A Princess of Mars was initially published under its original title Under the Moons of Mars in All-Story Magazine in 1912. That appearance in print marked the commencement of the writing career of author Edgar Rice Burroughs (best known as the creator of Tarzan), although the story was mistakenly first attributed to Norman Bean in a typo that completely undid the intent of Burroughs to be clever. The pen name was supposed to be “Normal” Bean not Norman; as in the writer of a story based on such outlandish possibilities and content could be trust not to be off his nut because his bean was perfectly normal.
Such stories as this one involving a man from Virginia who falls into a cave and wakes up to become a hero on the planet Mars published in magazines with paper made from cheap wood pulp and featuring fantastical tales that could never be anything but fiction did not, as a matter of course, always find new readership when repackaged between the covers from harder woods. The far more immediate response by readers to the second story that Burroughs would get published—featuring a guy who swung bare-chested through the thick jungle forests—would eventually have the impact of expanding his readership base for his other hero. In 1917 a certain sense of respectability was granted to Under the Moon of Mars—now appearing with the title A Princess of Mars—when it was published in hardcover.
The story’s hero would join Tarzan in become the star of a series of novels that Burroughs would continue publishing until 1939. Although never as wildly popular as his Tarzan tales, the fantasy worlds and characters he created in A Princess of Mars would serve to become a place where the author could go to indulge his own growing weariness with having to constantly put out new dishes for the readers circling back for new helping at the Tarzan all you can eat buffet.
Although never considered a great literary stylist, Burroughs has become one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century. Many of science fiction writers who became household names during the 1950s and 1960s credit his John Carter series for inspiring them. In addition, a line can be traced back from the influence of the Buck Rogers movie serials that prodded George Lucas to create Star Wars to the John Carter books that influenced the creators of those serials. Although previous attempts had been made to turn John Carter into a money-making machine on the big screen like had been done with Tarzan, it would literally take more than century for A Princess of Mars to finally make the leap to the big screen with the release of big budget adaptation in 2012 under the title John Carter.