for what now?

When I was a kid, we went from North Carolina to North Dakota to visit relatives every couple of years. It was nearly two full days in the car. I made the trip alone with my parents one summer, because both of my older brothers stayed home. I didn't have any new books to bring along, and for some reason the idea of bringing library books on vacation stressed me out. So I started poking around in my oldest brother's shelves.

A Princess of Mars (Barsoom, #1)He pulled out a stack of thin paperbacks. I recognized the cover art, because they'd been in the house for years. I hadn't read them yet, though, so he loaned me the whole series. The first one was called A Princess of Mars. By the time we got to grandma's house, I'd finished all twelve.

They're short, fast reads, and I did nothing else the entire ride. When the sun went down, I resorted to the flashlight-under-a-blanket thing. As soon as we arrived, I realized that I'd blown through what was supposed to be two weeks worth of books in two days. That was okay, because I wanted to read them again.

They were all Martian landscapes, sword fights, alien creatures, and airship battles. Each book was about a hero facing incredible odds for the sake of love or honor or duty. I'd never read anything like them. Edgar Rice Burroughs is more famous as the guy who wrote Tarzan (a perfect example of "the book was better than the movie"), but his Martian books will always be my favorites.

For Helium! is the battle cry of the men and women of the twin cities of Helium, which are on Barsoom (known as Mars to us Earthlings). I'm using it as my blog title because those books are among my earliest memorable reading experiences, and they played a large role in forming my tastes.

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