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PRINCESS OF MARSby CHARLES R. TANNER
From the magazine FANTASTIC: SCIENCE FICTION - FANTASY -- August 1968
He hid within a cave
at last, a dismal place and haunted;
The Indians came, a-searching him, but even they were daunted
By something in the cavern dim -- then Carter got a sniff
Of something old and dead and cold, and he was frozen stiff!
He lay for hours within
the cave, as still and cold as ice;
He tried to wiggle, tried to squirm, he tried to move -- no dice.
At last he felt a funny click -- by every Grecian god! he Jumped up and gee!
He found that he was standing by his body!
Don’t get me wrong,
no ghost was he, he still was just as stolid
And grim and stern and handsome as before, and just as solid.
He stepped outside the cave and looking up beheld the stars.
A moment’s spark of cold and dark, and Bam! He’s up on Mars!
The Martians known
as Tharks were quite the strangest ever seen;
With walrus tusks and four long arms, fifteen feet high, and green.
They lived like desert Arabs, but instead of sheep and goats,
Up there on Mars there’s zitidars, calots and banths and thoats.
John Carter killed
a warrior, and standing by the carcass,
He saw a Thark walk up and say, “Good work! My name’s Tars Tarkas.
“No one can have a friend on Mars, no one can have a wife,
“But keep it quiet, friend, and I will be your friend for life.”
One day, while Carter
cleaned his guns and hummed a little ditty,
An airship from far Helium came sailing o’er the city.
They shot it down ’mid squeals and yells, a wild and savage chorus;
And there inside was Helium’s pride -- the lovely Dejah Thoris!
Oh “who is Sylvia,
what is she, that all our swains commend her?”
An who is Trojan Helen, e’en with Venus to defend her?
And who is Shakespeare’s Juliet? These ladies all were quinces.
Not one would dare to risk compare with Captain Carter’s princess.
John Carter as a fighter
was a superman for certain.
John Carter as a lover -- Let us quickly draw the curtain. .
He stuttered, stammered, stumbled -- he was in a dreadful state;
And only two clear words got through; he muttered, “Let’s escape.”
“So forth from Alexandria
--” (Beg pardon, that’s a quote),
So forth from their imprisonment they rode upon a thoat.
Across the dead sea bed they fled, past many an ancient ruin,
Till, in dismay, they saw the next day the green men were pursuin’.
The green men came
up fast so she fled upon a thoat.
John Carter told her, “Go, I’ll stay behind and be the goat.”
But when the Martians got up close, he saw they were no Tharks.
These savage goons were all Warhoons, a damsite worse than sharks.
They took him to their
city and they put him in a cell.
He found that they had captured a red Helium man as well --
A noble friendly fellow by the name of Kantos Kan--
And it really burned him up when he had to fight the man.
The Warhoons like a
battle, so they made their prisoners fight
From early in the morning until pretty late at night
And then they turned the last one loose, so Carter got a plan.
“It’s up to you to see me through,” he said to Kantos Kan.
So Kantos killed a
dozen men, and Carter killed a score,
Then turned upon each other when there weren’t any more;
And Kantos faked a sudden thrust and Carter fell “defeated”,
And lay there, stark, till after dark and then got up and beat it.
Across the dead sea
bottom Carter quickly made his way,
And came across a great big building, late the following day.
An old man bade him welcome, saying, “Enter without fear,
“For I’m the cheese that makes the breeze that people breathe up here.”
(You see, the planet
Mars is old and hasn’t got a bit
Of natural atmosphere and so they manufacture it.
They have to keep it secret from the whole blamed Martian race,
Or pretty soon some dumb Warhoon would try to raid the place.”
The old man flattered
Carter and he made him stay for lunch
And said he had to spend the night, but Carter got a hunch
That this old boy would kill him just to keep his secret tight --
So with the dawn, J.C. was gone, continuing his flight.
Across the dead sea
bottom (golly! here we go again!)
Came Carter to Zodanga where he joined the ruler’s men.
And one day on the street he saw an old familiar pan.
“Well, knock me stiff,” said Carter, “if it isn’t Kantos Kan!
Said Kantos Kan, “By
Issus, you’re the guy I’m glad to see.
“I’ve got a job to do and you can be a help to me.
“These fellows caught our princess fair, as from the Tharks she fled,
“And now the clown that runs the town insists that they be wed.
John Carter said, indignantly,
“Well, whaddya think of that,
“I’ll wallop these Zodangans till they don’t know where they’re at.
“The nerve of them! The princess is the girl who’s won my heart.
“Them easy marks! I’ll get the Tharks and take this place apart.”
He leaped upon his
thoat and rode, with Thark his journey’s end.
Tars Tarkas was their ruler now; he said, “Hello, my friend.”
Said Carter, “I’ve got a job for you,. my friend, so do you duty,
“And in the end you’ll get, my friend, a lot of loot and booty.”
To make a long tale
short -- they smote Zodanga, hip and thigh;
The Tharks attacked them from the ground and Helium from the sky.
Zodanga lost its freedom and its ruler lost his life;
The Tharks got loot and wealth to boot -- and Carter got his wife.
For ten long years,
‘mid smiles and tears, he led the life of Reilly
As Dejah Thoris’ husband. He was honored very highly.
And then, one day, he heard her say what threw him for a loss:
“Your loving wife would bet her life they’ve killed the air-plant boss!”
Said John, “Now that
you mention it, it is quite stuffy here.
“I guess it’s up to old J. C. to save the atmosphere.”
He quickly called a flier and set off across the plain.
And flew and few till he came to the airplant once again.
He fixed the air-plant
up, all right, the best that he could do,
But he was darned short-winded by the time that he got through.
He gazed up at the sky, beheld the planet of his birth --
A moment’s spark of cold and dark, and Bam! he’s back on earth!
Oh, Edgar Burroughs
antedated Joyce by several years
In writing stories that go ‘round in circles, it appears.
If I were old John Carter, I would sure be broken-hearted
To fight so much with Tharks and such, and wind up where I started.
2. To Dak Kova
By Miss India Boone, Kansas City, Missouri
From Camille Cazedessus’ ERB-dom #55, Feb. 1972
Forty-three million miles away
On a planet up in the sky
There lives a fearsome, warlike race
That does not fear to die.
A more savage horde of beings
Never walked beneath two moons,
And the cruelest and most heartless
Is Dak Kova of Warhoon
Fifteen feet he stands from head to foot,
With skin of olive green --
And quite the most fearsome face
I’m sure you’ve ever seen.
Blood red eyes show ferocity
And only one ear’s intact
One broken tusk, snow-china white
Will frighten the bravest back.
Dried human hands and naked skulls
Are worn around his neck.
A wild, proud being who has won
The title of “Jeddak.”
But deep inside him’s an emptiness
That never can be filled
By looting, burning, or laughing at
Some creature that he’s killed.
He can never know emotion
Never love, or hope, or fear.
Never know the beauty in sunrise
Or have a mate who’s dear
A loveless creature: Loveless fate
Living in a world of hate
He knows no emotion nor cares for time
His one desire...To destroy mankind.
3. Heart To Heart Talks
by J.T. Donney, Macleod, Alberta
The All-Story Weekly Letter Column, September 22, 1917
Tarzan swings back out of the tree house into the forest and comes across two Golden Finches which he catches in each hand and knocks their heads together to kill them. He then returns to the tree house, throws the birds on the table, and asks Jane, "Can we have dinner, now?"
Jane replies, "But Tarzan we have no meat for the main course."
Tarzan swings once again out of the tree house into the forest and comes across a pair of chimpanzees and catches one in each hand and knocks their heads together to kill them. Once again he swings back into the tree house, throws the monkeys on the table, and asks Jane: "Can we have dinner, now?"
Jane replies, "Tarzan, do we have to have FINCH AND CHIMPS AGAIN?"
Me: Ok, to write
a letter, the first thing you need is a piece of paper and a pen.
Tarzan: What are those?
Me: Paper is flat stuff that is made from tree pulp, sort of like a very small blackboard. Pens are sticks that write, sort of like chalk but smaller and in darker colors.
Tarzan: Is this paper?
Me: Ah, yes, that is paper, but you don't want to write a letter on that, that's my paycheck.
Tarzan: Why can't I use this?
Me: Well, that's a representation of money that I .. uh, never mind. Just don't write on that. Look, here's a piece of paper that you can write on.
Tarzan: What about a pen?
Me: Pens are like little sticks. Do you see anything on this desk that looks like a little stick? Uh, no, that's a ruler. Rulers are for measuring things. Uh, no, that's a toothpick, it's for cleaning teeth, I don't know why it's on my desk. Look, here's a pen.
Tarzan: That doesn't look like a little stick! It's grey. Little sticks
Me: I meant "little stick" metaphorically. Just use this. Uh, you have to take the cap off first. Ok, now write "Dear Mom" on the paper. Wait, you want to rotate the paper so that the short side is at the top and the long side comes towards you.
Me: Well, that's just how it's done. I suppose you could do it the other way, but it would look a little funny. Ok, now write "Dear Mom" on the-- oh, no, at the top. Well, never mind, we can just throw this one away and start over. That's right, "Dear Mom" at the top. Then the rest of the letter.
Tarzan: Ok, I've finished the letter! Can we go hunting now?
Me: Well, you aren't really done. I mean, you are done with the letter, but now you have to send it. You need to put the letter in an envelope next. An envelope is a piece of paper that is all folded up to hide and protect the letter. Uh, no, put my paycheck down, we don't want to fold it
into an envelope.
Tarzan: Wouldn't that work?
Me: Well, yeah, it would *work*, but it isn't the best way to do it, and besides, I want to keep my paycheck. Look, just put your letter into this envelope here.
Tarzan: It won't fit.
Me: Yeah, you have to fold it first. Um, it will work better if you fold it into thirds. No, the other way. There you go, now put it in the envelope. Good. Now seal the envelope by licking the paper here and folding it over.
Tarzan: You must be joking!
Me: No, really, that's how you seal the envelope. Look, if you don't want to lick it, you could get a little sponge and dish of water and use the sponge to wet the envelope flap.
Tarzan: I'll just go dunk it in the creek then.
Me: NO! Sorry, I didn't mean to yell. Look, I'll show you, I will lick it for you. See? Easy.
Tarzan: Ok, now can we go hunting?
Me: No, not yet, we still need to address the mail so that the postman knows who should get the envelope. So on the envelope, write "Lady Greystoke" - nonono over here. Well, never mind, we can get a new envelope for it. I'll take it out of the old one for you. Ok, here's a new envelope for you, see if you can put it in - that's good - and seal it.
Tarzan: I cut my tongue!
Me: Ooops. It does take a little getting used to. Ok, now write "Lady Greystoke" right here. Good! Ok, now we need to look up her address in the address book. This is my address book, and you'll have to make
your own address book and fill it in with addresses.
Tarzan: How will I know what people's addresses are?
Me: You'll just ask them for their address.
Tarzan: How can I ask them if I can't write to them?
Me: You have to ask them some other way, like when you see them in person.
Tarzan: Why can't I just get a big book with everybody's address in it?
Me: Well, there are five billion people in the world, so it would be an awfully big book, plus people move all the time, plus some people wouldn't want their address in the book. Look, trust me, it works. You'll get people's addresses. Ok, so underneath her name, write her address. Uh, you put the street address on its own line, then the city and state and ZIP code.
Tarzan: What's a ZIP code?
Me: Don't worry about it, just do it.
Tarzan: Hmmpf. It would be a lot easier if I could just put "Mom." Ok, it's addressed. NOW can we go hunting?
Me: Hold your horses. You need to put your return address in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope.
Tarzan: What's my return address?
Me: It's how people can contact you. Your landlord should have given you a piece of paper with your address on it. Yeah, that looks right, now copy that to the upper left corner. Upper LEFT corner. Good. Ack! My desk! Put the cap back on!
Me: It's very important that you put the cap back on the pen so that the ink from the pen doesn't get all over everything. Ok, now we have to put a stamp on the envelope, which is a way of paying for the delivery. You need a 32-cent stamp. Never mind why. You need to put it in the upper right hand corner, no, right-side up - so the 32 is right-side up. No, it won't stay by itself, you have to lick it.
Tarzan: I'm not licking anything else, I cut my tongue last time.
Me: Oh, all right. I'll lick it for you this time. Tomorrow you can go buy a different kind of stamps that you don't have to lick.
Tarzan: How many different types of stamps are there?
Me: Well, there's stamps you lick and self-adhesive stamps, and different denominations of stamps, oh, and there are stamps from other countries but you can't use them.
Tarzan: Why not?
Me: Because our government doesn't recognize those stamps. And we can't use our stamps in other countries.
Tarzan: So do I have to use two different stamps if I send something to another country?
Me: No, there's an agreement with other countries that they will deliver mail with our stamps if they come from outside the country.
Tarzan: So why can't we use other countries' stamps inside our country?
Me: They just won't, leave it be.
Tarzan: Ok, I'm going hunting now.
Me: Just a minute, just a minute! How do you think the letter is going to get to your mother? Did you think it was just going to magically leap from the desk and get to her? We need to take it somewhere that the Post Office can find it.
Tarzan: How about under my pillow?
Me: Don't be smart with me, young man. We need to take it and either put it in the mailbox or take it down to the post office.
Tarzan: Isn't the mailbox where mail comes *in*?
Me: Yes, but the postman will take it out of the mailbox and take it down to the post office if it is already there.
Tarzan: Does that mean that if I don't take my incoming mail out of my mailbox by the time the mailman comes again, he'll take all my mail away?
Me: No, it doesn't work like that. Look, it just works, ok? Just go put it in the mailbox, I'm tired of arguing with you. Then go play in the jungle or whatever, just leave me alone.
Tarzan: Sigh Letter-writing is *hard*!
Email looks pretty easy in comparison!
by Ducky Sherwood?
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