APOCRYPHAL BARSOOMS II
Part 2 of a 16,700-word article by Den
from Part I
GEORGE GRIFFITHS 1901
HONEYMOON IN SPACE
and Bloody Trip to Mars
A Happier Visit
Where on Barsoom
ARNOULD GALOPIN 1905
DR. OMEGA, THE FANASTIC ADVENTURES
OF THREE FRENCHMEN ON MARS
HENRI GAYAR 1908
THE WONDROUS ADVENTURES OF
Shades of Barsoom
GUSTAVE LE ROUGE 1908
PRISONER OF THE PLANET MARS
& WAR OF THE VAMPIRES
Worthy of John Carter!
A Barsoomian Mirror
CHARLES TORQUET 1906
THE CALL FROM ANOTHER WORLD
JEAN LA HIRE 1911
THE CONQUERERS OF MARS
MARCEL LAURIAN 1912
THE WAR OF DWARVES AND GIANTS
MESSAGE FROM THE PLANET MARS
HENRI ALLORGE 1924
HEAVEN vs. EARTH
LORD DUNSAY 1924
TERCER’S MARTIANS, TRAVEL
TALES OF MR. JORKENS
JEAN DE LA HIRE 1926
THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF A
STANLEY WEINBAUM 1934
A MARTIAN ODYSSEY
PAUL CHARLES SEVERIN
GUY SEVERAC 1945
CONQUERERS OF INFINITY
VARLET & JONQUEL 1921
TITANS OF THE SKY &
AGONY OF EARTH
HONEYMOON IN SPACE
1901 brought George Griffith's serial, Stories of Other Worlds,
also known as Honeymoon
Short and Bloody Trip to Mars
An aristocrat, Lenox, receives the use of an anti-gravity ship
from a brilliant mysterious scientist, and goes on a tour of the
solar system with his bride and a Scottish butler/handyman.
The trio start with the moon, move on to Mars, visit Venus and then
press on to Jupiter and Saturn. Of course, we're primarily interested in
the trip to Mars. We are not predisposed to a good impression of the Martians.
Before even approaching Mars, Griffiths characters have a fairly caustic
discussion of the probable nature of the Martians:
"I wonder what they're thinking about
us down there.....but still you never know. You see, their ideas
of right and wrong and hospitality and all that sort of thing might quite
different to what we have on the earth. In fact, they may not be
men at all, but just a sort of monster with perhaps a superhuman
intellect, with all sorts of extra-human ideas in it."
That's a pretty clear hint that they were expecting something along the
lines of H.G. Wells' Martian invaders. And indeed, if we accept that
of the Worlds and Barsoom are all in the same universe, they may well
be referring to the actual experience of the Martian invasion only
two or three years before. Their spaceship has certainly been armed to
Our protagonists, after first checking out Phobos and Deimos to ensure
there is no life there, descend into the Martian atmosphere, doing
a bit of sightseeing. They're soon confronted by a fleet of aerial
Martian warships which attacks them with poison gas shells. After rising
above the fleet, they destroy a Martian ship and then descend towards a
great city located near the equator. They observe a park with fairly
typical Barsoomian flora:
"By this time the Astronef was hanging
suspended over an enormous square about half the size of Hyde Park. It
was laid out just as a terrestrial park would be in grassland, flower beds,
and avenues, and patches of trees, only the grass was a reddish yellow,
the leaves of the trees were like those of a beech in autumn, and the flowers
were nearly all a deep violet, or a bright emerald green."
A large, but orderly crowd, all dressed identically comes out to meet them.
They are greeted by the Martian leaders. These Martians are bald, asexual
giants, eight or nine feet tall, with no visible distinctions between
"That's brains - too much brains, in
fact! These people have lived too long. I daresay they've ceased
to be animals - civilised themselves out of everything in the way of
passions and emotions, and are just purely intellectual beings, with as
much human nature about them as Russian diplomacy or those things
we saw at the bottom of Newton crater. I don't like the look of them."
And based on that, at the first sign of trouble, they turn their machine
guns on the crowd slaughtering hundred of unarmed people, kidnapping,
interrogating and killing the Martian leader.
As it turns out, they're right. The Martian society of the giants, they
find by interviewing the leader, has evolved to a sterile intellectual
perfection, in which human feelings have been purged. Intellectually accomplished
and telepathic, they are yet sterile and barren. Although advanced, they
are a slaveholding society, and avariciously covet the beauty of the Earth
Which, I suppose, makes our heroes act of interplanetary mass murder
all right... Or maybe not.
Happier Visit to Venus
Perhaps the best case for placing 'Honeymoon in Space' in Burroughs
universe comes not from Mars, but from Venus. Alighting on some random
region of Venus, they encounter a race of Bird people. Allow me to
contrast their observations with Burroughs descriptions:
".... yet they
haven't got feathers." "Yes, they have, at least round the edges of their
wings or whatever they are-- "You're quite right. Those fringes down their
legs are feathers, and that's how they fly. They seem to have four arms."
In some respects they had a sufficient resemblance to human form for them
to be taken for winged men and women, while in another they bore a decided
to birds. Their bodies and limbs were almost human in shape, but of slenderer
and lighter build; and from the shoulder-blades and muscles of the back
there sprang a pair of wings arching up above their heads. Between these
and the lower arms, and continued from them down the sides to the ankles,
there appeared to be a flexible membrane covered with a light feathery
down, pure white on the inside, but on the back a brilliant golden yellow,
deepening to bronze towards the edges, round which ran a deep feathery
were large and shaped like those of birds. Their wings, which consist of
a very thin membrane supported on a light framework, are similar in shape
to those of a bat and do not appear adequate to the support of the apparent
weight of the creatures' bodies, but I was to learn later that this apparent
weight is deceptive, since their bones, like the bones of true birds, are
"Below this and attached
to the inner sides of the leg from the knee downward, was another membrane
which reached down to the heels, and it was this which Redgrave somewhat
flippantly alluded to as a tail. Its obvious purpose was to maintain the
longitudinal balance when flying." (Griffith)
also grow at the lower extremity of the torso in front, and there is
another, quite large bunch just above the buttocks--a gorgeous tail which
they open into a huge pompon when they wish to show off." (Burroughs)
look what funny little faces they've got! Half bird, half human, and soft,
downy feathers instead of hair. I wonder whether they talk or sing." (Griffiths)
They had low,
receding foreheads, huge, beaklike noses, and undershot jaws; their eyes
were small and close set, their ears flat and slightly pointed. Feathers
grew upon their heads instead of hair. (Burroughs)
Griffith's Angels of Venus, interestingly, are distinguished only by sizes,
which our travellers take for sexual differentiation. But it is not at
all clear that they are male and female. Burroughs' Wieroo of Caprona are
"Some of them stroked
her smooth, shining sides with their little hands, which Zaidie now found
had only three fingers and a thumb. Many ages before they might have been
bird's claws, but now they were soft and pink and plump, utterly strange
to work as manual work is understood upon Earth." (Griffith)
". . . their arms were
very long, ending in long-fingered, heavy-nailed hands. The lower part
of the torso was small, the hips narrow, the legs very short and stocky,
ending in three-toed feet equipped with long, curved talons." (Burroughs)
"Just listen," she went
on, stopping in the opening of the doorway, "have you ever heard music
like that on earth? I haven't. I suppose it's the way they talk. I'd give
a good deal to be able to understand them. But still, it's very lovely,
isn't it?" Zaidie sang the old plantation song... (Griffith)
"Their voices were soft
and mellow, and their songs were vaguely reminiscent of Negro spirituals,"
Griffith's Angels of Venus are innocents from a Garden of Eden. Meanwhile,
Burroughs Angans are simply shallow and superficial, lacking deep emotions
What we've got here are two radically different takes on what is essentially
the same creatures: Biblical angels transposed to science fiction. Burroughs
makes no secret of it, the name 'Angan' is obviously a play on 'Angel'.
The Wieroo of Caprona consider themselves the servants of God, and in fact,
speaker to God is their highest title. Angels are next to God and
above man in the celestial order, the Wieroo consider themselves and in
the logic of Caprona, are the most highly evolved 'humans.' Angels are
the spirits of the dead gifted with wings, and the Wieroo look like
flying corpses. No question is that it's angels all around!
The big difference is that Griffiths goes for a sweet, treacly sentimental
take on these creatures, as opposed to their 'mass murder' approach to
the Martians. He's completely uncritical, the 'Angels' are by definition
good and innocent, and he looks no further.
Burroughs takes on Angels are more mature and completely unsentimental.
His Wieroo are an unappealing pinnacle of evolution, having ascended to
actual angels, they have left humanity behind. They're literally
flying corpses in Burroughs' descriptions, and that's singularly
unattractive. The Wieroo are so 'perfected' that they've lost all feminine
qualities and therefore are all male. Their perfection leaves them so individualist
that they can barely manage a functioning society.
Meanwhile, Burroughs' Angans are an assault on Angels from the other
direction. Rather than being divine and innocent, the Angans are merely
stupid and shallow. Their innocence, an innocence which Griffiths celebrates,
Burroughs denounces as ignorance. The Angans 'innocence' means that they
have no convictions, they have no love, no loyalty, they blow in the wind
and stand for nothing, they're completely unreliable. They lack the intellectual
foundations for anything meaningful.
It's interesting that Burroughs has taken an idea that Griffith used
here (and that others used elsewhere) and pushed it so hard and in such
a stern direction. There's no sentimentality at all in Burroughs, his characters
deal with the Angans and Wieroo face to face. In contrast, Griffiths characters
do not 'deal' at all with their Angels, they 'ideal' them. Burroughs has
taken practically the same idea and same creature and put a hard spin on
it, in such a way that the Angans and Wieroos are comments on our own society
In the same way, H.G. Wells took the same notion of evolution of sterile
intelligence for Martians that Griffiths worked with, and he too pushed
it hard and in stern directions. Griffith's Martians are simply assholes,
cold enough to justify Zaidie and Lenox's mass murders. Wells' Martians
are actual monsters. But like Burroughs and his angels, Wells uses his
Martians to comment on our own society, on our own conceptions. Burroughs
Angels and Wells Martians are, in some sense, reflections of our own society,
and of our own hypocrisy. On the other hand, Griffith's Martians and Angels
are simply others, they are not reflections at all, and there is no sense
of hypocrisy or irony in dealings with them.
I suppose that this is why we remember and continue to read Burroughs
and Wells, whereas Griffiths has fallen completely out of sight.
I am not, by the way, suggesting that Griffith inspired any part of Burroughs.
Griffith simply drew superficially from the common well of ideas and inspirations
floating around at the time. Burroughs drew more and drank deeper of that
well, and there you have their differences and commons.
Despite the similarities of Angels and Angans on Venus, even that comes
from the common well. If Mars was a planet of war, Venus was the planet
of love. You expected monsters on Mars and Angels on Venus. At best, Wells
may have read Griffith and took his Angels of Venus as a sloppy, sentimental
slap in the face. If so, then the Angans and Wieroo are a couple of stiff
haymakers in rejoinder.
Be that as it may, it seems that the creatures that Zaidie and Lenox
meet on Venus differ from Burroughs' Angans only in the point of view of
the observers. They're Angans, they're on Amtor, which would mean
that Mars is Barsoom.
We should note that Zaidie and Lenox also visit the surface of the Moon,
where they find the surface devoid of life and filled with ruins of a vanished
civilization, with animal life persisting only in the deepest valleys.
Not too bad a match for the world of the Moon Maid.
on Barsoom are we?
Griffith's Martians share some features with the Barsoomians. A slaveholding,
city-based society, Barsoomian foilage, a universal language based on telepathy,
a warlike nature, aerial fleets that are confined to the atmosphere,
canals, the whole nine yards.
On the other hand, they're bald giants. But so what? The Therns are
just as bald, and compared to the Green Men, they're not gigantic at all.
They're merely taller than the average run of Barsoomians, and well within
the ranges attributed to human giants on Earth.
Psychologically, they're different from most Barsoomians, mainly in
being jerks, but one could imagine an inbred culture on Barsoom turning
out this way. There's even a reasonable geographical cue, their city is
located on the equator, bisected by a canal.
Because I actually have a copy of this story to read, we can even locate
them with some degree of confidence. From five miles up, our space travellers
initially note that they are about 5 miles up between latitudes 40 and
50. They see what they believe are continental islands (highlands surrounded
by dark mossy areas), and follow this from the equator a short distance
north, until they find a large city at the tip of a continental peninsula
they describe as the 'London' of Mars.
Referring to the topographic Map and using this description, we can
actually find a reasonable location for this london at the border between
green (midland) and yellow (low highland) areas on the map, even down to
the peninsula. They do not, however, visit this city. Instead,
the press on traveling closer to the Equator, and coming across a pair
of cities divided by a large canal or river, definitely a body of water
this time, which they describe as the 'New York' and 'Brooklyn' of Mars.
This is the city of the Giants in which they land.
Now, following the topography map, if we start at the 'London' area,
and follow the border between green midlands and yellow low highlands west,
we find at approximately 5 degrees latitude and -15 degrees longitude what
appears to be a large river or canal. It works, check it out for
Of course, these regions are right in the middle of explored civilized
Barsoom as John Carter knows it. But they never visit 'London' so it may
well be chock full of Red Men. As for the Twin Cities of the Giants, their
race is obviously sociopathic and anti-social, so they probably don't get
much in the way of tourists, while at the same time clearly having aerial
fleets and technology to defend themselves. The conclusion is that on John
Carter's Barsoom, everyone knows about the Twin Cities of the Giants
but no one has a reason to go there.
The big obstacle to this being Barsoom is that as our heroes approach
Mars, they claim to see the dying seas and oceans. Of
these are honeymooners not trained scientists or observers, and their observations
are being made from an altitude of up to hundreds of miles.
By the time they’re around a mere five miles up they’re heading over land.
Anyone who has flown over seas in an airplane can testify that from several
miles up, its not terribly obvious. So its quite more than
likely that they are simply following their own expectations to see seas
and oceans and mistaking dark flat sea bottoms covered with moss
for actual seas. Certainly they've brought their preconceptions and prejudices
to Mars. So, I think we can happily ascribe this to Barsoom.
DR. OMEGA, THE FANASTIC ADVENTURES
THREE FRENCHMEN ON MARS
1905 Arnould Galopin - "Le Docteur Oméga
- Aventures Fantastiques de Trois Français dans la PlanPte Mars"
[Dr. Omega - Fantastic Adventures Of Three Frenchmen On Planet Mars] (Libr.
Dr. Omega invents a spacecraft dubbed "Cosmos" to travel to
the Red Planet. The "Cosmos" is a projectile-shaped vehicle built using
an antigravitational substance called "repulsite". It can also function
on land and under water. This is another in a long line of anti-gravity
Mars turns out to be inhabited by some strange beings, including giant
dinosaurian beasts, ugly little dwarfs with death rays, and bat or insect-winged
humanlike creatures. This would be the fourth appearance of
winged Martians. (Wells, Kline and La Faure)
In a revised version, Les Chercheurs d'Inconnu [Seekers of the Unknown]
serialized in 12 issues in 1908-09, Galopin changed the name of the ship
to "Excelsior" and the substance to "stellite".
THE WONDROUS ADVENTURES OF
In 1908, we have Henri Gayar writing - "Les Aventures
Merveilleuses de Serge Myrandhal sur la Planete Mars" [The Wondrous
Adventures Of Serge Myrandhal On The Planet Mars] (Laumonier).
Myrandhal reaches Mars via a spaceship called “Velox” powered by the psychic
energy of a thousand hindu fakirs. Then he disappears.
His fiancé, his best friend and a little dog named Spot (I’m not
making this up), go off in search for him in a second, smaller ship.
They discover that the Velox has been trapped in a volcanic geyser while
exploring Mars' northern regions. However, no sooner do they
get it free than Serge’s friend is abducted by Houas, small, red-furred
manlike dwarves who live underground in volcanically heated caverns.
But it turns out they’re fairly benign, and Serge even adopts one.
The Houas reveal the existence of a higher race on Mars, beautiful winged
humanoids called Zoas, which Serge also referrs to as "Elohim" (a type
of Angel). Myrandahl is all hot to go there, and since
the two psychic powered spaceships convert into boats, they set out on
the Martian sea, sailing around the coast southwards. They
pass through a Sargasso sea, and finally come to the ruins of an underground
They find resting there, in crystal eggs since time immemorial, the
mummies of the Zoa, an exquisite winged race which became more and more
diaphanous and asexual. They became extinct: "They surpassed the allowed
intelligence and reached the apex; they are become scholars as gods; they
did not have any more reason to exist." The group find a few last Zoa resting
on a bed; the group calls them the "Elohim." At the end, when Serge finally
establishes communication with Earth, thanks to a telepathic transmitter,
his friend rushes in shouting, "The Elohim have awoken!"
In a later version, published in 1927 as Les Robinsons de la Planete
Mars [The Robinsons of Planet Mars] under the pseudonym of "Cyrius",
Gayar got rid of the psychic energy and instead used the planetary force
of attraction; he also added German villains to the plot and prophetically
rechristened the rocketships V1 and V2.
One of the interesting things here is the Hindu mystic driven ‘psychic
powered ship’. Robert Darvel in Prisoner of the Planet Mars
finds himself launched to Mars by a device powered by a monastery of Hindu
Within Burroughs, a key part of Carson Napier’s skills was his high
development of psychic power in Tibet, which he proposed to use for communicating
between worlds. In the context of this and other stories, his
psychic prowess may have been intended to have more applications to space
As for the inhabitants of Mars here, we have no trace of small red-furred
dwarf, but then again, Barsoom is a big place, so there’s no inherent obstacle.
Certainly, dwarf races on Mars will appear several more times in other
stories. They may be an isolated population which Carter has
never encountered. Certainly, they are not nearly as strange
as the Kaldanes or the Lothars.
The winged, diaphanous and asexual race of Zoas (Elohim) on the other
hand, we have seen before, or at least, creatures like them.
They are reminiscent of Wells' flying Martians from ‘The Crystal Egg’,
Kline’s butterfly-winged little people from Swordsman of Mars, and
Graffigny and La Faure’s Adventures of a Russian Scientist and Galopin’s
Omega. This, therefore is the fifth appearance of such creatures.
This is also the second appearance of dwarflike Martians.
They had previously troubled Dr. Omega in 1905, though these dwarfs are
far more primitive.
Meanwhile, the geography of the story from the brief descriptions, seems
suggestive. The northern volcanic region filled with caverns
is likely Alba Patera, an immense shield volcano at the upper edges of
Tharsis. Serge crosses a sea, which in Barsoomian terms is
almost certainly Gulliver Jone’s Opal Sea, immediately to the east of Alba
Patera in Tempe Terra. Thereafter, he heads south, down canals
or rivers, through the great valley of the Kaolian forests, into a Sargasso
sea which is most likely a section of the Toonolian Marshes, and then finally
into more volcanic caves on the opposite side of the Marshes, near or at
Tharsis southern flank.
1908 & 1909
PRISONER OF THE PLANET MARS
& WAR OF THE VAMPIRES
Story Worthy of John Carter!
There are a couple of novels in 1908 and 1909, which if they are
not set upon Barsoom, perhaps ought to be, French “pulp” author Gustave
LeRouge’s (1867-1938) wrote “Le prisonnier de la planete Mars [The
Prisoner of Planet Mars]” and it’s sequel, “La guerre des vampires
[War of the Vampires]”
Robert Darvel, a young American scientist/engineer journeys
to Tibet, and the monastery of Chelambrum, where Prince Ardavena convinces
him to construct a psychic energy condenser, an elaborate machine which
would combine the psychic energies of a thousand fakirs or holy men into
a chamber where a person could then use them to communicate with other
planets. LeRouge puts a lot of time and energy into convincing the audience
of the ins and outs of this remarkable machine.
Darvel was previously attempting to communicate with Mars by writing
gigantic letters in the siberian tundra, in the hopes that the Martians
would be able to see it and respond by writing equally gigantic symbols
on their planet's surface. Don't laugh, this was actually a fairly serious
notion by astronomers, around this time.
It is these activities which inspire Ardavena to recruit Darvel, who
immediately turns his attention to the possibilities of psychic communication.
Unfortunately, things do not go well for Robert. Prince Ardavena turns
out to be an evil schemer who wishes to use the device for his own power.
Meanwhile, the 'energy condenser' turns out to be far more powerful
than Robert figured, when it physically catapults him to Mars. Essentially,
Darvel seems to have stumbled across an artificial means of duplicating
John Carter's 'astral jumps' between the worlds.
Unfortunately, once on Mars, Darvel has no way to get off, or to communicate.
He discovers that Mars is a low marshy region, inhabited by a primitive
and rather unhappy race of small humans. They wear feathered cloaks, but
lack the wherewithal to make fire.
Darvel describes exotic creatures including giant crabs, giant clams
and giant moles, which he speculates have dug Schiapelli's canals. He also
encounters large Octopi with humanoid faces, something which is vaguely
suggestive of Wells' WoW invaders.
there are 'bat winged' 'humanlike' creatures called Erloor, vampiric creatures
who dominate the humans. Like any good hero, Darvel proceeds to introduce
chaos to Mars. He gives the gift of fire to the humans, and then proceeds
to overthrow the Erloor. Sentiment leads him to spare a small Erloor child
who leads him to the cave of the Erloor, where he's taken prisoner.
Luckily, he's rescued by the Martians he liberates. Darvel then
discovers another race of 'Erloor', except these are invisible. They're
described as having shimmering dragonfly wings, in drawings, they have
round human heads, small bodies and two boneless tentacular arms ending
in flexible fingers. They keep crystal urns, somewhat reminscent of Wells'
crystal egg. Luckily, Darvel finds an opal helmet which allows him to see
Darvel, goes underground to combat these invisible Erloors and finds
an entire civilization of sleepers in caves under the surface of the planet,
he also discovers an underwater city whose inhabitants remain completely
indifferent to the action on the planet surface.
Darvel discovers that there's a pecking order on Mars. At the bottom
are the primitive savages of the swamp, above them the 'bat' Erloors, above
them the invisible Erloors, and at the top of the heap, a Giant Brain which
claims to rule the planet from its crystal mountain. It savagely rules
the invisible Erloors, who are fairly unhappy about the whole thing.
Darvel cuts the Giant Brain's power, interrupting its rule.
But the Brain recovers, uses its Erloor slaves to capture Robert and sends
him back to Earth, using the power of a Volcano to speed him on his way.
In the next book, Robert discovers that fifteen of the invisible Erloor
have accompanied or preceded him to Earth. They want Robert to go back
to Mars and kill the giant brain so that they can rule the planet, and
threaten his fianc . And so, late in the innings, we've got another Burroughs
trope, the 'lady love' in peril, John Carter would sympathize. Robert manages
to kill all the Erloor except one, which retreats to Tunisia, to write
bitter Erloor poetry.
Although chock full of Burroughs style adventure, called frantic and
even surreal by his critics, Darvel's story frequently bogs down in Jules
Verne style exposition, nowadays called 'technobabble' and in Wellsian
digressions. Still, fans of Gustave LaRouge describe the Robert Darvel
stories as his masterpiece.
Darvel was clearly influenced by both of Wells' Martian stories, which
may account for a resemblance or two. Gustave LaRouge, like both Wells
and Burroughs clearly was doing his homework, his writing shows familiarity
with both Flammarion and Schiaprelli. However, despite preceding A Princess
of Mars by four years, its almost certain that it was not an influence
on Burroughs, since it was written in French and not published in English
or in America. Of course, caution is advised. I've had no opportunity to
read LaRouge, or even a detailed translation. This synopsis is generated
entirely by internet research, with the generous if erratic assistance
of translator programs.
In Barsoomian terms, Darvel has almost certainly wound up somewhere
in the Toonolian Marshes. The descriptions are very suggestive
of the 1800 mile long swamp which represents the last remnant of Mars great
seas, a largely unexplored and unexplorable region occupied by races of
feathered cloak wearing primitive savages and by remnants of old Barsoomian
A small note on Barsoomian and Martian Geography here. The Toonolian
Marshes are most likely identified with Valles Marinis, the vast canyon
complex, which is related to and which begins in the Tharsis uplift region.
Tharsis itself is a geologically volcanically elevated bulge on the Martian
surface, containing several volcanoes. It's also the most likely spot on
the planet for an immense cavern complex. So if we transpose Darvel to
Barsoom, the geography continues to work. He starts off in the Toonolian
Marshes in a 'no man's land', winds up entering cavern complexes which
lead to Tharsis. The Great Brain then uses one of the Tharsis
volcanoes, both for power, and to help get rid of him.
In short, while we cannot pinpoint Darvel’s location precisely, we can
identify with a great deal of certainty, the real areas of Barsoom or Mars
that he would have been in.
Interestingly, Darvel’s journey is almost a mirror image of Serge Myrandahl’s
in Gayer’s story published later in the same year. Both reach
Mars via psychic power from an army of Hindu Fakirs. Serge
starts trapped in a volcanic geyser, and Darvel ends up being shot out
of a volcano. Both begin by encountering primitive races and
seeking out the higher ones. Myrandahl’s primitives, though
ultimately good hearted, are more primitive and less sympathetic than Darvel’s,
while Darvel’s primitives are oppressed and waiting liberation.
Myrandahl travels down into a Sargasso sea that might well be a section
of the Toonolian Marshes. Both find underground caverns and seek
out winged races, though Myrandahl’s are dead and benign while Darvel’s
are very much alive and dangerous. It’s almost as if they very
nearly crossed paths.
Darvel’s two novels featuring flying martian humanoids are the sixth
and seventh occurrences of such creatures. Interestingly, like
Kline’s little people in the ‘Swordsman of Mars’ the higher race of Erloors
has the power of invisibility. Invisibility, by the way,
appears several times in the Barsoom stories, the natives of Invak and
Onvak are invisible, the inhabitants of Thuria master psychic invisibility,
the Jahar scientist Phor Tak invents invisibility as do the Skeleton Men
The Erloors are also vampires, but this is consistent with H.G. Wells’
Martians. His Martian flyers are associated with the Sarmak
invaders who themselves are vampiric, it stands to reason then that the
flyers may be vampiric themselves. The Erloors also show signs
of being a hive society, with two different types of Erloors and a ruling
‘Great Brain.’ Wells’ Martians, in the two races living together
without conflict may also be hive creatures. Burroughs Kaldanes are
definitely hive creatures.
The Giant Brain is interesting, because philosophically, this entity
seems to reflect the Kaldanes' racial objective, though it's rather more
aggressive. The Kaldanes' hypothetical giant brain will basically sit and
think until the end of time. This one amuses itself by playing little tin
god. In another sense, the Great Brain is a fairly logical extension
of Wells' Martians. His inhuman invaders have reduced themselves to literally
nothing but brain, so it would follow that their society, and perhaps the
related society of the flyers would be ruled by an ultimate brain.
Also reminiscent of Wells’ Martian stories are the giant crabs, suggestive
of the giant beetles, and the pseudo-human faced octopi, perhaps another
version of the ‘big head’ Sarmak Martians.
The only thing that Darvel misses is the more civilized Barsoomians.
But this story takes place after Wells' Martian invasion, and after the
John Carter/Gulliver Jones crusade against the 'big head' Martians as chronicled
by Effinger and Moore. So the related species of flyers, and the controlling
intelligence is probably keeping a low profile. Darvel never finds an advanced
human Barsoomian city like Phundahl or Toonol because the Erloors are themselves
careful to stay away and restrict all travel and communication there. Darvel
is more interested in fighting the Erloors than in exploring randomly in
the hope of finding a completely hypothetical (to him) higher Barsoomian
Not even the underwater city is completely out of place, since it may
be at the bottom of the deep canyons of the Toonolian Marshes. Meanwhile,
there are manifest Burroughsian elements. The American hero,
the threat to his fiancee, the endangered Martian humans, the sleeping
cave dwellers. Only the undersea city seems out of place.
Robert Darvel takes his place alongside Frederick Hamilton, Gullivar
Jones, Ulysses Paxton and John Carter, Harry Thorne and Jerry Morgan as
a select group of American adventurers on Mars. One wonders if they met
for poker on Friday nights when Dejah Thoris was out with the other
Of the various Mars stories I've researched, this and Gustavus Pope’s
to Mars are the two that seem like they would be fun to read, and would
be fun to actually work to integrate directly into Barsoom. Alas, with
the limited information we have available to us, we can only qualify this
as a very intriguing possibility.
THE CALL FROM ANOTHER WORLD
1906 Charles Torquet - "L'Appel d'un Autre Monde"
[The Call From Another World] in Je Sais Tout (15 Nov).
An American occultist who has visited Mars through astral travel reports
the existence of two species of Martians: hairy giants, four times the
size of men, and smaller, wall-crawling cave dwelling dwarfs or pygmies.
Giants are not atypical on Barsoom, although these seem to be human
giants. The fact that they are hairy beings suggest that they
may be related to the hairy red men, the Thither people, who inhabit the
edges of Tempe Terra of the Tharsis region.
If so, this would put the giants and pygmies deeper within Tempe Terra.
And this would also place them relatively close to the cave dwelling dwarfs
of Gayer’s tale of Serge Myrandahl. This, by the way, is the
third appearance of dwarfs or pygmies.
THE CONQUERERS OF MARS
1911 Jean de La Hire - "Le Mystére des XV" [The
Mystery Of The XV] in Le Matin, 1911; reprinted as 2 vols., Le Secret
des XII [The Secret Of The XII] and Les Conquérants de Mars
[The Conquerors Of Mars] (Jaeger, 1954).
Mad scientist Oxus and his 14 associates travel to Mars on a radioplane
using a series of hertzian relays, planning to colonize the planet. There,
he faces his arch-enemy the Nyctalope, and the Martians from H.G. Wells'
of the Worlds.
If we count Gustave Le Rouge’s Prisoner of Mars, this is the
third appearance of H.G. Wells' Sarmak Martians.
Jean de La Hire will write a sort of sequel bringing back the H.G. Wells
Martians once again as, improbably enough, a Boy scout adventure.
THE WAR OF DWARVES AND GIANTS
1912 Marcel Laurian - "L'Étrange Aventure de
M. Narcisse Barbidon" [The Strange Adventure of Narcisse Barbidon]
Reprinted as Les Hommes-Singes [The Ape-Men] and La Guerre des Nains
et des Géants [The War of the Dwarves and the Giants] (1919).
Like Verne's Hector Servadac, Prof. Barbidon, his daughter, nephew and
man-servant are carried to Mars on a chunk of Peru, after a meteorite crashed
into the Earth. There, they encounter the technologically-advanced
and telepathic dwarves of the wondrous city of Lankmirakar. They help them
in their battle against the luminous electro-magnetic beings of Pomernia.
They discover prehistoric monsters, black-skinned and red-skinned anthropoids,
winged sphinxes, mermaids, and cyclops. They meet Nostradamus from Earth,
and a Persian sorcerer called Mahousky-Khan. They eventually return to
Earth on a chunk of electrically-powered mountain, and land safely in the
In a Barsoomian context, this seems like an awfully long shot.
But the black and red skinned humanoids or ape-men are reminiscent of Burroughs
black and red skinned races. They’re also reminiscent of the red
cave-dwarfs that Serge Myrandahl meets in Gayer’s story.
Dwarfs, although not seen in Burroughs Barsoom, have been encountered
now several times in other stories. This is their fourth appearance.
The winged sphinx and cyclops seem like creatures of classical greek
mythology. But on the other hand, a sphinx is a winged creature with
a humanlike head and nonhuman body, so in that sense, it resembles some
of the species of winged flyers we meet. If so, this would
be an eighth appearance for such creatures.
And its worth noting that John Carter himself encounters a race of cyclopes,
one eyed beings, in the Masena race of Thuria.
As for Nostradamus and Mahousky-Khan, it’s well established that humans
from Earth are able to psychically project or incarnate upon Mars.
We’ve seen that in Flammarion, Burroughs, LaRouge and Kline.
So, without knowing more detail of the novel, we might indeed have Barsoom
once again. The presence of Dwarves probably puts us on or
around the northern part of the Martian Tharsis region. The
presence of a winged flyer is also suggestive of Tharsis. But
no further detailed identification of location is possible.
MESSAGE FROM THE PLANET MARS
1921 Anonymous - Fascinax No. 13. "Un Message de
la Planete Mars" (Message from Planet Mars).
A French pulp Super-hero named Fascinax defeats bat-men-like Martians
who have travelled to Earth in a rocketship and plan to invade -- however,
this may be an elaborate fake scheme by human villains.
For the record, this amounts to the ninth story which features winged
HEAVEN vs. EARTH
1924 Henri Allorge - "Ciel contre Terre" [Heaven
vs. Earth] (Hachette).
Earth is again attacked by vampire-like Martians who are described in
reviews and notes as looking like Le Rouge's Erloors from "Le Prisonnier
de la Planete Mars". These Martians, however, are defeated by alcohol.
Well, with the little we’ve got to go on there isn’t much to say.
But we do appear to have the tenth appearance of ‘bat-winged’ or
‘insect winged’ ‘humanlike’ flying Martians. LeRouge’s
particular concept of the Erloors proved influential, since several stories
copied his creatures closely.
TERCER’S MARTIANS, TRAVEL
TALES OF MR. JORKENS
1924, Lord Dunsany, writing his Travel Tales of Mr. Jorkens
describes a traveller named Tercet who, upon flying in an airplane to Mars,
encounters humans kept like poultry in wire cages. He kills
one of their inhuman captors, a creature reminiscent of Wells’ ‘big head’
Martian invaders. Tercer then returns to his plane and flies
off. But years later, as related in Mr. Jorkens Returns To Africa,
he receives a challenge from the Martians, loads up with weapons, and takes
off. The sole message that comes back from him is "Victory."
Well, there are slight overtones of both Wells’ and Burroughs, and this
is written late enough that it might well be a pastiche and the resemblances
may be deliberate. However, we’d have a bit of trouble incorporating
this into Barsoom.... An airplane? Really
now. And to make matters worse, on the way back from Mars in
his airplane, Tercer makes a stop on an asteroid and encounters elephants
the size of mice.
Still, it's Barsoomian in that we have a human race, as well as the
fourth appearance of a Wells’ Sarmak type Martian.
JEAN DE LA HIRE
THE GREAT ADVENTURES OF A BOY SCOUT
1926 - Jean de La Hire - "Les Grandes Aventures d'un Boy Scout"
[The Great Adventures of a Scout] (Ferenczi) (illustrations by Geeorges
Vallée). 30-episode magazine serial.
The hero, Franc-Hardi, accompanied by eleven boy scouts and five girls,
explores the solar system in Engineer Korrid's (who appeared in the Nyctalope
On Mars, they meet men from Earth who came to the Red Planet in the
18th century. Then they meet the native Martians, who happen
to be bear sized round creatures, essentially heads, with large eyes, parrotlike
beaks and two clusters of eight tentacles. Essentially, Wells'
The artists depictions of these creatures make them look pretty cute,
actually. But we can still count this as the fifth appearance
of an H.G. Wells’ ‘Sarmak’ type Martian.
A MARTIAN ODYSSEY
1934 - Stanley G. Weinbaum, A Martian Odyssey, Wonder
Stories, July & Startling Stories, November ~ 1st hardcover ed. New
York: Fantasy Press (1949).
Weinbaum’s story takes us back to Lowell’s Mars, a dying world, mostly
desert, empty but for dunes and arrow straight canals, and yet, with a
breathable atmosphere. Weinbaum’s Earthmen are explorers in
the 21st century, charting the world in its twilight, when one of the explorers
meets an alien intelligence.
That intelligence is Trrrweerrlll P-p-p-proot., called Tweel for short
in the story. Tweel is not a humanoid creature. Instead,
the first description is ‘That freak ostrich’ “The martian
wasn’t a bird really, it wasn’t even birdlike, except at first glance.
It had a beak all right, and a few feathery appendages, but the eighteen
inch beak wasn’t really a beak. It was somewhat flexible. I
could see the tip bend slowly from side to side. It was almost like
a cross between a beak and a trunk. It had four toed feet, short
arms and four fingered things - hands you’d have to call them. A
little roundish body, and a long neck ending in a tiny head - and
that beak. It stood an inch or so taller than I,” relates Jarvis,
its temporary companion.
Tweel is an extraordinary leaper, able to jump dozens of feet straight
up in the air, flip around and come back down like a missile.
He has desert adaptations, feathery structures that cover his nostrils
and eyes during a sandstorm.
Tweel is intelligent. He has tools, sophisticated equipment, he
can communicate the difference between carbon and silicon based life.
However, his intelligence seems to have basic differences from human.
Communication is difficult and always imperfect, there is always a point
at which it breaks down.
Burroughs never wrote anything like Tweel, of course. But on the
other hand, Otis Adelbert Kline included no less than three different breeds
of flightless bird in his area of Mars. The first to be seen
is the Koree a 30 foot tall ostrich like desert predator in Swordsman
of Mars. The next is the Rodal, a ten foot tall bird, five
feet at the shoulder, which appears to be a riding mount for desert nomads.
Finally, there is the Koroo, a forty foot tall oasis hunter in Outlaw
In comparison to these monsters, Tweel is a runt. But still,
all four birds seem to follow the same general body plan of a distorted
ostrich. It is not hard to see them as being related.
In the articles on Kline, I speculate that the Elyssium plateau was, during
Mars wet period, was a large permanent madagascar sized Island in the polar
sea. Perpetually isolated from the mainland, it, like Madagascar
and New Zealand were colonized by birds who eventually became flightless
giants. The isolated line of evolution that leads to the Koree,
Koroo and Rodal might well produce a Tweel.
Kline’s Martian books came out in 1933 and Weinbaum’s story followed
in 1934. So it’s unlikely that Kline was inspired by Weinbaum
or vice versa. More likely, the giant flightless birds of each man
were independent inventions.
Larry Niven, in his book Rainbow Mars includes Tweel’s race,
along with Wells’ invaders, Burroughs' red men, green men and kaldanes,
and Lewis’ sorns, hrossa and pfifltrigii. So, who am I to argue
with the great Larry Niven? Somewhere on Barsoom, perhaps around
the lost sea of Kline’s areas, a race of strange intelligent birds endures.
PAUL CHARLES SEVERIN
1935 Paul Charles Severin - "Heureux Martien"
[Happy Martians] (Livres Nouveaux).
Paul de Kervan travels to Mars on the "Épervier" (a propeller
plane!). He finds a society ruled by an avaricious Queen. Soon a revolution
begins. Kervan marries a beautiful Martian girl.
An Airplane yet again? One wonders if Mr. Kervan knew Mr. Tercer.
This is potentially Barsoomian only for the ‘human’ Martians.
CONQUERERS OF INFINITY
1945 Guy Séverac - "Les Conquérants
de l'Infini" [Conquerors of Infinity] (La Jeunesse).
Young scientist Henri Nissac and girl-friend Georgina Smolen travel
to Mars in a rocket. Martians are technologically advanced, peaceful, tentacled,
spherical beings, with great mental powers. Returning to Earth, they crash
in the desert and forget their journey.
The description of tentacled spherical beings sounds like yet another
iteration of Wells Sarmak Martians, the sixth.
MARS VERSUS JUPITER?
A COUPLE OF ODDITIES:
TITANS OF THE SKY &
AGONY OF EARTH
1921 Théo Varlet & Octave Jonquel
- "Les Titans du Ciel" [The Titans of the Sky] (1921) and "L'Agonie
de la Terre" [The Agony of Earth] (1922) (MalfPre).
A sequel to Wells' War of the Worlds. The Jovians intervene to
help Earth after another Martian attack on Earth, this time using rockets
filled with deadly gases.
Earth is almost completely destroyed by the Martians. The Soviets take
over. Meanwhile, the Jovians punish Mars by using focused solar energy
to destroy it. However, the Martian Overlords (who look like Le Rouge's
Erloors from "Le Prisonnier de la Planete Mars") escape to Earth.
Our planet is then revealed as the place where Martian souls reincarnate.
Souls are alleged to travel inward from Mars, to the Earth, to Venus, to
Mercury, to end up being one with the Sun. This explains the original invasion.
In Volume Two, the destruction of Mars has released millions of Martian
souls ready to take over human bodies. The heroes fight the body-snatching
Martians, this time with the help of the Venusians.
This is definitely not Barsoom, although it has enough affinities to
make us stop and take a second look. In some ways, this is some fevered
The notion of souls of Martians reincarnating on Earth is obviously
a clever inversion of Flammarion’s notion of Earth souls reincarnating
on Mars. Particularly significant, since ‘reincarnation’ or
astral teleportation plays such a critical role in Burroughs universe.
Meanwhile, both sets of H.G. Wells’ Martians make an appearance here,
including the tentacled big heads or Sarmaks, showing up for the seventh
time, and the winged flyers who resemble Erloors tenth occurrence.
Sadly, this cannot take place in Burroughs Universe because there is
no subsequent invasion from Mars. Instead, Earth fights a savage
world war off and on from 1914 to 1967 which causes quite enough trouble,
1931 brought a separate unrelated novel: Pierre Lavaur - "La
ConquLte de la Terre" [The Conquest of Earth] (Tallandier).
The Jupiterians are at war with Mars and kidnap Astronomer Edgar Rogotha.
Colonel Mac Brody helps defeat an invasion.
The war with Jupiter is reminiscent of both Burroughs' Skeleton Men
of Jupiter in which Jupiter plots an invasion of Mars, and the Titans
of the Sky, in which Jupiter interferes with a Martian invasion of
Why Jupiter? Obviously, it’s the next planet out after Mars,