The Onion AV Club's editor has been reviewing a stash of pulpy paperbacks he got at a garage sale, and now Keith Phipps has hit on a fascinating double-novel by a semi-forgotten author. It's sort of twisted, quasi-feminist Barsoom fan-fiction.
I'd never heard of A. Bertram Chandler before reading Phipps' review, but I'm now dying to check out his work. Apparently he had a full career in the merchant marine before starting to write SF novels in 1961. Phipps writes:
Chandler's background is pretty evident in the two novels collected in Ace Double M-129. Both concern men and women serving in intergalactic navies, and both feature alien races subjugated by the colonizing forces of more technologically advanced cultures, areas of concern no doubt inspired by Chandler's life and surroundings. But two other less-expected themes poke through in each: the role strong women could play in traditionally male-dominated cultures, and the push and pull between the fictions we consume and the world around us.
Phipps' musings on the genre pastiches in Chandler's work are all pretty entertaining, but the funniest part is probably the bit where one of Chandler's heroes actually travels to an alternate Mars that looks surprisingly like Barsoom, and he goes in search of Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous heroine, Deja Thoris. Instead, he meets Delia Doris, who's much closer to what a Martian warrior would probably be like in real life: tough, mean, and not that attractive. [AV Club]