In the early 70s I read what I'm sure was an Ace paper back. Loosely SF in the same way that the Barsoomian tales might be considered SF. A typical "mighty-thewed" hero is magically transported to an alien planet and must save the fair maiden. What I recall most was that unlike John Carter, this hero was not very likable. He lacked the nobility of Carter and was something of a brute. I'm sure it was written during the same golden age of pulps as John Carter. For all I know it might be Edgar Rice Burroughs. I distinctly remember a race of winged humanoids who kidnap the fair heroine and her rescue is what provides the driving force in the novel.

  • The many Gor books? (I never read them so I'll leave a real answer for someone who knows something about them.) Jan 18, 2012 at 0:07
  • And of course, there is a spoof sequence on the idea in Heavy Metal. //Haven't watched that in years...must see it again sometime soon. Jan 18, 2012 at 0:10
  • hangs head in shame. I read some of the Gor novels. Not what I'm thinking of. I'm sure it's pulp era - 20's or 30's. Though conceivably a pastiche. Jan 18, 2012 at 2:35
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    Two points to consider in looking for the work: 1) ERB made all his heroes noble, so if he wasn't noble, it wasn't ERB. 2) A Princess of Mars was published in 1912. While the series continued into the 50s, it was likely much later than the original John Carter stories, which makes me wonder if it could have possibly been satire? And are you positive the name was John Carter? There are matches if the name is different.
    – Tango
    Jan 18, 2012 at 2:35
  • Sorry - guess I wasn't clear. The character is definatley NOT John Carter. Perhaps I should edit the title. The story I'm trying to track down reminded me of John Carter - Earthling is transported to alien planet by some unexplainable mechanism. The planet is populated by human-like aliens as well as a variety of non-earthlike creatures (the winged humanoids). Jan 18, 2012 at 15:38

7 Answers 7


After getting a hint based on a Google search of "Mighty-thewed" I researched Robert E. Howard who did indeed write a planetary romance called Almuric. R-reading a copy of it now that I found on-line at this link.


I'm leaning towards the Gor books, myself (well, I was until I saw the 'stand-alone' comment, above)... but another series that's somewhat similar is the Dimension X series, starring Richard Blade.

They feature a former MI5 operative who is sent (through not fully understood technology) to various alternate dimensions. He's very violent, tends to be rather oversexed, and basically comes across as James Bond crossed with Conan, both of whom must have been taking Steroids and Viagra. (This being said, the books were delightfully adult for me as a young teenager, and remain a guilty pleasure to this day.)

Because of how his mind adapts to each dimension, he tends to lose much of the veneer of civilized man (at least in the early books) as he becomes something more 'normal' for the dimension he is in. Although he's the hero and rather likeable.. he does, as a result, have quite a few What the Hell, Hero? moments. (Warning; TVTropes link.)


Try Otis Adelbert Kline's two Mars books ("Swordsman of Mars" and "Outlaws of Mars". Published during the time frame you refer to. Main character very John Carter, except that he makes errors in judgment, such as killing the princess's pet because he thinks it is a ravening monster. Fun ERB-pastiches.

Another possibility is Michael Moorcock's "Kane of Mars" series (published under the pseudonym of Edward P. Bradbury). The evil antagonists are the winged First Masters, which fits your requirement. The series was published back in the day by Lancer, instead of Ace, but they may fit. Moorcock's protagonists are rarely likable - Michael Kane is arrogant. He is also "mighty-thewed", a warrior and a physicist (hey, its pulp!). The books are pretty much John Carter ripoffs, although they become darker as the series progresses.

  • 1
    What about these books matches the description in the question aside from the time frame?
    – phantom42
    Jan 14, 2014 at 17:27
  • As I am new to this site, and view it as a place to have a comfortable conversation about different reading passions, I'd like to understand why my edited note warrants 2 votes down. Would you help me out by explaining your reasoning? Thanks.
    – rws
    Jan 14, 2014 at 19:26

Around the 1960's-1970's Ace republished a book by Edwin L. Arnold titled "Gulliver of Mars", which was originally written in 1905 and originally titled "Lt. Gulliver Jones". Very Barsoom-like and written in the first person.

hero is magically transported to an alien planet

From the book "...Oh I wish I were anywhere but here......I wish I were on the planet Mars!" "... Even as I spoke the magic carpet quivered responsively under my feet... ' Check

and must save the fair maiden.

From the back cover: "For Mars was a planet of ruined cities, ancient peoples, copper-skinned swordsmen, and weird and awesome monsters. There was a princess to be rescued. Check

For all I know it might be Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Also from the back cover: "Here the long-lost classic of interplanetary adventure which some science-fiction experts think may have helped to inspire the immortal Edgar Rice Burroughs." Check

this hero was not very likable.

Undetermined. It's been so long since I read it I don't remember.

a race of winged humanoids

Undetermined. It's been so long since I read it I don't remember.


If you consider that the name of the hero might not be John Carter, but might be Tarl Cabot, then there's Tarnsman of Gor. This is a world with lower gravity, which allows for winged creatures, and many of the plots were reminiscent of the John Carter books. You can find more about the Gor books here. (Also note that Tarl Cabot is described as "mighty-thewed.")

  • Hero is definitely not John Carter. Almost certain it's not Tarl because that was a series of which I did read a number of titles. The novel I'm trying to remember was a stand alone (Im pretty sure) Jan 18, 2012 at 3:01
  • Okay -- well, Tarn was "mighty-thewed." (Any chance you're crossing books in your memory?)
    – Tango
    Jan 18, 2012 at 3:20
  • Googled mighty thewed which I pulled out my nether regions and the first hit was a Robert e Howard fansite? Any chance it's some work of his. I know he wrote a broad range of characters for many markets. Jan 18, 2012 at 6:08

The only story with an unlikeable protagnist whisked away to alien planet and a fantasy flair that comes to mind is Heinlein's Glory Road. I haven't read it in decades so I can't attest to winged troublemakers.

For some reason this also reminded me of Michael Moorcock's Sojan the Swordsman, which in turn led to this double novel... It might be worth a gander

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    It really doesn't fit any other aspects of the description at all.
    – Tango
    Jan 19, 2012 at 0:05
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    Incidentally, Gordon, the Hero of Glory Road is SUPPOSED to be a character the reader can relate to, and not unlikeable. YMMV of course, but RAH didn't meant for him to come across as an ass.. just a touch provincial.
    – K-H-W
    Jan 19, 2012 at 2:02

This may be In The Edgar Rice Burroughs Venus Series, Carson Napier of Venus. I remember this takes place on a mostly water world, the main island being vepaja. Carson becomes a pirate two or three times and does not seem to be a totally likeable character, he chases after a princess named duare and there are many winged monsters. The first three novels in the series were written in the 1930's.

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