Llana of Gathol by Edgar Rice BurroughsJuly 3, 2010
The Book: Llana of Gathol by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Originally published as novelettes in Amazing Stories in 1941, they weren’t published as Llana of Gathol until 1948. The edition read was published by Ballantine Books in 1974.
The Setting: Barsoom/Mars
The Story: John Carter wanders off and gets in trouble. He discovers his granddaughter, the titular Llana of Gathol, is also in trouble. So he rescues her and loses her a few times, makes friends in lots of places, makes enemies in more, and saves the world. Pretty much, he fights and wins, gets captured, fights and wins, repeat. Rollicking adventure all over the place.
The Science: Let’s see. In this book we have an undead hypnotist who hypnotizes people to sleep, then eats them or doesn’t (and when the ones who’ve been “sleeping” for millions of years wake up, they crumble to dust within an hour); we have a machine which takes a full body imprint and then can be used to kill an imprinted individual anywhere at anytime; we have people being frozen for decades and then reanimated; and we have community that has developed pills which render them (and anything associated with them) invisible for a day. And those are just the major plot points. Let’s talk… freezing.
Cryogenics or cryonics, the freezing the freshly-dead, is nothing new. That happens a fair amount here on earth. Not a lot, because it’s expensive and the freezer needs to be maintained indefinitely. But it happens. It’s that revival part that’s tricky. Death causes tissue damage. So does being frozen. And earth-science, it ain’t good enough to deal with that yet. Cryonics continue to be one of those more crazy realms where you can go in one side, but you can’t get out the other.
The Reaction: I love John Carter narrating. Burroughs is getting a little more playful here, and it makes it tons of fun to read, except for those parts where we go over the Martian clock, or their origin stories. And, as silly as all those Martian names are, bonus points go to Gor-don for least creative Martian name, which in turns makes it extra silly.
The Cover: Cover art by Gino d’Achille. I presume the cover scene is supposed to be the frozen warriors from part three of the book. But that was in the frozen north, where it was snowy and cold and everyone was wearing appropriate outer gear and no one was holding a sword. So I’ve got to give points off for inaccuracy. Otherwise, it’s an adventure cover, whatcha gonna do?
Next Up: “-And He Built a Crooked House-” by Robert Heinlein