In the Dark

A Capital Mars

John Carter
Produced and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon


When Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Under the Moons of Mars in 1911, introducing the character John Carter, he did so in a mood of desperation.  At 35, with a wife and two children, he had failed miserably in several business ventures and was in the process of going broke trying to sell pencil sharpeners.  So, logically, he turned to writing science-fiction fantasy.  Years later he explained it this way.  He had become addicted to adventure tales published in the pulp magazines of the day.  Noting the poor quality of most of the yarns he was devouring, he reasoned that

if people were paid for writing rot . . . I could write stories just as rotten. . . . Although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so.

His first publisher, All-Story magazine, agreed in the amount of $400, far from a fortune but still a not inconsiderable sum in 1911.

Burroughs left unsaid that, with Under the Moons of Mars, he did more than begin to make decent money.  He reinvented himself.  When we meet Carter in the story’s...

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