CIVILIZATION ON GANYMEDE
Currently, the state of weapons on Ganymede is bows and arrows, spears and crude "field artillery" crossbows. People live in walled city states, and only dirt roads connect the city states. At best, we’re looking at Greek or Renaissance era technology. This suggests that they either never had the advanced technology of the Eastern nations, or they abandoned or were unable to sustain it after the war. No matter what, the Ganymede of the modern era has plummeted far from its former heights.
Is it simply repudiation of high technology? Possibly. It’s also possible that they now lack the raw materials and energy sources to sustain any higher level of technological civilization. Indeed, there are certain interesting absences. For instance, we never see either riding beasts or draft animals. It’s possible that they’re there and we just don’t see them. But then again, Resnick’s heroes and villains as they travel across the world, seem forced to walk all the way. Presumably, if there was anything to ride, they’d be riding.
A lack of riding animals means a lack of draft animals, which would probably inhibit trade between cities. Trade is basically moving large quantities of materials and goods, and you’re going to have a lot less of it if you have to shlep most of it down dirt roads on some poor bastards back. Lack of draft animals also suggests that agriculture is solely human labour. Even in the lighter gravity of Ganymede that’s still backbreaking, labour intensive stuff.
It also explains the tendency towards city states and the lack of long term empires. Without cavalry and draft animals, moving an army from place to place is far more difficult and maintaining an empire is an uphill battle. Most economies will be local. Population centres will emerge and break away. An empire lasts only as long as the ruling state can hold its subjects down. The Aztecs and Incas built empires without cavalry or beasts of burden, but left to themselves, they might have had trouble making it last. And they certainly didn’t hold up against cultures with better transportation, when those came along from Europe.
The lack of animal assistance in agriculture also implies heavily slave based or feudal societies. Resnick makes very little mention of slavery. Only in the city of Luris do we encounter chattel slavery when our hero, Adam Thane gets sold into it. It appears that chattel slavery may be a pretty integral part of Luris’ economy. As for other cities and nations, it appears that Malthor, extracts or used to extract vast amounts of tribute, including human tribute, from its client states.
We really don’t get much of a look at Ganymedan societies as a whole, Adam Thane is way too busy having adventures and getting into trouble to pay much attention. But overall, I think the picture must be highly traditional, labour intensive, highly stratified, slave or feudal societies.
In the Western Hemisphere we only encounter a few city states. There is Kroth, a nation of about 200,000 winged men. Its closest neighbor is Rombus, with a population of perhaps a half million or so. There is a dirt road leading from Rombus to Malthor, but the road is so old that a desert has emerged (or perhaps the area is simply blasted by a meteor strike) which now makes it impassable to casual traffic. Rombus is described as being remote from Malthor, and thus a long time potential political and military rival. Although Malthor is the dominant state due to its theocracy, its hold on Rombus is loose.
Vorsar lies on the other side of the desert from Rombus and is only seven or eight days march from Malthor. For this reason, it pays tribute frequently and heavily to Malthor. The result is that its impoverished and a bit squirrely. One of the peculiarities of Vorsar is its amazon army of fighting women, perhaps a default result of Malthor levying all the fighting men as tribute. By all accounts, Vorsar is a fairly puny place compared to Kroth or Rombus.
Malthor is arguably the largest and wealthiest city on Ganymede. Or it was before Adam Thane got through with it. The center of a theocratic empire equivalent to both Rome and the Holy Roman Empire, Malthor levies wealth and tribute from literally every other city state in the western hemisphere. It’s population is around a million.
Apart from that, there are references to barbaric and smaller states. It’s clear from the description of the Rombusite speaker that ‘barbarian’ pretty much refers to anyone who is neither Rombus or Malthor. North of Malthor, after its fall, a more than a dozen minor states formed a union called Sarth. Sarth’s combined population outnumbers Rombus by six to one, suggesting that the average city state is around half the size or less of Rombus, and less than a quarter the size of Malthor.
Overall, from what we know, the combined population of the western hemisphere isn’t that great. Perhaps ten or twenty million tops. Only one city, the dominant one on the planet, approaches a million. With only a half million, Rombus is a major rival. And the inference is that there may not be that many city states, perhaps a dozen, perhaps two dozen.
In the mountain range that divides east and west hemispheres, there is a nation called the Mountain people who are black skinned. Their semi-divine mandate is to prevent anything or anyone from crossing from one hemisphere to the other. Although not an urban culture, they are highly organized.
In the Eastern Hemisphere, the population density appears considerably lower due to much more voracious and aggressive predators. There are a few tribes in the jungles who have reverted back to cannibalism and subsistence hunter/gatherer practices.
We see only three of the Eastern Hemisphere cities. The first, Luros, seems ancient and crumbling. It’s traditional rival Rabol seems to be in better shape. We get a glimpse of warfare on Ganymede in the siege and invasion of Luros by Rabol. While its only incompletely glimpsed, it seems a drawn out, brutal and very bloody affair. Resnick sugar coats it, but I have the definite sense that in Wars on Ganymede, entire city states may be wiped off the face of the earth, populations sold into slavery, and roads lined with crucified corpses.... Basically, just like Earth in hellenic times.
Adam Thane also briefly visits a hidden or lost city, Vescalia, a strange inbred society hidden under a dome with no real contact with its neighbors. Vescalia dates back to the period of the great war, when the local scientists basically turned the city into a giant bomb shelter.
Another bastion of pre-war science and technology is Korinth, where the surviving scientists retreated after the great war. There they sealed the secrets of their technology in a series of great archives a mile underground. Then they created a giant, immortal, indestructible, immediately regenerating Guardian, a synthetic man, to watch over the archives. Finally, the neighboring cities settled several thousand Targaths, four armed, bipedal, humanoid, golden furred, apelike beings. Many have drifted away, but Korinth remains inhabited by some 10,000 feral Targath.
The population on the Eastern side seems rather thin. The impression is that there are fewer cities, that they’re more isolated, and the population is not as dense.
On the other hand, there are anomalies. As Adam Thane is having his adventures in the barbaric East, he keeps hearing these reports of a mysterious Rombusite having a series of amazing adventures far literally hundreds or thousands of miles away. This turns out to be Talon Gar, looking for the ancient super-weapons.
But the fact that Thane keeps hearing about it suggests that the East has preserved some sort of widespread communications network. The news of the Rombusite is traveling vast distances and with great detail. So some aspects of the technology of the East seem to have survived. Or perhaps there are hidden depths to overall Kobar technology that Thane never encounters.
The biggest technological anomaly on Ganymede are airships:
“Looking up, I caught my first glimpse of a Kobarian airship. It was not unlike a blimp, but the two metallic tanks which contained the gas that allowed the ship to float in the air were lined along the sides of an open deck, thus acting as railings as well. The airship was guided by a rudder which descended a few feet from the rear of the ship.”
Sounds like a catamaran. It’s a little bit more sensible than Thanator’s flying galleons. No matter how light the gravity, a metal ‘lighter than air’ craft is pretty much a stretch. Kobar’s airships are clearly descended from those of Barsoom, it’s yet another minor holdover.
Early on we’re told that the Kobarian airships can travel 200 tarths per ril, which translates into about 60 miles an hour. They’re the fastest things on the planet, but overall, not terribly fast. It isn’t clear how they’re powered, whether they just sail on the wind, or employ muscle or some relic technology. The Kroth have two airships which they gained from sacking another city. Rombus has at least one, belonging to the royal family, it may have others. But they don’t seem to be very common at all. They’re mentioned a few times, but only seen once in the Goddess of Ganymede. In Pursuit on Ganymede the airship is how Talon Gar crosses the desert into the East to have adventures over vast distances.
There’s no indication that the airships have any significant role in commerce or war. They seem to be used only as transportation for the elite. It’s likely that they’re simply rare and well preserved relics of an earlier technologically more advanced age. Still, it strikes me that even maintaining them (the lifting gas must be periodically replenished?) requires a more sophisticated technology than we’ve seen in run of the mill Kobar society.
Of course, there are a few other hints that there may be a small residue of sophisticated technologically still around. In the city of Malthor, the central building of Tarafulga’s cult is a half mile tall building. On Earth the most advanced construction techniques of the 21st century are only beginning to contemplate a 2000 foot tall building. Admittedly, one sixth or one fifth gravity makes things a lot easier to build, but it’s still a staggering accomplishment for a culture that in most respects seems to be mired at Greek and Roman levels of technology.
The implication is that Ganymede retains a small caste of scientists and engineers, but they are clearly not very visible, and their skills seem relegated to specialty projects. They likely keep the airships going, they build the tall buildings, maintain communications and cater to the aristocracy. But they don’t seem to have a lot of social impact.
Airships, city states, swordplay, alien princesses, a pseudo-desert world, a race of strange aliens beside a human races, and a plot that owes more than a little to Princess of Mars and Gods of Mars. It pretty much hews closely to the conventions of its genre, and in fact, it started life as a Barsoomian adventure, so its not hard to see Burroughs traces.
Just about every name has a Barsoomian sound to it. No surprise since the whole thing started out as a Barsoomian fanfic. But there’s more to it. A number of words can be directly related to or traced back to Barsoomian.
Kobar - Bar, as in Barsoom? That speaks for itself. But the prefix Ko also appears frequently in Barsoomian. There’s Komal, the great banth-god of Lothar; Kobal a living city of Barsoom, Korad and Korvus, dead cities or Barsoom; and of course the lost seas of Korus, as well as in personal names of all sorts. We don’t know what Ko means, but clearly it was a prefix that attached to cities, holy seas and gods. So it may have had a religious connotation. It was almost certainly a signifier for power or status. More practically, it shows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Resnick started off with BARsoom, he finished with koBAR.
Tur-ism appears frequently on Kobar. Consider the holy city, Malthor or Mal-Tur. The Living God Tarafulga or Tur-a-fulga. Then there is the A-Tor (A-Tur) of the Mountain people, the Princes of Rabol, Thar (Tur), and Tarn (Tur-N), the villain Thurd (Tur-D also a Barsoomian tribal name). There’s also a unit of measurement, a Tarth, and the animal Targath (Tur-Gath), who seem to have a sacred or semisacred status.
From this, we might infer that the original religion of Kobar was a form of Turism. Turism was of course a sun-worship cult on Barsoom, but it would be easy to see how emphasis would shift to Jupiter, when based on Ganymede. When the Living Gods come along, they’re obviously flesh and blood descendants of Tur, demigods in a sense. Thus, Tur-a (technically, daughter of Tur, but in this context, more likely Son of Tur and a Woman).
If this is the case, it might also explain a title, Togron which seems to mean Chief or King. It’s reminiscent of Turgan, which of course is the Holy Book of Tur. As a title then, Togron might be a leader or rule whose power or right to rule derives from the Holy Book. Think of it as a sort of ‘Divine Right of Kings’ concept, or biblical ‘annointing.’ Just a speculation.
The giant predator birds, Tragors, are phonetically reminiscent of Burroughs Malagors, and Kline’s Gawrs.
Kartos, a Ganymedan form of chess. ‘Kar’ is an important Barsoomian prefix related to Tur. It’s a complex of words which seem to surround Tur: First, Tur, Tar, Tor, Thor, Thur; secondly Bar, Kar, Sar.
Then there’s the fact that there is an eight legged Ganymedan rat, a creature the size of a big cat. Cousin to the Barsoomian rat perhaps. The Zeton is a brontosaur like eight legged giant predator. Indeed, I’m almost inclined to wonder if perhaps the Zeton isn’t Resnicks’ rendition of the Zitidar, Burroughs largely undescribed domestic Martian animal, referred to as dinosaurlike and much larger than thoats but otherwise a cipher.
Most interesting is the Targath. The Targath is an eight foot tall golden furred biped with four arms. It appears to have some intelligence, passing down amulets from generation to generation. It also seems to have some sort of semi-sacred status. They are the agents or creatures of the Guardian, but they’re also Tarafulga’s pets in Malthor. They seem to be a diminutive version of Burroughs Great White Apes, which indeed was probably what they were in the original fanfic. The Targath in one passage are described as a mutant species which emerged in the east after the great war, but this doesn’t seem correct, since the Targath seems to be found everywhere in the west as well. Adam Thane hears a Targath roar outside of the city of Kroth, pretty much in the middle of the western hemisphere.
So what does it all mean? Well, in one sense it means Resnick didn’t cover his tracks very well. The Targath is a variation of the Great White Ape, the Ganyemedan rat is an Ulsio. Names sound Barsoomian because that’s where they started.
Or to be fair, the Ganymedan Targath is a variation of the Barsoomian Targath of the Forgotten Sea, which is a variation of the Great White Ape. The Forgotten Sea’s Targath serves to link Resnick’s Ganymede inextricably to Resnick’s Barsoom which is Burroughs Barsoom.
On the other hand, if we take Resnick’s Kobar literally, we can work back to find clear signs that Kobar’s civilization must have originated, at least partially, from Barsoom.
So, how do we get from White skinned Orovars to Golden skinned Kobars. I think that the best explanation is to fuse Burroughs and Kline. Burroughs, of course, gives us the ancient race and civilization of white Martians. However, Otis Adelbert Kline in his novels, Swordsman of Mars and Maza of the Moon, gives us a bit of the history.
According to Kline’s novels, in the ancient solar system, two advanced spacefaring societies arose. One were the white Orovars, the other were the yellow proto-oriental Ma Gongi of the Moon. At first these two societies got along famously, planting colonies on each others worlds, and presumably planting colonies on other worlds. Then they began a devastating war which turned Mars into a desert world and stripped the moon of its atmosphere, reducing it to a near-dead satellite of Earth.
In addition to the Ma Gongi remnants encountered on Mars in Swordsman of Mars, Kline’s stories also have it that the Ma Gongi mixed with earthmen to begin Earth’s oriental cultures. In Jan of the Jungle and his Venus series he provides oriental cultures on Venus and in South America that are almost certainly Ma Gongi remnants. And in Tam Son of the Tiger, he describes an underground lost world inhabited by races of humans and four armed warrior giants who refer to humans as ‘earthlings’ and who we might consider refugees from Barsoom. The Zarovians of his Venus novels may also be transplanted Orovars from Mars.
So, if that’s the case, then we might assume that Ganymede was jointly settled by both Orovars and Ma Gongi, and unlike other worlds, the two races merged harmoniously, producing a golden people. Which would also explain the transplanted or apparently Barsoomian derived fauna, and the common religion and language. Ganymedan civilization thus began at its technological height.
The great war between the Orovars and Ma Gongi may well have been reflected in the Kobar World War, particularly if the competing nations of the Eastern hemisphere were affiliated with Mars and the Moon. It’s just a guess that the great war that devastated two worlds and left remnant or refugee colonies on two other worlds might have reached out as far as the Jovian system.
Of course, cut adrift from interplanetary commerce, neither Callisto nor Ganymede had the resources, the population or the industrial base to maintain a space traveling civilization, and so both began their respective declines.
Is it possible that Lin Carter was influenced in some way or borrowed consciously or unconsciously from Resnick’s Ganymede?
Who are we kidding?
The man was a walking bundle of influences, and he made no bones about it. This was a guy who wrote Oz stories. He wrote authorized Conan novels, and he wrote Conan-inspired Thangor novels. He made no bones about his Callisto series being directly influenced by Burroughs Barsoom, down to the sounds of names and sequence of plot points. At other times, he acknowledged borrowing scenes from Flash Gordon. His Zanthodon series is merely Pellucidar in a hat. His Green Star series owes to both Burroughs and Clark Ashton Smith.
Carter was unashamed about having influences and liberal in acknowledging it. His writing was full of in jokes and references, ranging from having Doc Savage characters appear in his Prince Zarkoon (a Doc Savage clone) series, to actually inserting himself as a protagonist in Lankar of Callisto.
Carter and Resnick were almost contemporaries in their early careers, they were both heavily involved in fandom and certainly knew of each other and almost certainly knew each other. Carter’s earliest novels come only a few years before Resnick’s, with his Thongor series beginning in 1965.
His Callisto novels, starting in 1972, represented one of his first major forays into planetary romance, and its certain that in switching genres from Conanesque barbarians to swords and planets, he made a careful study of the literature, including Burroughs obviously, but likely including Resnick as well.
At the time that Carter was writing his first Callisto novel in 1971, Resnick’s Ganymede novels would have been only three years old. He was, in some senses, still a new writer, definitely finding his feet in the genre, and easily influenced.
There are signs that Carter was inspired by or borrowing from Resnick. The most suggestive, of course, are the Mind Wizards of Callisto. Mind Wizards were 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.
Ganymede, coincidentally, is the closest Jovian moon to Callisto.
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 seem to have the same powers that Tarafulga and possibly other Living Gods have in the Ganymede novels. They can read minds, control bodies and project illusions. Interestingly, the Mind Wizards mode of operation seems to be to set themselves up as priests or religious leaders, and rule from behind the scenes.
Thus, Ool establishes himself as a priest of the Chaac Yuul, while later on, the Mind Wizards set themselves up as gods or religious leaders for the savage tribes.
True, in Resnick's Ganymede, all we see of the Living Gods are degenerates and wastrels. But the Mind Wizards, a supporting caste of scientists ruling behind the scenes, are not that hard to conceive of. Could a group of decadents like the Living Gods run an empire and not screw it up? Or were they merely the front men, for a more competent group behind the scenes?
Any careful look at Ganymede’s society suggests, as we’ve noted, that there has to be some sort of residual cadre of scientists and engineers, either operating behind the scenes, or in service to the aristocracy.
Although the Mind Wizards had been on Callisto for decades, according to John Dark, they had only seemed to become aggressive in the last few years. Perhaps after their rule on Ganymede had collapsed?
While we’ll never know if his Mind Wizards were his extrapolation of a hidden ruling caste behind the Living Gods of Ganymede, I’d be willing to bet that it’s what he had in mind. Either he actually on some level connected Resnick’s Ganymede to his Callisto, or his reflections on Resnick’s Ganymede produced the inspiration for the Mind Wizards.
The affinities between Resnick’s savage winged Kroth and Carter’s savage winged Zarkoon also suggest a deliberate borrowing. They’re both giant, humanoid, winged savages, though the Kroth are much more civilized.
And this whole notion of an entire unknown hemisphere seems to be a naked steal, particularly since Carter never bothers to explain why an entire hemisphere of Callisto should be unknown. Less controversially, both Callisto and Ganymede identify Jupiter as ‘heaven’ or as the ‘abode of the Gods.’
Finally, it's worth noting that Mike Resnick's Ganymedans are predominantly a golden skinned people, as are Lin Carter's 'Ku Thad' race of Callisto. Is Carter’s race related to that of Ganymede? That’s not so far fetched. There’s apparently a still functioning teleport system occasionally linking Callisto to Earth, in a dead city or abandoned temple on Callisto.
If this is the case, we might expect to see a teleport system linking Callisto to other Jovian moons, perhaps in a lost and abandoned city like Kuur. Could the lost culture of Thanator that somehow reached Earth not have had contact with other civilizations around the Jovian moons? That doesn’t seem likely. Whether it was Callisto that reached Earth, Earth that got out to Callisto, or some third party linking the two, it just doesn’t seem rational that there wouldn’t be a similar connection between Jovian worlds.
Indeed, the Mind Wizards don’t seem to have a rocketship or spaceship, so how did they get here? Perhaps they simply teleported over from Ganymede directly into a long abandoned receiving station on Kuur? Perhaps the entire Ku Thaad race, or the golden people who would become the Ku Thaad emigrated from Ganymede.
I wouldn’t necessarily put this kind of thinking past Lin Carter. I don’t know that its necessary. He often just pulled stuff out of his butt. But he might well have wandered down this road, or had it floating in the back of his mind somewhere.
Indeed, Resnick's Ganymede books may well have been the immediate inspiration for Carter to write his own Callisto pastiches, and Carter came as close as he could in admitting this in citing Resnick as the one contemporary ‘sword and planets’ source, when all his other references dated to the 30's.
Was he influenced? Almost certainly. Did he borrow, possibly. Was he inspired/did he extrapolate? Almost certainly.
Did he admit it? I dunno. It would have been safe for him to admit borrowing from Burroughs, who was long dead. Lifting from Resnick who was standing right there, a bit harder to acknowledge.
I’m not slagging Carter. I suspect that if he’d been alive, he might enjoy this literary game I play. I suspect that he might well be flattered by the time and effort I put into Thanator and Zanthodon. He was, ultimately, a guy who loved these stories, and was not unashamed in his love. So, in my minds eye, I can well imagine a jaunty grin and a tip of the hat to Resnick.
But certainly, I'd argue that while Barsoom is the true parent of Carter's Callisto, there's also a certain cross fertilization from Resnick’s Ganymede in there.
Whether it was intended or not, it actually works nicely. As we’ve noted, Ganymede solves the mysteries of the Mind Wizards of Callisto, without being too awkward. It also fills in some details of worldbuilding. Lin Carter’s Callisto is a much heavier world than the real Callisto - gravity is somewhere between 70% and 85%, which means that Carter’s Callisto is at least three times as dense and much more massive. A small world that much bigger and heavier almost certainly has a much more powerful magnetic field.
How does this affect Ganymede? Two ways. First, with Callisto’s gravity being so much greater, it would counteract the tidal lock of Jupiter. Therefore Ganymede rotates much more rapidly. The opposing tidal forces of Jupiter and Callisto also heat up Ganymede’s core more intensely, making the world ‘hotter’ and more volcanically active - increasing the chances of outgassing a thick habitable atmosphere. Finally, and this is just thinking out loud, both Callisto and Ganymede will have much stronger magnetospheres (magnetic fields) interacting with each other and nestled inside Jupiter’s magnetosphere. It may be the magnetic interactions between Jupiter, Callisto and Ganymede that make the skies of these satellites so bright, and supply the necessary light. It seems almost necessary to include Ganymede in the same universe as Callisto.
1. Tarzan On Mars
2. Forgotten Sea of Mars
3. Mike Resnick's Ganymede
4. Ganymede: Two Universes
5. Resnick's Ganymede II
Den Valdron's Fantasy Worlds of ERB
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