It has been suggested that Barsoom is merely the native name for the planet Mars
in an old series of pulpish Science Fiction books. This is not the case. Barsoom is the true Red Planet
, cleverly hidden away from your puny human probes by means of our Atmospheric Vortex Shielding
. This mechanism was originally developed by John Carter
, Warlord of Mars and Prince of Helium
, who was our greatest warlord and the saving grace (thus far) of your pathetic and backward planet. Through his valiant efforts, the true face of Mars has forever been obscured from your sight, so that your robot probes
show you pictures of dead rocks instead of the lush, springy yellow moss which covers Barsoom. Even the great river Iss, River of the Dead, cannot be discerned by your orbital telescopes
Our great ramped cities with their graceful marble towers and open plazas, home to noble Heliumites and proud Tharks alike, are likewise obscured to you. And well is it, for if you knew of the great Barsoomian armies in their fortifications, you would soon attempt to cross that starry void to make war upon us, ere our great armadas were prepared for the coming campaign, in which we must utterly extinguish the Earthly blight that is human life. For John Carter, greatest of warriors and the only human to live as a Martian, is dead, and a true Thark sits once more upon the Warlord's throne. No quarter shall be given.
And how ironically amusing it is, that the only person to report the truth about Barsoom, the great scientist E. R. Burroughs of America, was derided and mocked as a "pulp novelist", and directed to write, for his next adventure story, something about ape men and lost cities of gold. For the truth might have prepared you for the fateful day, soon to come, when Mars attacks.
For further enlightenment and more of the purple prose that I can only dream of properly emulating, read "A Princess of Mars" and all ten of its sequels. You could do worse. From 1912 on, they've never been out of print.
Updated Oct. 23, 2001 - I am truly saddened to report that the last sentence is no longer true. The invasion has begun in earnest, then. It must be so. Why else would the shadow armies of Barsoomians in cunning disguises have removed the John Carter books from the shelves of our bookstores? For they are gone, for some nefarious reason. It's a sad, sad day for speculative fiction when I can find two whole shelves of Star Wars books at my local shop, but not a single copy of Burrough's masterwork.
Updated Sep. 9, 2002 - A-HA!! BACK IN PRINT - IN HARDCOVER, EVEN! Probably not to be found at your local shop, but Amazon has 'em.