Proof that the word “Classic” is way overused. This came out six years before Edgar Rice Burroughs started his Mars series. There’s been some debate if this was an influence on him. Not even close. Maybe it influenced him on how not to do it. Just because a book is old doesn’t mean it’s good or worthy of the abused term “Classic.” This is a colossal bore all the way through.
Gulliver is a Navy Lieutenent on leave. He’s in New York and bored. One night while strolling the dark streets he’s hit by a flying carpet. The old man on it falls off and breaks his neck killing himself. Gulliver takes the body to a hospital and then goes to his room with the carpet.
While standing on it he says he wishes he was on Mars. Just like that the carpet rolls him up and takes him there. He meets a group of child like people (very similar to the Eloi from “The Time Machine”) and is befriended by a babe named An. On the river he saves Princess Heru from drowning.
In the palace he’s just in time for the yearly marriage ritual. Men pull names out of an urn and that’s their bride. Heru fixed it so Gulliver would pull her name. It’s also time for the yearly tribute to the barbarians. In order to keep the peace they come around once a year to grab all the goodies they can. That includes taking a beautiful girl back to their king, Ar-Hap. A Prince who thought Heru was his points her out and off she goes. He’s jealous that she preferred Gulliver.
Gulliver tries a rescue but ends up in the water. He rides his raft the wrong way and ends up on the River of the Dead. When a Martian dies they’re put on a raft and floated down to an island with ice where their bodies are stored.
It’s an endless read as Gulliver meets a number of different tribesmen on his way to rescue the Princess. All he seems to do is sleep and eat. When he finally gets to the barbarian village what does he do? That’s right. Goes to sleep. What does he do when he wakes up? Right again. Has something to eat.
His dealings with the king in an effort to rescue the girl are putrid and based on coincidence. Then there’s a comet that causes a huge heat wave. The whole thing is really about a guy who doesn’t do anything and in the end when he gets a chance to actually do something…forget it. Maybe Arnold was trying for a non-adventure-adventure comedy. It’s all too bogged down for any intended laughs.
The book languished in obscurity for decades. That’s exactly where it belongs.