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Presents
Volume 1561

Predictions and Images 
of Future Innovations and Inventions.

The Fantastic Inventions and Prophesies 
Gleaned from the Novels of 
Edgar Rice Burroughs 

Part II: The Venus Series
Compiled by Bill Hillman

The Barsoom Series is featured in ERBzine 0459








 


Click for dust jacket illustrations


Venus Connections with the Other Fantasy. . . and Real Worlds. . . of ERB

Edgar Rice Burroughs devised connecting threads through most of the stories of his various fantastic worlds. He peppered the introduction to his Venus series with many references to already established characters, places and events. The hero, Carson Napier, is son of a British Army officer and a woman from Virginia.  The choice of the name Napier was a nod to an old military friend.  He makes mention of Jason Gridley of Tarzana, California, who had invented the Gridley Wave communications device already used in the Pellucidar and Mars stories.  Burroughs, himself appears in the opening chapter of the first book of the series. Carson Napier visits him and secretary Ralph Rothmund in the ERB, Inc. offices in Tarzana. Napier's original plan is to travel to John Carter's Mars in a rocket ship.


Edgar Rice Burroughs: Grandfather of American Science Fiction
There are those who claim there is very little that would qualify as actual science fiction in Burroughs' books -- that he wrote only fantasy adventure stories.  He certainly cast the mold for this type of story with his first novel -- A Princess of Mars of 1911 -- and inspired countless imitators in this genre. A closer look at his body of work, however, makes a strong case for bestowing the title: The Grandfather of American Science Fiction  upon this author.  His Mars and Venus books especially, are rife with descriptions of incredible futuristic inventions, many of which we now take for granted as everyday devices.  We have already compiled a list of the Barsoomian "inventions and prophecies"  in ERBzine 0459   In this second entry of the series we shall look at the imaginative inventions, societies and flora and fauna he created for his fantastic world of Amtor.


Related Technology

Early passing reference is made to the Gridley Wave -- a means of communication invented by Tarzana's Jason Gridley and used in many of the Burroughs series, including the Amtor titles. Also mentioned is the 0-220 Dirigible made of the super-strong and light metal called Harbenite. This air ship had carried Tarzan and others to the hollow Earth's core (Pellucidar) through the north polar opening.

Napier spins his experiences as a movie stuntman and the resources from his family fortune into research on Rocket Cars. To facilitate this research he pilots a very modern amphibious aircraft between the US and Mexico. Eventually he perfects a one-man rocket space ship and plans an interplanetary trip to Mars.  He builds a rocket base on Guadaloupe Island off Lower California. Necessary trajectories are calculated and the rocket is launched off a 1-mile-long track. The launch is successful but he is diverted off course to Venus by the unexpected gravitational pull of the moon.

Carson Napier, who was raised in India by the mystic Chand Kabi, has acquired a telepathic ability which enables him to converse with people at a distance or to project mental images through space. He uses a Thought Shape Projector  to make his first contact with ERB. Later he sends images and thoughts by telepathy across millions of miles of space.  He uses this as a means of sending his Venus adventures to scribe Burroughs.



Napier's Interplanetary Rocket Ship

The ship contains a cabin with a heavily-stuffed chair on a framework and track equipped with shock absorbers to absorb the g-forces, a control panel, berth, table, chair, writing materials ? bookshelf, and a galley behind the cabin. There is a wide-angle telescope/periscope and port holes in the keel and port and starboard sides.

A compartment next to the cabin serves as a battery room, containing storage batteries for lighting, heating, cooking, dynamos, and gas engine.

The stern of the ship contains rockets with an intricate mechanical device by which they are fed to the firing chambers by means of controls in the cabin.

A compartment in front of the cabin houses water and oxygen tanks as well as odds and ends to make the journey more comfortable.

The ship is also equipped with parachutes to retard its speed as it enters the atmosphere for landing. Carson descends through the heavy cloud cover of Venus by means of a parachute -- this means of descent would become the norm for real-life returning astronauts and cosmonauts many years later.


Amtorian Ships

Ships guns are mounted on disappearing carriages behind sliding hatches and have 15-foot-long barrels of 8-inch diameter with finger-size bores. They have ingenious and complicated sights and no breech opening. A rotating crank opens a shutter permitting radiation from element 93 to meet with element 97, which releases a deadly T-ray that destroys all matter, unlike the R-rays that destroy only animal tissue. Eventually the T-rays destroy the gun itself, even though the metal in them is somewhat impervious to the T-ray. This metal is, in fact, also used as armour under various situations to defend against the T-ray.

Ship propulsion results from the meeting of Element 93 (Vik-Ro) with a substance called Lor which is made up mostly of Element 95 (Yor-San). This interaction results in the absolute annihilation of Lor, releasing all of its energy. This is 18,000,000,000 times as much energy than what would result from ordinary combustion. The fuel for the life of a ship can be carried in a pint jar.

There are onboard instruments of extreme precision that can locate land masses at great distances -- accurately indicating the distances. Other instruments determine speed, mileage and drift as well as depth soundings anywhere within a radius of a mile from the ship. All of these instruments utilize the radioactivity of the nuclei of various elements to accomplish their readings. "What we know as the gamma ray, being uninfluenced by the most powerful magnetic forces is the ideal medium for this purpose. It moves in a straight line and at uniform speed until it meets and obsruction, where it is retarded. The instrument records this retardation and the distance at which it occurs."


Strange Amtorian Inventions and Conventions
Anti-aging, longevity serum injections kill bacteria and allow people to live for hundreds of years or forever. This "serum of longevity" was perfected on Venus a thousand years before Carson's arrival. " It is injected every two years and not only provides immunity from all diseases but insures the complete restoration of all wasted tissue."

Strict birth control is enforced so as to keep the population constant.

Salves are used to prevent the growth of beards. The heads of criminals are treated with this salve -- they are all recognized by their bald heads.

Doctors have to file records of their cases that are accessible to the public. No one goes to unsuccessful doctors.

Cloth and cords are made from the strong silky fibre called Tarel collected from the webs of the giant Targo spider. Targo hunters use javelins with attached Tarel cords so that they can be retrieved.

Ray handguns fire R-rays.  The weapons contain an element that emits a destructive ray of extremely short wave length when it comes in contact with another rare element. When fired they give off a sound similar to that of an x-ray machine. Several metals impervious to these rays are used in shields and as small shutters in the weapon.  The ray is destructive to animal tissue.

The most popular game on Amtor is Tork.

Burroughs imaginative description of the Amtorian city of Havatoo:

The city of Havatoo practices selective breeding. Child raising is only allowed by those fit to raise children -- only those physically, morally or mentally fit. No defective infants are allowed to live in an attempt to eradicate bad genes and to promote good genes.

Politicians have been replaced with the greatest minds of Havatoo. The government has no laws and no single ruler. It is ruled by a Quintumvirate that just guides and judges. The Sanjong (5 Kings) consists of a biologist, psychologist, chemist, physicist and soldier. Since they write exams every two years, any citizen can become a member. They are governed without laws -- only natural law -- because they have bred a race of people, who know the difference between right and wrong. Everyone is equal and they all take turns doing harder labour.

A great deal of imaginative thinking has gone into city planning. Cities are laid out in districts of specialized hubs. Pedestrian traffic is limited to second level walkways connected by viaducts at all intersections. 

The motors of the cars require no warm-up period and are silent and vibrationless.  Vehicles are energized from a central power station from which power is transmitted in four frequencies. 

The rooftops of the buildings are reserved for gardens.

Illumination in Amtorian buildings comes from small suspended devices which provide light as bright as sunlight but with no glare. The streets are lighted by brilliant but soft artificial lights with no apparent source. They give off no heat and only soft shadows.

War has been replaced by stadium blood sports -- a result of the realization that aggression and violence are natural human emotions and that it is better to channel these passions through being spectators of violent sports. "Our pyschologists discovered that man must have some outlet for this age-old urge. If it be not given him by wars or dangerous games he will seek it in the commission of crimes or in quarrels with his fellows. It is better that it is so. Without it man would stagnate, he would die of ennui."

The Chemists of Havatoo have produced lightweight synthetic wood and steel and fabrics of incredible strength and durability. Using these materials, Carson was able to build an amazingly light and powerful aircraft -- the Anotar -- which he powered by the elements vik-ro and yor-san. Their interaction brought about an atomic type reaction which totally annhilates the substance lor that is contained in the yor-san. Carson claims that he could hold enough fuel in the palm of his hand to last 50 years -- the projected lifetime the ship.

The communications system is wireless, transmitterless and receiverless.

A rival jong, Skor, in his search for the secret of life, reproduced body cells which instills synthetic life into the dead taken from graves. There is no blood in their dead veins. Their dead minds are automated only by thoughts Skor sends to them through telepathic means. He has made himself jong and created his own subjects.



In Carson of Venus the Amlot theaters were of a most unusual nature. The audiences, seated with their backs to the stage, observed the action as it was reflected in a huge mirror placed on the back wall:  "[This action] by a system of very ingenious lighting stands out brilliantly. By manipulation of the lights the scenes may be blacked out completely to denote a lapse of time or permit a change of scenery. Of course the reflections of the actors are not life size, and therefore the result gives an illusion of unreality reminiscent of puppet shows or the old days of silent pictures." This odd method of watching a play had originated in the past when the acting profession was in disrepute; to be seen on the stage was considered a disgrace, and accordingly, this system was devised so that nobody could stare directly at the performers.


Burroughs also hinted at the airplane bombing raids that played such a major role in WWII a few years later. Both Carson and Duare, whom he teaches to pilot a plane, fly over the Zanis (Nazi-like attackers) and drop the deadly R-ray and T-ray bombs. His description of the Zanis is a biting satire of Hitler's Nazis that would plunge the world into global conflict a few years later.

Land Dreadnaughts


The Setting: ERB's Fantastic World of Amtor
Amtorian Geography

ERB Map of Amtor with Amtorian Alphabet
Map of Amtor by ERB (click)
Amtor (Venus) is a hot, cloud-covered, greenhouse-like world covered with huge towering trees and lush vegetation. The inhabitants, the  Amtorians, believe that Amtor, a vast disc, floats on a sea of molten rock which occasionally penetrates the surfact through volcanoes. They are also convinced that there is fire above since when there is a break in the cloud cover they glimpse the fiery sun and feel its consuming heat. When rents in the clouds occur at night they believe that the myriad stars are sparks from the eternal fiery furnace. "The relative proximity of the sun lights up the inner cloud envelope brilliantly, but it is a diffused light that casts no well defined shadows nor produces contrasting highlights. . . . the result is a soft and beautiful pastel."

"There is no Amtorian word for "universe," neither is there any for "sun," "moon," "star," or "planet" as they cannot see beyond the thick cloud cover that envelopes the planet.   Their maps of Amtor show three concentric circles. "Between the two inner circles lay a circular belt designated as 'Trabol,' which means warm country. Here the boundaries of seas, continents, and islands were traced to the edges of the two circles that bounded it, in some places crossing these boundaries as though marking the spots at which venturesome explorers had dared the perils of an unknown land. . . . [Trabol] entirely surrounds Strabol, which lies in the center of Amtor. Strabol is extremely hot; its land is covered with enormous forests and dense undergrowth and is peopled by huge land animals, reptiles, and birds, its warm seas swarming with monsters of the deep. No Man has ventured far into Strabol and lived to return." The outer band beyond Strabol, called Karbol  ". . . lies in the cold country. There it is as cold as Strabol is hot. There are strange animals there, too, and adventurers have returned with tales of fierce human beings clothed in fur. But it is an inhospitable land into which there is no occasion to venture, and into which few dare penetrate far, for fear of being precipitated over the rim and into the molten sea." . . . "Amtor is a huge disk with an upturned rim, like a great saucer. It floats upon a sea of molten metal and rock, a fact that is incontrovertibly proved by the gushing forth of this liguid mass occasionally from the summits of mountains, whenever a hole has been burned in the bottom of Amtor. Karbol, the cold country, is a wise provision of nature that tempers the terrific heat that must constantly surge about the outer rim of Amtgor. Above Amtor, and entirely surrounding her, above the molten sea, is a chaos of fire and flame. From this our clouds protect us. Occasionally there have occurred rifts in the clouds, and at such times the heat from the fires above, when the rifts occurred in the daytime, has been so intense as to wither vegetation and destroy life, while the light that shone through was of blinding intensity. When these rifts occurred at night there was no heat, but we swaw the sparks from the fire shining above us."

Gravity is about 12% less on Venus than on earth.


History
"Hundreds of years ago the jongs of Vepaja ruled a great country. It was not this forest island where you now find us , but a broad empire that embraced a thousand islands, extending from Strabol to Karbol. It included broad land masses and great oceans; it was graced by mighty cities; and it boasted a wealth and commerce unsurpassed through all the centuries before or since."
Amtorian Alphabet
The Amtorians have a strange alphabet with which ERB has added for decoration in the margin around the Amtor map he has drawn and included as an illustration in the books.   The alphabet consists of twenty-four characters, five of which represent vowel sounds, and these are the only vowel sounds that the Venusan vocal cords seem able to articulate. All the characters of the alphabet have the same value, there being no capital letters. Their system of punctuation differs from ours, and is more practical; for example, before one begins to read a sentence, he knows by the mark which precedes it whether it is exclamatory, interrogative, a reply to an interrogation, or a simple statement. Characters having values similar to the comma and semicolon are used much as we use these two punctuation marks; there is no colon; the character that functions as does our period follows each sentence; the question mark and exlamation point precede the sentences, the nature of which they determine. A peculiarity of the Venusan language that renders it easy to master is the absence of irregular verbs. The verb root is never altered for voice, mode, tense, number, or person; distinctions that are achieved by the use of several simple, auxiliary words.


Measurements
The Amtorian day consists of 26 hours, 56 minutes, 4 seconds of earth time. This is divided into twenty equal periods called te, roughly equivalent to the earth hour (80.895 earth minutes). On shipboard the hours are sounded by a trumpeter with a distinguishing bar of music for each hour of the day. The first hour, or one o'clock, corresponds to sunrise. One of the common units of time measurement is the Vir, which is equivalent to four Earth minutes.

"The Amtorians divide the circumference of a circle into a thousand parts to arrive at their hita, or degree; and the kob is one tenth of a degree of longitude at the equator (or what the Amtorians call The Small Circle), roughly about two and a half earth miles; therefore a thousand kobs would be about two thousand five hundred miles."


The Amtorian greeting is "Jodades" which means "luck-to-you." 
The response to this greeting is: "Ra jodades."


The Venus Art of
Fortunino Matania
Selected illustrations from
ERBzine 0253  and   ERBzine 0254

I mounted the ladder leaning against the side of the torpedo and entered it.
It was the moon, and I was hurtling toward it at the rate of thirty-six thousand miles an hour.
It was the moon, and I was hurtling toward it
at the rate of thirty-six thousand miles an hour.

,

Spreading his powerful wings, he rose from the ground, while Duare stretched her hands toward me.
Spreading his powerful wings, he rose from the ground,
while Duare stretched her hands toward me.
I acted upon a sudden inspiration and hurriedly made fast the end of the rope that I held to one of the stout posts.
I acted upon a sudden inspiration and hurriedly made fast
the end of the rope that I held to one of the stout posts.
I had been absolutely dumfounded by her beauty.
I had been absolutely 
dumfounded by her beauty.
To my horror I saw the creature seize my companion.
To my horror I saw the creature seize my companion.
Suddenly we broke from the forest and winged out across a magnificent landlocked harbor.
Suddenly we broke from the forest and 
winged out across a magnificent landlocked harbor.
It wrapped a dozen coils about the body of the tharban, raised its gaping jaws above the back of the beast's neck, and struck.
It wrapped a dozen coils about the body of the tharban, 
raised its gaping jaws above the back of the beast's neck, and struck.
The bellowing of the basto mingled with the roars and growls of the tharban in a hideous diapason of bestial rage that  seemed to rock the forest.
The bellowing of the basto mingled with the roars and growls 
of the tharban in a hideous diapason of bestial rage 
that  seemed to rock the forest.
I was being carried across the shoulder of a powerful nobargan. I saw Duare being dragged along by her hair.
I was being carried across the shoulder of a powerful nobargan.
I saw Duare being dragged along by her hair.
.
To my horror I saw the creature seize my companion.
To my horror I saw the creature seize my companion.
,
Suddenly we broke from the forest and winged out across a magnificent landlocked harbor.
Suddenly we broke from the forest and winged out 
across a magnificent landlocked harbor.
Is it a crime to love you? I asked. It is a crime to tell me so, she replied, with something of haughtiness.
"Is it a crime to love you?" I asked.
"It is a crime to tell me so," she replied, with something of haughtiness.

For many more Amtorian References see our
Guide to the Venus Novels of ERB in ERBzine 1560
.
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