Thursday, 27 July 2017

More Martians

Something else common to HG Wells and Poul Anderson is several references to Martians in their respective works. For Anderson's Martians and also for more general discussion of Mars and its inhabitants, see here.

A single Martian race observes Earth in "The Crystal Egg" and invades it in The War Of The Worlds;

Martian astronomers observe Earth in "The Star";

in The Autocracy Of Mr Parham, the title character dreams that he is possessed by a Martian warlord;

in Star-Begotten (and here) some people convince themselves that Martians are influencing Earth.

However, this amounts to only two real Martian races.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And, of course, there's Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom novels. Altho I don't think either Wells or Anderson ever referred to or alluded to ERB in their works.

Truth to say, I thought ERB a better writer, in some ways, than Wells. The former wrote swiftly moving, gripping, and colorful stories. Stories which still hold up well today if you overlook ERB's scientific bloopers. That does not describe all of Wells works, such as THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU.


Paul Shackley said...

But surely Wells' few best are better than ERB's best? - including better written?

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I can't honestly say that for sure when it comes to comparing Wells with ERB. I've actually read too few of either writer's works to speak too emphatically on whether one was better, on the whole, than the other. It's been mostly Wells more famous SF works I've read (and I preferred ERB's Barsoom books over his Tarzan series).

What I have noticed is that both Wells and ERB, starting to write when they did (late Victorian and Edwardian periods) seem to share a common style of writing I would call pre-Hemingwayesque. That is, a tendency to write leisurely, lengthy sentences. And marked by florid, even purple touches.

I'll put it like this, I think ERB's Barsoom books (and some of his other works) are more FUN to read than much of what I read of Wells works.


David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
Without passing judgment on which writer is more SKILLED, I'd note I see more OPTIMISM in Burroughs. Heroes such as John Carter CAN accomplish great things (and win the love of beautiful women), as opposed to Wells' humanity only saved from the Martians by bacteria. I agree with Sean that ERB tends to be more fun.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, DAVID!

Aha! You expressed more clearly what I had in mind about Wells and ERB. Yes, ERB's books tend to be more optimistic than those of Wells, with heroes like the Warlord of Barsoom doing and accomplishing great things. Wells having the Martians defeated by BACTERIA rather than human courage or ingenuity was definitely a downer.

Our friend Paul likes novels and stories to be about IDEAS, not just adventure and derring do. I actually agree and say that for such stories to be about or include serious ideas prevents them from being totally dismissable pulp trash. But I like adventure, villainous villains, heroic heroes, and even an occasional beautiful damsel in distress as well!

Really good writers of SF and F, like Poul Anderson, JRR Tolkien, Jerry Pournelle, etc., manage to mix all these thing just right in their works. And I would include even ERB at his best as well. When you read them carefully, you will find serious ideas in his Barsoom books. This mix of adventure and ideas, when done well, is what made the works of these writer fun to read.

I don't think Wells, unfortunately, quite managed to the mix just right. His SF tends to be about ideas and human characters sometimes seem to be just an after thought. So, while I respect Wells pioneering work in founding modern SF, I have to say I read his science fiction from a sense of duty, rather than because they are fun.


S.M. Stirling said...

Burroughs was a different -type-of writer than Wells, of course. He came out of the adventure-fiction tradition. And since he was boiling the pot, he tended to keep his series going too long. Wells' fault was didacticism.

At his best, Burroughs has the merits of extreme vividness because he was writing down daydreams he actually believed in, at an emotional level.

Also, Burroughs had more varied life experiences than Wells, who was an extremely "urban" person.

Burroughs had actually been a horse-soldier (he fought in the tag-end of the Apache wars(*), a cowboy, and a prospector in the American West in the 1880's, when the region was mostly quite lawless.

(*) he was extremely sympathetic to the Apache, who he admired, and wrote two novels "Apache Devil" and "The War Chief" from an Apache viewpoint.

S.M. Stirling said...

And I did a Martian book, "In the Courts of the Crimson Kings"... 8-).

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Mr. Stirling!

I liked and agreed with what you said about ERB. It makes sense that his varied life helped to shape how he wrote. I'm simply glad he was so good at adventure fiction writing (while wishing he had been better about the sciences).

And I loved your IN THE COURTS OF THE CRIMSON KINGS!!! Very ERBian in some ways!