"No less a critic than C. S. Lewis has described the ravenous addiction that these magazines inspired; the same phenomenon has led me to call science fiction the only genuine consciousness-expanding drug." Arthur C. Clarke

JOHN CARTER and Edgar Rice Burroughs

Walt Disney Pictures‘ film John Carter, due out March 9, marks the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of the character in a story by famed author Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The film is based on Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars (1917) and stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe and Thomas Haden Church, and directed by Andrew Stanton.

Burroughs, especially known for his character Tarzan, wrote 11 novels of the Barsoom series, the name for Mars in the novels.  His vision of Mars was based on incorrect scientific notions of the time, mostly that of Percival Lowell.  Lowell and Rice’s Mars is a dying planet, formerly like Earth but in a rapid state of decline.  The scarce water is distributed by canals, the existence of which is based on astronomical visions of canals running across the red planet’s surface.

Burroughs’ technology, especially for a traditionally non-science fiction writer, is fairly extraordinary.  He described technology similar to televisions, radios, fax machines, radiation-based weapons, genetic manipulation, and terraforming.  He also described aerial battles between fleets of aircraft not 30 years after the Wright brothers‘ famous flight, as well as a plant which manufactures new atmosphere to replace that which is being lost on the planet.

It is only the best science fiction which can be read throughout time and even when many of it’s ideas are outdated.  It takes even better science fiction to make movies out of, even one hundred years later.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing the new film of one of the classics of science fiction.

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