Things never stand still. The Barsoom of the time
of Llana of Gathol was a very different place, in many ways, from the world
that John Carter found. New races are found, new technologies
developed, the existing order of powers is disrupted, with new powers and
new arrangements taking their places. The world changes.
So too with Lin Carterís Callisto. In the course of eight books,
the balance of power on Callisto changes dramatically. Zandahar,
the Chaac Yuul and the Mind Wizards are taken off the map. The Yathoon
are set for changes under Kojaís leadership. A new alliance of city
states is formed, a new hemisphere is opened up, more economic and political
changes are in the offing.
Iíll confess, this sort of thing interests me. So in the
hopes that it may interest you who have read Carter's books, or perhaps
merely found these essays interesting, I want to sketch out some of the
potential major developments affecting Thanatorian society in the next
generation or two.
This was already in the offing as of renegade of Callisto.
The situation was directly attributable to Jandar. Prior to Jon Dark,
the political situation of Thanator was stable. There were
the four Perush cities, forming a loose confederation or empire based on
shipping over the waters of the Corund Laj. There were three inland
cities, Tharkol, Ganatol and Shondakar. Ganatol and Shondakar had
trade contact with Perush by virtue of their rivers. Tharkol was
fairly isolated, but ethnically part-Perush. Neither Tharkol,
Ganatol or Perush had more than superficial contact and no real trade with
each other, their trade was all directly with the Perush network.
In short, it was a world arranged economically around the Perushtar.
Politically, however, the Perushtar were subordinate. Zandahar,
through air power, had an overwhelming military and technological superiority.
Zandahar lacked the economic resources to fully dominate the world, and
instead settled for military domination, suppressing and inhibiting Perushtar
ambitions. The related Chaac Yuul also provided both a form of stability
and weakened the militaries of the city states.
Into this economic and political stability comes Jandar, who blows Zandahar
off the face of the map. The Empire of Perushtar now no longer has
any real constraints. Of course, since Perushtar is still the
worldís dominant economic power, thatís no big deal. It just means
that they donít have to pay tribute and they keep more wealth.
However, there is a power vaccuum, and Tharkol attempts to enter it,
reproducing the Sky Pirates technology. The first target of
Tharkol is Shondakar, the most isolated of the cities after Tharkol itself
and the furthest from Perushtar influence. But its worth noting that
this provoked an immediate military response by the Perush city of Soraba
which was not threatened.
The result of Mad Empress of Callisto, however, was a new political
alliance of three cities - Tharkol, Shondakar and Soraba. Worse,
it appears that by the time of Renegade of Callisto, this political alliance
has major economic consequences. The three cities are forming
a trading bloc. The sharing of airship technology threatens to overcome
the geographical obstacles separating the three and redraws the map of
the world. Airship technology means that the traditional trading
routes and trading monopolies are obsolete. It also means that the
Perushtar are vulnerable once again, although it will be a while before
the three cities aerial fleet is as large or as dangerous as Zandaharís
The result is not just a hypothetical political threat, but a military
and economic threat to the Perushtar Empire. The response?
Consolidation. The Perushtar begin to put heavy pressure on
Ganatol, the last unaligned city. If Ganatol can be forced
into line, the expansion of the Three City Alliance is blocked. Perushtar
pressure can bring Soraba back into the fold, and the remaining cities
of Tharkol and Shondakar can trade with each other without the advantage
of a key economy.
This is why, in Renegade of Callisto, Ganatol is sending an urgent diplomatic
mission featuring one of the royal family to Shondakar. Up
to now, Ganatol hasnít had any real contact with Shondakar, but theyíre
under pressure and looking for an ally. What it comes down
to is that Ganatol enters the three city alliance.
Which means that all of the cities of Thanator are now grouped into
two giant rival blocs, one of which is growing economically and politically
at the expense of the other.
Thereís a recipe for a war to break out, if Iíve ever heard one.
It might be a recipe for several wars. The twentieth century saw
two world wars. The eighteenth century saw five, culminating
with the Napoleanic wars. A running conflict between Perush
cities and Alliance cities may flare up two or three times.
Yathoon Become Involved With Humanity
With the ascension of Koja to the throne of the Yathoon as Arkon, at
the end of Renegade of Callisto, big changes are in store.
Koja has spent several years traveling among humans, being exposed to new
technology, new ideas, new ways of living, new forms of organization.
These experiences have given him an insight into the handicaps and problems
of Yathoon society, as well as ideas and options for new ways of doing
things. Koja intends to be a transformative force modernizing
In human societies, reformers and revolutionaries often meet up with
resistance from conservative elements. The Yathoon are extremely
traditional. On the other hand, they are rather more logical
and pragmatic. So, while its possible that Kojaís reign will be a
short one, it is more likely that heís going to succeed.
One of the elements behind his success, proposed by Jandar, may be a
peace treaty and an alliance with the Three (Four?) Cities Confederation.
This may have major impacts on Yathoon society and in particular on the
wealth, food and technology available to the Yathoon. This may in
turn perpetuate social change and population growth.
Of course, peace and trade with human societies will result in closer
ties. So, assuming that the Alliance gets into a war with the
Perushtar Empire, the most likely outcome is that Koja will take the Yathoon
into the war on the side of the alliance.
War is actually the single best thing that the Yathoon can accomplish.
They are superb fighters, their heightened senses, extended reach, remarkable
facility with bow and arrow and spear and their nomadic lifestyle makes
them exemplary mercenaries. A lifetime of the hordes fighting each
other prepares them for the hordes to replace the Chaac Yuul by fighting
for human cities. It is likely that the Yathoon hordes will
in the future enter into alliances or commercial arrangements with various
Age of Airships
Zandaharís monopoly on airships ended with the end of their city, and
Shondakarís inheritance of two ships in Sky Pirates of Callisto.
Subsequently, in Mad Empress of Callisto, we find that Tharkol has rediscovered
much of the technology and has discovered a new source of lifting gas in
the black mountains. The White mountains undoubtedly contain other
pockets of lifting gas. Tharkol is now building balloons and airships.
By Renegade of Callisto, Shondakar has its own shipyards and is building
its own airships. Meanwhile Sorabaís merchants are commissioning
new ships and new designs. Finally, to better propel the airships,
Jandar has forced the development of an internal combustion engine, with
potentially revolutionary applications, not just for airships, but for
technology as a whole.
This means that the Three Cities Alliance has a crucial advantage, technologically,
economically and militarily through domination of the air. The Perushtar
will be desperate for their own airships. Jandar writes that many
other airships undoubtedly survived the destruction of Zandahar but with
the destruction of the city, these ships have no place to go and nowhere
to be refueld or resupplied with lifting gas, and ultimately, all would
become derelict. This was, at best, dramatically optimistic.
It is likely that many of these ships will return to Zandaharís territory.
However, the chances are good that some will find their way to other city
states, particularly those of the Empire of Perushtar, the richest of the
city states. This may not, however, translate into Perushtar
obtaining or reverse engineering the airshipís technology.
Nevertheless, the result will be an airship race, as each of the City-states,
or blocs, rushes to build or obtain as many airships as it can in order
to preserve its economic and military position. The race for
air will also spur the development of balloon caravans, and other alternatives
to aerial power, such as Zarkoon janissaries or Ghastosar domestication.
The influx of new airships will change trade routes and trading patterns.
It will also open up previously inaccessible areas, resulting in new settlements
and possibly new cities.
Because a central issue for airships is lifting capacity, the trade
emphasis will be on processed goods, luxury goods, and other fungibles.
Material which may require storage or preservation, like foodstuffs (the
exception being Xanga preserved meat) and bulk raw materials like ore will
not be valuable for trade. The emphasis will be on local manufacturing
or refining at the point of extraction.
The Perushtar will continue to have an economic advantage since they
can move bulk goods, raw materials and much greater tonnages by water.
They will likely use this to perpetuate their economic advantages.
The inland cities will partially compensate for this with Ďballoon trainsí,
using simple balloons to negate the weight of goods and hauling them relatively
quickly by caravan.
The population of Shondakar was 250,000 of which 50,000 resided in the
city proper, and the remainder in satellite communities, farms, outposts,
etc. If we assume that Zandahar was similarly organized, then the destruction
of the city itself would have taken out only about a fifth to a third of
the Zandahar population, as well as its urban commercial and command centre.
That is pretty damned harsh, but not necessarily fatal.
Zandahar similarly organized?
Well, it seems to have been a pretty big place. But itís aerial
fleet could not possibly have imported enough food to feed the population,
and that food supply would have been too vulnerable. So we have to
assume that Zandahar was fed by farms and farming communities throughout
the region. Probably weíd be looking at terraced agriculture
on lower slopes.
It also boasted a large community of merchants and artisans, which also
suggests that in addition to building and maintaining the airships, there
was a lively manufacturing sector. How does this affect things?
Raw materials. A manufacturing sector is oriented towards taking
bulk raw materials and refining and rendering it into finished goods.
This contradicts the dynamics of aerial piracy. Normally, because
it weighs less, youíd be importing finished goods and not raw materials.
So, a manufacturing/artisan sector suggests that Zandahar had raw materials
gathering operations and outposts. Probably we would see logging
operations from the forest slopes as well as mining, quarries, herd animals,
tanneries, fuel and other resource extraction techniques. Their
mountaintop city was sitting on top of the volatile lifting gas, so raw
copper, iron, gold, silver and other ores would have to be mined elsewhere,
and probably refined on site. Similarly, with logging operations,
weíd probably see a lot of on site stripping and cutting, to make things
easier for transport. Transport in and out of mountain valleys
and up the sides of mountains would probably be Ďair tugsí, short range
craft which are guided by or pulled along by lines. Bottom line is
that you would see a large portion of the Zandahar population, and a large
part of its industrial base located outside the city proper.
So, the basic bedrock of Zandaharís population would survive and re-establish
its city... Possibly on the same site, or perhaps on an adjacent site.
The larger portion of the fleet which was outside the city would survive
and return. It is likely that the white mountains contain other reserves
of lifting gas.
However, Zandahar would suffer a major and permanent loss of economic
status. Part of this would be the loss of wealth, and particularly, of
knowledge and skilled personnel, as well as the larger part of its fleet.
The larger blow would be the loss of the monopoly on the skills and technology
needed to build aerial ships. This technology is now possessed by Tharkol
as well, and by Shondakar. It may have spread to Soraba or other Perush
states. Tharkol has pioneered the ballon, a cheaper and
easier lifting device, while Shondakar has developed the internal combustion
engine. So not only has Zandaharís technological edge been
lost, but it has been exceeded.
However, Zandaharís biggest advantage would probably have been its monopoly
on the White Mountains lifting gas. That monopoly on lifting
gas is over. They still have a competitive advantage, however.
Tharkol and Shondakar have access to the Black Mountains supply, but must
proceed by lengthy caravans. Ganatol and the Perush cities have no direct
access. Zandaharís economy was at least partially based on tribute and
piracy, this is much less viable in a situation where at least two and
possibly other city states possess their own airships.
The bottom line is that Zandahar will rebuild, but it has lost considerable
assets, including a huge chunk of its most skilled population, its primary
wells, potentially a lot of its technical secrets, a lot of its industrial
base, and the economic foundations of tribute. This suggests
that the rebuilding will be slow and the Zandahar will be staying out of
sight. The world that they emerge into is going to be a lot less
easy than the world that they were blown out of.
Will Zandahar participate in the coming World War? Itís possible
that it will stay out. But the Zandahar are badly in need of capital
to reconstruct their city, and the Perushtar are the wealthiest players.
They may become a mercenary aerial power. Or they may even be forced
to sell their technology to the Perushtar or other cities. So they
may complicate things. Even after the destruction of their city and
a large part of their fleet, they may still have the largest fleet of airships
left. On the other hand, Jandars crossbows and internal combustion
engines, and Tharkolís balloons means that theyíve lost their technological
of the Mind Wizards
According to Jandar in Lankar of Callisto, about fifty Mind Wizards
came from their nameless world to Thanator. Of these, one died
leading the Chaac Yuul, another died in Tharkol, two died in accidents
in Zandahar and one renegade was killed when Zandahar fell. Seventeen
were killed in Kuur.
Which leaves almost thirty unaccounted for. Itís likely
that all of them died prior to Jandar. But itís possible that a few
survived here and there. Given their history of infiltrating City
States and warrior bands, like Zandahar, the Chaac Yuul and Tharkol, itís
quite possible that some of them may yet be hidden in or manipulating Perushtar
or one or more of the other Perush cities. This certainly makes a
Thanator World War more likely.
Itís possible that they may be hiding out, or trying to sell their services.
Or simply keeping a low profile.
Flowering of Tharkol
With its new balloons and airships, as well as the mastery of those
technologies for other purposes is probably about to undergo a renaissance.
Historically, it has been an inland Perush backwater, isolated on the plains,
probably near a lake or water source. Itís new command of the Air will
allow balloon caravans and aerial freighters, allowing it to trade. It
is likely to become, instead of a backwater, the cutting edge of Perush
culture and the leading Perush city, particularly in alliance with Soraba.
Tharkol is also a gateway to the Far Side, which may or may not become
important. Throw in the alliance with Shondakar, and Tharkol is sitting
Age of Shondakar
In order to keep up with Tharkol, confront Perushtar and deal with a
recovering Zandahar is also likely to leap ahead economically and culturally.
It has already obtained airships from Zandahar and airship technology from
Itís big advantage will be John Dark and the bits and pieces of knowledge
of Earthly technology and techniques which he can supply, which includes
everything from commercial insurance to internal combustion engines.
Shondakar also sits at the centre of an expanding political and economic
alliance which includes the cities of Soraba, Tharkol, Ganatol and the
In Sky Pirates of Callisto, Jon Dark introduced the crossbow as an artillery
piece. In Renegade of Callisto, with the power and wealth of a Prince,
and bits and pieces of Earth knowledge, he managed to get Artisans to cobble
together a working internal combustion engine.
So what else might he do? Found universities or technical
schools? Gather all available knowledge together into the form of
an Encyclopedia? Invent gunpowder and crude firearms?
Hospitals? Chartered accounting? Modern medicine?
New irrigation techniques? Indoor plumbing? Modern banking
and business structures?
Letís not get ahead of ourselves. Jandar isnít an engineer
or scientist, heís a soldier of fortune. Just because he knows what
an internal combustion engine is, and might even be able to fix one, doesnít
mean he could build one from scratch. Same with gunpowder, water
pumps, radio, electric lights or motors. But he is half-bright.
He knows what these things are, and knocking around the world, he may even
have picked up enough science and engineering, enough knowledge of how
things work to be able to point people in the right direction.
He does after all know they work and has a basic idea of how....
This gives Thanatorís scholars and artisans a huge head start, given that
Earthlings had to bumble their way slowly through each step.
Apart from the half-bright knowledge wrapped in his head, Jandarís big
advantage is that heís a Prince. Thus, he can throw immense amounts
of money, resources and artisans at a problem and give them enough information
that eventually, they can get it. The Thanatorian internal combustion
engine is proof of the success of this approach.
On the other hand, that internal combustion engine represents the Thanatorian
equivalent of the Manhattan Project. Itís probably no great
shakes... Oversized, loud, smelly, unreliable and radically underpowered.
And it probably represents the absolute pinnacle of Thanatorian accomplishment.
They can barely manage a crude internal combustion engine. They
couldnít manage a jet engine. They might manage crude cannonís or
muskets, but not a rifle or pistol and certainly not a machine gun.
Ultimately, the underlying technology, the metallurgy, the industrial
and refining processes are high renaissance at best. Nothing
to sneeze at. But the technology to turn out .... oh say machine
screws, or mass production of components, various machine tools, just donít
exist. So everything is painstakingly handcrafted with inferior
tools and techniques.
Moreover, the population and economic base to rapidly upgrade just doesnít
exist. Shondakarís population is only 250,000, of which only a fifth
actually lives in the city as urban dwellers. The human population
on the planet is only a few million at best. Thatís not much
of a foundation.
Bottom line, Thanator wonít be approaching Earth levels of sophistication
any time soon, though they may leap ahead in certain areas, to 17th or
18th century levels of technology. Musketeers, anyone?
Cor Az Confederation
The Cor Az basin is the home of two tribes, the Cave and River people,
who are now being exposed to civilization. Arguably, they would
like the benefits of civilization, ranging from woven cloth, to metal pots
and pans, steel weapons, better ropes, etc. Does civilization want
anything they have? Likely the jungle contains a great many
medicines, foodstuffs and recreational substances (coffee equivalents,
tea, or perhaps drugs) which might be valuable to the cities. They
have a useful domesticated food animal to trade. There may be new
kinds of food plants. So, itís quite possible that the Cor Az cultures
will do very well in contact with the cities.
Itís also possible that they will be victimized and overwhelmed by the
City States. Against this, we have Jandarís moral sentiments.
Itís also possible that it wouldnít be easy. The Europeans
dealt on a relatively even basis with technologically inferior societies
for a long time before their technological advantage became overwhelming.
So, it is quite possible that the Cor Az peoples will adapt and change
and meet the City States on equal terms, perhaps even modernizing and forming
their own rough political equivalent to a City State.
Free City of Kuur
Itís likely that the alliance will maintain a garrison in Kuur in order
to guard against the return of any leftover surviving mind wizards.
The ruins of Kuur would also make an ideal station point for a major trading
mission to deal with the Cor Az. Inevitably, a combined military
garrison/trading mission would require its own support staff, and a thriving
little town would develop. Throw in farmerís settling in the
valley, the development of local artisans and manufacturing to refine raw
materials for shipping, and Kuur would potentially quickly develop into
a city. The three or four cities in the alliance would have a vested
interest in not allowing any one city to rule Kuur as a colony. Thus,
it would probably be administered as a free port jointly managed by the
alliance, and eventually self governing.
The Zarkoon existed as a barrier to entry to the Far Side and particularly
to Harangzar and Cor Az. While no significant interchange existed between
Far Side and Near Side and while the Zarkoon were largely mythic, they
However, changing circumstances, particularly the re-emergence of Kuur
and the development of interhemisphere trade between Cor Az and Kuur on
one side and the nearside city states would bring the Zarkoon and Humans
This would inevitably result in the Zarkoon war in which several human
cities prepare a military force to clean out Zarkoon mountains.
Although a campaign would be bent on extermination, it would be hard
to completely wipe out a population of flyers. Approximately half
of the Zarkoon are destroyed, the rest dispersed on a Ďtrail of tearsí,
with small colonies and family bands re-establishing themselves throughout
the Near and Far sides and becoming a bigger pest than ever.
Some captive Zarkoon are enslaved, beginning a secondary slave population.
In particular, the Perushtar nations will be particularly interested in
finding and raising a force of Zarkoon slave soldiers to try and overcome
the Four Cities Alliance lead in aerial warships. Zarkoon slaves
may also become useful in airship servicing, helping to dock ships.
of the Ghastozar
Jandar successfully rides one in Mad Empress of Callisto. In Lankar
of Callisto and Yllanna of Callisto we discover that the Mind Wizards are
able to use their powers to ride them at will as beasts of burden.
They are large enough and powerful enough to carry two or three humans.
The Ghastozar, if domesticated, would prove immeasurably superior to
the small flying airships. These ships are fragile, slow, too small
for internal combustion engines and powered by muscle power. The
Ghastozar in numbers would even be a real threat to large warships.
So, who will domesticate the Ghastozar? Jandar and the Mind
Wizards have shown that it is at least superficially feasible. So,
absent luck and mental powers, its just a matter of trying. The Perushtar
cities are desperately motivated to find a counterweight to Four Cities
Alliance aerial superiority. On the other hand, this may be an innovation
Jandar pioneers. The likelihood is that once word gets out,
there will be a multi-city race to domesticate the beasts and train Ghaz
Represent a hidden population and hitherto unknown race around the Sanmur
Laj. Poor water sources limit the growth and inhibit cities from emerging,
so populations are probably distributed through a series of towns or tribes.
Water based trade and fishing ties the communities together into a federation
of sorts. What role these people might have is an open question.
Contact with Earth
Would remain unlikely. There are a number of obstacles.
From the terrestrial side, the intervening Khmer Rouge regime and Vietnamese
occupation and attendant guerilla war would close the region for an extended
period of time. Still, there is a risk that some group, perhaps
a Khmer Rouge fringe might realize what the gateway was and send a small
army over. Arriving naked, they might not pose much of a threat
initially, but they could cause trouble, particularly if they brought the
right skills with them. The discovery or use by Earthís governments
of the Gateway might make for interesting storylines.
On the other hand, there are very little in the way of opportunities.
Jandar has no urge to return to Earth, even to visit, heís content to send
manuscripts. Of course, he could ask for textbooks to be sent.
Books on chemistry, mechanics, Victorian era technology could be revolutionary
for Thanator. The trouble is that these books, containing artificial
compounds, probably wouldnít go through. But with extra expense,
they could be copied onto natural ink onto handmade paper. Those
would probably go through. The trick would be getting it past
the Khmer Rouge or the Vietnamese. Most Thanatorians could jump through
the gateway, but only the Ganatol would be able to pass ethnically anywhere
Still, the overall likelihood is that passage through the gateway is
a rare event, considered fictional by most groups, and is known to be real
only by a small group of people on Earth, who might well have an interest
in concealing that knowledge.
Thanator of Jon Darkís future could be quite an interesting place.
A place of new cities and settlements, new races mixing. Itís
a world which will see great wars and great changes. A world
where Yathoon and Zarkoon walk the same cities as humans, where Musketeers
or Marshalls ride Ghastozarís to keep the peace. Where change
and opportunity, growth and adventure are around every streetcorner.