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Customer Review

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The weakest Burroughs series, but interesting nonetheless, July 18, 2004
This review is from: Pirates of Venus (Bison Frontiers of Imagination) (Paperback)
"Pirates of Venus" begins the last major series by Edgar Rice Burroughs: the Venus novels. When it first appeared as a serial in the pulp magazine Argosy in 1932, Burroughs had already written Tarzan novels, most of the Mars series, and the novels of Pellucidar. The Venus novels were created partially as a response to Otis Adelbert Kline, a pulp author who wrote very much in the style of Burroughs. When Kline created a series of Venus-set novels made to imitate Burroughs's Martian novels, Burroughs fired back with his own series on Venus. He created a new hero, Carson Napier, who somehow manages to fire his rocket at Mars and end up landing on Venus. A jungle planet with tree-living humanoids battling a tyranny attempting to erase all class boundaries called 'The Thorists' (rather thinly disguised communists) and a horde of other monstrous menaces. Napier joins the fight against the Thorists and tries romancing the beautiful but unobtainable Duare.
It sounds like a typical Burrough adventure: plenty of colorful action, monsters, weird science, and crazy new cultures. But Burroughs was past his creative prime, and "Pirates of Venus" shows it. Phillip R. Burger, in his interesting afterword to this edition, sums up the problems in two telling sentences: "In the pantheon of Burroughs heroes, Carson Napier is considered a tad deficient." "I've become rather fond of 'Pirates of Venus' as well, in spite of the novel's rather glaring fault: no plot." Although Burger makes a spirited attempt to explain his liking for the novel, he's right about the flaws. Napier is a weak hero who doesn't really have any plan or direction, and the novel is really a loosely collected series of escapades and fights that lead nowhere in particular. The novel hardly even ends; it just stops -- setting up the inevitable sequels (which, for the record, are "Escape on Venus," "Lost on Venus," and "Carson of Venus"). Napier is maybe a more modern, realistic hero than Tarzan or John Carter of Mars, but that's not exactly what you want from an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.
Nonetheless, "Pirates of Venus" is quintessential reading for Burroughs fans and pulp lovers. This excellent edition from Bison Books, complete with new illustrations, a glossary, and great essays from F. Paul Wilson and Phillip Burger, is the first time the book has been back in print for many years; many Burroughs readers probably haven't had a chance to experience Burroughs's last series, and here it is in quite handsome form. And, despite all its shortcomings, "Pirates of Venus" does offer simple action and adventure entertainment. Newcomers to Burroughs should first experience "Tarzan of the Apes," "Under the Moons of Mars" (a current volume from Bison Books that collects the first three Mars novels), "At the Earth's Core," and "The Land That Time Forgot" (all in print) before reading this later and lesser work from the creator of the modern action/adventure novel.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 1, 2011 8:24:26 AM PST
Jay says:
You do of course realize the "feud" between Burroughs and Kline is well documented to have been nothing but a figment of Don Wollheim's imagination, don't you?

Posted on Feb 8, 2013 8:45:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 8, 2013 8:48:18 AM PST
G. Parks says:
I read a couple of ERB "Carson" stories as a child (I'm 54 now) and found them exciting enough, but I soon stopped reading them, because I VERY quickly tired of Carson himself. Him, I found to be VERY grating -- I found his actions, and still more his morals, to be borderline depraved, and that was NOT I wanted at all. I wanted heroes who were... well, HEROES -- not macho brigands (and I'm sure I couldn't possibly have been the ONLY 12-year-old boy who felt that way!). But I digress...

I need to find out what name ERB gave to the planet Venus. I know he called Mars by the name "Barsoom"; by what name did he call Venus? Essentially, I'm trying to fill in the syllogism:

"Malacandra is to Barsoom, as Perelandra is to ???", and I need the name that fills the "???". Can anyone tell me? Thanks...

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 10, 2014 3:14:53 PM PDT
Jay says:
It depends on what series you read. In the Mars series, Ras Thavas tells us the Barsoomians call Venus "Cosoom." When Carson gets to Venus, the Venusians themselves call their planet "Amtor."
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