before he wrote any tarzan books, edgar rice burroughs was writing brilliant science-fantasy set on mars. john carter is a civil war vet (the book was published in 1917) who sets out with a friend to find gold in the arizona desert. they do find gold but also...indians! hiding from the indians in a cave, john carter smells gas...& suffocates to death. he then astrally projects to mars, where he has the leaping ability & strength of an earther, which in mars' low gravity makes him a hero among the fifteen foot tall green "men." it is the princess of the red men who is the eponymous figure in this book, & she wins john carter's heart. after all his adventures are said & done, he dies...& returns to earth.
it is written within the frame story of "these are my weird uncle john's papers" with the additional twist of "& now that he is dead, we buried him, according to his wishes, which are weird, man. he has a well ventilated tomb built...with a lock that latches from the inside!" anyhow, the book is great. it has a sort of adventuresome spirit i admire, along with a protagonist of the never-falter school; john is always on top of things (except for that little bit he goes crazy for, in prison). also, it makes me really like the bit in league of extraordinary gentlemen where john carter & randolph carter (lovecraft's dream alter-ego) are revealed to be related. i liked that, & this morning i re-read the martian issue of leauge... two, & it was that much better now that i had some bearings.