THURIA: THE LESSER MOON
The Seventh Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
There is an inside joke in Swords of Mars when Fal Silvas
wants to see if John Carter, disguised as Vandor the Panthan, can operate
the mechanical brain in his spaceship:
“I had no intention of letting Fal Silvas
know that I could operate his invention, if he did not already know it;
and as I tried to keep my thoughts as far from it as possible, I recalled
football games that I had seen, a five-ring circus, and the Congress of
Beauties on the midway of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. In fact, I tried
to think of anything under the sun rather than Fal Silvas and his mechanical
Any man who wants to please a lady understands this joke, but the main
point is that ERB wrote this story in 1933, forty years after the Columbian
Exposition; yet it was still vivid in his memory. The Congress of Beauties
was a place where forty ladies from forty nations modeled their native
clothing, one among the hundreds of attractions at this fabulous event.
Many scholars believe that the “White City” – so called because most
of the buildings had a white stucco exterior and by night it was lit up
by Tesla’s alternating current light bulbs – was the main influence on
L. Frank Baum’s Emerald City in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. We know that
ERB spent many a day at this fair (see ERBzine
Bill Hillman's enchanting articles), and even drove passengers around in
an electric car to advertise his father’s battery factory. If you take
a good look at all the buildings and exhibits (see, e.g., www.gutenberg/org/files/22847/22847),
you cannot help but see many domes, spires, towers, and minarets, the signatures
of most Martian cities.
ERB was a good friend of Baum's and in Swords of Mars
he paid special tribute to the Land of Oz in the creation of Thuria, Barsoom's
lesser moon. (See, inter alia, ERBzine
#0304 and #1123.)
While the palace of the Emerald City is constructed of green glass, emeralds,
and other jewels, the Tarid castle is constructed from every kind of precious
gem, many unknown on earth. This means a near psychedelic experience when
looking at it, for it would, like the stones worn by the guardians of the
atmosphere factory and Holy Therns of the Tenth Cycle – that emit all nine
Barsoomian rays – scintillate in the sun. Moreover, while the Empress Ozma
ruled the Emerald City, the princess from Domnia, Ozara, is the Jeddara
of the Tarid realm.
The similarities end there, however, for as we will see, this is a racy,
sexy, fun adventure where strange creatures and telepathic invisibility
are at the top of the menu. And, as you have to enter Oz my almost magical
means – after all, it is somewhere over the rainbow – you also have to
enter Thuria by a means so preposterous that several characters actually
protest the absurdity of the whole idea. But once the protesting is over,
the real adventure of the imagination begins.
first learned of possible life on Thuria when the Black Pirates were first
introduced in The Gods of Mars. It was part of the superstition
of the religion of Issus, fostered by the First Born, that they were from
and lived on the surface of Thuria. Even the Holy Therns were under this
delusion, but it was quickly shattered by John Carter when he took the
Black Pirate, Xodar, and Phaidor, the daughter of the highest thern, to
a dangerous altitude in a Black Pirate flier to demonstrate that there
is not enough air in the upper atmosphere to sustain life. Thus the Black
Pirates could not fly from Thuria to Barsoom in their fliers. But this
did not wholly solve the problem of whether there was intelligent life
on Thuria, for, after all, the First Born were part of the Tree of Life
This problem in finally solved in Swords of Mars, when
Carter actually goes there in an interplanetary spaceship. As we know,
this is made possible by the Mad Scientist Fal Silvas, who has constructed
the spaceship and the mechanical brain that runs it. Carter first learns
that Fal Silvas has specifically built the spaceship as a means of going
to Thuria when he protests that it would take a vast amount of wealth to
finance Fal Silvas’ robot army:
“‘Yes, vast wealth,’ he repeated; ‘and
it was for the purpose of obtaining this vast wealth that I built this
Ur Jan, the head of the Zodangan Assassins Guild, kidnaps Dejah Thoris
with the help of the Mad Scientist, Gar Nal, who has built a spaceship
almost identical to Fal Silvas’, but without a mechanical brain. They fly
to Thuria, where they know Carter will never find her. When Carter confronts
Fal Silvas with the fact that Gar Nal’s ship is no longer in its hangar,
he is outraged:
“‘You intend to raid the treasure houses of the
great cities of Barsoom?’ I asked, smiling.
“‘By no means,’ he replied. ‘Treasures vastly
richer lie at the disposal of the man who controls this ship. Do you not
know what the spectroscope tells us of the riches of Thuria?’
“‘I have heard,’ I said, ‘but I never took much
stock in it. The story was too fabulous.’
“‘It is true, nevertheless,’ he said. ‘There must
be mountains of gold and platinum on Thuria and vast plains carpeted with
precious stones.’” (SM/7.)
“‘The calot!’ he exclaimed, ‘the son
of a thousand million calots! He has beaten me. He will go to Thuria. With
the great wealth that he will bring back, he will do all that I had hoped
to do.’” (SM/12.)
Carter attempts to persuade Fal Silvas that they can follow and destroy
Gar Nal's spaceship on Thuria, but Fal Silvas is a coward and is too fearful
as to what might happen on Thuria. Carter protests that they will be like
giants on the surface of the small moon:
“What was I to do? I had been depending
upon Fal Silvas, and now he had failed me. ‘I cannot understand you,’ I
said; ‘with your own arguments, you convinced me that it would be a simple
thing to go to Thuria in your ship. What possible danger can confront us
there that we may not overcome? We shall be veritable giants on Thuria.
No creature that lives there could withstand us. With a stamp of the foot,
we could crush the lives from the greatest beasts that Thuria could support.’
Well, at least we’re not dealing with ruby slippers, but you get the idea.
This is the only way we are able to have an adventure on Thuria, so ERB
provides us – no matter how absurd the theory is – with the means to get
there. Since Fal Silvas is a coward, Carter rescues Zanda from a brain
experiment, and together they steal the spaceship and meet up with Jat
Or, a padwar in
“I had been giving this matter considerable thought
ever since there first appeared a likelihood that I might go to Thuria.
I am no scientist, and my figures may not be accurate, but they are approximately
true. I knew that the diameter of Thuria was supposed to be about seven
miles, so that its volume could be only about two percent that of, let
us say, the Earth, that you may have a comparison that will be more understandable
“I estimated that if there were human beings on
Thuria and they were proportioned to their environment as man on Earth
is to his, they would be but about nine-and-a-half inches tall and weigh
between four and five pounds; and that an Earthman transported to Mars
[Thuria?] would be able to jump 225 feet into the air, make a standing
broad jump of 450 feet and a running broad jump of 725 feet, and that a
strong man could lift a mass equivalent to a weight of 4 1/2 tons on earth.
Against such a Titan, the tiny creatures of Thuria would be helpless –
provided, of course, that Thuria were inhabited.
“I suggested all this to Fal Silvas, but he shook
his head impatiently. ‘There is something that you do not know,’ he said.
‘Perhaps Gar Nal, himself, does not know it. There is a peculiar relationship
between Barsoom and her moons that does not exist between any of the other
planets in the solar system and their satellites. The suggestion was made
by an obscure scientist thousands of years ago, and then it seemed to have
been forgotten. I discovered it in an ancient manuscript that I came upon
by accident. It is in the original handwriting of the investigator and
may have had no distribution whatsoever.
“‘However, the idea intrigued me; and over a period
of twenty years I sought either to prove or disprove it. Eventually, I
proved it conclusively.’
“‘And what is it?’ I asked.
“‘There exists between Barsoom and her satellites
a peculiar relation which I have called a compensatory adjustment of masses.
For example, let us consider a mass travelling from Barsoom to Thuria.
As it approaches the nearer moon, it varies directly as the influences
of the planet and the satellite vary. The ratio of the mass to the mass
of Barsoom at the surface of Barsoom, therefore, would be the same as the
ratio of the mass to the Thuria at the surface of Thuria.
“‘You were about right in assuming that an inhabitant
of Thuria, if such exists, if he were of the same proportion to Thuria
as you are to Barsoom, would be about eight sofs tall [9.36"]; and consequently,
if my theory is correct, and I have no reason to doubt it, were you to
travel from Barsoom to Thuria you would be but eight sofs tall when you
reached the surface of the moon.’
“‘Preposterous!’ I exclaimed.” (SM/12.)
Carter’s palace guard. Jat Or has the same concerns about traveling
“‘And suppose we get to Thuria alive?’
interjected Jat Or. ‘You know I have been wondering about that. I have
been giving the matter considerable thought, naturally, since you said
that that was to be our destination; and I am wondering how we will fare
on that tiny satellite. We shall be so out of proportion in size to anything
that we may find there.’
Let’s make sure the reader fully understands how we get to Thuria; it is
by the Theory of Compensatory Adjustment of Masses, or CAM to be short.
File that theory under: “In your dreams.”
“‘Perhaps we shall not be,’ I said, and then I
explained to him the theory of compensatory adjustment of masses as Fal
Silvas had expounded it to me.
“‘It sounds preposterous,’ said Jat Or.
“I shrugged. ‘It does to me, too,’ I admitted;
‘but no matter how much we may abhor Fal Silvas’s character, we cannot
deny the fact that he has a marvelous scientific brain; and I am going
to hold my opinion in abeyance until we reach to surface of Thuria.’” (SM/14.)
As our three hardy astronauts approach Thuria, they discuss the mechanical
brain and problems of matching their velocity with that of Thuria’s when
the moon suddenly appears through the bug-eyes of the spaceship:
“Jat Or was looking out at the great
orb of Thuria on our right. ‘How perfectly tremendous she looks,’ he said.
‘It doesn’t seem possible that we have come close enough to make her look
as large at that.’
So, our travelers have shrunk proportionally because of Thuria’s peculiar
relationship with Barsoom. Okay; enough said. Now, forget about the theory
and enjoy the story. The fact is, Toto, we are not in Kansas any more.
Jat Or is glued to the starboard bug-eye, when suddenly he exclaims:
“‘You forget,’ I said, ‘that as we approached
her, we commenced to grow smaller – to proportion ourselves to her size.
When we reach her surface, if we ever do, she will seem as large to us
as Barsoom does when we are on its surface.’
“‘It all sounds like a mad dream to me,’ said
“‘I fully agree with you,’ I replied, ‘but you
will have to admit that it is going to be a most interesting dream.’” (SM/15.)
“‘She is coming,’ he said in a tense
whisper. ‘Issus! What a magnificent and inspiring sight!’
The ship begins spiraling down to the surface, but, since it is night,
Carter decides to order the ship to hover at two hundred haads above the
surface and cruise to the direction of the morning sun. Zanda prepares
them a meal and insists on remaining Carter’s slave even though he has
freed her in front of a witness. It is clear Zanda is totally in love with
Carter and is willing
“I went to the port and looked out over his shoulder.
There before me was a great world, one crescent edge illuminated by the
sun beyond it. Vaguely, I thought that I saw the contour of mountains and
valleys, lighter expanses that might have been sandy desert or dead sea
bottom, and dark masses that could have been forests. A new world! A world
that no earthman nor any Barsoomian had ever visited.
“I could have been thrilled beyond the power of
words to express at the thought of the adventure that lay before me had
my mind not been so overcast by fear for the fate of my princess. Thoughts
of her dominated all others, yet they did not crowd out entirely the sense
of magnificent mystery that the sight of this new world aroused within
to be his concubine; however, Carter thinks she would be a perfect
mate for Jat Or.
“As we cruised low over Thuria, I saw
forests below us, and meandering lines of lighter color that I took to
be brooks or rivers; and in the distance there were mountains. It seemed
a most beautiful and intriguing world.
When the reader considers that most Martian civilizations had viewing instruments
that could monitor everything that was happening on Earth, it is a real
mystery why Thuria would have remained so much a mystery; unless it was
all too tiny to view because of that peculiar relationship.
“I could not be sure about the water because it
was generally believed on Barsoom that her satellites were practically
without moisture. However, I have known scientists to be mistaken.” (SM/15.)
“I was becoming impatient. It seemed
that daylight would never arrive, but at last the first rosy flush of dawn
crept up behind the moutain tops ahead of us; and slowly the details of
this strange world took form below us, as the scene in a photographic print
takes magic form beneath the developer.
Carter lands his ship next to Gar Nal’s and they argue for a few moments
if Zanda should go with Carter and Jat Or and explore, but she ends the
dispute by donning a full military harness and insisting that she fight
alongside with them. They disembark:
“We were looking down upon a forested valley,
beyond which low foothills, carpeted with lush vegetation, ran back to
higher mountains in the distance.
“The colors were similar to those upon Barsoom
– the scarlet grasses, the gorgeous, strange-hued trees; but as far as
our vision reached, we saw no living thing.
“‘There must be life there,’ said Zanda, when
Jat Or commented upon this fact. ‘In all that wealth of beauty, there must
be living eyes to see and to admire.’
“‘Are we going to land?’ asked Jat Or.
“‘We came here to find Gar Nal’s ship,’ I replied,
‘and we must search for that first.’
“‘It will be like looking for a tiny bead among
the moss of a dead sea bottom,’ said Jat Or.
“I nodded. ‘I am afraid so,’ I said, ‘but we have
come for that purpose and that purpose alone.’
“‘Look!’ exclaimed Zanda. ‘What is that – there
“Looking down in the direction that Zanda had
indicated, I saw what appeared to be a large building on the bank of a
river. The structure nestled in a clearing in the forest, and where the
rising sun touched its towers they sent back scintillating rays of many-hued
“One section of the building faced upon what appeared
to be a walled court, and it was an object lying in this court which aroused
our interest and excitement to a far greater extent than the building itself.
“‘What do you think it is, Zanda?’ I asked, for
it was she who had discovered it.
“‘I think it is Gar Nal’s ship,’ replied the girl.
“‘What makes you think that?’ asked Jat Or.
“‘Because it is so much like this one,’ she replied.
‘Both Gar Nal and Fal Silvas stole ideas from one another whenever they
could, and I should be surprised indeed if their ships did not closely
resemble one another.’
“‘I am sure that you are right, Zanda,’ I said.
‘It is not reasonable to assume that the inhabitants of Thuria have, by
some miraculous coincidence, constructed a ship so similar to that of Fal
Silvas’s; and the possibility is equally remote that a third Barsoomian
ship has landed on the satellite.’
“I directed the brain to spiral downward, and
presently we were flying at an altitude that gave us a clear view of the
details of the building and the surrounding terrain.’” (SM/15-16.)
“Before us loomed the castle, a strange
weird building of unearthly architecture, a building of many towers of
various types, some of the standing alone and some engaged in groups.
Carter checks out the interior of Gar Nal’s ship, making sure it is not
occupied. He reports his findings to Jat Or and Zanda and then invisible
hands seize all three of them and drag them inside the castle, as the voice
of Dejah Thoris warns them from a tower overhead. As Carter’s last act
before he is dragged inside, he gives a directing command to the brain
to lift off and hover a hundred feet above the castle.
“Partially verifying Fal Silvas’s theory of the
tremendous mineral wealth of the satellite, the walls of the structure
before us were constructed of blocks of precious stones so arranged that
their gorgeous hues blended and harmonized into a mass of color that defies
Zanda is separated from them and Jat Or comments on the utter futility
they confront in not being able to see or hear their foes, to which Carter
“‘But eventually we must find someone
whom we can see and against whom we can pit our own brain and fighting
abililty on a more equable basis, for this castle and what we see about
us indicate the presence of creatures not unlike ourselves. Notice, for
instance, the benches and divans along the walls of this corridor. They
must have been intended for creatures like ourselves. The beautiful mosaics
that decorate the walls, the gorgeous rugs and skins upon the floor – these
things are here to satisfy a love of beauty that is a peculiar attribute
of the human mind, nor could they have been conceived or produced except
by human hands under the guidance of human brains.’
The three are separated and Carter is taken to the top of a tower and locked
into a cell with a strange creature:
“‘Your deductions are faultless,’ replied Jat
Or, ‘but where are the people?’
“‘There lies the mystery,’ I replied. ‘I can well
believe that our future depends upon its solution.’...
“At the end of the corridor, we were conducted
up a wide and ornate staircase to the next level of the castle; and presently
we were led into a large room – a vast chamber at which we saw at the far
end a single, lonely figure.
“It was Zanda. She was standing before a dais
upon which were two large ornate throne chairs.
“The room was gorgeous, almost barbaric in its
decoration. Gold and precious stones encrusted floor and walls. They had
been fabricated into an amazing design by some master artist who had had
at his disposal rare gems such as I had never seen either upon earth or
“We stood there before the dais for several minutes,
and then we were dragged away and conducted from the room. Along another
corridor we were taken, a narrower corridor, and up a winding stairway
which Jat Or had some little difficulty in negotiating. Such contrivances
were new to him, as stairways are not used on Mars, where inclined ramps
lead from one level of a building to another.” (SM/17.)
“As I turned to inspect my prison, my
eyes fell upon a figure seated upon a bench at the far side of the room.
Thus, we are introduced to Umka, the Cat Man. Umka is one of the strangest
creatures Carter has ever met, but by thinking outside of the box, Carter
is able to learn from Umka the Tarid language and the truth about his captors.
But first Carson explores his room.
“For want of a better word, I may describe the
figure that I saw as that of a man; but what a man!
“The creature was naked except for a short leather
skirt held about its hips by a broad belt fastened by a large golden buckle
set with precious stones.
“He was seated upon a red bench against a panel
of gray wall; and his skin was exactly the color of the wall, except that
portion of his legs which touched the bench. They were red.
“The shape of his skull was similar to that of
a human being, but his features were most inhuman. In the center of his
forehead was a single, large eye about three inches in diameter; the pupil
a vertical slit, like the pupils of a cat’s eyes. He sat there eyeing me
with that great eye, apparently appraising me as I was appraising him;
and I could not but wonder if I presented as strange an appearance to him
as he did to me.
“During those few moments that we remained motionless,
staring at one another, I hurriedly took note of several of his strange
“The fingers of his hands and four of the toes
of each of his feet were much longer than in the human race, while his
thumbs and large toes were considerably shorter than his other digits and
extended laterally at right angles to his hands and feet.
“This fact, and the vertical pupils of his eye
suggested that he might be wholly arboreal or at least accustomed to finding
his food or his prey in trees.
“But perhaps the most outstanding features of
his hideous countenance were his mouths. He had two of them, one directly
above the other. The lower mouth, which was the larger, was lipless, the
skin of the face forming the gums in which the teeth were set, with the
result that his powerful white teeth were always exposed in a hideous,
“The upper mouth was round, with slightly protruding
lips, controlled by a sphincter-like muscle. This mouth was toothless.
“His nose was wide and flat, with upturned nostrils.
At first I detected no ears, but later discovered that two small orifices
near the top of the head and at opposite sides served the purpose of audition.
“Starting slightly above his eye, a stiff yellowish
mane about two inches wide ran back along the center of his cranium.” (SM/17.)
“It was circular and evidently occupied
the entire area and evidently the highest level of a tower. The walls were
panelled in different colors; and even here in this high-flung prison cell
was evidence of the artistic sensibilities of the builder of the castle,
for the room was indeed strangely beautiful.
Carter now turns his attention to Umka. He worries that the creature is
waiting for darkness, thus giving him the advantage of better night vision:
“The circular wall was pierced by half a dozen
tall, narrow windows. They were unglazed, but they were barred.
“On the floor, against one portion of the wall,
was a pile of rugs and skins – probably the bedding of the creature imprisoned
“I walked to one of the windows to look out, and
as I did so the creature rose from the bench and moved to the side of the
room farthest from me. It moved noiselessly with the stealthy tread of
a cat; and always it transfixed me with that terrible, lidless eye.
“Its silence, its stealth, its horrible appearance,
made me wary lest it leap upon my back should I turn my face away from
it. Yet I cast a hasty glance through the window and caught a glimpse of
distant hills and, below me, just outside the castle wall, a river and
beyond that a dense forest.
“What little I saw suggested that the tower did
not overlook the courtyard in which the ship lay, and I was anxious to
see that part of the castle grounds to ascertain if I had been successful
in directing the brain to take the ship to a point of safety.
“I thought that perhaps I might be able to discover
this from one of the windows on the opposite side of the tower; and so,
keeping my eyes on my cellmate, I crossed the room; and as I did so he
quickly changed his position, keeping as far from me as possible.
“I wondered if he were afraid of me or if, cat-like,
he were just awaiting an opportunity to pounce on me when he could take
me at a disadvantage.
“I reached the opposite window and looked out,
but I could see nothing of the courtyard, as others of the numerous towers
of the castle obstructed my view on this side. In fact, another loftier
tower rose directly in front of me in this direction and not more than
ten or fifteen feet distant from the one in which I was incarcerated.
“Similarly, I moved from window to window searching
in vain for a glimpse of the courtyard; and always my weird companion and
terrible cell-mate kept his distance from me.” (SM/17.)
“As I glanced at him again, I noticed
a surprising change in his appearance. His skin was no longer gray but
vivid yellow, and then I noticed that he was standing directly in front
of a yellow panel. This was interesting in the extreme.
Umka is a chamelion; but he can speak and is smart enough to know that
Carter seeks his friendship and knowledge of his captors. But first, try
as he might, Carter is unable to set up common ground with Umka, resigning
himself to observation only. He walks over to the bench Umka had quitted,
and sits down:
“I moved toward him, and again he changed his
position. This time he placed himself in front of a blue panel, and I saw
the yellow tint of his skin fade away and turn to blue.” (SM/17.)
“Immediately it took up a new position
as far from me as possible and this time in front of a green panel, whereupon
its color immediately changed to green. I could not but wonder what kaleidoscopic
result would be obtained were I to chase the thing around the multi-colored
apartment. The thought caused me to smile, and as I did so I saw an immediate
reaction in my cell-mate. He made a strange purring sound and stretched
his upper mouth laterally in what might have been an attempt at an answering
smile. At the same time he rubbed his palms up and down his thighs.” (SM/17.)
Finally, they have common ground. They begin to engage in conversation,
and then food is delivered to them by invisible means:
“We were thus engaged when the door to
the room opened; and several vessels appeared to float in and settle themselves
on the floor just inside the door, which was immediately closed.
This scene is captured by J. Allen St. John and can be viewed at ERBzine
#0736. Carter learns many things from Umka in the days to come:
“My companion commenced to purr excitedly, and
ran over to them. He returned immediately with a jar of water and a bowl
of food which he set on the bench beside me. He pointed to the food and
then to me, as though indicating that it was mine.
“Crossing the room once more, he returned with
another jar of water and a cage containing a most remarkable appearing
“I call the thing a bird because it had wings;
but to what family it belonged, your guess is as good as mine. It had four
legs and the scales of a fish, but its beak and comb gave its strange face
a bird-like appearance.
“The food in the bowl set before me was a mixture
of vegetables, fruit, and meat. I imagine that it was very nutritious,
and it was quite palatable.
“As I quenched my thirst from the jar and sampled
the food that had been brought me, I watched my companion. For a moment
or two he played with the bird in the cage. He inserted a finger between
the bars, whereat the creature flapped its wings, voiced a shrill scream,
and tried to seize the finger with its beak. It never quite succeeded,
however, as my cell-mate always withdrew his finger in time. He seemed
to derive a great deal of pleasure from this, as he purred constantly.
“Finally he opened the door in the cage and liberated
the captive. Immediately the creature fluttered about the room, seeking
to escape through the windows; but the bars were too close together. Then
my companion commenced to stalk it, for all the world like a cat stalking
its prey. When the thing alighted, he would creep stealthily upon it; and
when he was close enough, pounce for it.
“For some time it succeeded in eluding him; but
finally he struck it down heavily to the floor, partially stunning it.
After this he played with it, pawing it around. Occasionally he would leave
it and move about the room pretending that he did not see it. Presently
he would seem to discover it anew, and then he would he would rush for
it and pounce upon it.
“At last, with a hideous coughing roar that sounded
like the roar of a lion, he leaped ferociously upon it and severed its
head with a single bite of its powerful jaws. Immediately he transferred
the neck to his upper mouth and sucked the blood from the carcass. It was
not a pretty sight.
“When the blood had been drained, he devoured
his prey with his lower jaws; and as he tore at it he growled like a feeding
“I finished my own meal slowly, while across
the room from me my cellmate tore at the carcass of his kill, swallowing
in great gulps, until he devoured every last vestige of it.
“His meal completed, he crossed to the bench and
drained his water jar, drinking through his upper mouth.
“He paid no attention to me during all these proceedings;
and now, purring lazily, he walked over to the pile of skins and cloths
upon the floor and lying down upon them curled up and went to sleep.” (SM/17.)
“The very first day that I discovered
that I could express myself well enough for him to understand me, I asked
him who it was that held us prisoner.
I don’t about you, but there was a time in Umka’s lecture when I thought
I heard the voice of Yoda: “Do, or do not; there is no try.” Anyway, Carter
begins practicing these mental techniques as Umka picks his brain for information
about life on Barsoom:
“”The Tarids,’ he replied.
“‘What are they?’ I asked. ‘What do they look
like? Why do we never see them?’
“‘I do see them,’ he replied. ‘Don’t you?’
“‘No; what do they look like?’
“‘They look very much like you,’ he replied; ‘at
least they are the same sort of creature. They have two eyes and a nose
and only one mouth, and their ears are big things stuck on the sides of
their heads like yours. They are not beautiful like we Masenas.’
“‘But why do I not see them?’ I demanded.
“‘You don’t know how,’ he replied. ‘If you knew
how you could see them as plainly as I do.’
“‘I should like very much to see them,’ I told
him. ‘Can you tell me how I may do so?’
“‘I can tell you,’ he said, ‘but that does not
mean that you will be able to see them. Whether you do so or not will depend
upon your own mental ability. The reason you do not see them is because
by the power of their own minds they have willed that you shall not see
them. If you can free your mind of this inhibition, you can see them as
plainly as you see me.’
“‘But I don’t know how just how to go about it.’
“‘You must direct your mind upon theirs in an
effort to overcome their wish by a wish of your own. They wish that you
should not see them. You must wish that you should see them. They were
easily successful with you, because not expecting such a thing, your mind
has set up no defense mechanism against it. Now you have the advantage
upon your side, because they have willed an unnatural condition, whereas
you will have nature’s forces behind you, against which, if your mind is
sufficiently powerful, they can erect no adequate mental barrier.’
“Well, it sounded simple enough; but I am no hypnotist,
and naturally I had considerable doubt as to my ability along these lines.
“When I explained this to Umka, he growled impatiently.
“‘You can never succeed,’ he said, ‘if you harbor
such doubts. Put them aside. Believe that you will succeed, and you will
have a very much greater chance for success.’
“‘But how can I hope to accomplish anything when
I cannot see them?’ I asked. ‘And even if I could see them, aside from
a brief moment that the door is open when food is brought us, I have no
opportunity to see them.’
“‘That is not necessary,’ he replied. ‘You think
of your friends, do you not, although you cannot see them now?’
“‘Yes, of course, I think of them; but what has
that to do with it?’
“‘It merely shows that your thoughts can travel
anywhere. Direct your thoughts, therefore, upon these Tarids. You know
that the castle is full of them, because I have told you so. Just direct
your mind upon the minds of all the inhabitants of the castle, and your
thoughts will reach them all even though they may not be cognizant of it.’”
“He asked me many questions about myself
and the land from which I came, and seemed surprised to think that there
were living creatures upon the great world that he saw floating in the
The Tarids are in the same condition as the Orovars in Horz and the Lotharians
in Lothar, just a thousand of them left, each race suffering from their
own delusions; the Tarids from some form of astrology. Carter learns to
inhibit the wish of the Tarids and learns to see and hear them; that they
have very white skin and blue hair and eyebrows. ERB does not inform us
“He told me that his people, the Masenas, lived
in the forest in houses built high among the trees. They were not a numerous
people, and so they sought districts far from the other inhabitants of
“The Tarids, he said, had once been a powerful
people; but they had been overcome in war by another nation and almost
“Their enemies still hunted them down, and there
would long since have been none of them left had not one of their wisest
men developed among them the hypnotic power which made it possible for
them to seemingly render themselves invisible to their enemies.
“‘All that remain of the Tarids,’ said Umka ‘live
here in this castle. There are about a thousand of them altogether, men,
women, and children.
“‘Hiding here, in this remote part of the world,
in an effort to escape their enemies, they feel that all other creatures
are their foes. Whoever comes to the castle of the Tarids is an ememy to
“‘They will destroy us, you think?’ I asked.
“‘Certainly,’ he replied.
“‘But when, and how?’ I demanded.
“‘They are governed by some strange belief,’ explained
Umka; ‘I do not understand it, but every important act in their lives is
regulated by it. They say that they are guided by the sun and the moon
and the stars.
“‘It is all very foolish, but they will not kill
us until the sun tells them to, and then they will not kill us for their
own pleasure, but because they believe that it will make the sun happy.’”
or not they had body hair and thus we assume that they did not. We
do not know if they differed in this way from the Red, Black, Yellow, or
White Martians; but we do know that in this way they are like the Green
Martians whom we are informed were devoid of body hair.
The reason it is assumed that Red, Black, Yellow and White Martians
have body hair is that Carter’s nakedness is never pointed out as an anomaly
when he is among them. We assume that Carter has body hair because he is
from the Earth, but we also know that it is unlikely that he was born on
the Earth, for he is ageless and is able to die and come back to life and
Thus, it is up to the individual’s reader’s imagination whether any
of them had body hair. It's the same with the issue of circumcision.
When next Carter and Umka are led before the two thrones, Carter is
able to see that all of the Barsoomians are present, the room is full of
people, the Jeddak, Ul Vas, is very fat, and the Jeddara, Ozara, is very
“Occupying the throne at the man’s side
was a young and very beautiful woman. She was gazing at me dreamingly through
the heavy lashes of her halfclosed lids. I could only assume that the woman’s
attention was attracted to me because of the fact that my skin differed
in color from that of my companions as, after leaving Zodanga, I had removed
the disguising pigment.
Carter informs his companions of the mind trick and they agree to work
together in concert in order to escape. The Jeddara believes that Carter
can see them because of where he looks when they speak, but the Jeddak
proves her wrong to his own satisfaction, Carter breathing a sigh of relief
at almost getting caught:
“‘Splendid!’ she whispered, languidly.
“‘What is that?’ demanded the man. ‘What is splendid?’
“‘She looked up with a start, as one awakened
from a dream. ‘Oh!’ she exclaimed nervously; ‘I said that it would splendid
if you could make them keep still; but how can you if we are invisible
and inaudible to them, unless,’ she shrugged, ‘you silence them with the
“‘You know, Ozara,’ demurred the man, ‘that we
are saving them for the Fire God – we may not kill them now.’
“The woman shrugged. ‘Why kill them at all?’ she
asked. ‘They look like intelligent creatures. It might be interesting to
preserve them.’” (SM/18.)
“The girl shrugged her shapely shoulders
and turned away with a bored yawn, but presently her eyes came back to
me; and though I tried not to meet them squarely thereafter, I was aware
during all the rest of the time that I was in the audience chamber that
she was watching me.
Isn’t religion just grand when you are the son of the god? We see that
Ul Vas’s Fire God father resides between his legs rather than up in the
sky. Ozara has her own Fire Goddess working for her as she copulates Carter
with her eyes. After all, it may not have just been Carter’s eyes that
gave him away to Ozara.
“‘Let us proceed,’ said Ul Vas.
“Thereupon an old man stepped to the front and
placed himself directly before the throne. ‘All-highest,’ he intoned in
a sing-song voice, ‘the day is good, the occasion is good, the time has
come. We bring before you, most august son of the Fire God, seven enemies
of the Tarids. Through you, your father speaks, letting his people know
his wishes. You have talked with the Fire God, your father. Tell us, All-highest,
if these offerings look good in his eyes; make known to us his wishes,
“Ever since we had come into the audience chamber,
Ul Vas had been inspecting us carefully; and especially had his attention
beern centered upon Dejah Thoris and Zanda. Now he cleared his throat.
“‘My father, the Fire God, wishes to know who
these emenies are,’ he said.
“‘One of them,’ replied the old man who had spoken
before, and whom I took to be a priest, ‘is a Masena that your warriors
captured while he was hunting outside our walls. The other six are strange
creatures. We know not from whence they came. They arrived in two unheard-of
contraptions that moved through the air like birds, though they had no
wings. In each of these there were two men and a woman. They alighted inside
our walls; but from whence they came or why, we do not know, though doubtless
it was their intention to do us harm, as is the intention of all men who
come to the castle of the Tarids. As you will note, Allhighest, five of
these six have red skins, while the sixth had a skin only a little darker
than our own. He seems to be of a different race, with his white skin,
his black hair, and his gray eyes. These things we know and nothing more.
We await the wishes of the Fire God from the lips of his son, Ul Vas.’
“The man on the throne pursed his lips, as though
in thought, while his eyes travelled again along the line of prisoners
facing him, lingering long upon Dejah Thoris and Zanda. Presently he spoke.
“‘My father, the Fire God, demands that the Masena
and the four strange men be destroyed in his honor at this same hour, after
he has encircled Ladan seven times.’
“There were a few moments of expected silence
after he had ceased speaking – a silence that was finally broken by the
“‘And the women, All-highest?’ he asked; ‘what
are the wishes of the Fire God, your father, in relation to them?’
“‘The Fire God, to show his great love,’ replied
the jeddak, ‘has presented the two women to his son, Ul Vas, to do with
as he chooses.’...
“Again Ul Vas was speaking. ‘Remove them now,’
‘Confine the men in the Turquoise Tower, and take
the women to the Tower of Diamonds.’...and so I went quietly, as they led
me away with my fellow-prisoners, my last memory of the audience chamber
being the veiled gaze of Ozara, Jeddara of the Tarids.
“Umka and I were not returned to the cell in which
we had previously been incarcerated; but were taken with Jat Or, Gar Nal,
and Ur Jan to a large room in the Turquoise Tower.” (SM/18-19.)
For several days the prisoners work on wishing away the influence of
the Tarids until finally a guard comes for Carter. They escort him to Ozara’s
chambers where Ulah the slave girl relieves the guard of custody and leads
him into Ozara’s bedchamber of seduction. To fully appreciate the next
scene, you have to remember that everyone is naked, with genitalia fully
exposed (see, “Nakedness on Mars,” ERBzine
#3177), and that the nature of Ozara’s game is to expose the fact that
Carter can see and hear them. She intends her pose to create a physical
reaction in Carter, as suggested by the great Frank Franzetta depiction
of the scene, which can be viewed at ERBzine
Swords of Mars is secretly dedicated to Florence Dearholt
who was married to Ashton Dearholt at the time (the first letter of each
chapter spells out, “To, Florence, with all my love, Ed”). Ashton had brought
a championship swimmer named Ula back from a field trip to Guatemala. The
three of them were living together in Ashton’s house until ERB divorced
Emma and married Florence. It is easy to assume that Ozara represents Florence
in this story and that the slave girl, Ulah, represents Ula from Guatemala,
whose fate after Ashton died in 1942, is unknown. It is obvious that ERB’s
hormones were raging during this period and that this fact would be reflected
in his writings. Let us see as Ulah leads Carter to Ozara:
“The room into which I was now conducted,
though slightly smaller, was far more beautiful than the other. However,
I did not immediately take note of its appointments, my attention being
immedetiately and wholly attracted by its single occupant.
This is a brazen sexual invitation. We can only imagine how Ozara displayed
her naked charms on the divan. Frazetta depicts it as Goya’s “Naked Maja.”
With such a pose, all it takes – as Ozara well knew and counted on – was
one look at her and Carter’s genitalia would give him away, not so subtly
suggested by her veiled eyes reading his very soul. She demands privacy:
“I am not easily surprised; but in this instance
I must confess that I was when I recognized the woman reclining upon a
divan, and watching me intently through long lashes, as Ozara, Jeddara
of the Tarids.
“The slave girl led me to the center of the room
and halted. There she waited, looking questioningly at the Jeddara; while
I, recalling that I was supposed to be deaf and blind to these people,
sought to focus my gaze beyond the beautiful empress whose veiled eyes
seemed to read my very soul.” (SM/19.)
“‘You may retire, Ulah,’ she said presently.
You can bet by this time, Carter’s physical reaction was letting the cat
out of the bag, as made clear by the following exchange:
“The slave girl bowed low and backed from the
“For several moments after she departed, no sound
broke the silence of the room; but always I felt the eyes of Ozara upon
“Presently she laughed, a silvery musical laugh.
‘What is your name?’ she demanded.
“I pretended that I did not hear her, as I found
occupation for my eyes in examination of the beauties of the chamber. It
appeared to be the boudoir of the empress, and it made a lovely setting
for her unquestionable loveliness.” (SM/19.)
“‘Listen,’ she said, presently; ‘you
fooled Ul Vas and Zamak and the High Priest and all the rest of them; but
you did not fool me. I will admit that you have splendid control, but your
eyes betrayed you. They betrayed you in the audience chamber; and they
betrayed you again just now as you entered this room, just as I knew they
would betray you. They showed surprise when they rested upon me; and that
can mean only one thing; that you saw and recognized me.
Carter figures out that it is to his advantage to trust Ozara for the time
being and admits to being able to see and hear her and the others. She
questions Carter about who he is and why he has come and he asks her why
she has taken such an interest in him:
“‘I knew, too, in the audience chamber, that you
understood what was being said. You are a highly intelligent creature,
and the changing lights in your eyes reflected your reaction to what you
heard in the audience chamber.
“‘Let us be honest with one another, you and I,
for we have more in common than you guess. I am not unfriendly to you.
I understand why you think it to your advantage to conceal the fact that
you can see and hear us; but I can assure you that you will be no worse
off if you trust me, for I already know that we are neither invisible nor
inaudible to you.’” (SM/19.)
“She contemplated me in silence for a
moment, her beautiful eyes momentarily dreamy.
Ozara must have been frustrated by Carter’s lack of pursuit after she so
wantonly offered herself to him. She wants to escape the castle and to
motivate Carter, she is willing to become lovers with him. Normally, we
would expect ERB to give his, “I’m not really a ladies man” speech at this
point, but he never does with Ozara. We will find him later in the story
actually deserting Dejah Thoris (read “Emma”) in order to save Ozara. Yes,
there is a lot going on in this story.
“‘Perhaps it is because we have so much in common,’
she said; ‘and again perhaps because of a force that is greater than all
others and that seizes and dominates us without our volition.’
“She paused and regarded me intently, and then
she shook her head impatiently.
“‘The thing that we have in common,’ she said,
‘is that we are both prisoners in the castle of Ul Vas. The reason that
I have taken this interest in you, you would understand if you are one-tenth
as intelligent as I gave you credit for.’” (SM/19.)
Carter is shocked that a Jeddara regards herself as a prisoner but then
discovers that she is not a Tarid:
“I am a Domnian. My country, Domnia,
lies far away across the mountains that lie beyond the forest that surrounds
the castle of Ul Vas.’
Carter devises an escape plan. Ulah takes them files so that they can take
care of the metal bars in the windows, then he gets Ozara to go to the
Tower of Diamonds and put a scarlet scarf in the window to let Carter know
that they are ready to be rescued.
“‘And your people married you to Ul Vas, Jeddak
of the Tarids?’I asked.
“‘No,’ she replied; ‘he stole me from them. My
people do not know what has become of me. They would have never willingly
sent me to the court of Ul Vas, nor would I remain here, could I escape.
Ul Vas is a beast. He changes his jeddaras often. His agents are constantly
searching other countries for beautiful young women. When they find one
more beautiful than I, I shall go the way of my predecessors; but I think
that he has found one to his liking already, and that my days are numbered.’
“‘You think that his agents have found another
more beautiful than you?’ I asked; ‘it seems incredible.’
“‘Thank you for the compliment,’ she said, ‘but
his agents have not found another more beautiful than I. Ul Vas has found
her himself. In the audience chamber, did you not see him looking at your
beautiful compatriot? He could scarcely keep his eyes from her, and you
will recall that her life was spared.’
“‘So was the life of the girl, Zanda,’ I reminded
her. ‘Is he going to take her also to be his jeddara?’
“‘No, he may only have one at a time,’ replied
Ozara. ‘The girl whom you call Zanda is for the High Priest. It is thus
that Ul Vas propitiates the gods.’
“‘If he takes this other woman,’ I said, ‘she
will kill him.’
“‘But that will not help me,’ said Ozara.
“‘Why?’ I asked.
“‘Because while one jeddara lives, he cannot take
another,’ she explained.
“‘You will be destroyed?’ I asked.
“‘I shall disappear,’ she replied. ‘Strange things
happen in the castle of Ul Vas, strange and terrible things.’” (SM/20.)
He wills the spaceship to come to the tower window after the bars have
been removed; there are no bars in the Tower of Diamonds because it is
the highest tower with no way out but down. They overpower the two Tarids
who were trapped inside the spaceship when Carter ordered it to rise and
hover. They all board and Carter directs it down into the courtyard where
they also recover Gar Nal’s spaceship.
With both ships in tandem, they fly to the window in the Tower of Diamonds,
but Carter makes a mistake and fails to tell the spaceship to hover, and
it flies away after he enters the Tower, losing precious minutes of escape
time, for the guards below have spotted them and raised the alarm.
After an incredibly exciting swordfight, everyone gets away except for
Carter and Ozara; Carter had promised her he would not abandon her, and
in order to keep his promise, he had to abandon his incomparable princess.
Carter manages to escape and with the help of Ulah rescues Ozara, exiting
the castle from a secret door that leads into the river that runs beside
“Dark forbidding waters closed over our
heads and swirled about us as we rose to the surface; and, equally dark
and forbidding, the forest frowned upon us. Even the moaning of the wind
in the trees seemed an eerie warning, forbidding, threatening. Behind us,
warriors in the doorway shouted curses upon us.
Carter makes a fire with a device he has in his pocket pouch. He then asks
her why Ul Vas’s men would hesitate to enter the forest on this side of
“I struck out for the opposite shore, holding
Ozara in one arm and keeping her mouth and nose above water. She lay so
limp that I thought she had fainted, nor would I have been surprised, for
even a women of the strongest fiber might weaken after having undergone
what she had had to during the last two days.
“But when we reached the opposite shore, she clambered
out on the bank in full possession of all her faculties.
“‘I thought that you had swooned,’ I said; ‘you
lay so very still.’
“‘I do not swim,’ she replied; ‘and I knew that
if I struggled, it would hamper you.’ There was even more to the erstwhile
Jeddara of the Tarids than I had imagined.
“‘What are we going to do now, John Carter?’ she
asked. Her teeth were chattering from cold, or terror; and she seemed very
“‘You are cold,’ I said; ‘if I can find anything
dry enough to burn, we shall have a fire.’
“The girl came close to me. I could feel her body
trembling against mine.
“‘I am a little cold,’ she said; ‘but that is
nothing; I am terribly afraid.’
“‘But why are you afraid now, Ozara? Do you think
that Ul Vas will send men after us?’
“‘No, it is not that,’ she replied. ‘He couldn’t
make men come into this wood at night, and even by daylight they would
hesitate to venture into it on this side of the river. Tomorrow he will
know that it will be useless to send after us, for tomorrow we shall be
“‘What makes you say that?’ I demanded.
“‘The beasts,’ she said, ‘the beasts that hunt
through the forest by night; we cannot escape them.’
“‘Yet you came willingly.’
“‘Ul Vas would have tortured us,’ she replied;
‘the beasts will be more merciful. Listen! You can hear them now.’” (SM/24.)
“‘The Masenas,’ she replied. ‘They often
come up the river in great numbers, hunting the Tarids; and unfortunate
is he whom they find outside the castle walls. It is seldom, however, that
they cross to the other side of the river.’
The fire is not enough to keep the larger beasts away. They climb a huge
tree and discover a huge nest in the upper branches.
“‘Why do they hunt the Tarids?’ I asked. ‘What
do they want of them?’
“‘Food,’ she replied.
“‘You don’t mean to say that the Masenas eat human
flesh?’ I demanded.
“She nodded. ‘Yes, they are very fond of it.’...
“‘But I was imprisoned for a long time with one
of the Masenas,’ I reminded her. ‘He seemed very friendly.’
“‘Under those circumstances of course,’ she said,
‘he might not try to eat you. He might even become very friendly; but if
you should meet him here in the forest with his own people, you would find
him very different. They are hunting beasts, like all of the other creatures
that inhabit the forest.’” (SM/24.)
“I immediately examined the tree, climbing
to the highest branches that would support my weight. With the aid of my
light, I discovered that no creature was in it, other than Ozara and myself;
and high among the branches I made a happy find – an enormous nest, carefully
woven and lined with soft grasses.
ERB downplays it so much, it almost goes over our heads: but yes, they
spent the night together, likely in each other’s arms because of the cold.
The next morning they head out on their adventure and eventually a few
days later, are captured by a Masena patrol and taken captive to the Masena
“I was about to call down for Ozara to come up,
when I saw her already ascending just below me.
“When she saw the nest, she told me that it was
probably one of those built by the Masenas for temporary use during a raid
or expedition into this part of the forest. It was certainly a most providential
find, as it afforded us a comfortable place in which to spend the remainder
of the night.
“It was some time before we could accustom ourselves
to the noises of the beasts howling beneath us, but at last we fell asleep;
and when we awoke in the morning, they had departed; and the forest was
“Ozara had told me that her country, Domnia, lay
across the mountains that rose beyond the forest and that it might be reached
by following the river down for a considerable distance to the end of the
range, where we could follow another river up to Domnia upon the opposite
“After perhaps an hour, we came to a
section of the forest from which all the brushwood had been cleared. The
ground beneath the trees was almost like a lawn. The branches of the trees
were trimmed to a considerable distance about the ground.
They are hoisted up into the tree to a rude platform upon which is built
one of the strange aboreal houses of the Masenas.
“As we reached the edge of this parklike space,
our captors set up a loud roaring which was presently answered from the
trees we were approaching.
“We were dragged to the foot of a great tree,
up which several of our captors swarmed like cats.” (SM/24.)
“Now, in all directions, I could see
similar houses as far as my eyes could penetrate through the foilage. I
could see that in some places branches had been cut and laid from tree
to tree to form walk-ways between the houses. In other places there were
only lianas where the Masenas must have crossed hand over hand from one
tree to its neighbor.
I couldn’t help thinking of the Ewok village when reading this scene, how
“The house into which we were now conducted was
quite large and easily accommodated not only the twenty-odd men that had
captured us but fully fifty more that soon congregated.
“The Masenas squatted upon their haunches facing
the far end of the room where sat, alone, a single male that I took to
be their king.
“There was a great deal of meowing and purring
as they discussed us in their language, and finally I became impatient.
Recalling that Umka has spoken the language of the Tarids, I thought it
not at all unlikely that some of these others might; and so I addressed
them in that tongue.
“‘Why have you captured us?’ I demanded. ‘We are
not your enemies. We were escaping from the Tarids, who are. They had imprisoned
and were about to kill us. Do any of you understand what I am saying?’
“‘I understand you,’ said the creature whom I
took to be king. ‘I understand your words, but your argument is meaningless.
When we leave our houses and go down into the forest we may mean harm to
no creature, yet that does not protect us from the beasts of prey that
feed upon the flesh of their kill. There are few arguments that would satisfactorily
overcome the cravings of the belly.’
“‘You mean that you are going to eat us?’ I demanded.
“‘Certainly,’ he replied.
“Ozara shrank closer to me. ‘So this is the end,’
she said, ‘and what a horrible end! It did us no good to escape from Ul
“‘We have at least had three days of freedom that
we would not otherwise have had,’ I reminded her; ‘and, anyway, we must
die some time.’” (SM/24.)
Anyway, as fate – aka ERB – would have it, Umka comes to the rescue
and escorts them to Fal Silvas’s spaceship, which Zanda has finally learned
how to control. She is with Jat Or and Ur Jan; Gar Nal has captured Dejah
Thoris and taken her somewhere they know not. In a sad scene, they take
Ozara back to Domnia:
“Ozara’s father is the jeddak of Domnia.
He is a powerful man, with political affiliations in other cites of the
nearer moon. His agents are everywhere among the peoples with whom his
country has relations, either amicable or otherwise; and it was not long
before word reached him that a strange object had become disabled and had
been captured in the country of Ombra. In it were a man and a woman.
The best laid plans of mice and men....Fal Silvas reaches out telepathically
and regains power over the ship, commanding it to return to Zodanga. And
so our astronauts leave the enchanted land of Thuria behind.
“The Domnians gave us explicit directions for
reaching Ombra; and, exacting a promise from us that we would return and
visit them after the conclusion of our adventure, they bid us good-bye.
“My parting with Ozara was rather painful. She
told me quite frankly that she loved me, but that she was resigned to the
fact that my heart belonged to another. She exhibited splendid strength
of character then that I had not believed she possessed, and when she bid
me farewell it was with the wish that I find my princess and enjoy the
happiness that I deserved.
“As our ship arose above Domnia, my heart was
full with a sense of elation, so great was my assurance that I should soon
be united with the incomparable Dejah Thoris. I was thus certain of success
because of what Ozara’s father had told me of the character of the Jeddak
of Ombra. He was an arrant coward, and almost any sort of demonstration
would bring him to his knees suing for peace.
“Now we were in a position to make a demonstration
such as the Ombrans had never witnessed; for, in common with the other
inhabitants of Thuria that we had seen thus far, they were entirely ignorant
“It was in intention to fly low and make my demands
for the return of Dejah Thoris and Gar Nal to me, without putting myself
in the power of the Ombrans.
“If they refused, which I was quite certain that
they would, I intended on giving them a demonstration on the effectiveness
of the firearms of Barsoom through the medium of the ship’s guns that I
have already described. That, I was confident, would bring the Jeddak to
terms; and I hoped to accomplish it without unnecessary loss of life.’”
The religion of the Fire God and Issus seem to be both based on solar
worship. Perhaps this is why the Black Pirates came to be associated with
Thuria. The High Priest of Issus addressed her as: “Daughter of the Lesser
Moon, thou only art all-powerful.” (GM/22.)
Thus, there may have been some sort of connection between Thuria and
Barsoom at one time, especially since we know they are in a kind of peculiar
relationship with their masses. We learned that there are at least three
countries of the white skinned, blue-haired race: the Tarids, the Domnians,
and the Ombrans. And what about that name, Domnia? Doesn’t it conjure up
images of black leather and whips and, “Yes, mistress!”
Yes, this isn’t the same land of L. Frank Baum. But in certain ways,
I found the Land of Oz to be a scary place when I was a kid. I believe
I read The Marvelous Land of Oz when I was ten years old. I really
loved the story with its feminist army, witches, saw-horses, Gumps, and,
of course, I totally identified with the boy, Tip, throughout the story.
At least until the end. That’s
when I got the shock of my life. I mean it really creeped me out.
It turns out that Tip was actually the girl, Ozma, rightful ruler of
the Emerald City. This reminded me of the creepy feeling I would get when
I saw pictures of my Uncle Fran with long hair in a dress when he was a
young boy. Ernest Hemingway suffered equally under a horrid Victorian experiment
at the time to stamp out male aggression at a young age.
Swords of Mars is not a story for kids: it is totally
an adult adventure. If you could not feel the sexual tension between Carter
and Ozara as you read the story, then you were not really reading it. I
like to think that five years later, an egg was hatched to Ozara with a
male child with super-human abilities, with likely a cover-up virgin birth
story to go with it.
And there you have it,
ERB’s Thuria, the Lesser Moon:
the Seventh-Runner Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom!