Synthetic Men of Mars
|Synthetic Men of Mars|
dust-jacket of Synthetic Men of Mars
|Author(s)||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
|Genre(s)||Science fantasy novel|
|Publisher||Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Swords of Mars|
|Followed by||Llana of Gathol|
Synthetic Men of Mars is a science fantasy novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the ninth of his Barsoom series. It was first published in the magazine Argosy Weekly in six parts in early 1939. The first complete edition of the novel was published in 1940 by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
Despite a successful career stretching back more than two decades, Burroughs had trouble finding a publisher for the serialized version of the novel. Both Liberty and Blue Book turned him down; Argosy was his third choice. He received US$1200 for the magazine rights.
Like several previous novels in the Barsoom series, Synthetic Men introduces a completely new character as its protagonist: Vor Daj, a warrior from Helium and a member of John Carter's personal guard. Vor Daj narrates the action in the first person, so that when John Carter appears in the story, he is described in the third person (unlike other Barsoomian novels that feature Carter as the first-person narrator).
Synthetic Men also brings back a familiar character, Ras Thavas, a brilliant but evil scientist who functions as the villain in The Master Mind of Mars.
One notable aspect of the novel is its exploration of the potential dangers of cloning and genetic engineering, years before these themes became commonplace in science fiction[original research?]. Nevertheless, Burroughs' treatment is well within the tradition of scientist-created monsters going back to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, including his own earlier novel The Monster Men.
Reception of the novel has been mixed. A noted Burroughs scholar, Richard Lupoff, concludes that the novel "has little to recommend it."  On the other hand, Burroughs' biographer, John Taliaferro, regards Synthetic Men as "imaginative," and considers it superior to his other work of the late 1930s.
- Taliaferro, J. Tarzan Forever: The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Creator of Tarzan. New York: Scribner, 1999. Page 307.
- Burroughs, E.R. Synthetic Men of Mars. New York: Ballantine Books, 1981.
- Lupoff, R.A. Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure. New York: Canaveral Press, 1965. Page 124.
- ERBzine.com Illustrated Bibliography entry for Edgar Rice Burroughs' Synthetic Men of Mars
- Text file Zip File at Project Gutenberg Australia
- Formatted epub version of the book on erb2ebook Blog
- Edgar Rice Burroughs Summary Project page for A Fighting Man of Mars