Again can't think of an opening so I'll just jump in.
In the 1960s and 70s the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs was being rediscovered by a new generation, thanks to the explosion of sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks. It was around this time that several books, fan clubs and newsletters began to emerge celebrating and providing the first in-depth look at Burroughs. Many of the books tended to be either straight biographies (Richard Lupoff's excellent Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure being the most notable) or centered on Tarzan. In 1976 Burroughs fan and scholar John Flint Roy added his own entry to the growing line-up, a book devoted to the adventures of John Carter and the inhabitants of Barsoom.
As you can tell by the title, A Guide To Barsoom is pretty much that-a guide to the people, places and flora and fauna of Barsoom. Broken into 11 chapters and covering almost all of the books (Roy doesn't include John Carter and the Giant of Mars due to its "questionable authorship" as he puts and I doubt many will disagree) it starts with a brief history of Barsoom pre-Carter and goes from there with in depth listings of the locations, characters (no matter how briefly they appear), plants and animal life, the customs and religions of Barsoom, the debate of whether or not Barsoom is really Mars and a "bio" of Burroughs himself-who lived to the ripe old age of 114 when last seen. It also deals with some of the contradictions that pop up-errors in distance or how many days are in a Barsoomian year-and attempts to correct these mistakes.
A guide like this might seem dull to non-fans but Roy's target audience I'm sure was the devout fan, even though newcomers to the series might enjoy it for breaking down the series. Given how many guides like this has been written for other series (I've seen them for everything from The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien's Middle-Earth to even separate guides to the characters and vehicles of Star Wars) it's nice to have Barsoom presented in this fashion and a nice addition to the Barsoom series. The only downside (again) is that it is currently out of print. Maybe with the movie coming up someone will republish this work or come out with an updated one. Rating: **** out of 4.