I’ve always been fond of the works of Burroughs, but I haven’t read many of them. I’m not sure how or why, but about four months ago I suddenly went nuts about his work and I’ve been devouring it ever since. I was a bit nervous about trying out any audiobooks though; I love audiobooks, but could the eAudios in our catalog really match the voices in my head?
Not “voices in my head” like… anyway…
I started out with A Princess of Mars, the first novel in the John Carter or “Barsoom” series. John Carter is a former Confederate soldier who somehow ends up transported across the gulf of space to the planet Mars (Barsoom to the natives). He finds that the planet has many lifeforms (most of them carnivorous) and multiple species of humanoid that have fallen to various degrees of barbarism as they fight over the dwindling resources. As he adjusts to a harsh life on this new world, Carter happens to meet Dejah Thoris–the princess of the title—and quickly falls hopelessly in love with her. After circumstances force them apart, Carter battles the worst the cruel planet has to offer in pursuit of Dejah.
Burroughs is the sort of author who takes pride in thinking out the details and encourages readers to slow down and enjoy the scenery, which is of course very important when describing an alien world. Having Carter as a Southern gentleman and the narrator of the book gives Burroughs the perfect vehicle for “roaming” through a scene. This is further complemented by reader Jack Sondericker’s rich, deep voice that he accents just enough to remind you of Carter’s origins. The gruff and growling voices of barbarian aliens similarly match the characters well, and although female voices seem to test his range Sondericker still delivers both variety and clarity. There are occasional bumps in sound quality as (I assume) Sondericker takes breaks between chapters, but certainly not enough to upset my listening experience.
As a work of science fiction over a century old there are some cultural attitudes that might cause a little cringing, and of course the known science of Mars contradicts even the most basic elements—this was after all written at a time when Martian canals were widely regarded as a fact and proof that something populated the planet. Even so, it holds up wonderfully as one of the pillars of early science fiction and the “grandfather” of a great many works that have followed it, and this eAudiobook was a fantastic way to enjoy it.