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Volume 1933
GANYMEDE OR BUST
By Den Valdron
Part 4: Ganymede - Two Universes

MATCHING THE REAL GANYMEDE TO RESNICK’S GANYMEDE

Ganymede, Moon of JupiterPerhaps the most interesting correspondence (and coincidence) is that Resnick mentions that there is a single ocean in the northern hemisphere of the western side.  Actually, he initially describes Ganymede as having a single small ocean in the northern hemisphere, period.  But later on, it becomes clear that geographical knowledge extends only to the Western hemisphere and no one has an idea what’s on the other side of the planet.

Take a look at the big picture of Ganymede.   There’s a big lowland that would serve nicely as Resnick’s ocean.

Here are a couple of maps, of Ganymede.   This one places the whole planet on a rectangular grid.  Unfortunately, it distorts the image a bit, since a lot of Ganymede’s interesting geography tends to cling to the north or south, not the centre.
 
 

This is a better one, dividing Ganymede into two circular hemispheres, which gives us a better idea of the actual geography.



This map is harder to grasp, but removes the distortions inherent in trying to fit a spherical world onto a rectangle.   The second map also has the advantage in that we can get close up shots of each section.  The detailed sections also provide names for things:
http://www.solarviews.com/eng/ganymap.htm

In other essays, we were able to find astonishing degrees of correspondence between the real geography of Mars and Burroughs Barsoom.   Check out the Matching Mars series, here, here and here .   Later, we were able to discover on the topography of the real Venus, the geography of Burroughs, Kline, Farley and even Brackett.   Again, check out Unravelling Amtor, as well as Radio Free Venus, and OAK’s Venus .    It’s damned near creepy how closely we can match fictional geography to the topographies of real planets.

Well, with Ganymede, if we can find Resnick’s ocean, we should quit while we’re ahead.  But alas, we’ll give it the old college try, later on.

Okay, so we’ve got a lowland in the northern hemisphere that might count for an ocean.   Having said that, Resnick doesn’t give us a lot of geographical information.   We have some idea of the rough location of several of the western hemisphere cities in relation to each other - distances and travel times are given for Malthor, Kroth, Rombus and Vorthis.   We’ll get into that further on.  Other places are mentioned only indistinctly.    But having said this, it doesn’t give us much of a read on the planet’s overall geography and topography.

The equatorial region seems to be jungle covered.  Resnick writes of a band of jungle that straddles most of the equator.  This makes a certain amount of sense.  Jupiter’s tidal forces would tend to pull planetary water to the closest point, the equator.  This seems a source of most lakes and rivers.

The temperate regions seem to be brown grassland, as Resnick mentions that it covers most of the world, but doesn’t get very specific.

There’s a small desert that sits between Rombus and Vorthis.   This is likely the remains of a meteor or asteroid impact incinerating and sterilizing the region.   There’s a vast and almost impassable desert, possibly a more natural phemonenon, that separates east from west on one side, and a vast north/south mountain range that separates east from west on the other side.   As to the opposite hemisphere geography, we know almost nothing at all.

Okay, now we’ve said we’ve found Resnick’s ocean.   How does the rest of the geography work?   Well, Resnick is right that there’s mountain chains or ranges on Ganymede.  Ganymede was or is tectonically active, and so that will tend to produce long mountain ranges, or reasonable equivalents, as pieces of geography slide up against other pieces of geography.

If you look at the Maps of Ganymede, we won’t find structures identified as Mountain ranges.  What we do find are areas marked as ‘Sulcus’.   Sulcus in the dictionary are essentially grooves or furrows, which also means you’ve got ridges running between them.

Okay, let’s take another close up look at the map.  We’ve identified Resnick’s ‘ocean’ as ‘Galileo Regio’, a broad dark roughly circular lowland in the northern hemisphere.  In earthly terms, its roughly equivalent to the Indian Ocean in size and proportion.   Looking around, there are no other comparable ‘oceans’, but there are a series of lowlands that on Earth or under Earthly conditions would be seas, a few of Mediteranean scale going downwards.

Adam Thane doesn’t mention any ‘seas’ on Ganymede.  But then again, his geographical knowledge is restricted to the western hemisphere.  The other side of the planet is unknown to him, and all knowledge of it has been thrown away since the great war.   So it may well be that most of Ganymede’s other great seas are simply in the opposite ‘hemisphere.’

But those seas are important.  If we look to the western side of the Galileo Regio, we see that it’s right next to a mediteranean sized sea, or lowland area called Marius.  It’s separated by a highland structure running roughly north south or northwest/southeast called Uruk Sulcus.   There are a number of other sulcus separating the smaller seas, but that’s a big one.  On the other side of Marius regio is another big highland called Sippar Sulcus, which seems to join Uruk Sulcus moving southward.   So this seems to be a loose parallel to Resnick’s ‘north south mountain range which divides the east and west on one side of the planet.


  (Uruk and Sippar Sulcus, the great barrier mountain range that separates east from west).

Of course, in the real world, a mountain range wouldn’t necessarily be straight north/south, the entire length of the world.  Even the Rockies and the Andes curve and wander a bit.   So its likely that on Resnick’s Ganymede and on our Ganymede, the sulcus would amount to a roughly north/south wavy and wandering dividing line.

On the other side, according to Resnick, the dividing line is a desert.  If we look, we find between a handful of lowlands or smaller seas, themselves bordered by sulcus or mountains, a large broad flat area, which might well serve us as a desert.   Indeed, the sulcus that isolates the seas from the region would prevent water from flowing in, probably creating a region of desert-like conditions.


(The likely vicinity of the great desert of Ganymede)

And, on an interesting note, if we were to look at the biggest and brightest impact splashes on our map of Ganymede, we’d note that most of them are in the north and the south of the ‘forbidden hemisphere.’   There are all sorts of craters, if we look at Ganymede, but relatively few of them result in large bright spots, indicating particularly powerful or particularly messy impacts.   Perhaps in terms of Resnick’s Ganymede, these are the scars of the hemisphere destroying atomic war.

Anyway, any of you dedicated fanboys or fangirls out there who would like to take the geography of the real Ganymede as the starting point for making a map of Resnick’s Kobar (Ganymede) go right ahead.   I’ll even fill out a few details.

  • The city of Kroth is on the Ganymedan equator, about 375 miles west of the western hemisphere greenwhich or midpoint.
  • The city of Rombus is 225 miles due south of Kroth.
  • The city of Malthor is 450 to 600 miles northwest of Kroth, and approximately 750 to 800 miles from Rombus.
  • There is a road that leads from Malthor to Rombus.  It’s likely that Malthor is at the center of a spiderweb of roads, directly between it and other cities.
  • On the road between Malthor and Rombus, there is a golden desert of 150 miles by 225 miles, just on or above the equator, about 225 to 250 miles out from Rombus.
  • Further down the road between Malthor and Rombus is the city of Vorsar.  Vorsar is about 200 miles from Malthor.
  • After the fall, there were at least six city states or nations north of Malthor, which have banded together as the nation or federation of Sarth.  No details on its location.
  • Locations on the Eastern Hemisphere are not nearly so precise.    Only the cities of Luris, Rabol and Delecia are encountered.   They all appear to be located in the Equatorial jungle region, although there may be a large rain forest area that extends beyond the equator.
  • Luros seems to be generally due east from the mountains, and substantially inland.  No described city is near a large body of water.
  • Thane flies to Rabol on the back of a giant bird, so we have no clear idea of how far away Rabol is from Luros, or where it lies.   However, since Thane didn’t encounter it first, we can assume that it is further to the east, or perhaps north or south, of Luros.   A journey on foot, or movement of an army, seems to take a couple of weeks.  So perhaps a couple of hundred miles away.
  • The domed city of Vescalia seems to be less than a days walk or run from Rabol.  It may well have been a suburb or satellite community of Rabol in its early days.
  • There is a lost city of Korinth, keeper of scientific treasures, whose location is completely unknown.
  • Here’s a brief climatological note.  If we assume that the real geography is the landscape that Resnick’s Kobar has, and if we assume atmosphere, oceans, seas a stable environment and frozen poles, then we can look at the balance of water and land, the distribution of mountains, and draw some conclusions.

    The western hemisphere is dominated by the climatological effects of the northern ocean, Galileo.  That ocean, largely circular, is probably a fairly moderate body of water.  Although it stretches from the glaciated pole to temperate latitudes, its breadth and volume will tend to moderate its currents and weather.  It’s the northern ocean which produces the winds which carry rain clouds towards the equator, providing the moisture for the equatorial rain forest.   The southern part of the hemisphere lacks large bodies of water, and will get progressively dryer the further south you get.  In the subarctic regions of the western hemisphere, you’ll get wetter climate from glacial melt from the south pole.   Essentially, the northern Ocean produces a ‘wet zone’ around itself and towards the south which overlaps the equator.  This supports the rain forest jungle of the equator.  But beyond the rain shadow of the ocean, things get dry, particularly the further south or east you go.

    In the Eastern hemisphere, there are large mediteranean seas, such as Marius regio, just beyond Galileo.  These seas are comparatively long and narrow, oriented northeast/southwest and reach from the near arctic to equatorial.  Crossing vast latitudes from arctic to tropical in a narrow band sets the place up for fierce currents, constant storms and rainfall.  The result is that the whole area will be heavily watered, temperate and tropical rain forest country all over.  Again, you’ve got an area dominated by a great big rain shadow.

    Assuming that the darkest areas represent deepest lowlands, and that lighter coloured areas are shallower, many of the shallow seas in the eastern hemisphere may well be dried out as a result of planetary dessication.  But they may still be relatively fertile.  It may have been a countryside of shallow seas and lakes, perhaps the richest and most fertile areas on the world.  Which would, in turn, have produced the richest and most advanced nations on the world...  Which promptly blew each other up.   So, anyone’s guess as to what this territory is like now.


    RESNICK’S HISTORY OF GANYMEDE

    We don’t know the truly early history of Ganymede.   There’s no explanation of how a planet with only 15 to 20% Earth gravity could hold onto an earth type atmosphere.  Nor how it could be warm enough to sustain life.  Nor where that life came from.  Or even how a races of golden and black humans practically indistinguishable from earth humans wound up there.

    But we are told that Ganymede’s civilization was originally much greater and more technologically advanced, and that the Ganymedans faced two great world catastrophes.   The first:

    "Many eons ago," he began, "Kobar (the local name for Ganymede) was just as it appears to you today.  Then very slowly, the world began cooling and the atmosphere became thin and tenuous, for our gravity could no longer hold it.  For a number of years all of Kobar ceased warring and united, that the best minds from each country might join in our common cause.  Finally, they succeeded, but not until a majority of the populations had frozen to death.  Since that time many changes have occurred: Most of the trees grew to immense heights and formed a new kind of bark, which would not become brittle and crumble with the cold; and there were many other changes too.  If you live long enough, Adam Thane, you will observe many of them, for Kobar houses some most unusual curiousities."
    There are overtones of Barsoom and its long decline here, not surprising, all things considered.   In this case, it is not just the air and water departing, but freezing as well.    The implication is that Ganymede’s thick atmosphere and habitable atmosphere was based in core heat and volcanic outgassing.   That makes more sense than would initially seem.

    Ganymede in our universe, and presumably in Resnick’s, has a structure of ice and rock, and was tectonically active.  This meant frequent volcanoes, a lot of crust movement, and a lot of core heat escaping to the surface, giving an unusually warm temperature.   The volcanoes and geological activity on earth releases fairly toxic gases, hydrogen sulfides and nasty stuff.

    On Ganymede it would have released water and lighter elements, nitrogen and carbon.  Water would have been constantly sublimating to oxygen and hydrogen.   The result could be a thick, breathable atmosphere, an environment that might support life.   Ganymede in our universe actually has a very light, very thin oxygen atmosphere.

    Of course, it couldn’t last.   Ganymede doesn’t have the gravity to sustain a breathable density atmosphere for any length of time.   It would be constantly slipping away.   But how long would that take, as little as a few thousand, or as long as a few million years?   I’ll go with the longer span for the hell of it, even a few million years is a heartbeat in geological time.

    As long as Ganymede’s active geology kept replacing it, it might go on for a much longer time, perhaps a hundred times as long, perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps tens or even hundreds of millions of years.

    Hundreds of millions of years is a good long time.  But even if it were five hundred million years, this is a mere 10% or less of Ganymede’s entire history.   And there’s a puzzle, this should have taken place if it ever happened (and likely never did in our universe) early in Ganymede’s geological history, in the first billion years or so.  Not necessarily in the later phase corresponding with the modern period of life on Earth.  By our time, most of the outgassing should have been exhausted and the geological heat should have long declined.

    Of course, Ganymede’s geological heat is driven by tidal forces from Jupiter, and its close neighbors, Callisto, Io and Europa.   So Ganymede has retained an active geology and a hot core for a lot longer than a world of its size and density should.   In our universe, as noted, Ganymede still has an active magnetic field and active volcanism.

    Interestingly, studies of Io, the giant moon closest to Jupiter, suggests that its geology is cyclical.  Right now, its very hot, with huge number of erupting volcanoes.   But evidence suggests that it is cooling down, and that it was previously cooler.   Essentially, Io seems to have a long term hot/cold cycle.   It’s possible that Ganymede’s geology follows a similar pattern of heating and cooling.

    Why would a heating/cooling cycle occur?   I’m not sure.  It may have something to do with orbits and tidal forces.  Or it may be something simpler.  Venus has a thick crust, too thick for plate tectonics.  Because of this, Venus’ internal core heat cannot dissipate.  Instead, it simply builds up over hundreds of millions of years, and eventually becomes hot to melt the crust... at which point the heat dissipates, the crust reforms, and we start the cycle all over again.  The last time the crust melted on Venus was 900 million years ago.   Of course, Venus’ core has, like Mars and Mercury and even Earth’s, slowly been cooling, their energies left over from the planets formation.   The Jovian worlds cores, driven by tidal forces, are constantly being replenished.

    So this may be what’s going on with Ganymede, and the other Jovian satellites:   Heat is dissipated out through volcanism and an active, volatile crust.   Eventually, all the volatiles are baked out of the crust, which forms a solid rocky cover which no longer releases heat.  The surface cools.  Meanwhile, heat builds in the ever active core, until finally the crust melts and merges with the mantle, again, allowing a period of activity as the surface, once again full of volatiles, begins a new cycle of volcanism, outgassing and heat loss.   Which of course, slowly bakes the crust dry, and begins the cycle all over again.

    If this  is the case, then Ganymede might well have had a series of periods internally heated thick wet oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere, each lasting hundreds of thousands or millions of years, all of which eventually evaporates into space as the world’s surface bakes out and cools down.

    Which may be exactly what Talon Gar is describing, Ganymede going into a cooling phase, and the loss of outgassing and heat causing the atmosphere and seas to evaporate away as the satellite goes into a freeze.   In which case, what we’re seeing during the human era is merely the latest warm period and particularly the tale end of the latest warm period.

    How realistic is this?   Well, it’s a bit far fetched, but perhaps not too far.   It might not be quite as plausible as an earth-type ancient Mars which these days seems to be pretty much a lock.  But I could expect some science fiction writer to use a cyclical world like this, or perhaps even write about terraforming Ganymede.  It’s certainly more plausible than a habitable Callisto, and definitely more plausible than Lin Carter’s Thanator.

    Of course, it doesn’t explain what Earth compatible humans are doing there.   They almost certainly didn’t evolve there.

    That life originated there seems unlikely.   On Earth, life needed billions of years to get from bacteria to multicellular critters.  And even then, needed almost a billion years to get from slime molds to us.   Ganymede’s longest possible warm period is at best only a few hundred million years.   If cyclical, then it may be considerably shorter.  But a relatively viable biosphere of tens of millions of years could allow for evolution of life, presuming it had a good start and a firm base.  There are signs that life has been evolving on Ganymede.

    Consider that even if we go with the geological heating explanation for the atmosphere, there’s the problem of light.   Ganymede is out around the orbit of Jupiter, which makes it five times further way from the sun than the Earth.   This means that it gets roughly one thirtieth of the energy from the sun that Earth gets.    So photosynthesis, if it works at all, must work a lot differently, there’s a lot less energy to pick up.

    Which means, of course, that we get brown pseudo-grass and tree foliage that ranges from light blue to deep purple.   Whatever it is, it ain’t chlorophyll.   But what is it?   It’s possible that due to the distance from the sun and due to the atmosphere, the photosynthetic process is simply using a different molecule and reflecting back a different wavelength.

    Given the reduced intensity of sunlight, there’s a lot less raw energy to go around, so the Ganymedan photosynthetics are either very very efficient, or very very slow growing.  Or both.  This in turn may have implications for the ecology of Ganymede, and for the amount of agriculture needed to support a given population.

    Of course, we don’t know that its photosynthesis or only photosynthesis going on in the Ganymede ecology.   It seems a lot of the energy may be, or may have been coming from geological processes.  So Ganymedan life may be actively engaged in cracking hydrogen and heat, like the life around geothermal vents at the bottom of Earth’s ocean.  Or it may be something even more exotic, like harvesting electrostatic potential.

    There are some indications that Ganymede, in its ‘warm cycle’ is for extended periods a pretty dark world.   The Karix, one of the dominant predators, is so adapted for low light that its eyes cannot handle normal daylight.   A predator bird of the eastern hemisphere, the Tragor,  is completely eyeless and operates by a form of echolocation.

    It might make a degree of sense for mile high ‘supertrees’ with presumably incredibly deep root systems to evolve in a dwindling environment.  Developing a biomass of millions of tons might allow a tree to become a self sustaining ark that might allow it to ride out the cold periods.   A mile high tree might well have root systems that reach deep enough into the crust, or even the upper mantle, to tap interior heat and water, while at the other end, using photosynthesis and thermal differentials to carry on metabolic activity.   Such monsters might well last millions of years, riding out the ‘cold periods.’   Of course, they probably wouldn’t survive the heating period where the crust began to melt or merge and become volatile.  But their seeds would.  The life cycle of the supertrees might well incorporate Ganymede’s hot and cold periods.

    “What was the scientists’ solution?” I asked, fascinated.

    “It’s far too complicated to go into in detail,” answered Talon Gar.  “Basically, they devised a way for the sun to provide us with a form of energy which became self perpetuating and thus heated our world.  One of the conversion machines lies near the south pole, another at the north pole, and there are three others scattered about the rest of Kobar.”

    “Why do you need all five?”

    “The three between the polar areas provide heat for all that portion of Kobar which needs it.  The scientists, when they created this system, cautioned us against heating the northern and southern extremities, though no one has ever discovered why they so demanded.  The polar machines are merely storage units, in case one of the others should cease to function properly.”

    Too complicated indeed!  Once again, Resnick goes down the Barsoom road.  His planetary rescue machines are a version of Barsoom’s atmosphere plant, and the inspiration probably does not go further and deeper.

    So, what are these marvelous machines?  Well, going by what I’ve written earlier, I’d say that they were geothermal taps, punching through the crust and releasing and distributing interior heat energy and volatile gases back into the atmosphere.    Mostly, I’d think its heat, since it’s the cooling of the world which is really what’s talked about.   People are freezing to death, as Talon Gar relates it, they aren’t asphyxiating.

    It’s likely that given that the heat sources are fixed, Ganymede has very stable temperatures and weather patterns.   The inactive units at the poles are almost certainly to allow for thermal imbalance and a stable cycle of air currents.   Ganymede almost certainly does not have seasons as we know them, although there may be cycles or rainy and dry periods.

    Of course, while that might keep the place warm, it wouldn’t stop the slow dissipation of the atmosphere.   Of course, these machines may be releasing water and volatiles from the mantle into the atmosphere at a rate sufficient to balance loss.  Or it may be using some of the power from the interior to project diffuse force fields that keep the atmosphere from drifting off into space.  Or it may even be interacting with the magnetic fields of Jupiter and Ganymede to brighten the place up and ensure more local light in the atmosphere, good for finding your way around, I’d guess.  Depends on how fancy you want to get.

    For the record, was any of this in Resnick’s mind back in the 1960's when he was writing it?  Not a chance in hell.  The information and theories about planetary geology didn’t even exist until the eighties and nineties.   This is frankly a far more detailed view of planetary dynamics than Resnick had available to him, back then, and the truth is, I don’t think he cared much about the subject, then or now.

    The second great event, of course, is World War Kobar.

    “And why, may I ask, have not your scientists of the present day found a means of providing you with better weapons?”

    “Once we had better weapons,” he smiled.  “We came very close to destroying our world.  There are complete accounts of that war in our history books, and no one who has ever read them would care to use such weapons....”

    This, from Talon Gar, who we discover at the end of Pursuit on Ganymede has gone off in pursuit of exactly these weapons.   Ah, one might almost accuse young Resnick of irony.

    I noticed that she had mentioned only the nations in our hemisphere and questioned her about the other.

    “We have no knowledge of the eastern hemisphere,” she replied

    “Long ago,” she began, “Kobarians did not fight with swords and arrows, but with weapons powerful enough to destroy whole nations in a matter of minutes.  The world was divided into two camps, both located in the East, one to the north of Sylene (the equator) and one to the south of it.  When it had ended, all the weapons had been used and the eastern hemisphere had been destroyed.  It was a war which everyone lost, and those who lived through it decided that such weapons would no longer be built.  The secrets of the construction of the weapons have long since been lost.”

    “Then why aren’t they on the maps?”

    “Because the people of Kobar avoid the East as if it were a disease.  We are divided from it by a great mountain range on the east, which runs almost from pole to pole, and by an almost barren desert on the west, which no man has ever crossed.  After the war we heard strange stories of new forms of life which had developed, and of new races of men.  No one, not even the gods, ever went to the East after the tales of the first post-war explorers had reached us.”

    This isn’t Burroughs, and its definitely not Barsoom.   What this is, is the US-USSR circa 1967-68 - East and West about to blow each other into oblivion.   Resnick has slipped a cautionary tale into his backstory.

    The surviving nations of the western hemisphere were not involved in the war that destroyed the east, and so survived.   The survivors of Kobar World War, apparently in both the east and west, have renounced high tech weapons, and for that matter, seem to have renounced high technology of any kind.

    The timing and the textual references seem to suggest that the ‘big chill’ preceded the Kobar World War.   Both events are long, long past, obviously.  A date of 200,000 years ago is given for the World War at one point, though we don’t know if this represents Earth years or if Adam Thane has done his conversions properly.   Its orbital period is about a week, so its possible that it may have actually been as little as five or ten thousand years ago.

    The final big development in Ganymede’s history was the rise of theocracy.

    “The large planet which Kobar encircles on her orbit.”

    “That is not a planet, Adam Thane,” she said gravely.  “That is heaven.”

    Not surprising.  Jupiter is about 650,000 miles from Ganymede.  The distance between Earth and the Moon is 250,000 miles.  But Jupiter is 160 times the diameter of the Moon, so it must loom immense in Ganymede’s sky.   Jupiter is heaven, and presumably God or the Gods live there.  Lin Carter’s Callisto has the same religious precept.

    In addition, it appears that Ganymede’s religion incorporates astrological principles, since much is made of the movement of the other Jovian moons.  The timing of ceremonial occasions like marriages is governed by these moons.

    But the key to Ganymede’s religion is that the gods are alive, and kind of obnoxious.

    “How did the gods of Malthor come to power?” I asked.

    “Ages ago,” he began, “our world had one major religion.  Most of the people were faithful subjects and it was conducted in a devout and orderly manner.  Then Kobar began cooling, and the priests claimed it was because of our sinfulness.  The scientists said otherwise.  The priests prayed for deliverance from our plight, but to no avail: Then the scientists solved the problem, and when people saw that their religion and its spokesmen were fallible, they began drifting away from it.  The religion became stronger, more dogmatic, in an effort to keep its hold upon its followers.  The priests established their headquarters in Malthor, and since they could not control through respect, they did so in a reign of terror.”

    “It began in Malthor; anyone suspected of being a non-believer was executed.  Soon the new religion spread out with the priests in command of the Malthorian army.  Then about eleven hundred years ago, a young priest named Tarafolga came to power.  He was a scientist as well as a priest, and somehow or other he discovered a longevity serum.  Taking three hundred of his loyal followers into his confidence, he gave them all eternal life.  He soon captured the political reins within the religion and shortly thereafter, he and his compatriots were declared gods.”

    “Little by little they overwhelmed many small barbaric nations.  Incorporating their subjects into their army, they went after bigger game, and before two hundred years had passed they commanded three fourths of Kobar.  Conquest followed conquest until the names of Tarafolga and Malthor brought a note of fear into every heart.”

    Note the time spans.   This religion apparently preceded the ‘big chill’ and was a part of Ganymedan civilization at its height.  It seems to have been a singularly monotonous civilization.  One religion, one language, one universal culture.

    From the description, following the big chill, there was both a falling away from the faith into secularism, and a corresponding rise in religious extremism, centered on Malthor.   We can assume that it may well have contributed to the western hemisphere being more backwards and less sophisticated than the east.  Which in turn resulted in the west being mostly untouched when the Eastern nations incinerated each other.

    Although the priests of Malthor clearly went on crusades, its likely that the secular power of the church waxed and waned over millenia.   Certainly the current Theocratic Empires seems to be of comparatively recent vintage and associated with Tarafolga and his theological innovations.

    There are a couple of interesting things going on.   Tarafolga’s ‘Living Gods’ cult, seems to be an addition or extension onto the basic theology, not a replacement.   The fact that Tarafolga was a scientist as well as a priest suggests that Malthor may well have attempted to monopolise science and technology within its church.   Just good business sense when you think about it.  If the Church has the best scientists and engineers, its also got the best weapons and public works.

    Tarafolga and his kin are immortal, or at least extremely long lived.  They can be killed normally however.   According to Talon Gar, in addition to immortality, they have remarkable powers of endurance and recuperation.  They can survive for extended periods of time without food or water, allowing them to walk through ferocious deserts.   They can heal or recover from ferocious wounds.

    Tarafolga, and perhaps some of the other Living Gods, have remarkable mental powers.   Tarafolga can read minds.   He can create illusions, take control of another’s body, and in some cases apparently manipulate minds.

    Interestingly, this seems to be the same repertoire of abilities held by the Mind Wizards who plague Lin Carter’s Callisto.  More on them later.

    Overall, in terms of Ganymede’s history, we have only these three major events, and only the vaguest ideas of the actual time scales and relationships between them.   Still, that’s not too bad, Barsoom’s history is similarly vague.

    The suggestion, however, is one of immense antiquity, and an astonishingly static society.   Ganymedan society clearly reached a peak well before the big chill, since it had the technological ability and the organization to save the world with titanic engineering projects.  At that time, all the elements of modern Ganymede were in place.   The original uniform race, the original common language, the political make up of squabbling city states and nations, and even the religion were all established.

    What we see mostly with Ganymede is a form of static deterioration.  Wars happen, the religion gets toxic, the level of technology and standard of living goes down.  But the basics of the religion and society, even the language remains.


    Den Valdron's "Ganymede or Bust" Series
    ERBzine 1930
    1. Tarzan On Mars
    ERBzine 1931
    2. Forgotten Sea of Mars
    ERBzine 1932
    3. Mike Resnick's Ganymede
    ERBzine 1933
    4. Ganymede: Two Universes
    ERBzine 1934
    5. Resnick's Ganymede II
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