THE SEVEN WONDERS OF BARSOOM SERIES
THE HOTHOUSE CITIES OF OKAR:
The Third Wonder of Barsoom
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
Thomas Yeates art for the John Carter of Mars Trilogy
Edgar Rice Burroughs saved the best for last in his famous trilogy:
Princess of Mars, Gods of Mars, and Warlord of Mars. As Carter
fights his way from the South Pole to the North Pole as he tries to rescue
his incomparable princess, Dejah Thoris, and stamp out the false religion
of Issus, he encounters the North Pole's Great Ice Barrier, the Carrion
Caves, and the land of Okar.
Okar is a gloomy, barren world of ice and crevaces which lies between
the pole and the Great Ice Barrier. It is populated by Yellow Men with
beards who live in hothouse cities, which create a man-made paradise under
their crystal-glass domes. It is within these cities that the final drama
of the trilogy is played out and where John Carter becomes the Warlord
Great Ice Barrier | Carrion Caves | Crystal Dome |
Apt ~ Jesse Marsh art in 1952
John Carter, assisted by Thuvan Dihn, Jeddak of Ptarth, Thuvia’s father,
search the border of the Ice Barrier for an entrance to the land of the
North Pole. They are constantly harrassed by arctic monsters, mainly the
“It is a huge, white-furred creature
with six limbs, four of which, short and heavy, carry it swiftly over the
snow and ice; while the other two, growing forward from its shoulders on
either side of its long, powerful neck, terminate in white, hairless hands,
with which it seizes and holds its prey.
They are thwarted in finding an entrance until they come across the largest
apt they have seen yet, standing eight feet at the shoulder and wearing
a golden collar. Unlike all of the other apts, it doesn’t attack them,
but wanders off after seeing them. They deduce that this one has been tamed
by man and follow it, discovering a cave opening. This is the entrance
to the Carrion Caves, the only land entrance to the legendary land of the
Yellow Men, of which there is little knowledge:
“Its head and mouth are more similar in appearance
to those of a hippopotamus than to any other earthly animal, except that
from the sides of the lower jawbone two mighty horns curve slightly downward
toward the front.
“Its two huge eyes inspired my greatest curiousity.
They extend in two vast, oval patches from the center of the top of the
cranium down either side of the head to below the roots of the horns, so
that these weapons really grow out from the lower part of the eyes, which
are composed of several thousand ocelli each.
“This eye structure seemed remarkable in a beast
whose haunts were upon a glaring field of ice and snow, and though I found
upon minute examination of several that we killed that each ocellus is
furnished with its own lid, and that the animal can at will close as many
of the facets of his huge eyes as he chooses, yet I was positive that nature
had thus equipped him because much of his life was to be spent in dark,
subterranean recesses.” (WM/8.)
“My knowledge of the efforts that had
been made by countless expeditions to explore that unknown land bade me
to caution, for never had flier returned who had passed to any considerable
distance beyond the mighty ice-barrier that fringes the southern hem of
the frigid zone.” (WM//8.)
Carter muses on the disappearance of the fliers:
“The distance from the barrier to the
pole was no more than a swift flier could cover in a few hours, and so
it was assumed that some frightful catastrophe awaited those who reached
the “forbidden land,” as it had become to be called by the Martians of
the outer world.” (WM/8)
The reason for the catastrophe will be a major plot point later in the
story. As they make their way through the last cave, Thuvan Dihn relates
an ancient Barsoomian legend:
“‘The ancient chronicles of the first
historians of Barsoom – so ancient that we have for ages considered them
mythology – record the passing of the yellow men from the ravages of the
green hordes that overran Barsoom as the drying up of the great oceans
drove the dominant races from their strongholds.
As they will discover, only the last part of the chronicles dealing with
a fertile valley is mythology, a fact made clear as Carter and Thuvan Dihn
emerge from the caves:
“‘They tell of the wanderings of the remnants
of this once powerful race, harassed at every step, until at last they
found a way through the ice-barrier of the north to a fertile valley at
the pole.’” (WM/8.)
“Beyond the last cave we emerged into
a desolate country of snow and ice, but found a well-marked trail leading
north. The way was boulder-strewn, as had been that south of the barrier,
so that we could see but a short distance ahead of us at any time.” (WM/8.)
They espie six Yellow Martians dressed in black and orange striped furs
ambush another Yellow Martian dressed in the pure white skin of the apt.
They rescue the one dressed in white, discovering after the assassins are
killed that he is Talu, the rebel prince of Marentina:
“‘These from whom you have just saved
me are warriors he has sent out to find and slay me, for they know that
often I come alone to hunt and kill the sacred apt which Salensus Oll so
much reveres. It is partly because I hate his religion that Salensus Oll
hates me; but mostly does he fear my growing power and the great faction
which has arisen throughout Okar that would be glad to see me ruler of
Okar and Jeddak of Jeddaks in his place.
Talu convinces Carter and Thuvan Dihn that it is expedient to visit his
city of Marentina before they proceed on to the capital city of Kadabra.
It is likely that in Kadabra they will find Dejah Thoris and Thuvia since
Salensus Oll is a radical believer in Issus and would have easily given
aid and comfort to the leader of the Holy Therns.
“‘He is a cruel and tyrannous master all hate,
and were it not for the great fear they have of him I could raise an army
overnight that would wipe out the few that may remain loyal to him. My
own people are faithful to me, and the little valley of Marentina has paid
no tribute to the court of Salensus Oll for a year.
“‘Nor can he force us, for a dozen men may hold
the narrow way to Marentina against a million.’” (WM/9.)
In Marentina, Carter discovers his first hothouse city and marvels
at its beauty:
“The way was over some of the worst traveling
I have ever seen, and I do not wonder that in this land where there are
neither thoats nor fliers that Marentina is in little fear of invasion;
but at last we reached our destination, the first view of which I had from
a slight elevation a half-mile from the city.
Carter discovers that the Yellow Martians are exactly like the Red, Black,
and White Martians except for the color of their skin and their fierce
beards. They stay in Marentina for three days while Talu gives them a thorough
tour of his city:
“Nestled in a deep valley lay a city of Martian
concrete, whose every street and plaza and open space was roofed with glass.
All about lay snow and ice, but there was none upon the rounded domelike,
crystal covering that enveloped the whole city.
“Then I saw how these people combatted the rigors
of the arctic, and lived in luxury and comfort in the midst of a land of
perpetual ice. Their cities were virtual hothouses, and when I had come
within this one my respect and admiration
for the scientific and engineering skill of this
buried nation was unbounded.” (WM/9.)
“The Marentina atmosphere plant will
maintain life indefinitely in the cities of the north pole after all life
upon the balance of dying Mars is extinct through the failure of the air
supply, should the great central plant again cease functioning as it did
upon that memorable occasion that gave me the opportunity of restoring
life and happiness to the strange world that I had already learned to love
Talu takes them to a barber who gives them fake beards and a lotion to
put on their skin to give them a yellow pigment. Appearing as Yellow Martians,
they are given orange and black striped fur suits made from the orluk –
another arctic monster – and leave Marentina for Kadabra.
“He showed us the heating system that stores the
sun’s rays in great reservoirs beneath the city, and how little is necessary
to maintain the perpetual summer heat of the glorious garden spot within
this arctic paradise.
“Broad avenues of sod sewn with the seed of the
ocher vegetation of the dead sea bottoms carried the noiseless traffic
of light and airy ground fliers that are the only form of artificial transportation
used north of the gigantic ice-barrier.
“The broad tires of these unique fliers are but
rubber-like gas bags filled with the eighth Barsoomian ray, or ray of propulsion
– that remarkable discovery of the Martians that has made possible the
great fleets of mighty airships that render the red men of the outer world
supreme. It is this ray which propels the inherent or reflected light of
the planet off into space, and when confined gives to the Martian craft
their airy buoyancy.
“The groud fliers of Marentina contain just sufficient
buoyancy in their automobile-like wheels to give the cars traction for
steering purposes; and though the hind wheels are geared to the engine,
and aid in driving the machine, the bulk of this work is carried by a small
propeller at the stern.
“I know of no more delightful sensation than that
of riding in one of these luxuriously appointed cars which skim, light
and airy as feathers, along the soft, mossy avenues of Marentina. They
move with absolute noiselessness between borders of crimson sward and beneath
arching trees gorgeous with the wondrous blooms that mark so many of the
highly cultivated varieties of Barsoomian vegetation.” (WM/9.)
Talu gives Carter a special ring that makes a pricking sensation in
his flesh when it comes into close proximity with one of its mates, worn
by Talu's spies in Kadabra.
They travel all day and soon reach their destination:
“That very evening we came into sight
of the walled and glass-roofed city of Kadabra. It lies in a low depression
near the pole, surrounded by rocky, snowclad hills. From the pass through
which we entered the valley we had a splendid view of this great city of
the north. Its crystal domes sparkled in the brilliant sunlight gleaming
above the frost-covered outer wall that circles the entire one hundred
miles of its circumference.
The gates are all closed for the day and they wait until the next morning
to gain entrance.
“At regular intervals great gates give entrance
to the city.” (WM/9.)
They do this by joining a Marentina orluk hunting party using the ruse
Talu suggested, saying they are from Illal, a remote Okarian city having
little or no intercourse with Kadabra. Later that evening the party returns
and it is then that Carter learns why all of the fliers that had ventured
over the great barrier never returned:
“We had come quite close to the city
when my attention was attracted toward a tall, black shaft that reared
its head several hundred feet into the air from what appeared to be a tangled
mass of junk or wreckage, now partially snowcovered.” (WM/9.)
Carter's attention is then directed by the hunting party to a large flier
making its way above the crest of the encircling hills. The hunting party
jokes in wonder at the continued folly of the outside world and as the
flier gets nearer to the shaft, Carter discovers why:
“Straight for that grim shaft she bore.
At the last minute I saw the great blades move to reverse her, yet on she
came as though drawn by some mighty, irresistible power.” (WM/9.)
Carter then witnesses the gruesome sight of the flier crashing into the
shaft while all the efforts of her crew to escape prove to be in vain.
They all end up at the bottom of the shaft as bent and torn wreckage. Carter
then understands how the shaft works:
“The shaft was a mighty magnet, and when
once a vessel came within the radius of its powerful attraction for the
aluminum steel that enters so largely into the construction of all Barsoomian
craft, no power on earth could prevent such an end as we had just witnessed.
Carter learns that the shaft is called the Guardian of the North. Several
hundred warriors exit through the nearest gate of the city and fall upon
any survivors, and as Carter and Thuvan Dihn enter the city, a pack of
fierce, gold-collared apts is loosed upon the wreckage to finish whatever
the warriors missed.
“I afterward learned that the shaft rests directly
over the magnetic pole of Mars, but whether this adds in any way to its
incalculable power of attraction, I do not know. I am a fighting man, not
a scientist.” (WM/9.)
Guardian of the North | Pit of Plenty
After finding a place to sleep for the night, they explore the city the
next day, ending up seeking employment as palace guards in a magnificent
building on the plaza opposite the royal grounds. Talu told them to seek
employment from Sorav, the commander of the forces of the palace, and Carter
discovers some more marvelous inventions as they are processed by an aid:
“The aid took us to his own office first,
where he measured and weighed and photographed us simultaneously with a
machine ingeniously devised for that purpose, five copies being instantly
reproduced in five different offices of the government, two of which are
located in other cities miles distant.” (WM/10.)
They are locked in a guard tower until they finish being tested for employment.
While in the tower, they look out a barred window and see Dejah Thoris
and Thuvia conversing in the palace garden and try to contact them, forgetting
they are in the disguise of yellow men. After they are shunned, Thurid
arrives and tries to force himself on Dejah Thoris. This enrages Carter
so much he bends the bars on the window and leaps out into the garden
to punch out Thurid. He is subsequently exposed by Thurid, arrested and
sentenced to the Pit of Plenty by Salensus Oll so that he may marry Dejah
“Then they led me through long corridors
to a court far toward the center of the palace.
Carter gets a tingling feeling in his finger as he approaches, tipping
him off that one of the guardsmen is one of Talu’s spies. Carter acts as
if nothing has happened and is unceremoniously lowered into the pit:
“In the center of the court was a deep pit, near
the edge of which stood a half dozen other guardsmen, awaiting me. One
of them carried a long rope in his hands, which he commenced to make ready
as we approached.” (WM/11.)
“The pit, which my imagination had pictured
as being bottomless, proved to be not more than a hundred feet in depth;
but as its walls were smoothly polished it might as well been a thousand
feet, for I could never hope to escape without outside assistance.” (WM/11.)
The pit is covered, leaving Carter in utter darkness. Carter eventually
receives outside assistance, but first he learns the sadistic purpose of
“For a day I was left in darkness; and
then, quite suddenly a brilliant light illumined my strange cell. I was
reasonably hungry and thirsty by this time, not having tasted food and
drink since the day of my incarceration.
Carter falls for this cruel joke for a few days, almost goes mad, then
recalling the mental fortitude he used in the pits of the Warhoons, he
uses his will-power to resist the urge to lunge for the food, having learned
that the walls are thick glass and the shelves of food are on the other
side. With a rope given to him by Talu’s spy, he ascends out of the pit
into a chamber near the
“To my amazement I found the sides of the pit,
that I had thought smooth, lined with shelves, upon which were the most
delicious viands and liquid refreshments that Okar afforded.
“With an exclamation of delight I sprang forward
to partake of some of the welcome food, but ere ever I reached it the light
was extinguished, and, though I groped about the chamber, my hands came
in contact with nothing beside the smooth, hard wall that I had but felt
on my first examination of the prison.
“Immediately the pangs of hunger and thirst began
to assail me. Where before I had but a mild craving for food and drink,
I now actually suffered for want of it, and all because of the tantalizing
sight that I had of food almost within my grasp.
“Once more darkness and silence enveloped me,
a silence that was broken only by a single mocking laugh.” (WM/11.)
top, and follows the rope to a strange room where he discovers Thurid
and an old man in conversation. Here he learns the purpose of the room
“‘You need not more than step from this
room for an instant when I give you the signal. I will do the rest, and
then, when I am gone, you may come and throw the great switch back in its
place, and all will be as before. I need but an hour’s start to be safe
beyond the devilish power that you control in this hidden chamber beneath
the palace of your master. See how easy,’ and with the words the black
dator rose from his seat and, crossing the room, laid his hand upon a large,
burnished lever that protruded from the opposite wall.
With the help of Talu’s spy, Carter rescues Tardos Mors and his son, Mors
Kajak, the father of Dejah Thoris, from a weapons chamber where they are
chained to a wall. In a desperate fight with the guardsmen, they seek refuge
at the top of the Kadabra watchtower, a high and lofty tower with walls
made out of solid glass. It is in this fight that we learn why Tardos Mors
“‘No! No!’ cried the little old man, springing
after him, with a wild shriek. ‘Not that one! Not that one! That controls
the sunray tanks, and should you pull it too far down, all Kadabra would
be consumed by heat before I could replace it. Come away! Come away! You
know not with what mighty powers you play. This is the lever that you seek.
Note well the symbol inlaid in white upon its ebon surface.’
“Thurid approached and examined the handle of
“‘Ah, a magnet,’ he said.” (WM/12.)
Mors Kajak are the greatest fighting Red Martians on the planet. In
the glass-walled tower, Carter can see almost all of Okar:
“From this lofty perch a view could be
had for miles in every direction. Toward the south stretched the rugged,
ice-clad waste to the edge of the mighty barrier. Toward the east and west,
and dimly toward the north I descried other Okarian cities, while in the
immediate foreground, just beyond the walls of Kadabra, the grim guardian
shaft reared its somber head.” (WM/12.)
Carter then witnesses the land forces of Helium, led by Carthoris, battling
at the gates of the city. Slowly, they fight their way into the city, later
joined by the forces of the green hordes ed by Tars Tarkas, and as the
battle rages back and forth below, Mors Kajak cries out and points out
the window to the south:
“As I looked in the direction he indicated
I saw the cause of his perturbation. A mighty fleet of fliers was approaching
majestically toward Kadabra from the direction of the ice-barrier. On and
on they came with increasing velocity.
Carter fights his way down to the hidden chamber of the little old man,
Solan, to throw the switch in time to save the fleet. But before doing
so, he has the greatest swordfight he has ever had with any Martian:
“‘The grim shaft that they call the Guardian of
the North is beckoning to them,’ said Mors Kajak sadly, ‘just as it beckoned
to Tardos Mors and his great fleet; see where they lie, crumpled and broken,
a grim and terrible monument to the mighty force of destruction which naught
can resist.’” (WM/13.)
“Never in my life have I seen such wondrous
swordsmanship and such uncanny agility as that ancient bag of bones displayed.
He was in forty places at the same time, and before I had half a chance
to awaken to my danger, he was like to have made a monkey of me, and a
dead monkey at that.
The lessons learned make Carter such a sword master that he is voted at
the end of the novel the Warlord of Barsoom.
“It is strange how new and unexpected conditions
bring out unguessed ability to meet them.
“That day in the buried chamber beneath the palace
of Salenus Oll I learned what swordsmanship meant, and to what heights
of sword mastery I could achieve when pitted against such a wizard of the
blade as Solan.” (WM/13.)
Pankor is an anomaly of the North Pole, for it is inhabited by a lost
race of Red Men, and unknown for ages to the Yellow Men. We learn of this
city in the third installment of Llana of Gathol, in a story entitled
“Escape from Mars.”
Carter has just escaped from the Great Rift Valley of the Firstborn
with Llana, Pan Dan Chee of the ancient city of Horz, and Jad-han, brother
of Janai of Amhor, in a swift Black Pirate flier. As they approach Gathol
to return Llana to her parents, they discover a huge army encamped around
the city. They decide to land a safe distance away to find out what is
going on before entering Gathol. In consequence, Carter is separated from
the others and Llana is recaptured by Hin Abtol, Jeddak of Pankor, the
same man she escaped from in Horz. Hin Abtol’s rise to power is relayed
to Carter by Llana while they are still in Horz in the first installment
of Llana of Gathol, entitled, “The Ancient Dead.” Carter has asked her
to explain how she ended up in Horz:
“‘It has been many years,’ she began,
‘since you were in the kingdom of Okar in the frozen north. Talu, the rebel
prince, whom you placed upon the throne of Okar, visited Helium once immediatley
thereafter. Since then, as far as I have ever heard, there has been no
intercourse between Okar and the rest of Barsoom.’
Hin Abtol is keeping his word as he lays seige to Gathol. Carter puts on
the red pigment he received from the Ptor brothers, and by a ruse, enters
Hin Abtol’s camp. He manages to deceive the drunken Admiral of Hin Abtol’s
fleet and receives command of one of Hin Abtol’s obsolete ships, the Dusar.
He discovers that most of Hin Abtol’s men hate him and that few of them
are Panars but captured men from other places. He learns that Hin Abtol
has taken Llana back to Pankor and enlists a non-Panar crew to help him,
one of them being his old friend, Tan Hadron of Hastor.
“‘What has all that to do with your being in the
pits of Horz?’ I demanded.
“‘Wait!’ she admonished. ‘I am leading up to that.
The general belief has been that the region surrounding the North Pole
is but sparsely inhabited and by a race of black-bearded yellow men only.’
“‘Correct,’ I said.
“‘Not correct,’ she contradicted. ‘There is a
nation of red men occupying a considerable area, but at some distance from
Okar. I am under the impression that when you were there the Okarians themselves
had never heard of these people.
“‘Recently there came to the court of my father,
Gahan of Gathol, a strange red man. He was like us, yet unlike. He came
in an ancient ship, one which my father said must have been several hundred
years old – obsolete in every respect. It was manned by a hundred warriors,
whose harness and metal were unknown to us. They appeared fierce and warlike,
but they came in peace
and were received in peace.
“Their leader, whose name was Hin Abtol, was a
pompous braggart. He was an uncultured boor; but, as our guest, he was
accorded every courtesy. He said that he was Jeddak of Jeddaks of the North.
My father said that he thought that Talu held that title.
“‘ “He did,” replied Hin Abtol, “until I conquered
his country and made him my vassal. Now I am Jeddak of Jeddaks of the North.
My country is cold and bleak outside our glazed cities. I would come south,
looking for other lands in which my people may settle and increase.”
“‘My father told him that all the arable lands
were settled and belonged to other nations which had held them for centuries.
“‘Hin Abtol merely shrugged supercilliously. “When
I find what I wish,” he said, “I shall conquer its people. I, Hin Abtol,
take what I wish from the lesser peoples of Barsoom. From what I have heard,
they are all weak and effete; not hardy and warlike as are we Panars. We
breed fighting men, in addition to which we have countless mercenaries.
I could conquer all of Barsoom if I choose.””’ (LG/I-10.)
Once they cross the ice barrier, however, the crew mutinies out of fear
of being “frozen” again, stranding Carter and a Panar named Gor-don – whom
Carter has rescued from a burning ship the Dusar destroyed while making
their escape – while forcing Tan Hadron to fly the Dusar out of harm’s
way. Here we learn why the city was unknown for so long to the yellow men.
Carter begins to head south, Gor-don stops him:
“‘Where are you going?’ he asked; ‘only
death lies in that direction for a man on foot.’
“‘I know that,’ I relied; ‘death lies in any direction
we may go.’
“The Panar smiled. ‘Pankor lies just beyond those
hills,’ he said. ‘I have hunted here many times on this side of them; we
can be in Pankor in a couple of hours.’” (LG/III-11.)
For Carter’s safety, they agree to enter Pankor with Gor-don acting
as if Carter is his slave, and Carter lets Gor-don lead the way:
“Gor-don led the way with confidence
over that trackless waste to a narrow gorge that split the hills. One unfamiliar
with its location could have passed along the foot of the hills within
a hundred yards of its mouth without ever seeing it, for its ice – and
snow – covered walls blended with the surrounding snow to hide it most
They are attacked by an apt, which I mention because the scene appears
both on the cover the original August 1941 issue of Amazing Stories – drawn
by J. Allen St. John – where it first appeared, and on the cover of the
Ballantine pocket book edition illustrated by Michael Whelan. (See ERBzine
#0738.) We will discuss the drawing by J. Allen St. John in more detail
“It was rough going in that gorge. Snow covered
broken ice and rocks, so that we were constantly stumbling and often falling.
Transverse fissures crossing the gorge formed a labyrinth of corridors
in which a man might be quickly lost. Gor-don told me this was the only
pass through the hills, and that if an enemy ever got into it he would
freeze to death before he found his way out again.” (LG/III-11.)
They survive the encounter, with Carter again saving the life of Gor-don,
and then come across the city:
“As we talked, we continued on through
the gorge; and presently came out upon a snow covered plain upon which
rose one of those amazing, glass covered, hot-house cities of Barsoom’s
North Polar region....
As Gor-don’s personal bodyguard, Carter, passing himself off again as Dotar
Sojat, is given some liberty to explore the city. On one of his outings,
he is selected by an officer for a work patrol, and it is here that he
learns why the crew of the Dusar mutinied and what they meant about being
“Pankor was much like Kadabra, the capital city
of Okar, only much smaller. Though the country around it and up to its
walls was clothed in snow and ice, none lay upon the great crystal dome
which roofed the entire city; and beneath the dome, a pleasant, springlike
atmosphere prevailed. Its avenues were covered with the sod of the mosslike
ocher vegetation which clothes the sea bottoms of the red planet, and bordered
by well kept lawns of crimson Barsoomian grass. Along these avenues sped
the noiseless traffic of light and airy ground fliers which I had become
familiar in Marentina and Kadabra long years before.” (LG/III-11.)
“He led us out of the market place and
along an avenue of poorer shops, to the city wall. Here, beside a small
gate, was a shed in which was a stock of aptfur suits. After we had each
donned one of these, in accordance with the officer’s instructions, he
unlocked the small gate and led us out of the city into the bitter cold
of the Arctic, where such a sight met my eyes as I hope I may never see
again. On row after row of racks which extended as far as I could see hung
frozen human corpses, thousands upon thousands of them, hanging by their
feet, swinging in the biting wind.
This scene, drawn by Gino D’Achille, can be found on the Ballantine paper
back cover in ERBzine #0738.
The frozen men are taken back to the city and thawed out, Carter carrying
one of them all by himself, attracting the attention of the officer. As
the thawed men come to, they are given harnesses and led away by an attachment
of warriors. The officer is impressed with Carter’s superhuman strength,
has him give a demonstration, then lets him go. When Carter returns to
Gor-don, he asks him the reason for the frozen men:
“Each corpse was encased in ice, a transparent
shroud through which their dead eyes stared pleadingly, reproachfully,
accusingly, horribly. Some faces wore frozen grins, mocking Fate with bared
“The officer had us cut down twenty of the bodies,
and the thought of the purpose for which they seemed obviously intended
almost nauseated me. As I looked upon those endless lines of corpses hanging
heads down, I was reminded of winter scenes before the butcher shops of
northern cities in my native country, where the bodies of ox and bear and
deer hung, frozen, for the gourmet to inspect.” (LG/III-12.)
“‘It is part of Hin Abtol’s mad scheme
to conquer all of Barsoom and make himself Jeddak of Jeddaks and Warlord
of Barsoom. He has heard of the famous John Carter, who holds these titles;
and he is envious. He has been at the preserving of human beings by freezing
for fully a hundred years. At first it was only a plan by which he might
have great numbers of slaves available at any time without the expense
of feeding them while they were idle. After he heard of John Carter and
the enormous wealth of Helium and several other empires, this grandiose
scheme of conquest commenced taking form.
The officer reports the strength of Dotar Sojat to Hin Abtol, and the Jeddak
demands that Gor-don transfer ownership to himself. He is escorted to the
palace and discovers on one side of it that his personal flier – stolen
by Hin Abtol in Horz – is displayed like a trophy. It is here that he is
pitted for the amusement of Hin Abtol against two adversaries, Rab-zov,
the strongest man
“‘He had to have a fleet; and as no one in Pankor
knew how to build airships, he had to acquire them by trickery and theft.
A few crossed the ice barrier from some of the northern cities; these were
lured to land by signals of friendship and welcome; then their crews were
captured and all but one or two of them frozen in. Those who were not had
promised to train Panars in the handling of the ships. It has been a very
slow process of acquiring a navy; but he has supplemented it by visiting
several of the northern cities, pretending friendship, and then stealing
a ship or two, just as he pretended friendship for Gahan of Gathol and
then stole his daughter.
“‘His present attack on Gathol is merely a practice
campaign to give his officers and warriors experience and perhaps at the
same time acquire a few more ships.’
“‘How many of those frozen men has he?’ I asked.
“‘He has accumulated fully a million in the last
hundred years,’ replied Gor-don; ‘a very formidable army, if he had the
ships to transport them.’
“On this dying planet, the population of which
has been steadily decreasing for probably a million years, an army of a
million warriors would indeed be formidable; but led by Hin Abtol and officered
by Panars, two million disloyal warriors would be no great menace to such
a power as Helium.” (LG/III-12.)
in Pankor, and then Ul-to, the greatest swordsman of Pankor, both of
whom he easily defeats.
His discovers that Llana of Gathol is beside Hin Abtol in the crowd
and subtlely directs her to the flier while he slowly hacks Ul-to to pieces.
He maneuvers Ul-to close to the flier just as Hin Abtol notices Llana in
the flier and calls an alarm. All hell breaks loose as Carter finishes
off Ul-to, Llana lifts off the flier, Carter leaps on board, then together
at last, they escape Pankor
by crashing through the crystal dome.
Those that claim that ERB was not a true science fiction author can’t
really have read about the Third Wonder of Barsoom. There are more marvelous
inventions in the hothouse cities than to be found in most classic science
fiction stories. Under these crystal domes, we find sunray tanks and atmosphere
factories generating summer and springlike temperatures, airy ground fliers,
a massive shaft-magnet, and an advanced form of a law enforcement fax-like
machine that is still futuristic even by today's standards. Outside of
the domes are terrible arctic monsters and a million men frozen in suspended
And ERB created almost all of these in 1913. No wonder he revisited
them again in 1940 when he wrote the four stories that make up Llana
of Gathol. It is noteworthy that two of these stories first appeared
under different names: “The Ancient Dead” first appeared in the March 1941
issue of Amazing Stories as “The City of Mummies,” and “Escape from Mars”
first appeared in the August 1941 issue of Amazing Stories as “The Yellow
Men of Mars,” as the astute reader would have realized after looking at
the cover. (ERBzine #0738.)
The dilemma raised by this title is obvious. The Panars, unlike the
Yellow Men from Okar, are Red Men. The only yellow man ever mentioned is
Talu, rebel prince of Marentina, and that mention only appears in “The
City of Mummies,” not in “The Yellow Men of Mars.” This really disturbed
me. What could possibly be the reason for this strange title?
Having studied political science in college in the late Sixties and
Early Seventies, with an emphasis on Soviet Foreign Policy, my first theory
was that because of the changing political climate between 1940 and 1948,
ERB changed the Yellow Men into Red Men. The Japanese were no longer a
threat, while the Red Russians were.
Not having a copy of the original March and August 1941 editions of
Amazing Stories, to compare with the 1948 edition of Llana of Gathol,
I was unable to confirm my theory and went to the only ERB expert I could
think of, the amazing George
McWhorter. It was his impression that Ray Palmer, who took over the
Ziff-Davis pulp magazines in 1939 came up with the title “Yellow Men of
Mars” because he thought it sounded catchy and would appeal to a wider
This answer was unappealing to me, so Mr. McWhorter then went to his
favorite ERB historian, Bob Barrett. His answer appears to be dead on.
Because, for whatever reason – probably color contrast with a snow-white
background – J. Allen St. John chose to color the apt on the cover yellow
instead of white. Wanting the cover to match with the title, Palmer called
the story “The Yellow Men of Mars.” Bizarre, yes. Crazy, yes. But the truth
is often stranger than fiction.
And there you have it, the Third Wonder of Barsoom:
The Hothouse Cities of Okar!
SEVEN WONDERS OF BARSOOM SERIES
WONDERS: I | II
| III | IV
| V | VI
RUNNERS UP: I.a
| II | III
| IV | V
| VI | VII
| IX | X.2.3.4