Around one hundred years ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs started writing the imaginative Martian Series, beginning with A Princess of Mars and ending eleven books later with John Carter of Mars. These books inspired generation of scientists and science fiction writers — in some cases one person doing double duty.
The complete series:
- A Princess of Mars
- The Gods of Mars
- Warlord of Mars
- Thuvia, Maid of Mars
- The Chessmen of Mars
- The Mastermind of Mars
- A Fighting Man of Mars
- Swords of Mars
- Synthetic Men of Mars
- Llana of Gathol
- John Carter of Mars
The popularity of these books is such that even Hollywood is finally jumping on board with a John Carter movie slated to be released in 2012. Thanks to decades of research and the intrepid little rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, we know that Burroughs’ Barsoom never existed, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying a good romp through a fictional red landscape.
A great list on the web about Martian books is over at SciFiDimensions. Their 100 Years of Martian Fiction inlcudes title, publication date, synopsis and in some cases, pictures of the book covers. They concentrate on the most important or significant of the Mars books.
Below are my favorites of all the Martian fiction books ever written (not including the Burroughs series which tops my list and has no comparison). If you want an introduction to Martian fiction you could do worse. Much worse.
- The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
- The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke
- Man Plus by Frederick Pohl
- Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Mars by Ben Bova
- Return to Mars by Ben Bova
- Mars Life by Ben Bova
- Moving Mars by Greg Bear
- Voyage by Stephen Baxter
If you really want to delve into the fictional world of Mars, check out the blog, Marooned – Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror books on Mars. Three years worth of posts, reviews, trailers, minute details and links to where you can read books for free make the blog completely worthy of wasting your time.
If you want a big but quick, down and dirty page on nearly everything ever done on Mars, Wikipedia has actually done a fairly good job with Mars in Fiction.
So what exactly is the attraction of Mars? Why do we read and write these books? And watch endless movies for that matter. The answers, of course, are as varied as the human race, but there is one enduring theme. We’re pioneers. We’ve been on the move since we’ve had feet. Excluding the ocean and a few remote, wild regions, we’ve explored our planet pretty thoroughly. We’ve been to the Moon. Mars is our new frontier. Humankind needs frontiers. One day, God willing and the creek don’t rise, that frontier will expand out into the universe, but for now, for those who look beyond the narrow, petty and confining concerns with which we trap ourselves on Earth, there’s Mars, out there and waiting.