading-impaired listeners.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    "Synthetic Men of Mars" is the 9th of 11 books in Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. It first appeared serially in "Argosy Magazine" in early 1939, and is one of the most way-out entries in the Carter series. The book may be seen as a sequel of sorts to book #6, "The Master Mind of Mars," in that Ras Thavas, the eponymous superbrain of that earlier work, here makes a return, and the bulk of the action once again takes place in the dismal and forbidding Toonolian Marshes of Barsoom "Synthetic Men of Mars" is the 9th of 11 books in Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. It first appeared serially in "Argosy Magazine" in early 1939, and is one of the most way-out entries in the Carter series. The book may be seen as a sequel of sorts to book #6, "The Master Mind of Mars," in that Ras Thavas, the eponymous superbrain of that earlier work, here makes a return, and the bulk of the action once again takes place in the dismal and forbidding Toonolian Marshes of Barsoom (Mars, to you and me). In "Synthetic Men," Carter and one of his lieutenants, Vor Daj, go in search of Ras Thavas, to enlist his aid when Carter's wife is critically injured in a midair collision. Thavas is engaged in creating an army of synthetic men (the so-called hormads), who have taken over an island in the Toonolian Marshes, made an unwilling slave of Ras Thavas himself, and are now plotting to take over all of Barsoom. Things get pretty wild when Vor Daj has his brain put into one of the hormad's bodies, so that he might better protect a pretty female prisoner who is being held on the island also. Then things go over the top completely, as one of the vats in which the hormads are created goes blooey, and a giant blob of living tissue spreads and spreads and threatens to envelop the entire planet! This blob is comprised of living heads and hands and other body parts; it feeds on itself and seemingly cannot be stopped. All this takes place in the first half of the novel; things get even hairier, if possible, in the final stages of the tale. Before all is said and done, we have been treated to a civil war amongst the hormads, an escape through the swamps of Toonol, encounters with giant insects and reptiles, a marsupial society, wild swamp savages, a Martian zoo, a tense little air battle, and the final confrontation with that living blob mass. It's as if Burroughs ate a headcheese and Fluffernutter sandwich before going to bed one night, had the wildest dream, and the next morning put it down on paper. The book has nice touches of incidental humor, and Vor Daj's predicament of being trapped in the body of a monstrous hormad while trying to win the affection of the girl of his dreams is an involving one. This leads to John Carter delivering one of his most touching lines: "It is the character that makes the man...not the clay which is its abode." So what we have here is a fantastic tale of wild imagination, with some touching passages and incessant action. So why, then, have I only given this novel three stars? Well, as with most Carter novels, there are problems of inconsistency, and this novel contains one of the worst in the entire series. During the swamp escape, Vor Daj is accompanied by a party of five others, including a man named Gan Had, who later deserts him. Later in the book, it is stated that this deserter was named Pandar, one of the others of the five. The two characters are mixed up and confused by Burroughs for the remainder of the book, to the point that the reader doesn't know who Burroughs is talking about. This is a terrible and egregious error, I feel. I have discussed it with the founder of the ERB List, a really fine Burroughs Website, and he has told me that he and others have concocted some explanations for this seemingly incredible screwup, while admitting that the reader must read between the lines and do some mythmaking of his/her own to explain it. This giant problem aside, there is also the inconsistency of a character named Ur Raj, who is said to hail from the Barsoomian nation of Ptarth, and four pages later is said to be from the nation of Helium. This is the kind of sloppiness that I, as a copy editor, find especially deplorable. I also regret the fact that the ultimate fate of some of the book's main characters (Sytor, Gan Had and Ay-mad) is never mentioned. Another example of careless writing, I feel. "Synthetic Men of Mars" is a wonderful entertainment, but could have been made so much better by the exercise of just a little more care on the part of the author and his editors. Still, I quite enjoyed it, and do recommend it to any lover of fantastic literature.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Told from the perspective of Vor Daj, companion of John Carter as they search for Ras Thavas, the only surgeon on Mars who can help the injured Dejah Thoris. The two of them fall into the hands of the Hormads, creatures created by Thavas in vats on an island in the great Toonolian Marshes. If all of this sounds a bit confusing, one only needs to read the previous John Carter books to make sense of it. All of these names and places stem from the previous tales. Burroughs seems to delight in creatin Told from the perspective of Vor Daj, companion of John Carter as they search for Ras Thavas, the only surgeon on Mars who can help the injured Dejah Thoris. The two of them fall into the hands of the Hormads, creatures created by Thavas in vats on an island in the great Toonolian Marshes. If all of this sounds a bit confusing, one only needs to read the previous John Carter books to make sense of it. All of these names and places stem from the previous tales. Burroughs seems to delight in creating ever more grotesque creatures as this series goes on; in this case it is the Hormads, misshapen creatures that can not be killed except by fire. Heads and limbs that are severed continue to writhe and speak, and they look like the stuff of nightmares. I only have two more books to complete the John Carter series. It's been a wild ride!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Colesberry

    I loved this whole series. It's pretty sexual and macho and they're all massive page-turners. Same review for each.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    John Carter, Mighty Warlord of Mars, rides to new and terrifying adventures. Captured by deadly warriors mounted on huge birds he is taken to the ill-omened city of Morbus. There he meets Ras Thavas, evil genius and master surgeon. A man who has succeeded in his nightmare wish of creating life in his own beings – creatures that ultimately rebel and threaten the lives of Ras Thavas, of John Carter and of all Mars. Blurb to the 1973 NEL paperback edition. Using more or less the same plot as ‘A Pri John Carter, Mighty Warlord of Mars, rides to new and terrifying adventures. Captured by deadly warriors mounted on huge birds he is taken to the ill-omened city of Morbus. There he meets Ras Thavas, evil genius and master surgeon. A man who has succeeded in his nightmare wish of creating life in his own beings – creatures that ultimately rebel and threaten the lives of Ras Thavas, of John Carter and of all Mars. Blurb to the 1973 NEL paperback edition. Using more or less the same plot as ‘A Princess of Mars’ Burroughs takes us back to the dying planet of Barsoom where the ‘incomparable’ Dejah Thoris has been crippled in a flying accident. No other man can save her but the thousand year old evil genius and scientist-surgeon, Ras Thavas, Master Mind of Mars. Setting out to find Ras Thavas, John Carter takes along young Vor Daj to the great Toonolian Marshes where, before long, the two have been captured. The hero and narrator of this the ninth in Burroughs’ Martian series, is Vor Daj who perhaps predictably, falls in love with a captured beauty, Janai, who is also coveted by an evil Jeddak (much as John Carter when he was captured by the green man of Mars fell in love with a captured Dejah Thoris, who was also coveted by an evil green Martian Jeddak). Our heroes end up in the laboratory of Ras Thavas who has been performing cloning experiments and has, as my mother might have pointed out to him, made a rod for his own back. The malformed clones have taken over and are forcing Ras Thavas to create a vat-grown army with which to take over all of Mars. Vor Daj persuades Ras to transfer his brain into one of the monsters so that he can infiltrate the Jeddak’s guard and rescue his love. This he does, while wooing her in a kind of Cyrano De Bergerac/Beauty and The Beast fashion while all the time hoping that his body hasn’t been used for spare parts or been eaten by the mass of living flesh which escapes from vat No. 4. Burroughs adds nothing new to the series here, but it’s interesting to see the concept of cloning appearing (although it is not described as such) and to compare this work with Richard E Chadwick’s ‘The Flesh Guard’ which posited a similar premise in which vat-grown creatures were employed as soldiers by a Nazi Regime.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mary Catelli

    This is the tale of one Vor Daj. John Carter went in search of Ras Tavas, and yielding to pleas, brought along one soldier. They quickly find that finding him will not be easy. Indeed, they are taken prisoner, along with some others, include one woman, and taken to the city, encircled by marshes, where they find that Ras Thavas is the prisoner of his own synthetic men, and forced to produce more and more of the virtually unkillable monsters. And to transplant the brains of the most powerful of th This is the tale of one Vor Daj. John Carter went in search of Ras Tavas, and yielding to pleas, brought along one soldier. They quickly find that finding him will not be easy. Indeed, they are taken prisoner, along with some others, include one woman, and taken to the city, encircled by marshes, where they find that Ras Thavas is the prisoner of his own synthetic men, and forced to produce more and more of the virtually unkillable monsters. And to transplant the brains of the most powerful of them to the bodies of red men -- much to the peril of Janai, the woman. Ras Thavas is perfectly willing to do what John Carter asks -- if they can only escape. And Vor Daj is worried about Janai's fate. The rest of the tale involves disappearance, claims to the throne, bodyguards, a cowardly race that regards sea shells as treasure, an experiment spreading wildly, and much more

  8. 5 out of 5

    John Lawson

    Dejah Thoris is having personal, lady troubles, so John Carter hooks up with a random bro to help him find Barsoom's greatest mad scientist. Shub-Niggurath ensues. So the old "beauty = good/ugly = evil" trope gets the full treatment here. So imagine the poor hero's consternation when his gentlemanly brain is stuffed into an ugly body, and he's so ashamed that he's unable to confess his love for a beautiful princess. In fact, he even considers suicide. Will she discover her love for him, despite hi Dejah Thoris is having personal, lady troubles, so John Carter hooks up with a random bro to help him find Barsoom's greatest mad scientist. Shub-Niggurath ensues. So the old "beauty = good/ugly = evil" trope gets the full treatment here. So imagine the poor hero's consternation when his gentlemanly brain is stuffed into an ugly body, and he's so ashamed that he's unable to confess his love for a beautiful princess. In fact, he even considers suicide. Will she discover her love for him, despite his hideous form? There is much hand-wringing over the issue. You'd think such manly warriors wouldn't be so vain.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ricky

    Very good I do love these stories. No great explanations of whether a thing is really possible, just very good story telling.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Michael Gallen

    This tale of Barsoom opens with a chapter indicating the fate of the mad scientist Ras Thavas, who is exiled to an island, and The Warlord of Mars, John Carter, seeking his assistance due to his consort Dejah Thoris being involved in an accident and becoming comatose. As with a few of its predecessors, Synthetic Men of Mars introduces a new character as a narrator (except the first chapter), Vor Daj, who sets of for Phundahl with Carter. The party quickly encounters men astride the avian malagor This tale of Barsoom opens with a chapter indicating the fate of the mad scientist Ras Thavas, who is exiled to an island, and The Warlord of Mars, John Carter, seeking his assistance due to his consort Dejah Thoris being involved in an accident and becoming comatose. As with a few of its predecessors, Synthetic Men of Mars introduces a new character as a narrator (except the first chapter), Vor Daj, who sets of for Phundahl with Carter. The party quickly encounters men astride the avian malagors, with a battle ensuing and the group ultimately arriving where Thavas is. Thavas has developed the capacity to create new humans from pieces of tissue, termed hormads, in fact creating an army of them. A group of these beings known as the Council of the Seven Jeds rules the place where Thavas works, morbus, with Vor Daj pitted in combat against a few of these homunculi. Vor Daj quickly falls in love with a woman named Janai, and learns from Thavas that he considers himself a prisoner of Morbus, although he is somewhat content with his work, intending to create a Martian master race, having learned to reproduce life by studying lesser lifeforms. When Janai goes away, Vor Daj wants his brain placed into the body of a hormad so he can follow in secret, and thus, his mind goes into one named Tor-dur-bar, becoming a Guard of the Third Jed and rescuing her. The Third Jed proclaims himself the Jeddak of Morbus, with Vor Daj fighting him in his borrowed body, becoming a dwar. As a reward for his exploits, Vor Daj desires both charge of a lab building and Janai, whom she assures of his love while pretending to be Tor-dur-bar. A love triangle arises with Jeddak Ay-mad offering Janai a choice between his hand in marriage and the masquerading Vor Daj. Thavas is eventually found, with one of his experiments gone awry, a mass of tissue being malignant and threatening to overtake his lab, with fire that could contain it being unable to do anything at the growth’s current volume. Still in love with Janai, Vor Daj ensures that his original body is safe, and the maiden along with John Carter ultimately disappears once again. Vor Daj towards the end of the story finds himself caged and exhibited as one of the many beings sentient to Barsoom, a fate he eventually escapes by pretending to have been bitten by an adder. Battles erupt towards the end, culminating in a satisfactory conclusion that rounds out another enjoyable Barsoom book, which was likely ahead of its time since it deals with the potential god complexes of scientists in creating new life, and somewhat reflects the eugenics movement arisen at the time in America and especially Nazi Germany. There are some odd stylistic and nomenclatural decisions such as the name Janai itself, which is Japanese for “not,” although both those who enjoyed the book’s predecessors and those who have yet to read a Barsoom story will most likely have a good time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Herczeg

    Probably not the best book to choose as my first "John Carter" book, but I found it at a book sale, bought it and decided to read it. Wow. An action packed story, with a very interesting writing style, and some loopy science-fantasy. I won't called it Science Fiction cause I don't think it belongs in that category. The plot concentrated more on John Carter's off-sider Vor Daj and involved a strange cloning technique that was more about growing sub-humans in vats than cloning. It was an interesting Probably not the best book to choose as my first "John Carter" book, but I found it at a book sale, bought it and decided to read it. Wow. An action packed story, with a very interesting writing style, and some loopy science-fantasy. I won't called it Science Fiction cause I don't think it belongs in that category. The plot concentrated more on John Carter's off-sider Vor Daj and involved a strange cloning technique that was more about growing sub-humans in vats than cloning. It was an interesting excursion into Burroughs's world and one I haven't undertaken since my teens (I read all of the Venus books). Well worth the journey.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    The mad Scientist, Ras Thavis, of "The Mastermind of Mars" is back; this time he has created a monstrosity that could engulf all of Mars, after creating an army of hormads - synthetic men. John Carter is seeking him out, believing that he is the only one who can heal Dejah Thoris of a horrible injury. The story is told from the viewpoint of Carter's lieutenant, Vor Daj, who has his brain transferred to a hormad head as the plot develops.

  13. 5 out of 5

    James Troxell

    It's one of the weaker Barsoom books. But the mad science is fun and it's a short enjoyable romp.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Russell

    You know, it was pretty good for a John Carter book. Bringing back old characters (which this book rarely does), changing up the plot and main character a bit. I'm impressed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Robertson

    fast read, man gets brain transplaned into ugly alien.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    Entertaining and original. A step up from the previous book in the series in imagination.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John

    Since the character of Ras Thavas was featured in both the John Carter volumes I absolutely did not enjoy (THE MASTER MIND OF MARS and JOHN CARTER OF MARS), I was not looking forward to seeing him return, which is why I put off reading SYNTHETIC MEN OF MARS until the very end. Turns out, though, my dread for this novel was misplaced. The ridiculous body-swapping element from MASTER MIND is still present, but this time Burroughs uses it in a fun, memorable sort of way. I wouldn't call it a good n Since the character of Ras Thavas was featured in both the John Carter volumes I absolutely did not enjoy (THE MASTER MIND OF MARS and JOHN CARTER OF MARS), I was not looking forward to seeing him return, which is why I put off reading SYNTHETIC MEN OF MARS until the very end. Turns out, though, my dread for this novel was misplaced. The ridiculous body-swapping element from MASTER MIND is still present, but this time Burroughs uses it in a fun, memorable sort of way. I wouldn't call it a good novel in the traditional sense, but it does manage to entertain. I'm glad I read it, but also glad that my reading of this series is now complete.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eero

    In this book, we meet again Ras Thavas, the Master Mind of Mars, whose latest invention, the vat-grown synthetic men or hormads, have gotten out of his control and taken over his base, the island city of Morbus in the marshes of Toonol. John Carter has need of the Master Mind's surgical skill to save the life of Dejah Thoris, who has been injured in a flier accident (offstage; we never meet her in this book). Thus he sets out to search for Ras Thavas with Vor Daj, the narrator of the story. They In this book, we meet again Ras Thavas, the Master Mind of Mars, whose latest invention, the vat-grown synthetic men or hormads, have gotten out of his control and taken over his base, the island city of Morbus in the marshes of Toonol. John Carter has need of the Master Mind's surgical skill to save the life of Dejah Thoris, who has been injured in a flier accident (offstage; we never meet her in this book). Thus he sets out to search for Ras Thavas with Vor Daj, the narrator of the story. They are captured by hormads riding on giant birds and carried to Morbus, where Ras Thavas is working as a captive of his own creations. After some brain-swapping hijinks Vor Daj has to spend most of the book in the grotesque body of one of the hormads. Meanwhile, the culture used to grow more hormads runs amuck and threatens to cover the whole world with a living mass. The story has some inventive bits, but after reading several of these books in a short time the silliness is starting to get to me. The hormads can't be killed except by fire, but they can be disabled by hacking them to pieces. Even then, the severed heads can speak - but how exactly? There is no flow of air without lungs. In one scene John Carter uses the word Frankensteinian while speaking to Ras Thavas, and the latter does not ask any questions. Has he been secretly reading Jasoomian literature? We are told that Martians hatch out of the eggs virtually full-grown, yet there is a reference to a slave boy whom Vor Daj befriends while being caged in Amhor. Also, I am pretty sure there are references to children in earlier books in the series. The latter part of the book felt frankly rather boring. Perhaps I am just getting tired of this series. (Incidentally, the title of the Finnish translation of this book -- which I haven't read -- is Marsin robotit, or The Robots of Mars. I would not call the hormads robots. Some science fiction writers apparently have reserved the word android for artificial people created with biotech, but I suppose the distinction is not very widely observed.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joe Aguiar

    Synthetic Men of Mars is the 9th book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian Tales and it is also one of the best of the latter part of the series. The story opens with John Carter's beloved Dejah Thoris being gravely injured in an accident and Carter sets out with faithful padawan, Vor Daj to find the Mastermind of Mars, Ras Thavas to use his surgical genius to save her. They find Thavas after being captured and brought to Morbus, an island in the middle of the Great Toonolian Marshes, where Thavas i Synthetic Men of Mars is the 9th book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian Tales and it is also one of the best of the latter part of the series. The story opens with John Carter's beloved Dejah Thoris being gravely injured in an accident and Carter sets out with faithful padawan, Vor Daj to find the Mastermind of Mars, Ras Thavas to use his surgical genius to save her. They find Thavas after being captured and brought to Morbus, an island in the middle of the Great Toonolian Marshes, where Thavas is being forced to create an army of mutants for the conquest of Mars. Despite Carter being key to the story, the tale is told from Vor Daj's point of view and he takes takes center stage as it's hero. Vor Daj has Thavas transfer his brain into the body of a hulking "hormad" (a synthetic mutant) in a failed escape attempt but, when seperated from Carter and Thavas, he is trapped there and most now fight to save a captive martian woman and find the Master Mind of Mars to return him to his body. The book is fast paced and imaginative as always and there is a lot of action and suspense as Vor Daj is willing to risk all, even his normal body, to rescue the beautiful Janai. Vor Daj is a very noble and likable character and we root for him despite numerous obstacles and perils and Janai shows herself more then just a damsel as she learns to look past the horrible hormad appearance and love the man inside. One of the series best and a delightfully fun read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robert Saunders

    These were considered "planetary romances" according to one source back when this series from the creator of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs, was written. This series of about 10 books started in 1912 and culminated around 1948. There's an odd mention of a book in 1964, but the other had been dead for 14 years by then. Plus there are a few shorts published in some pulp periodicals of the 1940s (where many of these stories appeared in years prior). Today we call this stuff sci-fi, but it's quite diff These were considered "planetary romances" according to one source back when this series from the creator of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs, was written. This series of about 10 books started in 1912 and culminated around 1948. There's an odd mention of a book in 1964, but the other had been dead for 14 years by then. Plus there are a few shorts published in some pulp periodicals of the 1940s (where many of these stories appeared in years prior). Today we call this stuff sci-fi, but it's quite different. More like space opera, but it doesn't take place in space. It's a Virginian, John Carter, an immortal, who is able to pass back and forth between bodies: one on Earth, the other on Mars. I read these books because they were an inspiration to other authors, such as Conan creator, Robert E, Howard, who paid tribute to Burrough's in his novella, Almuric. And those author, in turn, inspired another generation. At the heart of today's popular sci-fi there are traces of Burroughs and John Carter of Mars. I was most interested in finding traces of George Lucas's Star Wars in these books; and traces abound. In some cases just a word, a name, a phrase, or a sentence conjures up a moment in Star Wars, and in other cases entire paragraphs connect with a setting from Star Wars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    SR

    Johncarterus ex machina like nobody's biz; the pacing is like Burroughs got sick of writing about the privations of a Noble White-I-Mean-Red Martian dude stuck in a (functional, efficient, healthy) fug body but he didn't want to work out a plot mechanism to get out of it so he just threw good ol' J-Car on the page and had him fix everything. The theme/subject matter had simultaneously the most potential and the least utility of any of the Barsoom books so far. The degree of disgust Burroughs (thr Johncarterus ex machina like nobody's biz; the pacing is like Burroughs got sick of writing about the privations of a Noble White-I-Mean-Red Martian dude stuck in a (functional, efficient, healthy) fug body but he didn't want to work out a plot mechanism to get out of it so he just threw good ol' J-Car on the page and had him fix everything. The theme/subject matter had simultaneously the most potential and the least utility of any of the Barsoom books so far. The degree of disgust Burroughs (through Carter, Vor Daj, Thavas) shows for "imperfect" people - whether ill, deformed, physically weak, physically asymmetrical (??????), scarred, or just plain ugly - was stomach-turning. I'm reading from here in the 21st century with a growing handful of diagnoses and both visible and invisible disabilities and illnesses, watching bioengineering and tissue-genesis research like a hawk because synthetic organs are preferable to dying ones. That's not Burroughs' intended audience - I don't think he gave a second of thought to the concept of disabled or partially abled readers - and, TO AN EXTENT, the book gets a pass because it's from Martian perspective, but otherwise... this kind of idealism and veiled bigotry is NAGL for Burroughs.

  22. 5 out of 5

    John Cairns

    The edition I read is 450011674, New English Library, 1972 Bad food is specified as animal tissue. It's humorous: 'I had met a strange girl ...and for the first time ...I had fallen in love and almost within the hour I had lost her.' Manufacture of the synthetic men has not been completely accomplished. 'What good shall I be with only a head and one leg?' 'I found my fellow guardsmen a stupid, egotistical lot of morons.' '"You don't think , do you, she would choose you, a monster in preference to The edition I read is 450011674, New English Library, 1972 Bad food is specified as animal tissue. It's humorous: 'I had met a strange girl ...and for the first time ...I had fallen in love and almost within the hour I had lost her.' Manufacture of the synthetic men has not been completely accomplished. 'What good shall I be with only a head and one leg?' 'I found my fellow guardsmen a stupid, egotistical lot of morons.' '"You don't think , do you, she would choose you, a monster in preference to a man?" "I have been told women are unpredictable. I am willing to take the chance."' 'I have not known whom to trust but have trusted you more than any other.' 'It was a remarkable procession in that it was all procession and no audience.' The author attacks the concept of god through a character, 'The origin of life is a mystery and there is quite as much evidence to indicate it was the result of an accident as that it was planned by a supreme being.' Is security what a woman wants above all things? Needless to say the hero wins through though the girl has seen him once only in his own beautiful body. Very good.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tomislav

    This is book 9 of Burroughs' Barsoom (Mars) series. The story was originally published in Argosy Magazine, during 1938-1939. Burroughs started the series in 1917, and this book was written 22 years later, after his fame had been well established for a generation. It's a reunion of a few established characters, but mostly the adventure of Vor Daj, a young guard serving John Carter, the Warlord of Mars. Shortly after the action begins, Vor's brain is transplanted into the body of a vat-bred brute This is book 9 of Burroughs' Barsoom (Mars) series. The story was originally published in Argosy Magazine, during 1938-1939. Burroughs started the series in 1917, and this book was written 22 years later, after his fame had been well established for a generation. It's a reunion of a few established characters, but mostly the adventure of Vor Daj, a young guard serving John Carter, the Warlord of Mars. Shortly after the action begins, Vor's brain is transplanted into the body of a vat-bred brute where he remains for most of the novel, frustrating his desire to be in love with the beautiful Janai. The story was made more interesting for me than it might have been, by the necessity for Vor Daj to keep his true identity secret from Janai. This is the second 1930s science fiction I've read in the past year where the hero falls totally in love with a girl based on about 30 seconds of seeing her, before the plot separates them again. The 30s must have been an interesting time!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ikonopeiston

    This serves the purpose of diverting the mind from more serious if tedious reading. Alas, the vigour of the earlier Barsoomian stories has grown attenuated and repetitive in this book. Still it has its moments, one almost Swiftian, in which Burroughs mocks the pretensions of some aspects of society which he knew. I have noticed as I read through this series that Burroughs becomes more explicit and suggestive as he goes along. In the first several books, no hint of prurience is tolerated and it i This serves the purpose of diverting the mind from more serious if tedious reading. Alas, the vigour of the earlier Barsoomian stories has grown attenuated and repetitive in this book. Still it has its moments, one almost Swiftian, in which Burroughs mocks the pretensions of some aspects of society which he knew. I have noticed as I read through this series that Burroughs becomes more explicit and suggestive as he goes along. In the first several books, no hint of prurience is tolerated and it is assumed that any woman is safe from molestation (if not from death) anywhere on Mars. No so in the later volumes. The very real possibility of rape is implied. I wonder if the writer changed or if the world in which he wrote became coarser over time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    This was my second read of Burrough's novel; the last time was in the 1970s! This time I read it in anticipation of the pending nominations for the 1941 RetroHugos for this year at MidAmericonII. A fun adventure story (with a little romance), new readers to Burroughs need to read with the time period of the book's writing in mind. No, you won't think everything is "politically correct"; but simply appreciate the good changes that have happened since 1940 and move on to the adventure of the story. This was my second read of Burrough's novel; the last time was in the 1970s! This time I read it in anticipation of the pending nominations for the 1941 RetroHugos for this year at MidAmericonII. A fun adventure story (with a little romance), new readers to Burroughs need to read with the time period of the book's writing in mind. No, you won't think everything is "politically correct"; but simply appreciate the good changes that have happened since 1940 and move on to the adventure of the story. Although not seen as one of the best of the Barsoom (Mars) books, this one is a fast escapist novel.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Brooke

    Typical of Burroughs's later Barsoom novels, 'Synthetic Men of Mars' is more slowly paced, with its characters spending more time plotting than sword-fighting. It remains inventive, even if the science part of the science fiction here is often a bit preposterous. ERB, as usual, manages to throw in his social commentary -- the dry humor involved sometimes works, sometimes comes off as heavy-handed. An enjoyable enough escapist read, SMOM is not the equal of the early Barsoom work. The wonder of hi Typical of Burroughs's later Barsoom novels, 'Synthetic Men of Mars' is more slowly paced, with its characters spending more time plotting than sword-fighting. It remains inventive, even if the science part of the science fiction here is often a bit preposterous. ERB, as usual, manages to throw in his social commentary -- the dry humor involved sometimes works, sometimes comes off as heavy-handed. An enjoyable enough escapist read, SMOM is not the equal of the early Barsoom work. The wonder of his imagined Mars and the strong character who is John Carter do not come through here -- they are only echoes of the original concept.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    A return to the scene of Mastermind of Mars. There's a little body-swapping, plus clone warfare and a gray goo scenario. The romance this time has a strong "beauty's only skin deep" theme, which (like book 7) represents a welcome twist relative to the love-at-first-sight plot driver otherwise so prevalent on Barsoom. But this wasn't in the top half of the series. There's nothing very complicated or interesting about the plot. Stupidity is a repeated motif. The discussion of air traffic patterns A return to the scene of Mastermind of Mars. There's a little body-swapping, plus clone warfare and a gray goo scenario. The romance this time has a strong "beauty's only skin deep" theme, which (like book 7) represents a welcome twist relative to the love-at-first-sight plot driver otherwise so prevalent on Barsoom. But this wasn't in the top half of the series. There's nothing very complicated or interesting about the plot. Stupidity is a repeated motif. The discussion of air traffic patterns in everyday Amhor actually was a bonus, and I guess that says it all.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bill Zodanga

    Please note, this 5 star rating is based on my long ago memories of this book - I may have read it greater than 20 years ago. I recall reading and really liking it, and even kept the book to read again in the future (something I only do with good, or otherwise significant books). The memories of an old man are sometimes faulty so this could really only warrant 3.5 to 4.5 stars, instead of the 5 I gave it. Once I re-read the book I will update this rating/review to more accurately reflect my thou Please note, this 5 star rating is based on my long ago memories of this book - I may have read it greater than 20 years ago. I recall reading and really liking it, and even kept the book to read again in the future (something I only do with good, or otherwise significant books). The memories of an old man are sometimes faulty so this could really only warrant 3.5 to 4.5 stars, instead of the 5 I gave it. Once I re-read the book I will update this rating/review to more accurately reflect my thoughts.

  29. 4 out of 5

    H

    Another wild Martian tale from the pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs. John Carter is in this one but he is not front and center. Dejah Thoris is back in Helium with a broken back and John Carter has gone in search of Ras Thevas (The Master Mind of Mars) to heal her. But he's up to his eyeballs(literally) in synthesizing grotesque humanoids for an army. Burroughs always gets me to turn the page no matter how outlandish his tales.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rodney

    It's the Barsoom series, so this is pretty par for the course. Like many of the others, an interesting read, albeit somewhat predictable. However, the plot line is enough to keep me reading, and will not deter me from reading the last two in the series. What is interesting about this series is how Burroughs finds ways to bring new life to past characters and his ability to simply create a new species of people for the purposes of a new book. It works. It's formulaic, but it works.

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