Cover of first edition
|Author||Edwin Lester Arnold|
|Genre||Fantasy novel, Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||S.C. Brown, Langham & Co.|
|Media type||Print (hardback)|
Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation is the last novel by Edwin Lester Arnold, combining elements of both fantasy and science fiction, first published in 1905. Its lukewarm reception led Arnold to stop writing fiction. It has since become his best-known work, and is considered important in the development of 20th century science fiction in that it is a precursor and likely inspiration to Edgar Rice Burroughs's classic A Princess of Mars (1917), which spawned the planetary romance and sword and planet genres. Ace Books reprinted Arnold's novel in paperback in 1964, retitling it Gulliver [sic] of Mars. A more recent Bison Books edition (2003) was issued as Gullivar of Mars, adapting the Ace title to Arnold's spelling.
The concept of a military man going to Mars, exploring strange civilizations and falling in love with a princess had been explored as far back as Percy Greg's Across the Zodiac (1880), but the connections between Gullivar and John Carter, the protagonist of Burroughs' Barsoom novels, are more numerous and stronger. Burroughs' novels bear a number of striking similarities to Arnold's. Both Carter and Gullivar are military men - Carter serving in the Confederate States Army; Jones in the United States Navy - who arrive on Mars by apparently magical means (astral projection in the case of the former, magic carpet in the case of the latter) and have numerous adventures there, including falling in love with Martian princesses. Gullivar is a more hapless character, however, paling beside the heroic and accomplished Carter; he stumbles in and out of trouble and never quite succeeds in mastering it. The fact that Gullivar does not quite defeat his enemies or get the girl in the end helps explain why Arnold's Martian saga was not as popular as Burroughs', which eventually extended to eleven volumes.
Richard A. Lupoff, the first critic to argue for the connection of the two works, has suggested that while Burroughs' Mars was inspired by Arnold's, his hero may harken back to an earlier Arnold creation, the ancient warrior Phra from his first novel, The Wonderful Adventures of Phra the Phoenician (1890).
Marvel Comics adapted the character for the comic book feature "Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars" in Creatures on the Loose #16-21 (March 1972 - January 1973), initially by writer Roy Thomas and the art team of Gil Kane and Bill Everett, and later written by Gerry Conway, followed by science fiction novelist George Alec Effinger. The series moved to Marvel's black and white magazine, Monsters Unleashed No. 4 and No. 8 (1974), written by Tony Isabella with art by David Cockrum and George Pérez. Marvel's version modernized the setting, recasting Gullivar as a Vietnam War veteran. Though this official adaptation used many of Arnold's characters and concepts, it was not a strict adaptation of the original book.
Dynamite Entertainment's Warriors of Mars comic series crosses over Gullivar Jones with the Barsoom setting. In the comic, Jones' lover Princess Heru went on to marry Mors Kajak and became the mother of Dejah Thoris; the Hither People are equated with the Red Martians; and the River of Death is said to be the Valley Dor.