The Metal Men of Mars
by Joe R. Lansdale
Cover Artist: Gregory Manchess
Review by Sam Tomaino
Date: 28 January 2012
Beginning with 2012, I am going to start reviewing the new short stories that appear at www.tor.com. During every month, Tor posts stories, excerpts from novels, comics, and articles. They are free so I recommend you check them out. Each new story will be reviewed separately. This is the second one, posted on January 23, 2012.
The story is "The Metal Men of Mars" by Joe R. Lansdale, a novelette. It's from a new anthology, Under the Moons of Mars , edited by John Joseph Adams, coming out on February 7th from Simon & Schuster. John Carter is bored with being the Jeddak of Helium and his beautiful, naked wife, Dejah Thoris understands what is wrong with him. She tells him he should strap on his sword and leave the palace for a while. So, he takes a small, two-seater flyer and sets out. Not what I'd do with a beautiful, naked wife, but they wouldn't write stories about me.
You probably won't be surprised to learn that he, eventually, finds excitment. He is confronted by what seems like a dragon. He brings it to the ground and he realizes that it was some kind of metal craft, Two men armored in metal come out. One crawls briefly and dies from the fall. Carter is in a sword fight with the other made more difficult by the fact that his sword is not much use against the others armor. He manages to stab the man through his eye hole, killing him. Unfortunately, he is overpowered when more metal men show up. He awakes and finds himself a prisoner. After a long journey he is taken to a "city of rising gold spires and clockwork machines". Thus starts a grand adventure story in the Edgar Rice Burroughs tradition.
This story was a lot of fun. I bet John Joseph Adams has done a great job with that anthology, Under the Moons of Mars It's probably worth checking out.