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Synthetic Men of Mars

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John Carter desperately needed the aid of Barsoom's greatest scientist, Ras Thavas, who is now a prisoner of a nightmare army of his own creation. John Carter desperately needed the aid of Barsoom's greatest scientist, Ras Thavas, who is now a prisoner of a nightmare army of his own creation.


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John Carter desperately needed the aid of Barsoom's greatest scientist, Ras Thavas, who is now a prisoner of a nightmare army of his own creation. John Carter desperately needed the aid of Barsoom's greatest scientist, Ras Thavas, who is now a prisoner of a nightmare army of his own creation.

30 review for Synthetic Men of Mars

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Edgar Rice Burroughs had this problem in all of his series: After a while, the quality of the books would start to slip -- maybe he was getting bored or maybe he'd just start repeating himself. Arguably, this is where the Mars series begins its downhill slide (which means that, percentage-wise, John Carter has less dross than the other major series -- Tarzan, Venus and Pellucidar). This book is again narrated from the perspective of a native Barsoomian, Vor Daj, who accompanies John Carter on one Edgar Rice Burroughs had this problem in all of his series: After a while, the quality of the books would start to slip -- maybe he was getting bored or maybe he'd just start repeating himself. Arguably, this is where the Mars series begins its downhill slide (which means that, percentage-wise, John Carter has less dross than the other major series -- Tarzan, Venus and Pellucidar). This book is again narrated from the perspective of a native Barsoomian, Vor Daj, who accompanies John Carter on one of his adventures. Carter plays a fairly minor role in the book, really, and is off-stage for much of it; otherwise he'd probably overshadow Vor Daj. Ras Thavas, the Master Mind of Mars also returns, so this book again has some science fictional elements -- brain transplants and artificial life and the like. Naturally there's a beautiful woman; naturally Our Hero falls for her; naturally, the Fates conspire to make things as difficult as possible for them until the end. This isn't so much an actively bad book as it is somewhat tired and occasionally silly. I wouldn't say it should be avoided, but I wouldn't say it needs to be sought out unless you absolutely, positively have to read more Barsoomian adventures. (For which I wouldn't blame you -- I've certainly read the book many times over the years.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Curtiss

    Although not generally well-thought of compared with other ERB stories set on Barsoom, this is a personnal favorite aside from the openning sequence of the first three John Carter books. How can you resist a character grown in a culture vat, whose name Tor-Dur-Bar means four-million-eight, and whom the hero first encounters as a severed head which complains it can't see from where it is being carried in a net strapped to the back of a giant man-carrying bird?!? Especially, when later on our curre Although not generally well-thought of compared with other ERB stories set on Barsoom, this is a personnal favorite aside from the openning sequence of the first three John Carter books. How can you resist a character grown in a culture vat, whose name Tor-Dur-Bar means four-million-eight, and whom the hero first encounters as a severed head which complains it can't see from where it is being carried in a net strapped to the back of a giant man-carrying bird?!? Especially, when later on our current hero Vor Daj has his brain transferred into Tor-Dur-Bar's repulsive body in order to rescue princess Janai, the current damsel-in-distress, after first transferring the loyal Tor-Dur-Bar's brain into the well-built and handsome physique of erstwhile opponent, Gantun Gur. All of this in aid of finding and retrieving the Mastermind of Mars, Ras Thavas, whose skills are required to heal John Carter's beloved, 'the incomparable' Deja Thoris, who lies at death's door following an injury. Meanwhile, back at Ras thavas' laboratory, things have gone horribly wrong with the culture vats, and the resulting immense, multi-headed monstrousity breaks free from confinment and threatens to engulf the entire planet as it grows beyond all constraints to overwhelm Ras thavas' entire island base. Fortunately Helium's airforce is up to the challenge of fire-bombing the repulsive, oozing mass of protoplasm and turning it into a stinking, festering, char-broiled cinder. These stories are not high art, or even good sci-fi/fantasy; but they are terrific yarns with exotic Barsoomian locales, fantastic beasts, flamboyant princesses, dastardly villains, and cliff-hanging adventures in which the hero gets the girl and the bad guy meets his (or her) just deserts. I've read and re-read these stories over the years, and even recorded them onto DVD for the local radio station for blind and reading-impaired listeners.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    "Synthetic Men of Mars" is the 9th of 11 books in Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. It first appeared serially in "Argosy Magazine" in early 1939, and is one of the most way-out entries in the Carter series. The book may be seen as a sequel of sorts to book #6, "The Master Mind of Mars," in that Ras Thavas, the eponymous superbrain of that earlier work, here makes a return, and the bulk of the action once again takes place in the dismal and forbidding Toonolian Marshes of Barsoom "Synthetic Men of Mars" is the 9th of 11 books in Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. It first appeared serially in "Argosy Magazine" in early 1939, and is one of the most way-out entries in the Carter series. The book may be seen as a sequel of sorts to book #6, "The Master Mind of Mars," in that Ras Thavas, the eponymous superbrain of that earlier work, here makes a return, and the bulk of the action once again takes place in the dismal and forbidding Toonolian Marshes of Barsoom (Mars, to you and me). In "Synthetic Men," Carter and one of his lieutenants, Vor Daj, go in search of Ras Thavas, to enlist his aid when Carter's wife is critically injured in a midair collision. Thavas is engaged in creating an army of synthetic men (the so-called hormads), who have taken over an island in the Toonolian Marshes, made an unwilling slave of Ras Thavas himself, and are now plotting to take over all of Barsoom. Things get pretty wild when Vor Daj has his brain put into one of the hormad's bodies, so that he might better protect a pretty female prisoner who is being held on the island also. Then things go over the top completely, as one of the vats in which the hormads are created goes blooey, and a giant blob of living tissue spreads and spreads and threatens to envelop the entire planet! This blob is comprised of living heads and hands and other body parts; it feeds on itself and seemingly cannot be stopped. All this takes place in the first half of the novel; things get even hairier, if possible, in the final stages of the tale. Before all is said and done, we have been treated to a civil war amongst the hormads, an escape through the swamps of Toonol, encounters with giant insects and reptiles, a marsupial society, wild swamp savages, a Martian zoo, a tense little air battle, and the final confrontation with that living blob mass. It's as if Burroughs ate a headcheese and Fluffernutter sandwich before going to bed one night, had the wildest dream, and the next morning put it down on paper. The book has nice touches of incidental humor, and Vor Daj's predicament of being trapped in the body of a monstrous hormad while trying to win the affection of the girl of his dreams is an involving one. This leads to John Carter delivering one of his most touching lines: "It is the character that makes the man...not the clay which is its abode." So what we have here is a fantastic tale of wild imagination, with some touching passages and incessant action. So why, then, have I only given this novel three stars? Well, as with most Carter novels, there are problems of inconsistency, and this novel contains one of the worst in the entire series. During the swamp escape, Vor Daj is accompanied by a party of five others, including a man named Gan Had, who later deserts him. Later in the book, it is stated that this deserter was named Pandar, one of the others of the five. The two characters are mixed up and confused by Burroughs for the remainder of the book, to the point that the reader doesn't know who Burroughs is talking about. This is a terrible and egregious error, I feel. I have discussed it with the founder of the ERB List, a really fine Burroughs Website, and he has told me that he and others have concocted some explanations for this seemingly incredible screwup, while admitting that the reader must read between the lines and do some mythmaking of his/her own to explain it. This giant problem aside, there is also the inconsistency of a character named Ur Raj, who is said to hail from the Barsoomian nation of Ptarth, and four pages later is said to be from the nation of Helium. This is the kind of sloppiness that I, as a copy editor, find especially deplorable. I also regret the fact that the ultimate fate of some of the book's main characters (Sytor, Gan Had and Ay-mad) is never mentioned. Another example of careless writing, I feel. "Synthetic Men of Mars" is a wonderful entertainment, but could have been made so much better by the exercise of just a little more care on the part of the author and his editors. Still, I quite enjoyed it, and do recommend it to any lover of fantastic literature.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Told from the perspective of Vor Daj, companion of John Carter as they search for Ras Thavas, the only surgeon on Mars who can help the injured Dejah Thoris. The two of them fall into the hands of the Hormads, creatures created by Thavas in vats on an island in the great Toonolian Marshes. If all of this sounds a bit confusing, one only needs to read the previous John Carter books to make sense of it. All of these names and places stem from the previous tales. Burroughs seems to delight in creatin Told from the perspective of Vor Daj, companion of John Carter as they search for Ras Thavas, the only surgeon on Mars who can help the injured Dejah Thoris. The two of them fall into the hands of the Hormads, creatures created by Thavas in vats on an island in the great Toonolian Marshes. If all of this sounds a bit confusing, one only needs to read the previous John Carter books to make sense of it. All of these names and places stem from the previous tales. Burroughs seems to delight in creating ever more grotesque creatures as this series goes on; in this case it is the Hormads, misshapen creatures that can not be killed except by fire. Heads and limbs that are severed continue to writhe and speak, and they look like the stuff of nightmares. I only have two more books to complete the John Carter series. It's been a wild ride!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Colesberry

    I loved this whole series. It's pretty sexual and macho and they're all massive page-turners. Same review for each. I loved this whole series. It's pretty sexual and macho and they're all massive page-turners. Same review for each.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    Continuing my read of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars series. In this volume, John Carter seeks out Ras Thavas, the Mastermind of Mars to save Dejah Thoris who was injured in an accident. Carter and his friend Vor Daj find that Ras Thavas has been enslaved to create artificially grown soldiers for a Martian City State. Vor Daj is captured and meets the beautiful Janai. Before he can express his feelings for her, Vor Daj's brain gets transferred into one of the synthetic bodies! Solid action and adve Continuing my read of Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars series. In this volume, John Carter seeks out Ras Thavas, the Mastermind of Mars to save Dejah Thoris who was injured in an accident. Carter and his friend Vor Daj find that Ras Thavas has been enslaved to create artificially grown soldiers for a Martian City State. Vor Daj is captured and meets the beautiful Janai. Before he can express his feelings for her, Vor Daj's brain gets transferred into one of the synthetic bodies! Solid action and adventure and a fun read. By this point, Burroughs may be just a little too comfortable with his formula, but he still manages to pull out some interesting and fun ideas.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    John Carter, Mighty Warlord of Mars, rides to new and terrifying adventures. Captured by deadly warriors mounted on huge birds he is taken to the ill-omened city of Morbus. There he meets Ras Thavas, evil genius and master surgeon. A man who has succeeded in his nightmare wish of creating life in his own beings – creatures that ultimately rebel and threaten the lives of Ras Thavas, of John Carter and of all Mars. Blurb to the 1973 NEL paperback edition. Using more or less the same plot as ‘A Pri John Carter, Mighty Warlord of Mars, rides to new and terrifying adventures. Captured by deadly warriors mounted on huge birds he is taken to the ill-omened city of Morbus. There he meets Ras Thavas, evil genius and master surgeon. A man who has succeeded in his nightmare wish of creating life in his own beings – creatures that ultimately rebel and threaten the lives of Ras Thavas, of John Carter and of all Mars. Blurb to the 1973 NEL paperback edition. Using more or less the same plot as ‘A Princess of Mars’ Burroughs takes us back to the dying planet of Barsoom where the ‘incomparable’ Dejah Thoris has been crippled in a flying accident. No other man can save her but the thousand year old evil genius and scientist-surgeon, Ras Thavas, Master Mind of Mars. Setting out to find Ras Thavas, John Carter takes along young Vor Daj to the great Toonolian Marshes where, before long, the two have been captured. The hero and narrator of this the ninth in Burroughs’ Martian series, is Vor Daj who perhaps predictably, falls in love with a captured beauty, Janai, who is also coveted by an evil Jeddak (much as John Carter when he was captured by the green man of Mars fell in love with a captured Dejah Thoris, who was also coveted by an evil green Martian Jeddak). Our heroes end up in the laboratory of Ras Thavas who has been performing cloning experiments and has, as my mother might have pointed out to him, made a rod for his own back. The malformed clones have taken over and are forcing Ras Thavas to create a vat-grown army with which to take over all of Mars. Vor Daj persuades Ras to transfer his brain into one of the monsters so that he can infiltrate the Jeddak’s guard and rescue his love. This he does, while wooing her in a kind of Cyrano De Bergerac/Beauty and The Beast fashion while all the time hoping that his body hasn’t been used for spare parts or been eaten by the mass of living flesh which escapes from vat No. 4. Burroughs adds nothing new to the series here, but it’s interesting to see the concept of cloning appearing (although it is not described as such) and to compare this work with Richard E Chadwick’s ‘The Flesh Guard’ which posited a similar premise in which vat-grown creatures were employed as soldiers by a Nazi Regime.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mary Catelli

    This is the tale of one Vor Daj. John Carter went in search of Ras Tavas, and yielding to pleas, brought along one soldier. They quickly find that finding him will not be easy. Indeed, they are taken prisoner, along with some others, include one woman, and taken to the city, encircled by marshes, where they find that Ras Thavas is the prisoner of his own synthetic men, and forced to produce more and more of the virtually unkillable monsters. And to transplant the brains of the most powerful of th This is the tale of one Vor Daj. John Carter went in search of Ras Tavas, and yielding to pleas, brought along one soldier. They quickly find that finding him will not be easy. Indeed, they are taken prisoner, along with some others, include one woman, and taken to the city, encircled by marshes, where they find that Ras Thavas is the prisoner of his own synthetic men, and forced to produce more and more of the virtually unkillable monsters. And to transplant the brains of the most powerful of them to the bodies of red men -- much to the peril of Janai, the woman. Ras Thavas is perfectly willing to do what John Carter asks -- if they can only escape. And Vor Daj is worried about Janai's fate. The rest of the tale involves disappearance, claims to the throne, bodyguards, a cowardly race that regards sea shells as treasure, an experiment spreading wildly, and much more

  9. 4 out of 5

    John Lawson

    Dejah Thoris is having personal, lady troubles, so John Carter hooks up with a random bro to help him find Barsoom's greatest mad scientist. Shub-Niggurath ensues. So the old "beauty = good/ugly = evil" trope gets the full treatment here. So imagine the poor hero's consternation when his gentlemanly brain is stuffed into an ugly body, and he's so ashamed that he's unable to confess his love for a beautiful princess. In fact, he even considers suicide. Will she discover her love for him, despite hi Dejah Thoris is having personal, lady troubles, so John Carter hooks up with a random bro to help him find Barsoom's greatest mad scientist. Shub-Niggurath ensues. So the old "beauty = good/ugly = evil" trope gets the full treatment here. So imagine the poor hero's consternation when his gentlemanly brain is stuffed into an ugly body, and he's so ashamed that he's unable to confess his love for a beautiful princess. In fact, he even considers suicide. Will she discover her love for him, despite his hideous form? There is much hand-wringing over the issue. You'd think such manly warriors wouldn't be so vain.

  10. 4 out of 5

    ricky

    Very good I do love these stories. No great explanations of whether a thing is really possible, just very good story telling.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Naylor

    After a deluge of uninspired retreads, Burroughs finally hits on an interesting story in "The Synthetic Men of Mars." Although a familiar formula by now, this adventure features enough pulpy details to be a juicy read indeed. After several first-person books starring John Carter, and a series with his children (and/or relegating him to a cameo), "Synthetic" once again sees Burroughs try something new: Carter as supporting cast. A smart move to try and keep it fresh; Carter is not an overwhelming After a deluge of uninspired retreads, Burroughs finally hits on an interesting story in "The Synthetic Men of Mars." Although a familiar formula by now, this adventure features enough pulpy details to be a juicy read indeed. After several first-person books starring John Carter, and a series with his children (and/or relegating him to a cameo), "Synthetic" once again sees Burroughs try something new: Carter as supporting cast. A smart move to try and keep it fresh; Carter is not an overwhelming presence, but it's a perspective of the character yet unseen. This story is told from the point of view of Vor Daj, a close ally of Carter entrusted with seeking--in an unexpected nod to continuity--the elusive Ras Thavas, the eponymous scientist of "The Master Mind of Mars." He, apparently, is the only doctor capable of recovering the mortally-wounded Dejah Thoris, so the intrepid Carter/Daj duo seek him out on his island of Morbus. But the Master Mind's newest creations have taken on a life of their own, and have quarrel with the evacuation of their captive creator... This book has some cool ideas. Though it revisits "Master Mind" and its brain-swapping gimmick, here it is done as part of Burrough's then-ongoing interest in subterfuge. One of the "synthetic men" takes on a grotesque form not unlike that of later 'Gibbering Mouthers,' Poul Anderson's troll in "Three Hearts and Three Lions," or even Tetsuo in "AKIRA." The oft-mentioned Toonolian Marsh and Phundahl finally figure into a plot. A Green Martian even appears with dialogue, which is always welcome. Of course, the story is still victim to Burroughs' well-grooved matters of course. The ideas are simply more interesting in sustaining the now-trite plot. Vor Daj can at best be described as "romantic," being subject to the most egregious love life of any Burroughs protagonist yet. He lacks any personality outside the comedy wrought by lacking even the flimsiest of excuses afforded by Carter, Paxton, et al. His journey via Ras Thavas' brain-swapping trick does produce some interesting thoughts for him, but that's all. The events of the plot themselves are also as one has surely come to expect. Much melodrama, direction-taking, and back-and-forth escaping, peppered with brief swordplay. Too many names. A hero maintaining a lie without rhyme or reason. Tactless character personalities and irrelevant vignettes (most blatant being a visit with the marsh's arrogant kangroo-men). In some ways, they add to the fun. They become comfortable furniture in Burroughs' funhouse. But it's not for everyone. For Barsoom fans (like myself), this book provides denser continuity and cleverer ideas than has been the norm in the series overall. But it's hardly controversial to say that it will not change your mind about these books, and likely offers divisive enjoyment to those coming in from this entry alone. At this point, Burroughs' decline in quality will become sharper and sharper. Future stories are short, not serialized, and collated. Self-parody is a certainty. I have little hope that Pellucidar (practically a Tarzan spin-off at this point) or Amtor (bargain-bin boilerplate Barsoom) can survive such a drastic dip, given their already questionable quality. But if "Synthetic Men of Mars" is any indication, there may yet be some more thrills to bleed from this stone.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Michael Gallen

    This tale of Barsoom opens with a chapter indicating the fate of the mad scientist Ras Thavas, who is exiled to an island, and The Warlord of Mars, John Carter, seeking his assistance due to his consort Dejah Thoris being involved in an accident and becoming comatose. As with a few of its predecessors, Synthetic Men of Mars introduces a new character as a narrator (except the first chapter), Vor Daj, who sets of for Phundahl with Carter. The party quickly encounters men astride the avian malagor This tale of Barsoom opens with a chapter indicating the fate of the mad scientist Ras Thavas, who is exiled to an island, and The Warlord of Mars, John Carter, seeking his assistance due to his consort Dejah Thoris being involved in an accident and becoming comatose. As with a few of its predecessors, Synthetic Men of Mars introduces a new character as a narrator (except the first chapter), Vor Daj, who sets of for Phundahl with Carter. The party quickly encounters men astride the avian malagors, with a battle ensuing and the group ultimately arriving where Thavas is. Thavas has developed the capacity to create new humans from pieces of tissue, termed hormads, in fact creating an army of them. A group of these beings known as the Council of the Seven Jeds rules the place where Thavas works, morbus, with Vor Daj pitted in combat against a few of these homunculi. Vor Daj quickly falls in love with a woman named Janai, and learns from Thavas that he considers himself a prisoner of Morbus, although he is somewhat content with his work, intending to create a Martian master race, having learned to reproduce life by studying lesser lifeforms. When Janai goes away, Vor Daj wants his brain placed into the body of a hormad so he can follow in secret, and thus, his mind goes into one named Tor-dur-bar, becoming a Guard of the Third Jed and rescuing her. The Third Jed proclaims himself the Jeddak of Morbus, with Vor Daj fighting him in his borrowed body, becoming a dwar. As a reward for his exploits, Vor Daj desires both charge of a lab building and Janai, whom she assures of his love while pretending to be Tor-dur-bar. A love triangle arises with Jeddak Ay-mad offering Janai a choice between his hand in marriage and the masquerading Vor Daj. Thavas is eventually found, with one of his experiments gone awry, a mass of tissue being malignant and threatening to overtake his lab, with fire that could contain it being unable to do anything at the growth’s current volume. Still in love with Janai, Vor Daj ensures that his original body is safe, and the maiden along with John Carter ultimately disappears once again. Vor Daj towards the end of the story finds himself caged and exhibited as one of the many beings sentient to Barsoom, a fate he eventually escapes by pretending to have been bitten by an adder. Battles erupt towards the end, culminating in a satisfactory conclusion that rounds out another enjoyable Barsoom book, which was likely ahead of its time since it deals with the potential god complexes of scientists in creating new life, and somewhat reflects the eugenics movement arisen at the time in America and especially Nazi Germany. There are some odd stylistic and nomenclatural decisions such as the name Janai itself, which is Japanese for “not,” although both those who enjoyed the book’s predecessors and those who have yet to read a Barsoom story will most likely have a good time.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rafeeq O.

    Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1939 Synthetic Men of Mars, ninth in the eleven-book Barsoom series, starts--as have all so far except the fourth, Thuvia, Maid of Mars, if I recall--with a "received story" narrative frame. This time, rather than coming to the fictionalized Burroughs directly from John Carter, "this remarkable tale of strange adventure upon the planet Mars" originates with Vor Daj, a faithful and able fighting man in the Warlord's service, and is sent with the aid of previously met Barsoom Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1939 Synthetic Men of Mars, ninth in the eleven-book Barsoom series, starts--as have all so far except the fourth, Thuvia, Maid of Mars, if I recall--with a "received story" narrative frame. This time, rather than coming to the fictionalized Burroughs directly from John Carter, "this remarkable tale of strange adventure upon the planet Mars" originates with Vor Daj, a faithful and able fighting man in the Warlord's service, and is sent with the aid of previously met Barsoomian characters, along with another nod to Burroughs' Pellucidar series (1980 Del Rey paperback, page 8). Here the incomparable Dejah Thoris, John Carter's wife, "ha[s] suffered an appalling injury in a collision between two swift airships; and ha[s] lain unconscious for many weeks, her back broken and twisted, until the greatest surgeons of Helium ha[ve] at last given up all hope" (page 8). The only possibility is to enlist the aid of Ras Thavas, the most brilliant surgeon Mars has ever seen, he who even can switch brains into different bodies and who, at the end The Master Mind of Mars, had "promise[d] to devote his skill and learning to the amelioration of human suffering rather than to prostitute them to the foul purposes of greed and sin" (page 7). John Carter and Vor Daj, this tale's first-person narrator, thus set off in a flyer in search of the former mad scientist. As usual, however, the quest goes awry almost immediately when a glitch in the ship's mechanical guidance apparatus sends them far off course, and then the pair, disguised as "wandering soldier[s] of fortune" (page 11), encounter a bird-borne patrol of troops. These fighters appear "the faulty efforts of a poor draftsman," with individuals whose arms are of greatly different lengths and whose "[e]yes, noses, and mouths [are] usually misplaced," with one, for example, having "[f]our-fifths of the face...above the eyes" and another the opposite (page 13). After a fight that leaves several enemies' severed heads still "gibbering and grimacing in the dust" as their decapitated bodies continue "cutting and slashing" at random (page 14), the pair--and the still-conversing heads--are taken to a secretive city ruled by a coalition of seven kings. The strange warriors--and the rulers themselves, although their brains have been transplanted into normal bodies--are "hormads," the product of Ras Thavas's attempt to create synthetic humans from "a culture in which tissue [grows] continuously" (page 21). He still doesn't have all the bugs worked out, though, and what comes out are, generally, "hideous creatures" (page 21), with any that are too weird simply being "sliced into hundreds of thousands of tiny pieces that are dumped back into the culture vats, where they grow with such unbelievable rapidity that within nine days each has developed into a full-sized hormad again" (pages 22-23). The non-rejects don't have to be Michelangelo's David, however; they just have to be able to fight, for the "stupendous plan" is that an army of synthetic millions upon millions be used to conquer the entirety of Barsoom (page 22). So now have not only the plight of the maimed Dejah Thoris but also a threat to the entire world. In fact, there's a third piece of jeopardy, which is the most immediate one for Vor Daj: the wellbeing of Janai, a girl who had been captured by the aerial patrol just prior to the Heliumites. As usual for Burroughs, she is "beautiful," and yet despite the "terror and helplessness" in her eyes (page 17), she still attempts for Vor Daj "a very brave little smile. A pathetic little smile out of a hopeless heart" (page 28). After all, as she tells him, "You are...better off in that you are a man. The worst they will do to you is kill you" (page 24), whereas she presumably awaits A Fate Worse Than Death once the seven kings finish their squabbling about who will have her. Well, you know the Burroughs fighting-man hero-- They don't cotton to this none 'round hyah, and of course they fall in love on sight, for such, it seems, is the allure of these Barsoomian gals whose jeweled leathern trappings seem to call the eye more than guard against it. It's not creepy at all, apparently, nor is this "love" anything but the most holy and self-sacrificing...no matter how sultry and shapely the object of desire. "[L]ove is mad," shrugs the earnest Vor Daj at John Carter's incredulity that the warrior has asked to have his brain transplanted into a hormad body, but this is the only way Vor Daj "can find the opportunity to discover what has become of Janai" and "[p]erhaps...even rescue her," after which Ras Thavas, who truly has reformed and now is a trusted ally, can switch 'im back again (page 42). Hey, what could go wrong? A bunch, apparently. It's too bad for Vor Daj, shambling around as a huge "hormad with a hideous face and malformed body" (page 43), immensely strong and capable of an exceedingly long reach in a swordfight though the body may be. Posing as a hormad while John Carter and Ras Thavas attempt to go back and save Dejah Thoris, Vor Daj while hoping for their promised return can only work his way up in the service of the most ambitious and clever of the seven kings. At the same time he must protect the woman he loves, even as her suspicion of the crooked-faced beast gradually wanes and yet occasionally waxes again from her own natural doubt, or from that encouraged by rivals of the masquerading Vor Daj. And in the back of the narrator's mind is that, capable as John Carter is, his escape from the Great Toonolian Marshes will be very, very difficult, and if he and Ras Thavas do not make it...well, then he himself will be stuck as a hormad forever, exiled from his own body, the woman he loves, and the society of Helium. As usual in this series, there are swordfights and secret creepings, plans cleverly drawn up and yet dashed, heroism and friendship and betrayal. It will be quite a journey before Vor Daj finally comes to the end of his double- or triple-pronged quests, and Synthetic Men of Mars along the way gives us a solidly entertaining four-star Barsoomian read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brandy Sharpe

    There's so much within the cover of this slender volume that I hardly know where to begin. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Mad Scientist, and interplanetary romance meets the Phantom of the Opera (and other ugly man tropes from french literature) in these 160 pages. But more than that is the characters of this Martian series that smack of something more. Of these, I think I like Vor Daj best (though I've not, nor am I ever likely to, read them all.) I think this one, more than any other, he put him There's so much within the cover of this slender volume that I hardly know where to begin. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Mad Scientist, and interplanetary romance meets the Phantom of the Opera (and other ugly man tropes from french literature) in these 160 pages. But more than that is the characters of this Martian series that smack of something more. Of these, I think I like Vor Daj best (though I've not, nor am I ever likely to, read them all.) I think this one, more than any other, he put himself the most into. I've read that he was a veteran (though I suspected as much reading his work) and Vor Daj reflects a lot of the soldier- specifically the selflessness and the battle that a soldier of PTSD, as well as the sheer ugliness of PTSD in comparison with real life. I think this one may well be my favorite by him, though I'm unsure I will keep the book. I'm happy to end the series on this book alone. Thankfully it's the last one I managed to get my hands on.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Herczeg

    Probably not the best book to choose as my first "John Carter" book, but I found it at a book sale, bought it and decided to read it. Wow. An action packed story, with a very interesting writing style, and some loopy science-fantasy. I won't called it Science Fiction cause I don't think it belongs in that category. The plot concentrated more on John Carter's off-sider Vor Daj and involved a strange cloning technique that was more about growing sub-humans in vats than cloning. It was an interesting Probably not the best book to choose as my first "John Carter" book, but I found it at a book sale, bought it and decided to read it. Wow. An action packed story, with a very interesting writing style, and some loopy science-fantasy. I won't called it Science Fiction cause I don't think it belongs in that category. The plot concentrated more on John Carter's off-sider Vor Daj and involved a strange cloning technique that was more about growing sub-humans in vats than cloning. It was an interesting excursion into Burroughs's world and one I haven't undertaken since my teens (I read all of the Venus books). Well worth the journey.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Drakich

    For the first time in the series, the author returns to a theme introduced in a previous novel, The Mastermind Of Mars, the transfer of brains from one body to another. But unlike that first novel where the brain switching was by the damsel in distress, this time he goes all in by using the protagonist of the story. Once more, the same formula is used. New places, new people, and a damsel in distress. Granted, the introduction of the synthetic men was fun, but it also stretched the level of incre For the first time in the series, the author returns to a theme introduced in a previous novel, The Mastermind Of Mars, the transfer of brains from one body to another. But unlike that first novel where the brain switching was by the damsel in distress, this time he goes all in by using the protagonist of the story. Once more, the same formula is used. New places, new people, and a damsel in distress. Granted, the introduction of the synthetic men was fun, but it also stretched the level of incredulity to the thinnest of lines. Don't let the science bother you. Go for the fun.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pete

    A typical entry in the series. John Carter must find the Master Mind of Mars because Dejah Thoris can only be saved by his surgical skills. Vor Daj, a young red warrior, joins him on this quest. They find Ras Thavas in a swamp city populated by an army of synthetic men that Thavas has grown from vats of flesh. These hormads have decided to conquer Mars. Carter flees the city with Thavas leaving Daj in the body of a hormad determined to save yet another Martian princess. Short and entertaining. T A typical entry in the series. John Carter must find the Master Mind of Mars because Dejah Thoris can only be saved by his surgical skills. Vor Daj, a young red warrior, joins him on this quest. They find Ras Thavas in a swamp city populated by an army of synthetic men that Thavas has grown from vats of flesh. These hormads have decided to conquer Mars. Carter flees the city with Thavas leaving Daj in the body of a hormad determined to save yet another Martian princess. Short and entertaining. The hormads and the flesh vats are marvelous creations.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    The mad Scientist, Ras Thavis, of "The Mastermind of Mars" is back; this time he has created a monstrosity that could engulf all of Mars, after creating an army of hormads - synthetic men. John Carter is seeking him out, believing that he is the only one who can heal Dejah Thoris of a horrible injury. The story is told from the viewpoint of Carter's lieutenant, Vor Daj, who has his brain transferred to a hormad head as the plot develops. The mad Scientist, Ras Thavis, of "The Mastermind of Mars" is back; this time he has created a monstrosity that could engulf all of Mars, after creating an army of hormads - synthetic men. John Carter is seeking him out, believing that he is the only one who can heal Dejah Thoris of a horrible injury. The story is told from the viewpoint of Carter's lieutenant, Vor Daj, who has his brain transferred to a hormad head as the plot develops.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Hollingshead

    In my opinion this is the best book in the Barsoom series that occurs after Warlord of Mars. Not since the opening trilogy had Burroughs constructed such an engaging tale. I had thought of not finishing the series upon the completion of each novel from 5-8. However, I am totally back in after this one. I have two more to go and am looking forward to them, something I had not done since I finished Barsoom #4.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jason Fry

    As usual, it's full of coincidences the hero is impossibly stupid about his own fairly stunted emotions, but the extended riff on mind vs. body and the nature of character is pretty good, and probably fairly subversive for its day. Add in the usual sharp world-building, a genuinely gross threat and pulpy fun and you'll have a good time. As usual, it's full of coincidences the hero is impossibly stupid about his own fairly stunted emotions, but the extended riff on mind vs. body and the nature of character is pretty good, and probably fairly subversive for its day. Add in the usual sharp world-building, a genuinely gross threat and pulpy fun and you'll have a good time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jason Vanhee

    This is maybe the best of the series so far. It's a delightful read, with mutants, body swapping, secret lovers, swamp monsters, rebellions, super scientists and so much more. After #8's low, low value, I feel better about continuing. This is maybe the best of the series so far. It's a delightful read, with mutants, body swapping, secret lovers, swamp monsters, rebellions, super scientists and so much more. After #8's low, low value, I feel better about continuing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    More great SciFi from Burroghs for the Barsoom series. However, this one got a bit silly with the humanoid bodies and mind transfers. Plus, the main purpose of saving Deja Thoris was such an afterthought to the whole adventure and timeline of the story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Mares

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Just how far can you take adventure to..? Burroughs is the master mind of mars truly. Every book so far has been so endearing to the world of sci fi stories. Synthetic men of mars is just a step up as every book of Burroughs has been in order. Can’t wait for the next one.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    Entertaining and original. A step up from the previous book in the series in imagination.

  25. 4 out of 5

    James Troxell

    It's one of the weaker Barsoom books. But the mad science is fun and it's a short enjoyable romp. It's one of the weaker Barsoom books. But the mad science is fun and it's a short enjoyable romp.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Robertson

    fast read, man gets brain transplaned into ugly alien.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Russell

    You know, it was pretty good for a John Carter book. Bringing back old characters (which this book rarely does), changing up the plot and main character a bit. I'm impressed. You know, it was pretty good for a John Carter book. Bringing back old characters (which this book rarely does), changing up the plot and main character a bit. I'm impressed.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    Another Edgar Rice Burroughs book in the John Carter of Mars series. Fun read bringing back memories from the early 70s.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Perhaps not quite as good as the earlier books But I still enjoyed reading this one. As usual a great adventure in a weird realm.

  30. 5 out of 5

    John

    Since the character of Ras Thavas was featured in both the John Carter volumes I absolutely did not enjoy (THE MASTER MIND OF MARS and JOHN CARTER OF MARS), I was not looking forward to seeing him return, which is why I put off reading SYNTHETIC MEN OF MARS until the very end. Turns out, though, my dread for this novel was misplaced. The ridiculous body-swapping element from MASTER MIND is still present, but this time Burroughs uses it in a fun, memorable sort of way. I wouldn't call it a good n Since the character of Ras Thavas was featured in both the John Carter volumes I absolutely did not enjoy (THE MASTER MIND OF MARS and JOHN CARTER OF MARS), I was not looking forward to seeing him return, which is why I put off reading SYNTHETIC MEN OF MARS until the very end. Turns out, though, my dread for this novel was misplaced. The ridiculous body-swapping element from MASTER MIND is still present, but this time Burroughs uses it in a fun, memorable sort of way. I wouldn't call it a good novel in the traditional sense, but it does manage to entertain. I'm glad I read it, but also glad that my reading of this series is now complete.

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