Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Story Review: Mars-The Home Front
Happy New Year! So let's kick off 2014 with a tale of Martians.
After catching some fish while on vacation our old narrator gets some welcome visitors-his uncle John Carter, Warlord of Mars, and the ever faithful Woola. With that out of the way Carter relates his latest adventure, with kidnappings, betrayal and a newly discovered race of Barsoomians wrecking havoc. While at a soiree at Mors Kojak's John notices that his beloved Dejah Thoris has disappeared. When he and Kantos Kan discover several dead bodies, they are led on a chase that leads them to an undiscovered city inhabited by the sarmaks, "leather skinned" creatures who thrive on blood. And have set their sites on not only Barsoom...but Jasoom as well!
"Mars: The Home Front" first appeared in 1996 as a short story in the anthology War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches, a collection of stories inspired by HG Wells' famous novel. In this one writer George Alec Effinger combines Wells with Burroughs for a rousing short story that manages to capture the best of ERB's work with the tension of Wells' tale of invasion. The setup is handled brilliantly with the standard "John Carter coming to Earth and narrating his tale" device to the harried race across Barsoom to introducing the character of Bas-Ok, a prisoner of the sarmaks. Granted it's a short tale and leaves out most of the action but I still was riveted by the story, well written with a strong sense of storytelling by Effinger.
So if you missed this earlier tale I recommend picking up the collection-which has some other good stories by a diverse range of sci-fi and fantasy writers-and enjoy. Have a safe New Year's Day and until next time folks.