The first of Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars series begins with a journal entry by the author, saying how his family knew Captain Jack Carter and also that he died, his un-embalmed body entombed in a crypt in Virginia. He also says that the following story is based on a manuscript that Carter had left him. The following chapter begins this tale of John Carter, of how he was gold prospecting after the Civil War (he fought for the South) and was attacked by Apaches. His partner, Powell, is killed but he takes refuge in a strange cave--and then finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars. He's taken captive by the giant green Martians, the Tharks and eventually wins the friendship of Tars Tarkas. Months later, when an aircraft crash lands, the survivor is taken by the Tharks. This turns out to be the Princess of Helium, Dejah Thoris. He's immediately smitten. With the help of the female Sola, the only Thark who has shown him human emotion, he and the princess escape into the desert, though they get split up. Eventually she gets back to her city--and John Carter gets his woman. It's now been ten years since he's been on Mars. But then something else happens. The air quality of Mars is diminishing and it's because of the failure of the Oxygen factory. In an earlier adventure Carter had come across this and remembered the passkey numbers. So he rushes there, with a group of red warriors, as the citizens of Helium become unconscious from oxygen deprivation. He manages to open the door to the facility but is weak--and asks another man to go in and turn on the pumps. Then, he awakens back in the cave in Arizona, back on Earth, to his dismay. Will he ever get back to Mars?
This first of the Mars series holds up well, considering it was written over a hundred years ago. Reading it is requirement if you're a fan of science-fiction or fantasy.