With Mars now closer to the Earth than it has been for hundreds of thousands of years, some of us are given pause to think about how all the stories of spaceships going to Mars have never really been concerned with the actual logistics involved. Such practical considerations are a minor part of "The Moon Maid," a 1923 pulp fiction yarn from the master of adventure, Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which a spaceship headed for Mars is sabotaged and ends up on the Moon instead. Unlike John Carter, who made his way to Mars simply by raising his open arms to the red planet, the adventures in this story, the first in ERB's Moon trilogy, actually take a spaceship.
It is interesting that Burroughs played a bit more attention to the science in his pulp novel this time around, even in terms of the fanciful Eighth Ray, given that the Moon books are his most political. Burroughs began working on a story, "Under the Red Flag," at end the First World War, which voiced his concerns over the Communist takeover of Russia, albeit in slightly dramatic form. However, with the war over pulp magazine editors were not interested in ERB continuing to fight the war, even in his Tarzan novels. Over the course of the next several years, while he worked on other projects, the prolific Burroughs turned his grim prediction of a world under the yoke of a communistic goverment into a space adventures that would allow him to make the points he felt needed making. After all, the man who created Tarzan was obviously a big believer in personal freedom.
However, the first volume in the trilogy turns out to be a rather standard ERB romantic adventure. "The Moon Maid," originally published in "Argosy All-Story Weekly," is the first book in the Moon trilogy and takes place after the end of the Great War (1914-1967). Captain Julian commands "The Barsoom," the Earth vessel that ends up on the Moon. Once there he and his companions discover flora and fauna, including small horse-like creatures with human features. The title creature is Nah-ee-lah, human type known as U-ga, who comes from the city of Laythe where she is the daughter of it's Jemadar (come on, this is an ERB yarn: you knew she would be royalty). The godless Kalkars prove to be the biggest threat to both Julian's survival and his chance of a romantic relationship with the Moon Maid. The first time around saving the girl becomes the prime objective. Saving the rest of the Moon people from a fate worse than death will happen in the next set of stories, "The Moon Men" and "The Red Hawk" (usually you will find all three combined as "The Moon Men").