The Moon Men

by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Series: Moon 2
Reviewed date: 2008 Dec 10
Rating: 1
222 pages
cover art

The Moon Men is a sequel of sorts to The Moon Maid. I say "of sorts" because it was written first, as a standalone novel. It didn't sell. Burroughs was never one to waste his work, so he hatched a scheme to sell The Moon Men as the middle book of a trilogy. The plan worked.

The Moon Men is a heavy-handed criticism of communism. The Earth has been overrun and ruled by the Kalkars, a race of indolent Moon men. They impose communism on the people. Our hero Julian the 9th is tired of kowtowing to the Kalkars, so he rebels. At first, his overt defiance stuns the Kalkars. They don't know how to deal with a strong man--they understand only weakness and cowardice. Julian grows bolder, and finally organizes an armed rebellion. He is counting on support from many of the Kalkar soldiers in the Kash Guard, who are fed up with the status quo. The Kash Guard soldiers are cravens and desert him. Julian's uprising fails, and he is beheaded.

Burroughs includes strong elements of religion in The Moon Men. Normally religion is beneath the dignity of Burroughs's heroes, but Julian must take a stand for traditional American values in the face of the evil godless Communists Kalkars. However, the kind of religion Burroughs portrays is a mockery of God and the Bible. The god Burroughs portrays is meaningless and empty:

We worshiped an ideal and a great hope, both of which were all goodness, and we called these God. We did not care what our great-grandfathers thought about it or what some one a thousand years before had thought or done or what name they had given the Supreme Being, for we knew that there could be but one and whether we called Him one thing or another would not alter Him in any way.

Furthermore, their worship of God is explicitly tied up with patriotism and America-worship:

Orrin Colby always delivered this same short prayer at the opening of services each first Sunday of every month. It ran something like this:

"God of our fathers, through generations of persecution and cruelty in a world of hate that has turned against You, we stand at Your right hand, loyal to You and to our Flag. To us Your name stands for justice, humanity, love, happiness and right and the Flag is Your emblem. Once each month we risk our lives that Your name may not perish from the earth. Amen!"

So what does this religion offer them? It offers them worthless hope of improved conditions: "Orrin Colby talked to us--he always talked about the practical things that affected our lives and our future. It was a homely talk, but it was full of hope for better times." This is not religion. This is not the gospel. The real gospel of the Bible offers genuine hope. God offers salvation from our sins. He offers us hope for a new life, a new heart, a cleansing from sin and an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The real gospel is not about a god who is "an ideal and a great hope." It is about a God who became a man, lived a perfect sinless life, and died a painful death to pay the penalty for our sins. That is real hope. The mishmash of patriotism and spirituality that Burroughs presents is offensive.

The Moon Men is out of copyright in Australia but not the United States. You can read it online at Project Gutenberg of Australia.

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