Author Topic: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!  (Read 266 times)

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Offline Elok

Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« on: April 08, 2018, 03:05:33 PM »
As I promised BUncle, now that it's post-Lent, a thread about the John Carter books.  NB this thread will contain spoilers for hundred-year-old novels.

I got up through the first half of Thuvia before I got tired of the series and gave it back to the library.  I might go back to it someday, but the silliness wore on me after a bit.  I did look up the rules of Jetan at the end of Chessmen of Mars, because you (BUncle) said you wanted me to tell you what I think of it.  I'd be curious to see how it works in practice, because a lot of the pieces seem to have near-interchangeable moves, with the only difference being range.  So, if a piece can move multiple spaces in one turn, any combination of horizontal and vertical moves, it's effectively capable of diagonal movement too, just less efficiently.  A lot of the drama in our chess comes from the pieces' distinct movesets and ability to rush across the board and change the whole game, but most Jetan pieces effectively have a sphere of available moves of fixed size; if one piece is close to another, it's a safe bet that either can kill t'other, whichever gets the first move.  So the chess situation where the positions let, say, a queen or a rook kill with impunity would seem to be gone.

Re: the series' purported homoeroticism, per you, I'm not sure.  Too lazy to quote your threadjack remarks from the book feedback thread, but you noted that the women are all interchangeable cardboard McGuffins and he spends a lot of time dwelling on relationships with men.  To that I'd remark that the men are equally cardboard, they're just a thicker kind of cardboard suitable for whacking the enemy upside the head with.  But it'd be hard to distinguish a line of Tars Tarkas's from one of the red Martians' if it didn't have obvious signifiers.  Also, these books were written in a time of strict gender roles, and they're basically a meathead masculine fantasy where you can go to another planet and be a god of war without even trying.

There are meathead fantasies involving women, too, but he, or his times, was/were far too prim to get into wild white-on-red orgies or whatever.  Warlord of Mars has "the most beautiful woman in the world" carried literally halfway across the world by two brutal villains who loathe her husband; they both scheme to see who can, uh, marry her, with no suggestion that they might do anything else with her.  There's never the slightest suggestion that she spent several months getting raped twice a night.  Anyway, if the books were written today, no doubt he'd go into excruciating and stilted detail about Martian sexual customs, and he might have warrior women too.  Back then, neither was really an option, so women were useless to him.  They can be brave in the sense of acting stern to rogues who make improper suggestions, or using special nonviolent skillsets like Thuvia's control over Martian lions.  Other than that, yeah, they're props.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 03:39:10 PM by BUncle »

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 03:38:48 PM »
Oh, the first three or so Gor books are like that, and with an actual competent modern narrative voice and flow, and, y'knw, actual plots -sorta the way Barsoom ought to be if it was populated with people you could believe in at all, if more than a bit B&D porny- but then abruptly around the fifth book, the bondage takes completely over and gets obsessive and the hero stops being one, and it turns into something barely worth looking at if you were bored, on the market for a swashbuckling planetary romance, and had a free copy of any given later installment in your hands.

The Barsoom series could well be said to have gotten as good as it got with Gods and Warlord, so yeah, if you didn't make it through Thuvia --- I'm disappointed you didn't skip to Chessmen of Mars, not for the space chess as much as you missed the Kaldanes and Rykors of Bantoom and the Lost City of Manator - and I thought it was the absolute apex of what Burroughs does that appeals on some level.

I'm way under enough sleep to function on today, but we'll see if I wake up - I think I will bother with the quotes later, at least for the enjoyment of others.  I expect you'll be cool with if I violate your privacy and copy/paste some of what you did say...

Uno would tend to agree with me -being into some good cheese from time to time- that on some level, the lameness of Burrough's writing can be part of the appeal - sometimes you can really groove to old-timey cheesiness, not merely on the laughing-at level.  There's something in there that's actually good, actually speaks to people even now, if buried under Boroughs' writing pulp trash in a style like a desperate-for-cash Poe eighty-100 years earlier, only without the talent...

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2018, 04:24:34 PM »
You gave up books for lent? 

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2018, 04:34:23 PM »
He gave up social posting for Lent.  He does it every year, and some other religious holidays, too.

Offline Lorizael

Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2018, 06:00:26 PM »
He gave up social posting for Lent.  He does it every year, and some other religious holidays, too.

He's much smarter than the rest of us.

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2018, 07:01:53 PM »
You, maybe - but he IS pretty impressive.

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2018, 06:25:27 AM »
-Also note -and this is not relevant to your interests at all- how totally gay the series subliminally is, ironic because no evidence whatsoever that Burroughs was, and all his grandchildren would get mad that I say he wrote romance like he'd never kissed a girl, when he'd already sired some of their parents.  But the women are McGuffins, the relationships with are hollow, and Carter spends more time talking onstage to his male friends Tars Tarkas and Kantos Kan - even in Princess, Dejah Thoris' actual largest onstage presence in the series.

-And this whole thing took me decades to arrive at, but I even think "a clean-limbed fighting man" isn't scarless; he's body-hairless.  [homosexual]!  -I really wonder what ERB's deal is.
Now it's flat-out bull that Thuvia was any "maiden" after Lord-knows-how-many years as the spectacularly-beautiful slave of the Therns, but the fact that she was, at minimum something like 28 to Carthoris' 16-18 at the time of the novel is rendered considerably less squicky and wrong by the fact that Barsoomians mature as fast as, or faster than, earth humans and look then like that for 1,000 years.  -It's nothing as bad as the navels and mammalian features on people who hatch and lay eggs for needing to ignore.

Offline Elok

Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2018, 09:22:18 PM »
Did Burroughs at any point explicitly say that red Martians, or any other color, have navels?  I wouldn't put it past him, I just don't recall him saying so.

Anyway, it kind of irked me how consistently clueless John Carter was; he takes forever to realize very obvious things (There's a glass wall in front of the food!  She doesn't recognize you because you're disguised!).  Also, in Warlord, nobody finds it remarkable that the Thern Pope is hanging around with a black guy when the only known black men on Barsoom are infamous sky pirates.

With that said, it was initially quite fun in a dumb way, and it's obviously the progenitor of any number of pulp tropes.  Every time Captain Kirk punched out a guard in a goofy costume before seducing a green alien woman, he was plainly channeling this book, or something based on it.

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2018, 01:50:00 AM »
Sure.  And you can never truly understand Star Wars w/o familiarity with Flash Gordon.  Same thing; it's foundational.

And I haven't re-read the series more than once a decade since I was in my teens just as self punishment...

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2018, 03:44:53 AM »
He gave up social posting for Lent.  He does it every year, and some other religious holidays, too.

So, I'm gonna put this here since it's a line of discourse, but if you want it over in the religion thread, that's perfectly suitable too.

I've never been a practicing member of a religion that observes lent. 

My understanding was that it was something more akin to a religious new years resolution.  Giving up something you struggle with as a means to improve your lives.  But, I see many people just give something up for the duration of lent itself.  Not as part of a permanent change...thus I ask what is the point of giving up something you do not intend to give up? 

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2018, 06:48:09 AM »
He gave up social posting for Lent.  He does it every year, and some other religious holidays, too.

So, I'm gonna put this here since it's a line of discourse, but if you want it over in the religion thread, that's perfectly suitable too.

I've never been a practicing member of a religion that observes lent. 

My understanding was that it was something more akin to a religious new years resolution.  Giving up something you struggle with as a means to improve your lives.  But, I see many people just give something up for the duration of lent itself.  Not as part of a permanent change...thus I ask what is the point of giving up something you do not intend to give up?

I understood it a bit differently. More like a Ramadan fast. For me, craving that which I gave up ( usually alcohol or bread except for communion ) was an opportunity to contemplate the significance of the season and say a prayer. Consider sacrifice. That sort of thing. Now,  I applaud somebody who attained freedom from a vice with a Lenten trial separation, or diverts money they spent on tobacco to the church for the season, or food they didn't eat to the food bank, but I always considered the primary purpose to be spiritual. I think to lose that focus of spiritual purification is to miss the point.

Offline Elok

Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2018, 12:32:59 AM »
The point is to remind oneself of what is actually necessary and what is not.  Most Orthodox fast in a standard way--no meat, milk or olive oil--but various dietary restrictions make that problematic for us.

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2018, 01:15:47 AM »
I think there's a real rightness to a websnerd making that choice for Lent.  I do. Makes sense, that if webs are important, it makes a good sacrifice/thing to reflect on...

Offline Elok

Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2018, 05:07:40 PM »
I'm just going to necro this thing to see if there are any more recent entries in this genre, of the same general type.  I could go to TVTropes, but that's an attention-pit, and the sheer abundance of info makes it hard to sort through.  Looking back, I feel that Barsoom started with originality, but after a while he sort of ran out of ideas and had to have John Carter discover yet another differently-colored race of Martian.

Offline Rusty Edge

Re: Bang! Zoom! It's Barsoom!
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2018, 05:17:14 PM »
I'm confident you could write a John Carter short story in the style of the novels, only better. 

That's not meant as a challenge. I imagine you're just looking for a light diversion after days filled with restoring your life to pre-hurricane status. I have no sci-fi recommendations for you.

 

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