Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Review: Pirates of Venus


Reviewer's Note: This review has been changed.

Well I promised a trip to Amtor, here goes...

Carson Napier has decided after the loss of his mother and those close to him to head for the stars. He plans to shoot his rocket towards Mars and explore the red planet. But some unforseen problems involving the Moon's gravitational pull throws him off course and he lands instead on Venus. After surviving his parachute jump he discovers despite scientific suggestion that Venus does have life and immediately attempts to fit in. He finds himself among the Vepajans, a race of Venusians who treat him well, even though Carson begins to feel like a prisoner. Things change though when he meets a young woman catches his interest. But like most things, life on Amtor isn't simple. While gone on a trip to collect material called tarel with his friend Kamlot, Carson is nearly killed by a giant spider, captured by birdmen called the klangan and deposited into the hands of Thorists, who are the enemies of Vepaja. Leading a revolt aboard their ship, Carson manages to take over the ship, and rescue the princess of Vepaja. Guess who that turns out to be...

As mentioned in both the forward and afterward of the Bison Frontiers version, Pirates of Venus and its sequels were less regarded among even Burroughs' most adrent fans. Indeed Carson Napier is no John Carter or Tarzan, the master hero who can save the day, conquer a kingdom and restore freedom. Carson has little interest in that. In fact his major concern is for Duare, the princess who he has fallen in love with. Pirates of Venus doesn't have that wish fullfillment plot that A Princess of Mars or Tarzan The Ape Man did. Carson doesn't develop superpowers nor can he defeat savage animals with his bare hands and Duare spends most of the novel telling him to leave her alone, not exactly the lovestuck Jane or Dejah Thoris.

Also pointed out is the rather lack of a plot in Pirates. Indeed the first 90 pages almost are setup, introducing us to the world Carson has crashed into and establishing the world order. By the time the adventure begins it almost resembles such other pirate stories-especially Raphael Sabatini's Captain Blood with its slaves revolting and hitting the seven seas to plunder and find adventure more than Burroughs' past fiction. This though isn't a bad thing. If anything it provides a nice contrast to the plot driven John Carter of Mars series and Carson's down to earth approach is a breath of fresh air compared to John Carter's ego. Make sure to read this and the sequel to get the full experience. Rating: ***1/2 out of 4

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