The Swordsman Of Mars (Planet Stories Library) Paperback – 21 Oct 2008
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About the Author
Otis Adelbert Kline was born in Chicago, Illinois on the 1st of July 1891 and died at the age of fifty-five at Short Beach, Connecticut on the 24th of October. During his adulthood, he led a varied career from vanilla extract salesman, to songwriter, to editor, to popular adventure and science fiction author to literary agent. He was also an amateur orientalist and studied Arabic, an interested that strongly influenced his fictional novels and short stories. However, his fame is due to the literary “feud” he had with Edgar Rice Burroughs. Like Burroughs he wrote science fiction romance he placed on Venus, Mars and the Moon and had adventures located in the most remote jungle of Earth. After the mid-thirties, Kline almost entirely abandoned writing to focus on his career as an international literary agent. Among others, he represented Robert Erwin Howard (Conan’s creator) between 1933 and 1936 and, after Howard’s death, he acted as the literary agent of the Howard’s Estate until his own death. He was also the American agent of H.G. Wells. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Harry Thorne, penniless and broken hearted - or rather his consciousness - is sent to Mars by way of "thought-transference" developed by an American scientist, to exchange bodies with a young Prince of Mars. This attempt at "science" may seem laughable today, but really, how he gets to Mars is as relevant as Alice going through the looking glass, except that it explains why he can't jump like he's on a trampoline, and why people think he's someone else. Its what he does once he is there that is relevant.
His mission is to track down another Earthman sent to Mars, a criminal, and to defeat a tyrannical dictator that rules with an steely fist. From this the usual adventures follow - fleeing for one's life, pretty Martian girls (in fact, Thorne finds himself in something of a love triangle; luckily - if somewhat predictably - it is two girls and him) an antogonist to be defeated, strange Martain beasts, etc - and Thorne must use all his wit and strength to avoid death and disaster. There are sieges and battles, all proceeding at a gripping pace.
Kline writes with force, and this is as good as Burroughs' tales of Mars, if set in a distinctly different world. There is nothing "new" here, in one sense, but simply a story well told to sweep along the reader.
Harry Thorne is down on his luck disinheritred by his rich family and unemployed This worsened when his fiancee elopes with his best friend and he accepts a proposition from a mysterious professor to travel to Mars. No sooner has he arrived thanhe's in trouble and makes enemies. From then on it's a roller coaster ride of swordplay, captures and escapes from all manner of situations.
Serialised in Argosy magazine the story is written with an economy or words and is very fast paced. The characterisation is what is expected from a 1930's story and some modern readers may find the protagonists steroptyped, though the female leads do break the mould.
While Burroughs novels had some recognisable landscapes they were also alien, invoking a sense of awe wonder and mystery. Kline's Mars though having strange fauna, does not have the same atmosphere and the locations could easily have been set on Earth.
However this book is worth buying and enjoyed as a piece of escapist fun and reading it again after nearly forty years I enjoyed it immensely.
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