Cold Insect Intelligences
the Winged Gatekeepers of the Far Side
The Dreaded Mind
an Amphibian Anomaly
- Cold Insect Intelligences
There are three principal known races on Callisto. Humans, Yathoon
and Zarkoon. The first ones that we meet, of course, are the
Yathoon. The Yathoon race features in Jandar of Callisto
and Mad Empress of Callisto, where John Dark is their prisoner for
periods of time. One of the Yathoon, Koja, becomes a regular
featured character of the series and appears in most books, but for the
largest part, we don't get any sort of insight into the race from his appearances.
In Renegade of Callisto, we are treated to a more detailed look
at the Yathoon, including their ‘home’ in their secret valley in the Black
The range of the Yathoon seems to be the temperate and tropical bands
of the southern hemisphere on the near side, particularly much of the plains
of Harantha and the southern portions of the Grand Kumala.
Their area of range is probably several million square miles, although
as we will see, they are thinly distributed and highly mobile within this
In our first glimpses, in Jandar of Callisto, we discover that
the Yathoon are tall bipeds, approximately seven feet in height, silver
gray in colour, with a faint odour of formic acid. They are
arthropods, with a chitinous segmented exo-skeleton and no internal bones.
Their head is a large, almost featureless oval shape, with two large
eyes on the side and complex mouth parts hidden on the underside.
The eyes are not faceted, nor do they contain whites, but are simply black
glittering orbs, protected by lid-like membranes. (Some passages,
however, refer to bulging compound eyes). They have no obvious ears,
but do perceive sound. They also possess two antenna which are used
for non-human senses.
The head is connected to the torso or thorax by a jointed tubular structure
(a neck) composed of two rings. The thorax is a large oval
structure, which has genuine lungs, and which also sports two arms, twice
as long as human arms, and with an extra joint or elbow. This ends
in four fingers, each with six joints, the inner pair of fingers
being four inches longer than the outer ones. They do not have
opposing thumbs, but the fingers appear to be dextrous enough to do the
A narrow waist connects to the abdomen, described as a tapering spindle
shaped structure thrusting out behind the legs. The two legs have
an extra joint, which resembles the hind legs of birds in facing backwards.
The legs end in four toed feet, with three toes pointing forward and one
The Yathoon are not as strong as humans, but are apparently much faster,
both in reflex speed and in a straight dash. Their dexterity, endurance
and intelligence seem comparable. They are incredible leapers
and one of their combat techniques is leaping entirely over their adversary
and striking down at unprotected heads.
In neither Jandar of Callisto or Mad Empress of Callisto do we
see Yathoon females, nor do we learn anything about their reproductive
life. Presumably they are egg layers. Possibly, they're colonial
creatures, with a very few or single queen laying all the eggs.
They have no words for 'father,' 'mother,' 'wife' or 'son.'
Or perhaps more accurately, they have no use for these words in their culture,
since they speak the common language of the planet.
Yathoon society seems to be seasonally nomadic, with four great hordes
and two smaller hordes traveling about through the plains and jungle.
The hordes are exclusively male, and organized semi-feudally, with chieftains
accumulating retinues of followers. They are curious beings, gathering
all manner of oddments as 'treasure.' Anything peculiar or
unusual will be prized by a Yathoon and added to the ‘treasure.’
Likely for later study or examination with an eye towards potential direct
or indirect usefulness. Accumulation and evaluation of oddities
is probably their equivalent for curiosity and innovation.
Although they use symbols to mark their property, they are not a literate
society. While nomadic, the hordes war upon each other ceaselessly.
However, at the end of the season, the Yathoon return to their hidden
valley in the black mountains. Presumably, they take their treasures
and accumulated foods and resources there with them. And presumably,
that is where they reproduce and raise their offspring. While in
the hidden valley, peace endures between all the Hordes.
In Mad Empress of Callisto John Dark and his friends are captured
and kept by another Yathoon Horde. Because they are non-human and
lack human emotions, they treat their captives without cruelty or undue
Mad Empress gives us a little more information on the Yathoon.
For one thing, they're dead shots with an arrow over amazing ranges.
Their arrows are tipped with a fast acting neurotoxin which brings about
immediate death or paralysis.
The Yathoon have much more acute senses than human, they can distinguish
a far greater spectrum of colours and have a more discerning sense of smell.
Finally, they have an additional sense called hamouph, described as a dim
telepathic ability to detect other life forms.
They also have a domesticated animal, another insect-like creature called
a Xanga, a dog-like creature resembling a gray-green bumblebee, whose venom
is both paralytic and preservative, and which the Yathoon use to preserve
their meat for extended periods of time.
Dark notes that the Yathoon are the greatest hunters he has ever seen,
and that they will track and pursue game far longer and with far more tenacity
than any human hunter. Add to this their superhuman accuracy with
bow and arrow, their heightened senses, and their superior technique for
preserving food, and we can see that the Yathoon thoroughly outmatch any
potential human hunter/gatherer society.
Indeed, Dark never acknowledges this, but if the Yathoon were so minded,
they could well pose a threat to the city states. Possibly
this is the reason why the Human city states do not seem inclined to extend
their reach into Yathoon territory. It's quite possible that somewhere
on Thanator are the ruins of a human city or two that made the mistake
of picking a fight with the Yathoon.
Finally, in Renegade of Callisto, we learn a little bit about
the Yathoon home life. The social order of the wandering males
appears to be organized around 'Komors' or Chieftains, individuals who
show remarkable prowess or abilities and so gather followers. The
Komors seem to be the essential building block that Yathoon culture organizes
itself around. Beneath the Komors there are followers, slaves and
'treasure hordes', all directly connecting to the Komors. Followers
and slaves, while different in status, do not relate to each other, but
to the Komors. Part of the duty of the Komor is to accumulate
To progress beyond the level of Komor, to Chief (Akka-Komor) or High
Chief (Arkon) the Komor must challenge for the position in a trial by combat
to the death. The hierarchical Yathoon will accept the winner
of such trials, regardless of whether he is well liked or regarded.
Inept Akka-Komors are more likely to be challenged to further trials by
combat of course. However, this is not the only method of succession,
it appears that the Arkon or even rival horde's Akka-Komor's are also able
to select or at least influence the selection of Akka-Komor.
High ranking or extremely influential Chieftains are able to rebel against
an Akka-Komor and break away to found their own horde upon occasion.
And the Akka-Komor voting as a sort of ad hoc council can overrule the
Arkon. We assume that Yathoon politics also has other means
of succession or replacement.
Politically, the Akka-Komor are the generals or rulers of the hordes
and exercise power much as do secular Princes. The Arkon rules
no horde, but rather, acts as a sort of intermediary. His powers
seem to be those of a Judge or Arbiter, rather than Emperor, although he
can give commands.
Interestingly, the power dynamics of the males convey no special access
to females. Koja, at the end of the book, wins a female, Noura, not
by becoming Emperor or Arkon, but through excellence in games. Neither
Komors nor Akka-Komors are automatically entitled to, or given preference
to breeding. The politics of leadership is strictly to govern relations
Once a year, the Yathoon males all make a pilgrimage, or migration back
to their secret valley in the Black Mountains where their hidden city is.
Behaviourally, this is similar to salmon or eels returning to spawn, though
it may have elements of human religious pilgrimage. As part of the
pilgrimage, they bring vast quantities of foods to support the city.
Indeed, the nomadic foraging lifestyle of the male Yathoon seems to be
oriented towards feeding their city. The Yathoon do not practice
agriculture, so what we have here is a remarkable example of a hunter gatherer
society accumulating and storing a large enough surplus to keep a major
city. Of course, being hunter gatherers, the territory they must
forage is immense in comparison to agricultural societies.
Their hidden city is called Sargol. Sargol lies within a volcanically
heated portion of the Black Mountains, and is surrounded, at least in part,
by rivers or currents of open lava. It is the repository of all their females
While in Sargol, the warring male hordes enforce a universal truce,
no individual or horde may attack another. Instead, the male Yathoon
compete with each other in 'games' of prowess. While this sounds
and operates like the Olympics, this really seems more like the sexual
'prowess' or 'display' competitions that we see on Earth among bowery birds
or sea lions. The idea is that males, instead of beating on each
other, compete to prove to their peers and females that they are the most
appealing mates. Among the Yathoon, breeding privileges go
to the winning Yathoon and the runner ups. Nevertheless, the competitions
are occasionally lethal, and become more lethal the higher they go.
Competition is fierce. The male Yathoon population is 20,000.
The female population is 39. Lin Carter writes that the Yathoon
are dwindling into extinction. Females are identical to males in
general appearance, by the way, but are smaller and slimmer of build, with
less developed mandibles and a more graceful hue.
Based on the demographics of the Yathoon, we can estimate that Sargol's
permanent population is around 2000 to 5000, consisting perhaps of the
39 females, a population of ‘elders’, an honour guard of warriors, artisans
and caretakers, and the larva and juveniles.
The relatively small number of breeding females gives us an insight
into the dynamics of Yathoon society. The male population is
around 20,000. But attrition among males through accidents, hunting,
inter-horde wars and internal duels is likely to be high. The lifestyle
is harsh, advancement often comes through combat to the death, and the
hordes battle constantly. We can assume a mortality rate as
high as 5 to 10% per year. This means that the Yathoon population,
if stable, must be replaced every 10 to 20 years. This in turn
means that each breeding female must lay 500 to 600 eggs in this period.
This gives us a rate of reproduction of between 30 to 60 eggs in any particular
Breeding is intensely seasonal, rather than year round.
So it's likely that all of a Yathoon females eggs are fertilized during
a nuptial period after the great games. Yathoon know their fathers,
though they attach no particular significance to it (eggs or larva are
marked with their fathers identity symbol, and Koja wins sole breeding
rights to one female). This tells us that in a particular breeding
period, Yathoon females are monogamous with their males. This
means that in a breeding period, as few as one, or as many as 39 male Yathoon
may be fathers. It's possible that the male breeding roster changes
each year with new winners in the games, but it is likely that some Yathoon
may win games several years running. In the course of a Yathoon generation,
we would have no more than a few hundred and perhaps as little as a few
Consequently, only 1% to 2% of Yathoon, perhaps fewer, actually participate
in reproduction. All the rest, 98% to 99% of the males
are null and reproductively irrelevant. One effect of this
is that you could wipe out the vast majority of the male Yathoon population,
without effect. In a few years at most, their population would regenerate.
Another consequence is that all Yathoon are borne to a very, very few
fathers and mothers. Hence, most of the male population is
going to be closely related to each other, either as full siblings (30
to 100), half siblings (500 to 1000) , or as uncles/nephews (1000 to 2000).
A major horde will consist of 2000 to 5000 individuals, and a small horde
might represent only a few hundred, which suggests that the relationships
noted could be extremely large and powerful constituencies within these
hordes. It seems likely that the critical social strata which
organizes the hordes and the Komors are actually these hidden patterns
The Yathoon are not true colonial insects as we understand them.
Although social insects like ants, bees, wasps or termites have similarities,
there are many points of departure. Most colonial insect colonies
consist of a single queen, who lays all the eggs. Here, we've
got a very small female egg laying population, but it is a population nevertheless.
Most colonial insects are made up mostly of nonproductive or sterile
females, whereas the Yathoon are principally fertile or potentially fertile
males. It's possible that most Yathoon males may be sterile, but
this sterility may well be more social than biological - i.e., subordinate
Yathoon may be hormonally depressed, either by subordination or by lack
Nor do we see Yathoon society dividing into biological castes, as termites
and ants do with workers and soldiers. All the male Yathoon,
and female Yathoon, are recognizably the same phenotype - we don't see
Yathoon forms for soldiers, workers, nurses, drones, etc.
Interestingly, Yathoon society does have castes however - on the one
side, there are the Komor and Akka-Komor. On the other side there
are slaves (human and Yathoon) who seem to form a worker caste, and the
Xanga insects, who are not biologically related to the Yathoon
It's interesting that in the case of slaves, the Yathoon make no distinction
between human and Yathoon slaves - this implies that the Yathoon are just
slotting beings into a cultural role without paying attention to the actual
nature of the beings themselves. All of this implies that the
Yathoon culture might well have once had different biological or phenotypical
castes in the nature of colonial insects, but lost these differentiations
(though not the cultural defaults for it) at some point in their history.
The Yathoon pose several puzzles. Why is this obviously
non-human race speaking a human language as its own? More importantly,
where do they come from? I'm not sure that the Yathoon are
native to Callisto. By way of explanation, if we go back to Barsoom
and take a look around, we can be pretty sure that the Green Men are native
to Mars. They have a closely related species in the White Apes, they
have a handful of six limbed relatives, and there are a multitude of multi-limbed
critters, all of which goes to show us that the Green Men are part and
parcel with the local life forms. They fit right into the local ecology.
The Yathoon, on the other hand, are sticking out like a sore thumb.
Setting humans aside for now, all the other animal life on Callisto appears
to be quadrupedal endoskeletal mammal-reptile creatures. No
large or giant multi-jointed, four limbed, exoskeletal arthropods.
The only other large arthropods are a sort of 'dog insect' which they have
domesticated, and a dog sized spider, of no particular resemblance to the
Yathoon. In short, the Yathoon are a biological anomaly.
They're not consistent with the rest of the range of Callistan life.
Two possibilities arise. The first is that the Yathoon are
survivors of a now largely extinct line of evolution. So, its
possible that Callisto was at one time dominated by an ecology of large
and giant sized four limbed, exoskeletal arthropods, and they all just
went out of business, leaving the field open for the endoskeletal vertebrates....
Much like mammals took over from the dinosaurs.
This strikes me as pretty unlikely. First, the time scale is appalling.
It would take millions of years for the vertebrates to dislodge the arthropods
from their niches, or in the case of a sudden mass extinction, millions
of years for them to grow into those niches. Yet, when we look
at the vertebrates, we are seeing a full ecology of large creatures solidly
ensconced in their niches. This in turn means that the Yathoon
would have to survive for millions of years as the sole representative
of their line. This just seems unlikely.
As unlikely as a single line of hadrosaur or carnosaur surviving the
extinction of the dinosaurs and carrying on into modern times as a single
unique species. In fact, it's a lot more unlikely than that,
because dinosaurs are our kissing cousins. The Yathoon represent
an evolutionary line a long long way off.
The other possibility is that the Yathoon simply are not from around
here. That is, they are not native to Callisto at all.
They're a transplanted species, which came to Callisto sometime in the
But if so, where are they from? Neither Burroughs, nor Kline's,
nor Farley's planets have anything like them. The closest cousins
to the Yathoon appear to be the insect people from H. G. Wells ‘Man in
the Moon.’ However, both Burroughs and Kline see the lunar
landscape as being dominated by humans and vertebrates. So....
In the Burroughs/Kline pulp universe, if Wells insects are on the moon,
its likely that they're from somewhere else as well.
At this point, my thinking is to place them in some unexplored territory.
Perhaps Mercury, or perhaps one of the other Jovian moons.
But, I'm definitely of the opinion that they're alien to Callisto.
the Winged Gatekeepers of the Far Side
The Zarkoon appear in Mind Wizards of Callisto, and are referred
to, but not seen, in Lankar of Callisto.
"They were still somewhat larger than men, measuring about eight feet
from barbed, sinewy tail to cruel, hooked beak. Their wings resembled
those of immense vultures or condors and were covered with long feathers
of a metallic azure. Their heads were crested with a stiff topknot
of blue feathers, touched with crimson at the tips; their bodies were covered
with swarthy brownish yellow hide which paled to a bright canary yellow
at throat, breast, belly and thighs.... The oddest thing about the giant
bird winged creatures was that they were essentially anthropoid or human-ike
in form. Disregarding for the moment their brilliant blue plumage
of wing and prehensile barbed and featherless tails, their bodies were
quite manlike with long gaunt arms, whose hands ended in cruel hooked talons,
and long sinewy hind legs which terminated in powerful grasping claws.
Stark naked, their boy umber and yellow torsos were encumbered with some
articles or implements, I could not at first discern. I saw
with an uncanny thrill of amazement that the bird-monsters wore crude harnesses
of leather straps from which dangled stone axes, flint knives, short throwing
spears and a variety of curved scimitar like sword with a wicked glittering
blade of chipped obsidian..... One look I had into that nightmarish
face, all clacking parrot beak and mad, glaring orange eyes under blue
feathered, overhanging brow... From the gash in the breast of the
bird warrior, a weird purple gore dripped... Not the honest red blood
of men flowed in their veins, but the purple gore of monsters."
The Zarkoon are an intelligent species. They are tool users, wearing
harnesses, using ropes and employing bows and arrows, spears, axes and
knives. Most of the tools that Jandar observes are stone, suggesting
that the Zarkoon are sophisticated flint workers, but perhaps not otherwise
advanced. Nevertheless, there are iron chains and iron cages
in their colony, and a Zarkoon is observed with a key around its neck that
it uses to open the cages. This suggests that the Zarkoon either
had a much higher technological culture, or perhaps stole their ironmongery
from another culture.
The Zarkoons are language users, although here the evidence of Dark
seems ambiguous. Dark is very definite that they do not speak
the common tongue of Yathoons and Humans, so if they do have a language,
it is Thanator's second distinct tongue. On the other hand, from
a comparatively brief exposure, Dark is able to discern the names of three
Zarkoon and picks up the gist of a conversation. This suggests
that the Zarkoon language is close enough to the common speech, that Dark
can subconsciously get a sense of it. Dark refers to the sound
of clacking beaks and hoarse metallic cawing voices, so its likely that
they are speaking the common tongue, except merely with such thick accents
and dialectical differences that he does not recognize it given his limited
and tumultuous encounter. We don't learn much else of the Zarkoon,
except that they seem to have a king or high leader, apparently named Skeer,
sub-chiefs one of whom may be named Zawk, and shamanic elders, one of whom
is named Kloog. But these names may actually be titles rather than
personal signifiers. Apart from that, we know that they are nocturnal,
that they hunt in flying packs, and they bring meat and curiosities back
to the colony.
John Dark refers to the Zarkoon as cannibals, by which he means that
they eat humans. But there's no evidence that the Zarkoon
eat each other, and no evidence that they're related closely to humans.
However, its clear that they will eat humans, and he observes them eating
meat on a couple of occasions, so they're definitely carnivores.
Still, it seems that the Zarkoon are wide ranging aerial predators.
This poses an interesting problem. So far as we know, the entire
Zarkoon population resides in a single huge colony in their mountain aerie
(although its likely that there are probably other, much smaller colonies
elsewhere on the far side). Each Zarkoon is approximately the size
of a human being, and to be able to fly effectively, must have a fairly
hot metabolism. That's a lot of predator, and a predator like that
eats a lot of meat. And there are a lot of Zarkoon.
Yllanna refers to the Zarkoon as constant predators in the Cor Az, and,
except for Othodes and Large Spiders, there are no other land carnivores.
So it is likely that they are the apex predators in that jungle region.
By the same token, they probably hunt the plains around their mountain
as well. Given the size of the colony and its requirements
for meat (even if the Zarkoon manage to supplement their diet with some
types of plants), we must assume that the Zarkoon hunting territories probably
extend several hundred miles beyond their colonies site.
Going by the map, and assuming that the Cor Az represents the easternmost
edge of their range, its likely that their territory extends to the borders
of the Black mountains in the south, to the eastern shores of the Corund
Laj and the adjacent northern mountains, and very nearly to the dividing
line between near and farside hemispheres. Essentially, any
travellers or colonists from the human territories trying to explore or
establish themselves on the Far Side would inevitably enter and travel
through the Zarkoon hunting territory.... Where they would inevitably
attract attention and attack. Any exposed human settlement
attempted in the Zarkoon territory would simply be harvested and eaten.
This does much to explain why the Far Side of Callisto is uninhabited
and unexplored. Conceivably, human explorers could have approached
the Far side from the opposite side, but to do this, they would either
have to cross vast empty plains, mountains or the Grand Kumala.
They would form a huge obstacle to any human plains or nomadic culture
mounted on Thaptors, and an obstacle to any attempt at civilization or
agriculture within their territory. The remarkable thing is
how a human culture managed to establish itself in the Cor Az.
On the other hand, the Zarkoon are considered largely mythical in the
adjacent nearside city of Tharkol, so obviously, they don't get out much.
Their mythical or unknown status comes from a couple of sources.
Obviously, the city states are not big on exploring, most of them seem
confined within their territories. Secondly, the Zarkoon probably
put most of their hunting effort into the biologically richest territories,
so there's a much higher intensity of predation on the Cor Az, and probably
a lot of activity around migrating herds. Empty plains don't
get much attention, until they aren't so empty.
It seems likely that the Zarkoon, similar to the Yathoon, may not be
native to Callisto. And, in the context of the Burroughs universe,
they seem to bear the greatest resemblance to the Angans of Burroughs Venus,
although they're considerably nastier. They may also be related to
the Wieroo of Caprona, given their predatory habits.
Dreaded Mind Wizards
Are nasty little bastards. They're yellow skinned, wrinkled, hairless
dwarves. They have remarkable powers of telepathy and mind
control, there were only a few dozen of them to start with, and they're
not from Callisto.
Jandar isn't sure where they come from, possibly one of the other
moons of Jupiter. His view was that they were a dying race
with no female members left. They were ruled over by a 23,000 year
old brain in a glass jar and they'd been on Thanator for about fifty years.
All of this is from Jandar, related to Lin Carter while they are captives,
so its unclear how reliable all of it is.
The Mind Wizards were the secret troublemakers of Callisto.
One of their number, the false priest Ool, was the power behind the Black
Legion and its overthrow of Shondakar. He was mentioned in
Jandar of Callisto, and featured prominently in Black Legion of Callisto.
Subsequently, another Mind Wizard was learned to be manipulating Prince
Thutan of Zandahar, though he didn't particularly need help to be ambitious
and evil. We're told that originally, three mind wizards were
running Zandahar, but two died in some airship accident. Thereafter,
the last one went slightly renegade and picked a fight with the Black Legion
in Shondakar. All of this we learned in Lankar of Callisto, as in
none of the preceding books was there any hint of this.
After that, they decided to focus on the city of Tharkol, using it as
a lever for world conquest. Ang Chan was their agent.
The Mind Wizards were exposed as the secret puppeteers of Zamorra of Tharkol
when she attacked Shondakar in the Mad Empress. Zamorra threw off
its domination, and joined with Darloona and Dark in Callisto's first 'world
war', as the cities of Shondakar, Tharkol and Soraba, joined forces to
cross into the Dark side and obliterate the Mind Wizards city in Lankar
of Callisto and Mind Wizards of Callisto. Ylanna of Callisto followed
the adventures and well deserved death of the final Mind Wizard.
In Yllanna it is confirmed that the Mind Wizards were not native to
Callisto, when the last survivor, in passing, notes that he is from another
world. Their true origins, it is hinted, are one of the other Jovian
moons. We don't know where they came from exactly, or why.
They don't seem able to have gone home... no spaceships or teleports, and
they didn't seem to have active communication with their home world.
Perhaps because of their offworld origins, they had the most remarkable
technology on the planet, using television and radio to allow their agents
to communicate between cities. They also practiced 'Ras Thavas'
levels of surgery, and used their mental powers to reduce their victims
to zombies. They projected massive illusions, either technologically
or psychically, and possessed ray guns and other pieces of high technology.
The Mind Wizards inhabited the hidden city of Kuur in the Harangzar
Valley, concealed by mountains and a permanent cloud. Even the cave
entrance to their hidden city was hidden by an illusion, and on top of
that, they had a guard posted and booby traps set.
Since no one on Callisto was hunting them before John Dark came along,
and they had no other enemies on the planet, this suggests that they were
hiding out from someone, most likely, extraplanetary.
But it isn't exactly clear what they wanted with the rest of the planet.
Jandar's theory was that they were bent on conquest of the planet as a
source of slaves and spare body parts, but this hardly seems persuasive.
Had they been the secret Masters of Callisto for generations, manipulating
the relations between the cities? To what end? Simply to keep
them down and away from the Dark Side? Or was there some greater
purpose? Or perhaps it was simply an elaborate game that they played
with each other, using human cities and lives as pawns? Or
was their drive to manipulate and control the human cities a recent development?
If so, what triggered their surge of activity?
an Amphibian Anomaly
A mysterious race appears in Renegade of Callisto. Laj-Thad are
'people of the sea,' and we meet a single representative, Zothon, who is
a prisoner of the Yathoon. His hair is shocking white, his eyes are
lavender, and his skin is african dark with a greenish hue.
His strength and endurance are remarkable, far beyond persons larger than
he is. Oh, and he has gills or gill slits in his ribs.
Obviously, they are amphibians, but where? The Corund Laj, whose
shores are well settled by Perush, is ruled out. There's also
no likelihood that they are from the giant Cor Az lake on the Far side.
Their most likely home is the Sanmur Laj, or smaller southern sea, although
Carter's protagonist, Valkar, wonders if there might be a third sea on
the far side (not according to Carter's maps).
The Sanmur Laj is largely unexplored, being bordered by the sub-polar
lands on its southern side and the plains of Harantha on its north.
Access to this sea is hampered by the fact that you would have to traverse
through a large expanse of Yathoon territory to get to it.
The area is thought to be uninhabited and the consensus of the civilized
world is that there's nothing attractive there, or at least, nothing attractive
that cannot be found more cheaply and in greater quantities closer to home.
Despite this, it does appear that the Sanmur Laj is inhabited by this
humanoid amphibian race, and that there is both a population and a culture
there. Sothon speaks the universal language, which suggests that
his culture may speak it as well. But its also possible that he simply
picked it up while in the custody of the Yathoon. Sothon tells
his companions that he is a 'Zetitikar' which translates as 'searcher'
or 'seeker' or 'wanderer.' The impression is that this is a
formal social role in the culture, rather than just a name.
And that's all we know. This brief discussion is actually longer
than the collected references to Sothon and his peculiarities in Renegades
of Callisto. Clearly, as an amphibian, Sothon resembles but
is not truly human. On the other hand, amphibians are not native
to Callisto. So once again, like the other intelligent races, he
seems to be a bit of an anomaly. It's worth noting that both
Burroughs and Kline place amphibian races on Venus, and the Lu people of
Burroughs Caprona are also amphibians. Gilled or amphibian humans
are also common in pulp fiction.