Night Shade Books, p/b, Â£9.99 / Kindle, Â£8.58,Â LINK
Reviewed by David Brzeski
On the surface, these books are obviously an Edgar Rice Burroughs pastiche. Nathan Long takes ERB’s basic story and substitutes a biker chick for John Carter. Initially there are lots of parallels to the source material, such as multi-legged beasts and people with odd skin colouration. It’s not long, though, before the characters take over and Long finds himself writing his own story.
Jane Carver is over six feet tall, not very girly to say the least, and possesses a foul mouth that would shock a trucker. In fact, I feel obliged to say at this point that, if you have a problem with profanity, then you should probably steer clear of these books. I found the most intriguing facet of Jane Carver’s character was that she didn’t consider herself attractive as such. The truth is that she’s taller and stronger than most men and, because she has little of the demure lady in her personality, men simply find her intimidating.
There are many of the tropes that ERB fans will recognise, such as ancient super-science disguised as religion keeping the population in check, and abductees in the need of rescuing. Despite this, the books have a lot of originality to them. Naturally, Jane Carver regales against the inherent sexism of Waar, whereas John Carter probably found Barsoom quite forward-thinking.
Had this been the simple pastiche it initially looked to be, then one book would have pretty much covered all the bases. In this case, the characters quickly found their own path, and we end up with a fun science fantasy adventure series that easily stands on its own merits.
The recent upheaval at Night Shade books leaves it unclear whether or not theyâ€™ll be publishing any further books in the series, but I certainly hope theyâ€™ll find a home somewhere.