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Volume 1408

Otis Adelbert Kline, the Sincere Rival
The OAK / Barsoom Fit
Den Valdron
Part of the Exploring Barsoom Series


. . .. . . 

Fitting OAK's Mars into Burroughs Barsoom
When is it?
The Ma-Gongi, The Yellow Men of Kline's Mars
Ulfi, The Winged Little People
Location, Location, Location!
Thakkor Marshes
Circumstantial Evidence, Birds and the Bees
Xancibar, Khalsifar and Nunt

Fitting OAK's Mars into Burroughs Barsoom

Which, it turns out, is not that hard to do.   The picture of Mars that Kline draws, though allegedly millions of years in the past, is pretty much the same one that Burroughs has.   It's an old society, it's suffered a cataclysm, its oceans are gone, replaced with deserts, civilization is spread along canals.  There's high technology, feudal culture, swordsmanship and exotic critters.   In these respects, at least, Kline’s and Burroughs Mars match because it is Mars. 

Mars, from Flammarion, to Schiaparelli, to Lowell, has become a defined landscape in science, in popular thinking and in fiction, little different than Africa or the Cowboy West.   There's an underlying commonality between almost all the Martian stories and novels between 1880 and 1940 (even H.G. Wells) because they all drew from that common well.   Literally, they were all writing about the same planet and that planet and its history or 'story' was quite well known.

As to their quality and style, it is perhaps unjust to simply say more of same.  With a bit of tinkering, the Kline Mars books could be released as Barsoom books and no one would know the difference.  Both are quite good adventures, though they might have profited from being longer. Outlaw of Mars is particularly good, although flawed, its scale and depth of characters approach Burroughs original Martian trilogy.   Above all, they're readable.   You're never quite sure what Harry Thorne or particularly Jerry Morgan are going to do next, but it is at least logical to the characters.   Life keeps throwing curve balls, they cope.  It never bogs down.

   The Kline books share similarities of character with Burroughs.  Like John Carter both Harry Thorne and Jerry Morgan are remarkable swordsmen of rigorous loyalty and a ferocious mean streak.   Both novels feature a loyal 'Martian dog', Thaine's Dalf, which is fairly close in usage to Carter's Calot Woola.  Jerry Morgan is particularly close, bouncing around in lower gravity like a rubber ball, using super-normal Earth strength    Also like John Carter, Jerry Morgan covers himself to disguise his colour and infiltrate as a native Martian.  There are, of course, a series of heroes and villains, including four Princesses who could have slipped over into Barsoom and never been caught. 

One of the interesting things that Burroughs and Klines Mars share is that the central character is the planet itself, and so the protagonists are allowed to shift:   John Carter, Carthoris, Ulysses Paxton, Tan Hadron for Burroughs, Jerry Morgan and Harry Thorne for Kline.

Synthetic Men of Mars: 1st edition art by John Coleman BurroughsFrank Frazetta illustration from Doubleday edition of Synthetic Men of MarsArgosy: January 7, 1939
Both series feature advanced Martian cultures with sophisticated machines.  We see a bit more industrial level construction in Outlaws, but have every reason to believe its there for Barsoom.  Both cultures appear to be primarily city states.  Both cultures are feudal monarchies with slaveholding.   The societies are highly formalized with dueling, ritual and honour.  Both cultures have flying machines.   In Kline his characters often get around on giant birds.   Burroughs Malagors, used in Synthetic Men of Mars and Giant of Mars come after Kline’s books are written.  The cultures are essentially the same, with only a few changes of terminology.

There are subtle differences.    Harry Thorne is far more a victim of circumstance than Burroughs' protagonist, while Jerry Morgan seems to borrow as much from Laurence of Arabia as from John Carter.   In both novels, the plot pot has been boiling for some time when the novel starts, while often in Burroughs, it is the hero's advent that begins to get things moving.

There are differences between Klines and Burroughs Mars.  Kline sets his Mars millions of years in the past.  His society does not seem to have guns or pistols, although they have explosive baridium it seems that Morgan is the first to think of using it for bombs. 

Burroughs world is mostly red men with savage green hordes.   No green hordes in Kline obviously, there's a yellow hordette, some pixies and more racial politics, with blacks, browns and whites.   The fauna is different obviously.   Instead of Thoats we get desert dwellers riding round on ten foot tall (five feet at the shoulder) flightless birds.   The big predators are thirty and forty foot tall flightless birds.

Still, all of these divergences can be rationalized, and it is possible to place Kline's Mars sensibly on Barsoom, as I'll show you. 

When is it?

Doctor Morgan tells both Harry Thorne and his nephew Jerry Morgan that he's in contact with Mars.  But not the Mars of today, rather, the Mars of the millions of years in the past, when it had a civilization.

Is it really millions of years in the past?   Maybe, maybe not.  Dr. Morgan and the Martian scientist, Lal Kor are keeping a real time dialogue happening.  Events happen on Mars at the same rate as on Earth.   When Lal Kor sends a message to Dr. Morgan an hour after his first one, its received an hour later by Dr. Morgan, or so it seems.   In subsequent novels, Dr. Morgan opens up communications with Venus, and perhaps the Moon, so if they're all out of time synch with each other, he's going to need a cosmic switchboard.  The fact that they're in different times seems to have no real bearing on the plot.

 Michael Kane in Moorcock's Mars novels, and Matt Carse in Brackett's Sword of Rhianon also go back to the past of Mars.  But when they get there, Mars has seas, it's a live world far different than the desert world we've come to expect.   In contrast, Kline’s time traveller seems to wind up on a Mars that's essentially the same as Barsoom, and in roughly the same planetary epoch - i.e., deserts instead of seas.

So, I tend to treat the whole ‘millions of years ago’ thing as a bit of a red herring.   One of the tricks we'll use to make Burroughs and Kline match up is to examine our facts carefully.   Things that the hero sees and hears, his direct adventures and observations are true.   But things our hero knows because someone has thoughtfully explained a bit of background to him, basically secondhand information or unverified hearsay are not necessarily quite as true.    Where our hero or some other person jump to a conclusion, well, that's not necessarily quite as true.

Swordsman of Mars: Avalon editionA Princess of Mars: 1st edition cover art by Frank Schoonover

In fact, the unreliable narrative, or the unreliable narrator, has been a staple of fiction for years.  Noir is full of stories where the protagonist turns out to be completely mistaken as a result of jumped conclusions or bad information.   In Swordsman of Mars, for example Harry Thorne jumps to the wrong conclusions about Neva.   In the Moon Maid, Julian jumps to all sorts of conclusions about how the dynamics of the Moon work, but its clear that he's obviously guessing.  John Carter's words often depart from his actions, and in fact, Carter gets told a few transparent whoppers by people, some of which he explodes and some of which he doesn't.

So, as to whether Kline’s Mars is in the past or how far it's in the past, we cannot be sure.   Morgan never justifies or explains how he knows this or how they determined a time period, and in many respects, it seems irrelevant either to the plot or the flow of information and persons between worlds.  It is a statement which seems to have no practical bearing on anything, when conceivably it should have (like time travel being a one way trip, or the ‘interface’ with time being erratic, or the flow rates differing...  But Dr. Morgan never even peaks ahead into Mars future, still millions of years in the past, to see what Boyd might have been like as king of the planet in Swordsman of Mars.

At best, Kline was simply trying to get around the evolving picture of Mars as a dead world, an idea that was becoming more and more ingrained.   In 1912 after all, when A Princess of Mars came out, people pretty much took Percival Lowell as mostly gospel.   By 1930, there was increasing evidence that Mars was colder, that its atmosphere was incredibly thin and lacked both water and oxygen. Perhaps, adding a bit of wiggle room to avoid people asking when Harry Thorne was going to meet John Carter.   After all, both books were set on Mars, and by the 1930s, Barsoom had become 'the' Mars.   You actually had to do a bit of work.   It would be like doing a Jungle Book in Africa, Tarzan would loom in the back of the reader's mind, no matter what, which may explain why Kline’s Jan is set in South America.

So, given that it's unverified secondhand hearsay, I'm inclined to disregard it, or at least bring a little flexibility to the subject.    We don't know exactly 'when' Harry Thorne is.   He's definitely not on the 'wet' Mars as described by Moorcock and Brackett.   He seems to be on the dry desert Mars of Percival Lowell, so he's within the post-drought period.  The oceans have gone, but civilization has stabilized...   As to where in this period he fits, I can offer the reader two choices and let them take their pick.

One option is to put Harry Thorne and Jerry Morgan in the early part of the post-drought period, thousands or hundreds of thousands of years before John Carter.   The support for this?   Well, it appears that the Red race of Carter's time hasn't fully developed, and Martian states are still full of white, brown and black people.   There are other indications.  Canals are still being built, and we're not sure if this is so in Carter's time, he never mentions new canal construction.   The Martian society lacks firearms, unlike Carter's time.  Meanwhile, much reference is given by Kline to Baridium lights, while in Carter's age there are frequent references to ancient lights fixtures in the old cities which glow eternally, the secrets of their manufacture long lost.  In Carter's age, the great flying birds are thought to be extinct on most of the planet. 

Some of the terminology is different, Vil instead of Jeddak.   Though there's an interesting phonetic cue, ‘Officer’ or 'Captain' is ‘Jund’, which is vaguely similar to Jed or Jeddak.   You could see, over time in an unstable land, a term like 'Captain' morphing into 'Ruler', in Earth terms, consider that Quadaffi is a mere Colonel and Samuel Doe of Liberia a Captain.   Thus, you can look at Kline's Mars and see a society on its way to, but not quite become Burroughs Barsoom.

On the other hand, it's just as reasonable to argue that Harry Thorne and Jerry Morgan are actual contemporaries of Carter, just far away from him.   In Princess of Mars, Carter is told and believes that the only human race left on Mars is the red one...  He then spends several books being proven wrong.   So it's conceivable that he's even more wrong.   It's conceivable that Mars, even mainstream Mars, is not as ethnically uniform as he is lead to believe, but that there are nations which vary a bit. 

Gulliver Jones, for example, gives us a race of red Martians who diverge from Helium's norm by being hairy (a higher proportion of Okar genes?)    So we might expect other local divergence.   They may not be as red, but may shade over towards brown or pink.   That their genetic mixtures, which incorporate the old races, may throw up blondes, pale whites or dark blacks. 

Remember that in Kline’s Martian books, we only actually see two nation states,   Kalsifar/Radlian and Xancibar/Dukor.  There's a third, Nunt, which is just offstage, but we never go there.  For all we know, Nunt may well be mostly red men.   By definition, Kline’s working with a relatively small area on a very big planet. 

So, its entirely possible that all the differences we see are simply derived from the fact that Kalsifar and Xancibar are simply a long way away from Helium and beyond the immediate circles of states, friendly and unfriendly, that Helium is aware of.   Remember that exploration for exploration's sake was not big on John Carter's Barsoom...  People tended to shoot you down and then torture or sell you into slavery.   Before Carter, Helium was surrounded by a ring of hostile or neutral states, including Zor and Zodanga, and therefore, these states formed a barrier to knowing much about what was beyond.   Every city state was like that.   Even after the Warlord's peace and the dramatic expansion of Helium, still Jahar and Gathol, which appear relatively close on the map are exotic and little known places.  Places like Manator and Bantoom, Helium doesn't even suspect they exist.

And there are local variations all over Barsoom.   The First Born preserve different terms for royalty, for example.   Not all cultures have flying machines.  The Manator cities lack firearms.  Kaol has unique fauna.   So its equally possible that all the small differences we see between Xancibar and Helium are simply regional differences.

The fact that Helium and southern states aren't constructing canals doesn't mean they're not being built.  In fact, if Mars is drying slowly, you'd have to build more.   And in fact, Lowell found more canals than Schiaparelli, suggesting some new ones are coming on line.   Xancibar and Kalsifar have very sophisticated machines, including walking machines on a par with or beyond that of Helium, so their lack of firearms may be less a sign of primitiveness than some local peculiarity...  The region having Kline's Baridium rather than Burroughs' Radium, and the two elements having such different properties that Baridium really doesn't work for firearms.   Given the nature of the Martian economy, this lack might well protect the Xancibar and Kalsifar from firearms...  Invaders don't get very far because, in the small scale non-industrial manufacturing of Barsoom, they inevitably quickly run out of bullets.

One thing that messing with time doesn't explain is the absence of green men, and the presence of thirty and forty foot flightless predator birds instead of Banths.  That can only be explained by the likelihood that Kline’s area of Mars is geographically far removed and perhaps somewhat isolated, which in turn, makes setting it earlier in history a lot less vital.

Anyway, I'll leave it up to the reader.   Either Thorne and Morgan are of John Carter's time, or they are not terribly far removed from it, as far as Martian history goes.

The Ma-Gongi, The Yellow Men of Kline's Mars

Kline gives us Ma-Gongi.   Five foot tall men with skins of bright yellow, round bodies, mongolian features and pipestem arms and legs.  They seem to inhabit the Thakkor Marsh and/or the cliff faces edging the Marsh. 

Most remarkably, they are supposed to be from the Earth's Moon.   According to Thaine, the Earth's Moon was once a travelling world and attacked Mars, bringing about its present condition and somehow producing the Martian moons.   Meanwhile, its been parked around the Earth ever since, minding its own business.

What a load of hooey!   John Carter has already heard this same story, except that when he heard it, it was about the black pirates of Barsoom, and they were supposed to be living on Thuria! There isn't a shred of evidence provided, and no plot point at all hinges, on the Ma-Gongi being originally from the Earth's moon.   The ‘super-science’ disintegrator guns are explainable within Barsoom's own science, so that doesn't add anything.

The Ma-Gongi of these Marshes, with their yellow skin and mongolian features are clearly identifiable with and related to Burroughs Okar, living up in the north pole.  It appears that some tribe of the yellow race managed to survive in a hidden enclave in or near the Thakkor Marshes, and diverged a bit from the phenotype.  Burroughs himself has precedent for this.   His black Martians live principally in Omean, but a secondary population managed to survive hidden in the Kamtol valley.

All that stuff about the Ma-Gongi being aliens from the moon?   Nope, they're just a sub-race of the Okar people, home grown Martians.   (Alternatively, one could go with Kline and accept that both the Okar and the Ma-Gongi parent race comes to Barsoom from the Moon.)

Ulfi, The Winged Little People

Are definitely not human.   As nearly as we can tell, they may start off as caterpillar, and cocoon themselves to metamorphose into little people.   Either that or the caterpillars are domesticated creatures used to cocoon the infants.   Either way, it's just not normal to keep the kids in cocoons, though it probably saves money in the long run.

The little people seem to be about three feet tall, they resemble perfectly formed humans, except for the fact that they have antenna and insect-like lacey wings.   Based on this, and the whole caterpillar cocoon thing, its likely that their derivation is from insects.  Their powers of scent are far superior to humans, and they have a psychic or physical ability to make themselves invisible.  They appear to be an isolated race, confined to the Thakkor Marshes.

Roy Krenkel art: Ace edition 1963
There is nothing at all like them known on Burroughs Barsoom.   However, John Carter runs up against invisibility four times, including psychic invisibility on Thuria and physical invisibility at Invak and with the Skeleton Men of Jupiter (the fourth time is actually Tan Hadron, when Phor Tak reinvents it in Fighting Man of Mars).   So, it's not completely out to lunch.   We've also seen insect derived intelligent beings in the form of Kaldanes, and we've seen fairly strange animals and beasts, including Kangaroo-men in the Toonolian Marshes and Plant Men in the Valley Dor.   So these pixies may be par for the course.

However, if we move beyond Burroughs, we see that ‘insect winged’ beings are frequently reported from Mars.   H.G. Wells describes similar though, less apparently human, beings on Mars in his story ‘The Crystal Egg’ from 1897. Winged human-like beings on Mars are prominent in Gustave LaRouge's Prisoner of Planet Mars from 1908. These Erloors also have the power of invisibility. Winged human beings are also described in Gayer's Adventures of Serge Myrandahl in 1908, as well as in Graffigny and Faure's Amazing Adventures of 1889.

All told, including both Kline and Wells, human-like but non-human, bat/insect winged intelligent beings show up at least nine times in Mars books or stories between 1889 and 1933.   Bracket's Sword of Rhiannon adds a ninth example of a winged race.   We can assume that Kline was familiar with at least Wells' story, although honestly, he probably owes more to Walt Disney than to Wells (and perhaps a little bit to Tolkien, there's some syrupy 'Bearer of the Ring' shtick in there too).   Still, these sorts of creatures seem well established on Mars.   So if John Carter never encounters them on his Barsoom, they do seem to be around.

Location, Location, Location!

There's a frustrating scene where Jerry Morgan and Princess Junia look at a map and describe its contents.   It's worth quoting in full, because it's the only semi-coherent description we get:

"I found a map which shows our location," said Junia.  "We are in the midst of the Thakor Marsh. On the rim of which is Thakkor Castle.  The Raddek of Takkor is within the Empire of Xancibar and subject to its ruler."
 "Then how far are we from Raliad."
 "I have computed the distance at four thousand Jahuds," she replied.
 “May I see the map," he asked. 
She rose and went into her room, presently appearing with a roll of waterproof silk, which she spread on the taboret.   "Here is our location in the center of the Marsh," she said, pointing to a red dot on an island.
He looked at the Map more closely.   "It appears that we are about two hundred Jahuds from the Corvid canal," he said,   "which will take us straight to Raliad.   We are four hundred Jahuds from Dukor, capital of Xancibar, and only fifty from Castle Thakkor...."
Notice that we don't get any bearings.   No reference to which hemisphere they're in, which way is north or south, where Xancibar and Kalsifar are in relation to each other, or where Castle Thakkor is in relation to Dukor.   We don't even know how much a Jahud is, though it phonetically resembles Barsoom's Haad.

I suspect that this fuzziness might be deliberate on the part of Kline. Remember that by this time, Burroughs had already written seven Barsoom books and they were very popular.  He knew he would not escape comparison to the Barsoom books, and out of respect, or possibly to avoid the questions of fans with too much time on their hands (like me) he chose to make his geography deliberately vague. The last thing he wanted to do was pop Dukor or Raliad on top of Helium or Toonol, he'd never hear the end of it.

That may or may not be the case, who knows.  But from other evidence in the books, here's the state of our knowledge of the geography of Kline's part of Mars. 

 i) Xancibar and Kalsifar appear to be bordering states;

 ii) Nunt borders Kalsifar, but may or may not border Xancibar.  It probably doesn't;

 iii)  Thakkor Marsh appears to be a very large Marsh complex, with a minimum diameter of at least 100 Jahuds, given that the cabin is in the middle of it somewhere and Castle Thakkor at its edge is 50 Jahuds away;

 iv)  Thakkor Marsh also appears to be within Xancibar or at its edges, and near or on the border with Kalsifar.  From the map, it may be between the two states.

 v) Castle Thakkor seems to be on the other side of the Marsh from Dukor, Harry Thorne has to fly over from Dukor over the Marsh to get to the castle, and that's where he's waylaid;

 vi)  Thakkor Marsh on one side borders a line of cliffs which may be the edges of a continental shelf, this is described a couple of times;

 v)  The Ma-Gongi, or some of them, appear to be based in those cliffs, or a part of them;

 vi)  Apart from Thakkor, there appear to be an assortment of smaller marshes, small lakes and oasis in the desert.   There are some streams which feed either into canals or into Thakkor Marsh;

 vii) Kalsifar appears to be mostly surrounded by desert and scrub in its outlands;

 viii)  Cities are at the junctions of Canals.  Raliad is at the center of a major junction;

 ix)  It's probably fairly high up in latitudes, since it gets very cold at night.  Ice forms on Thakkor swamp overnight.

 x)  Not much else in the way of geography, in particular, no deep valleys, craters, volcanoes or volcanic craters, giant natural rivers, mountains or glaciers, no dead cities either, it's likely that most of the action is taking place on a sea bed, to account for the featurelessness;

 xi) Xancibar seems to be a much smaller and more compact state than Kalsifar, given the relatively small distances involved (a maximum of 450 Jahuds between Castle Thakkor and Dukor, in contrast to four thousand Jahuds from their place in the swamp to Raliad.   It's likely that Kalsifar is mostly desert, while Xancibar's territories are richer.   Kalsifar is the largest most populous state on Mars, or at least, in that region of Mars.

Ready to roll?

Thakkor Marshes

The biggest and most well defined geographical feature on Kline’s Barsoom are the Thakkor Marshes.   Given Thaine's Map, 100 jahuds diameter is a minimum size, since it's clear that the swamp borders an extensive range of continental shelf or cliffs.

The most obvious thought is to identify the Thakkor Marshes with the Toonolian Marshes.  But this doesn't hold up.   The Thakkor Marshes are too cold, ice forms at night, which suggests northern latitudes (or possibly equivalent southern latitudes) closer to the pole.   The Toonolian Marshes are on the equator.

So, if not there, where?   Is the Thakkor Marsh a new feature, or can we relate it in any way to any piece of Barsoom that we know about?

In fact, there is a candidate.  On Burroughs Barsoom, there is only one other set of Marshes big enough and extensive enough that Burroughs characters and descriptions actually make reference to it, although no one actually went there in his books.   The great salt Marshes surrounding Gathol.

Gathol is the oldest city on Burroughs Barsoom.  Originally located on a sea-mountain island in the ocean, as the waters dried up, Gathol simply moved down the side of the mountain.   The great salt marshes are the remnant of the sea bed.

Now, as noted in Matching Mars, seamountains are rare on Mars.   Mars history and geology are different from Earth's, there's no moving plate tectonics, and thus not a lot of volcanoes from plate activity.   There is only one region which would fit the description for Gathol as being an island nation based on a seamountain, on Mars topography.

This is the Elysium volcano complex, located at approximately 150 longitude, 20 latitude on the MOLA topographic map.   Let's go take a look at it shall we.

The geography of Elysium is that we've got the principal volcano and a couple of subsidiary volcanoes north and south of it.  It slopes off pretty steeply on the north, south and west sides, but the slope is much more extensive and much more gradual on the east side, leading to a 'splash of highlands.'

Now, applying this geography to Barsoom, this would give us Gatholian Marshes on the north, south and west side of Gathol.   On the East side, Gathol would be facing rocky highland desert, the remains of its former island hinterland, and eventually, after a few hundred miles of rocky desert, marsh again.   Gatholians probably don't travel east much.   It's just empty rocky desert leading to marsh, and they've got marsh right next door on three sides, so why bother?

But, if you're looking at the MOLA topographic map on the internet, it has a zoom function.   So, zoom in on the eastern edges of the green area of Elysium's splash, where it meets the blue area of the former sea.   What do we get?   Lines of cliffs.   Ladies and gentlemen, we have found Thakkor Marsh!   It's the eastern part of the Gathol Marsh complex, although given its distance, it may well qualify as its own Marsh complex. 

Circumstantial Evidence, Birds and the Bees

Are we sure?   Is there other evidence?   In fact, there are a few other pieces of circumstantial evidence which tend to support this location for the Thakkor Marsh.

One is the Ma-Gongi.   If they are related to the Okar, as they seem to be, we know that the Okar currently inhabit the north pole region.   It stands to reason that any of their offshoots would probably be in the northern hemisphere, at a relatively high latitude.   And its likely that their relatives would not be in the southern hemisphere.   The east side of Elysium is in the right hemisphere and  while still in temperate latitudes, is well past the equator.

The other are these goddamned giant flightless birds.  Birds are known on Mars, around forests and canals, and the Toonolian Marsh carries quite a range of birds, even up to the giant Malagors, capable of carrying a human being or three.

Flightless birds pose a problem.   You see, the trouble is that there's a lot of competition and a lot of predators on the ground.   Normally, that's not a problem, birds just fly away from predators and outdistance competitors.   But moving to the size where you become flightless poses big problems for birds.

Thus on Earth, most birds who become flightless are doing so on Islands or Island continents where there aren't any predators or the competition isn't so savage that they'll get wiped out right away.   The best examples of this, of course, are the Moas of New Zealand and the Elephant Birds of Madagascar (neither of which survived meeting us).   There's also the Dodo of Mauritious, the great Auks of the north sea (likewise did not do well), the penguins of Australia, and the Phororacid predator birds of South America when it was an island continent, and the Diatrama predator birds of North America in the period after the dinosaurs and before mammals got going.

Basically, they can't force their way into niches already occupied by animals, but if those niches are empty, like on an island, then birds can fly in, eventually  give up their wings and start occupying those niches.   Birds are the only animals that can reach these islands, thus there's no competition.

Now, looking at the topographic map of Mars, we'll note that there's a shortage of large isolated islands or island continents.   On the mainland, which is most of Mars, we've got geographical continuity, and several lines of life forms, including four, six, eight and ten limbed all competing with each other.   Barsoomian birds will have no opportunity to evolve giant flightless forms in that environment.

The only place you can possibly expect flying birds to grow into flightless thirty or forty foot monsters on Mars is on the Elysium plateau.   In other words, on Gathol and its interland area.   This explains why Kline’s area of Barsoom features these monsters.   As the seas receded, the flightless birds of Gathol continually moved out onto the shallow slope of the eastern highland of Elysium, the green area, adapting to the increasingly arid conditions.   As the sea bottoms dried, they kept moving out, and managed to make this area of the Martian deserts and Marshes their own, occupying a large pocket, likely between Olympus Mons and Tharsis on one side, and Elysium on the other.    Thoats and Banths get the rest of the planet, as far as we can tell, but the giant flightless birds of Elysium seem to be defending their territory as the dominant predators.

Finally, there are the winged insectoid Ulfi.  Burroughs doesn't encounter such creatures, and so we can't locate them through him.   But Wells in ‘The Crystal Egg’ describes such creatures, as well as several large flying insects similar to those in Swords of Mars.    And more, he describes the giant valley where his race of human-like flyers is found.   It is a roughly north/south valley bordered by high cliff walls, in the northern hemisphere.   There is in fact a roughly north/south valley with high cliff walls in the northern hemisphere, just between Olympus Mons and the Tharsis Montes, on the east side of the west side of the Tharsis bulge at approximately -135 longitude and 10 degrees latitude.   Check it out.

The flyers appear to be associated with Tharsis.   The two other stories that allow us to guess at the locations of the flying races appear to put them in the Toonolian Marshes and in volcanic caverns on the east side of Tharsis.   We theorize that this is consistent with the insectoid flyers, as well as Kaldanes and Sarmaks, and the other insects all evolving in an ecological ‘island’ cut off by deserts in the shadow of the south of the Tharsis bulge. 

After evolving there, the insect and flyers moved up the east and west sides of Tharsis, and Well's ‘Crystal Egg’ finds them in a large fertile valley stronghold on the west side, an area from which they and the insects would move west out towards Gathol and towards the Thakkor marshes.

Finally, there's a very odd, very loose phonetic connection.  The dominant city of Xancibar is Dukor.   This is phonetically similar to Dusar and Duhor, two Barsoomian cities.   We know from the Manator trio, and Invak/Onvak that sometimes relatively close Barsoomian cities can have phonetically related names.   If you look at our ‘Geography of Mars’ article, you'll note that Duhor is located in the Artolian mountains, provisionally identified as the volcanoes of Tharsis, probably between Olympus and the Tharsis Montes group (but just north of Wells’ Valley), so that seems to fit.   Dusar is in the northern hemisphere, and appears to be placed substantially north and east of Gathol, so it too is in the right neighborhood.

So, yellow men from the north, giant birds from the east and insects and winged humanlike creatures from the west.   The circumstantial evidence all points to the sea bed between Elysium and Tharsis as the location for Kline’s Barsoom.

Xancibar, Khalsifar and Nunt

Now, we are left only with the task of trying to particularize the geography of the three Martian nations of Xancibar, Khalsifar and Nunt.

Well, let's turn to the biggest, Khalsifar.   It's territory appears to be the largest, given the distances on Thaine's map.  It also appears to be principally desert, though it contains small marshes and borders on the Thakkor Marsh complex.   Anything else?

Yes.  They're building another canal.

Okay, this is more significant than we realize.   If they're building another canal, it most likely suggests that they've got water, or access to regions with water.   Now, the sea beds are dry desert.  So, there are only two places left in the area where you will find significant amounts of water sufficient to float a canal.   One is the polar region, and run off from the polar glaciers.   The other is the sides of the Tharsis uplift region.   Tharsis is so high, that it literally acts like a mountain range, and is a barrier to moisture bearing clouds.   The clouds pile up and corral at the cliffs of Tharsis, eventually packing so tight that they release their moisture as rain, or as mountain run off streams.  That's why mountain ranges can be so wet and rainy, and why they can sometimes be desert dry on the other side.

So, this means that Khalsifar is likely in the north and the east, in terms of the Thakkor marshes.  Its territory probably borders the northern edges of the Marshes.  It probably dominates the northern basin and the flows of water in this region, and this control of the source of waters makes it the dominant power. 

Khalsifar's neighbors in terms of Burroughs city states would be Duhor in its west, Dusar in its East, and, most interestingly, the First Born black principality of Kamtol, and the dead and abandoned capital city of the white Orovars, Horz.   That's particularly interesting, given Khalsifar's racial mixture.    Of course, Duhar, Dusar and Kamtol are mostly neighbors to lots and lots of desert, most of the population on both Kline's and Burroughs' Mars are in city states, with thinly populated or unpopulated deserts taking up most of the space.

Xancibar we know borders on Khalsifar and includes the Marshes.   This puts it to the west of Gathol.  Though probably south of Burroughs' Dusar.   It is probably to the south and west of Khalsifar.   It's probably closest to Gathol in terms of Burroughs cities, but likely, a vast stretch of particularly barren and inhospitable rocky desert, Gathol's eastern hinterland, acts as a barrier between them.

This leaves only Nunt, for which we have almost no geographical location.   The evidence would suggest that it is to the south of Khalsifar and to the east of Xancibar, and more than that, we cannot say.

As final note, this picture also explains why we don't see the Green Martians in or around the deserts of Xancibar and Khalsifar.   Look at the geography again.   Tharsis is a huge elevated highland, probably uninhabited and uninhabitable, it's a barrier.   Elysium is an island, and so uninhabited by Green Men.   The only place that the Green men could come from would be the mainland to the south.   Which means that they'd be heading to Nunt.   So Nunt is probably the barrier to the Green Men moving north into Xancibar and Khalsifar.

And in fact, there are definitely Green Men.   Linking back up to Burroughs geography, the area in the southern hemisphere directly south of Nunt are the lands of the Thark and Warhoon!   Luckily, the Thark and Warhoon are widely distributed and organized mostly as raiding parties, so they aren't likely to overrun Nunt with their superior firearms any time soon.   A mass horde attack like the sack of Zodanga is, by all accounts, quite rare.   The combination of Thark and Warhoon raiding Zodanga is unique, and its likely that a major movement of Thark or Warhoon separately against Nunt, would simply leave one tribe vulnerable to attack by the other.

In the meantime, the presence of the Thark and Warhoon nations in the south means that Kline’s area of Mars is inaccessible from that direction to the Red nations of Barsoom.   Throw in the geographical barriers of Tharsis in the east, and the sterile Gathol tableland desert and Thakkor marshes in the west, and we see that Kline’s Mars is isolated from mainstream Barsoomian society on three sides.    This might well account for the ethnic and linguistic discrepancies.  This is literally an isolated corner of Barsoom.

The closest Barsoomian societies would be Duhor, tucked into the Artolian mountains on the east, in the Tharsis region, and probably bordering on Nunt, and Dusar, in the northwest, probably bordering on Khalsifar.   From the point of view of Helium, they probably don't have a clue that these lands even exist. 

Consider that the closest neighbor to this region is Zodanga, formerly Helium's bitter arch rival.   In order for explorers from Helium to gain knowledge of this region, they would have to cut through Zodanga, cut through Thark and Warhoon and come up from the south to Nunt.   Or they'd have to go north to Gathol, and then go through marshes and desert to Xancibar.   Or they'd have to go even farther north, cut around east, skirting the edges of the Gatholian Marshes, go through Dusar and finally reach Khalsifar's deserts and eventually Khalsifar...  A journey pretty much equivalent to going to the other side of the planet.   In short, its pretty likely that Helium either had no information at all on the region, or it was extremely sketchy and generic. 

In fact, looking at various Burroughs and Barsoom maps, it becomes clear that the likely area of Kline’s Mars shows up as a big empty space.   Given that most of John Carter's geographical and social information came from Helium, it is perhaps, not surprising that the region was unknown, and perhaps not unexpected that it might diverge racially and socially from the norms that Carter expected.

This leaves only Kline’s possibly apocryphal lost works, Meteor Men of Mars and Hunters of Mars.  But since we don't have those, since there are barely even references to those, we can't say anything.

Overall,  it seems eminently feasible to locate Kline’s Mars, both within the geography of the real Mars, and within the geography of Barsoom as applied to the real Mars.   It is arguably complementary to what we can construct of the geography of other writers slices of Mars, including Wells, Gulliver Jones, LeRouge and Gayer.    And most pleasingly, we can make it work in various ways, including Barsoomian ethnography, species distribution, geography, phonetics and politics.

Otis Kline’s Mars and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom fit well together, like pieces of a puzzle.   I think that Kline would have been pleased.

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