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Also known as Gullivar of Mars, as well as being reprinted in several editions with the protagonist's name misspelled (understandably, perhaps) as Gulliver, Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, emitted from the pen of Edwin Lester Arnold in 1905, is the first entry in the rather narrow genre of Mars adventures, which of course is a subcategory of the more reasonable planetary romance/planetary adventure/sword and planet genre.

Gullivar Jones, on leave from the US Navy, is morosely pacing about New York City when a peculiar man falls out of the sky before his feet, along with a carpet. Our hero naturally assumes this is merely a tall-building-related incident; the man himself is pronounced dead with a broken neck on first examination, and Gullivar takes the carpet home with him, being at a loss for what else to do with it. One technical mishap later, he inevitably finds himself forcibly rolled up in the carpet and hucked away to Mars — to his own considerable, understandable bafflement. Adventures unsurprisingly ensue.

Unfortunately, the reception of Gullivar was not all its writer could have wished; in fact, its initial release flopped so badly that Arnold permanently stopped writing. Even more unfortunately, this was probably pretty well-deserved. Lieutenant Jones is an American Navy officer written by a British ornithologist, and it shows in the seams; he's an occasionally crude portrait, not to say caricature, of a big, bluff, egalitarian Yankee. Worse, even a cursory comparison with its much better-received descendant, A Princess of Mars, shows that one would not need to be exceedingly fastidious to consider Gullivar's plot slow and at times even inept. While I did not personally regret either the reading or purchase, I find it hard to recommend the novel broadly on its own merits.


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