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Carson of Venus Paperback – December 9, 2014
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Written in 1937 and first published as a six-part serial in ARGOSY weekly magazine, January 8 - February 12, 1938, CARSON OF VENUS is a fast-paced novel of political intrigue, espionage, and adventure. It is also science fiction, but do not get picayunish about my use of that phrase, and do not expect scientific consistency with our universe. After all, events do occur in a parallel universe and that universe has different phenomena. The most obvious inconsistencies are that native Venusians are human and Venus's atmosphere is breathable.
The story begins with an episode that has nothing to do with the rest of the novel, and for that reason it would probably be deleted by modern editors. Nevertheless, it happened, Carson told ERB about it, and ERB was obliged to tell us about it. The real story begins as Carson and his intimate companion fly around a city that is being besieged. They have to decide who the good guys are, and that's when the intrigue begins.
The bad guys bear a not-too-subtle resemblance to German Nazis. In fact you might notice something peculiar about what they are called. I mean besides "Zanis" being a pun for "zany," an allusion to Nazi insanity. The sadistic dictator's name is Mephis, and instead of saluting and saying "Heil Hitler," citizens salute and say, "Maltu Mephis." (Burroughs' biographer Irwin Porges notes that "mephis" is a derivative of "mephitis," which means a foul stench.) When Mephis parades through the streets of his capital, the more exuberant citizens shout "Maltu Mephis" while standing on their heads.
Do not jump to conclusions. Though the novel has moments of humor, it is not a comedy. It is serious entertainment with enough pathos, suspense, and violence to please modern readers.
I just wish he would have written more of these... much more fun to travel in swashbuckling adventures upon other worlds, instead of swinging on a vine in the Tarzan series. Either way, the book (as they say) is better than a movie. Wish they would make more movies from The Martian series!