WEIRD CREATURES OF MARS
The Twelfth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
From an Earthly perspective, all creatures on Mars are weird.
If the reader has been following this series, he or she has been introduced
to a virtual menagerie of Martian fauna, such as the Green Hordes, the
Great White Apes, calots, thoats, zitidars, siths, soraks, silians, apts,
orluks, and banths, all of which are fascinating in themselves.
However, two of ERB’s creations stand out in their weirdness: the Plant
Men, which appear in Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars; and
the Goolians, who appear in Synthetic Men of Mars. Both groups of
these weird creatures are able to leap long distances and have long powerful
tails. Both sets of creatures appear to be social in nature, although the
system of organization in the Plant Men appears to be more instinctive,
whereas the Goolians have a Jeddak form of government evidencing a higher
evolved self-conscious form of government. Moreover, while there is nothing
amusing about the Plant Men, the Goolians provide the reader with hardy
A) The Plant Men:
John Carter first comes across the Plant Men at the time of his second
advent on Barsoom when he finds himself unknowingly in the Valley Dor,
the Martian paradise. Carter awakens naked and unarmed in a forest of gigantic
multi-colored trees, a fantasy forest. Beyond the trees he makes out a
grassy plain of red vegetation and, rarest of sights on Mars, an open sea.
“As I neared the confines of the forest
I beheld before me, and between the grove and open sea, a broad expanse
of meadow land, and as I was about to emerge from the shadows of the trees
a sight met my eyes that banished all romantic and poetic reflection upon
the beauties of the strange landscape.
From the first descriptions, the reader may be lured into thinking that
the Plant Men are merely just the gardeners of Valley Dor. After all, what
better caretakers for flora than Plant Men. Carter likely has these thoughts
in mind as his curiousity almost gets the best of him. I believe Michael
Whelan has done a fantastic job of rendering the Plant Men on the cover
of a Del Rey paperback edition from the late Seventies. (ERBzine
#0423; for full screen, see www.tarzan.org/art/whelans.jpg)
“To my left the sea extended as far as the eye
could reach, before me only a vague, dim line indicated its further shore,
while at my right a mighty river, broad, placid, and majestic, flowed between
scarlet banks to empty into the quiet sea before me.
“At a little distance up the river rose mighty
perpendicular bluffs, from the very base of which the great river seemed
“But it was not these inspiring and magnificent
evidences of Nature’s grandeur that took my immediate attention from the
beauties of the forest. It was the sight of a score of figures moving slowly
about the meadow near the bank of the mighty river.
“Odd, grotesque shapes they were; unlike anything
that I had ever seen upon Mars, and yet, at a distance, most man-like in
appearance. The larger specimens appeared to be about ten or twelve feet
in height when they stood erect, and to be proportioned as to torso and
lower extremities precisely as is earthly man.
“Their arms, however, were very short, and from
where I stood seemed as though fashioned much after the manner of an elephant’s
trunk, in that they moved in sinuous and snake-like undulations, as though
entirely without bony structure, or if there were bones it seemed that
they must be vertebral in nature.
“As I watched them from behind the stem of a huge
tree, one of the creatures moved slowly in my direction, engaged in the
occupation that seemed to the be the principal business of each of them,
and which consisted in running their oddly shaped hands over the surface
of the sward, for what purpose I could not determine.
“As he approached quite close to me I obtained
an excellent view of him, and though I was later to become better acquainted
with his kind, I may say that that single cursory examination of this awful
travesty on Nature would have proved quite sufficient to my desires had
I been a free agent. The fastest flier of the Heliumetic Navy could not
quickly enough have carried me far from this hideous creature.
“Its hairless body was a strange and ghoulish
blue, except for a broad band of white which encircled its protruding single
eye: an eye that was all dead white – pupil, iris, and ball.
“Its nose was a ragged, inflamed, circular hole
in the center of its blank face; a hole that resembled more closely nothing
I could think of other than a fresh bullet wound which has not yet commenced
“Below this repulsive orifice the face was quite
blank to the chin, for the thing had no mouth that I could discover.
“The head, with the exception of the face, was
covered by a tangled mass of jet-black hair some eight or ten inches in
length. Each hair was about the bigness of a large angle-worm, and as the
thing moved the muscles of its scalp this awful head-covering seemed to
writhe and wriggle and crawl about the fearsome face as though indeed each
separate hair was endowed with independent life.
“The body and the legs were as symmetrically human
as Nature could have fashioned them, and the feet, too, were human in shape,
but of monstrous proportions. From heel to toe they were fully three feet
long, and very flat and very broad.
“As it came quite close to me I discovered that
its strange movements, running its odd hands over the surface of the turf,
were the result of its peculiar method of feeding, which consists in cropping
off the tender vegetation with its razor-like talons and sucking it up
from its two mouths, which lie one in the palm of each hand, through its
“In addition to the features which I have already
described, the beast was equipped with a massive tail about six feet in
length, quite round where it joined the body, but tapering to a flat, thin
blade toward the end, which trailed at right angles to the ground.
“By far the most remarkable feature of this most
remarkable creature, however, were the two tiny replicas of it, each about
six inches in length, which dangled, one on either side, from its armpits.
They were suspended by a small stem which seemed to grow from the exact
tops of their heads to where it connected with the body of the adult.
“Whether they were the young, or merely portions
of a composite creature, I did not know.
“As I had been scrutinizing this weird monstrosity
the balance of the herd had fed quite close to me and I now saw that while
many had the smaller specimens dangling from them, not all were thus equipped,
and I further noted that the little ones varied in size from what appeared
to be but tiny unopened buds an inch in diameter through various stages
of development to the full-fledged and perfectly formed creature of ten
or twelve inches in length.
“Feeding with the herd were many of the little
fellows not much larger than those which remained attached to their parents,
and from the young of that size the herd graded up to the immense adults.
“Fearsome-looking as they were, I did not know
whether to fear them or not, for they did not seem to be particularly well
equipped for fighting, and I was on the point of stepping from my hiding-place
and revealing myself to them to note the effect upon them of the sight
of a man when my rash resolve was, fortunately for me, nipped in the bud
by a strange shrieking wail, which seemed to come from the direction of
the bluffs at my right.” (GM/1.)
It appears, however, that in the ten years that John Carter has gone
missing, he has forgotten that very few creatures are innocuous on Barsoom.
He is about to discover the true mission of the Plant Men in the Valley
Dor and the essential role they play in the Religion of Issus.
“Naked and unarmed, as I was, my end
would have been both speedy and horrible at the hands of these cruel creatures
had I had time to put my resolve into execution, but at the moment of the
shriek each member of the herd turned in the direction from which the sound
seemed to come, and at the same instant every particular snake-like hair
upon their heads rose stiffly perpendicular as if each had been a sentient
organism looking or listening for the source or meaning of the wail. And
indeed the latter proved to be the truth, for this strange growth upon
the craniums of the plant men of Barsoom represents the thousand ears of
these hideous creatures, the last remnant of the strange race which sprang
from the original Tree of Life.
The Plant Men then engage in a manner of tactics, either signifying some
form of higher intelligence, or a bit of more sophisticated hunting instinct.
“Instantly every eye turned toward one member
of the herd, a large fellow who evidently was the leader. A strange purring
sound issued from the mouth in the palm of one of his hands, and at the
same time he started rapidly toward the bluff, followed by the entire herd.
“Their speed and method of locomotion were both
remarkable, springing as they did in great leaps of twenty or thirty feet,
much after the manner of a kangaroo.
“They were rapidly disappearing when it occurred
to me to follow them, and so, hurling caution to the winds, I sprang across
the meadow in their wake with leaps and bounds ever more prodigious than
their own, for the muscles of an athletic Earth man produce remarkable
results when pitted against the lesser gravity and air pressure of Mars.
“Their way led directly towards that apparent
source of the river at the base of the cliff, and as I neared this point
I found the meadow dotted with huge boulders that the ravages of time had
evidently dislodged from the towering crags above.
“For this reason I came quite close to the cause
of the disturbance before the scene broke upon my horrified gaze. As I
topped a great boulder I saw the herd of plant men surrounding a little
groupl of perhaps five or six green men and women of Barsoom.
“That I was indeed upon Mars I now had no doubt,
for here were members of the wild hordes that people the dead sea bottoms
and deserted cities of that dying planet.
“Here were the great males towering in all the
majesty of their imposing height; here were the gleaming white tusks protruding
from their massive lower jaws to a point near the center of their foreheads,
the laterally placed, protruding eyes with which they could look forward
or backward, or to either side without turning their heads, here the strange
antennae-like ears rising from the tops of their foreheads; and the additional
pair of arms extending from midway between the shoulders and the hips.
“Even without the glossy green hide and metal
ornaments which denoted the tribes to which they belonged, I would have
known them on the instant for what they were, for where else in all the
universe is their like duplicated?
“There were two men and four females in the party
and their ornaments denoted them as members of different hordes, a fact
which tended to puzzle me infinitely, since the various hordes of green
men of Barsoom are eternally at deadly war with one another, and never,
except on that single historic instance when the great Tars Tarkas of Thark
gathered a hundred and fifty thousand green warriors from several hordes
to march upon the doomed city of Zodanga to rescue Dejah Thoris, Princess
of Helium, from the clutches of Than Kosis, had I seen green martians of
different hordes associated in other than mortal combat.
“But now they stood back to back, facing, in wide-eyed
amazement, the very evidently hostile demonstrations of a common enemy.
“Both men and women were armed with long-swords
and daggers, but no firearms were in evidence, else it had been short shrift
for the gruesome plant men of Barsoom.” (GM/1.)
“Presently the leader of the plant men
charged the little party, and his method of attack was as remarkable as
it was effective, and by its very strangeness was the more potent, since
in the science of the green warriors there was no defense for this singular
manner of attack, the like of which it soon was evident to me they were
as unfamiliar with as they were with the monstrosities which confronted
Carter’s warrior spirit gets the best of him. He makes a half dozen leaps
and gains the bloody killing field, then he grabs a long-sword from one
of the dead Green Men and hurls himself into the fight.
“The plant man charged to within a dozen feet
of the party, and then, with a bound, rose as though to pass directly above
their heads. His powerful tail was raised high to one side, and as he passed
close above them he brought it down in one terrible sweep that crushed
a green warrior’s skull as though it had been an eggshell.
“The balance of the frightful herd was now circling
rapidly and with bewildering speed about the little knot of victims. Their
prodigious bounds and the shrill, screeching purr of their uncanny mouths
were calculated to confuse and terrorize their prey, so as two of them
leaped simultaneously from either side, the mighty sweep of those awful
tails met with no resistance and two more green Martians when down to an
“There were now but one warrior and two females
left, and it seemed that it could be but a matter of seconds ere these,
also, lay dead upon the scarlet sward.
“But as two more of the plant men charged, the
warrior, who was now prepared by the experiences of the past few minutes,
swung his mighty longsword aloft and met the hurtling bulk with a clean
cut that clove one of the plant men from chin to groin.
“The other, however, dealt a single blow with
his cruel tail that laid both of the females crushed corpses upon the ground.
“As the green warrior saw the last of his companions
go down and at the same time perceived that the entire herd was charging
him in a body, he rushed boldly to meet them, swinging his long-sword in
the terrible manner that I had so often seen the men of his kind wield
it in their ferocious and almost continual warfare among their own race.
“Cutting and hewing to right and left, he laid
an open path straight through the advancing plant men, and then commenced
a mad race for the forest, in the shelter of which he evidently hoped that
he might find a haven of refuge.” (GM/1.)
“Swift as I was I was none too soon,
for the green warrior had been overtaken ere he had made half the distance
to the forest, and now he stood with his back to a boulder, while the herd,
temporarily balked, hissed and screeched about him.
Leave it to ERB to give us that anatomical detail about the Plant Man while
Carter and Tars Tarkas are in the midst of dissecting them with their huge
swords, giving us a wonderful graphic scene to imagine.
“With their single eyes in the center of their
heads and every eye trained upon their prey, they did not note my soundless
approach, so that I was upon them with my great long-sword and four of
them lay dead ere they knew that I was among them.
“For an instant they recoiled before my terrific
onslaught, and, in that instant the green warrior rose to the occasion
and, springing to my side, laid to the right and left of him as I had never
seen but one other warrior do, with great circling strokes that formed
a figure eight about him and that never stopped until none stood living
to oppose him, his keen blade passing through flesh and bone and metal
as though each had been alike thin air.
“As we bent to the slaughter, far above us rose
that shrill, weird cry which I had heard once before, and which had called
the herd to the attack upon their victims. Again and again it rose, but
we were too much engaged with the fierce and powerful creatures about us
to attempt to search out even with our eyes the author of the horrid notes.
“Great tails lashed in frenzied anger about us,
razor-like talons cut our limbs and bodies, and a green and sticky syrup,
such as oozes from a crushed caterpillar, smeared us from head to foot,
for every cut and thrust of our longswords brought spurts of this stuff
upon from the severed arteries of the plant men, through which it courses
in sluggish viscisity in lieu of blood.” (GM/1.)
“Once I felt the great weight of one
of the monsters upon my back and as keen talons sunk into my flesh I experienced
the frightful sensation of moist lips sucking the lifeblood from the wounds
to which the claws still clung.
I just love that description of the moist lips sucking the blood from his
back. Anyway, Carter and Tars Tarkas – although Carter is slow to understand
that the Green Warrior is Tars Tarkas – stand back to back against the
boulder, preventing the Plant Men from their overhead tactic of bashing
in their skulls with a flick of their powerful tails.
“I was very much engaged with a ferocious fellow
who was endeavoring to reach my throat from in front, while two more, one
on either side, were lashing viciously at me with their tails.
“The green warrior was much put to it to hold
his own, and I felt that the unequal struggle could last but a moment longer
when the huge fellow discovered my plight, and tearing himself from those
that surrounded him, he raked the assailant from my back with a single
sweep of his blade, and thus relieved I had little difficulty with the
They hear the shrill wail again, and this time see that the wail has
summoned a new menace to their sorry predicament: thousands of Great White
Apes now join in the carnage. It is at this point, when Carter says that
it will be a great death – and the Green Man answers with his name – that
Carter realizes that the Green Man next to him is his best friend on two
Carter will soon learn why Tars Tarkas was not surprised to find him
in Valley Dor. It was precisely the place Tars Tarkas expected to find
him. They make a mad dash for the five thousand feet high cliffs where
Carter has spied some caves high above at the tree top level. When the
sun hits the cliffs at the right angle, Carter perceives that they are
made of pure gold, and watches in amazement as they shimmer in the sunlight.
They finally make the forest.
“At length, however, we reached the shadows
of the forest, while right behind us sprang the swiftest of our pursuers
– a giant plant man with claws outreaching to fasten his blood-sucking
mouths upon us.
I recall watching a horror movie on TV with my youngest daughter a couple
of years ago. It was a three or four part movie dealing with various adaptations
of H.P. Lovecraft stories. I told my daughter that in order for the monsters
to be legitimate in a H.P. Lovecraft story, they must have tentacles, and
I enjoyed the twist ERB gave the elephant trunk arms of the Plant Men being
“He was, I should say, a hundred yards in advance
of his closest companion, and so I called to Tars Tarkas to ascend a great
tree that brushed the cliff’s face while I dispatched the fellow, thus
giving the less agile Thark an opportunity to reach the higher branches
before the entire horde should be upon us and every vestige of escape cut
“But I had reckoned without a just appreciation
either of the cunning of my immediate antagonist or the swiftness with
which his fellows were covering the distance which had separated them from
“As I raised my long-sword to deal the creature
its death thrust it halted in its charge and, as my sword cut harmlessly
through the empty air, the great tail of the thing swept with the power
of a grizzly’s arm across the sward and carried me bodily from my feet
to the ground. In an instant the brute was upon me, but ere it could fasten
its hideous mouths into my breast and throat I grasped a writhing tentacle
in either hand.
“The plant man was well muscled, heavy, and powerful
but my earthly sinews and greater agility, in conjunction with the deathly
strangle hold I had upon him, would have given me, I think, an eventual
victory had we had time to discuss the merits of our relative prowess uninterrupted.
But as we strained and struggled about the tree into which Tars Tarkas
was clambering with infinite difficulty, I suddenly caught a glimpse over
the shoulder of my antagonist of the great swarm of pursuers that now were
fairly upon me.” (GM/1.)
more like tentacles, which are always a lot more creepy. I also like
the counterintuitive idea of Carter strangling the Plant Man by squeezing
his tentacles, for they are indeed the throats of the Plant Men. Then the
Great White Apes reach them.
“It was into the eyes of such as these
and the terrible plant men that I gazed above the shoulder of my foe, and
then, in a mighty wave of snarling, snapping, screaming, purring rage,
they swept over me – and of all the sounds that assailed my ears as I went
down beneath them, to me the most hideous was the horrid purring of the
It is at this point that Carter and Tars Tarkas have their semi-amusing
argument over who is to be first down the large rabbit hole-like entrance
that Tars Tarkas has discovered at the base of the trunk. In the end, Carter
orders Tars Tarkas down the hole and the Green Jeddak obeys reluctantly.
“Instantly a score of cruel fangs and keen talons
were sunk into my flesh; cold, sucking lips fastened themselves upon my
arteries. I struggled to free myself, and even though weighed down by these
immense bodies, I succeeded in struggling to my feet, where, still grasping
my long-sword, and shortening my grip upon it until I could use it as a
dagger, I wrought such havoc among them that at one time I stood for an
“What it has taken minutes to write occurred in
but a few seconds, but during that time Tars Tarkas had seen my plight
and had dropped from the lower branches, which he had reached with such
infinite labor, and as I flung the last of my immediate antagonists from
me the great Thark leaped to my side, and again we fought, back to back,
as we had done a hundred times before.
“Time and again the ferocious apes sprang in to
close with us, and time and again we beat them back with our swords. The
great tails of the plant men lashed with tremendous power about us as they
charged from various directions or sprang with the agility of greyhounds
above our heads; but every attack met a gleaming blade in sword hands that
had been reputed for twenty years the best Mars ever had known; for Tars
Tarkas and John Carter were names that the fighting men of the world of
warriors loved to speak.
“But even the best two swords in a world of fighters
can avail not for ever against overwhelming numbers of fierce and savage
brutes that know not what defeat means until cold steel teaches their hearts
no longer to beat, and so, step by step, we were forced back. At length
we stood against the giant tree that we had chosen for our ascent, and
then, as charge after charge hurled its weight upon us, we gave back again
and again, until we had been forced half-way around the huge base of the
“Tars Tarkas was in the lead, and suddenly I heard
a little cry of exultation from him.” (GM/2.)
“As he dropped to the ground to force
his way into the tree, the whole howling pack of hideous devils hurled
themselves upon me. To right and left flew my shimmering blade, now green
with the sticky juice of a plant man, now red with the crimson blood of
a great white ape; but always flying from one opponent to another, hesitating
but the barest fraction of a second to drink the lifeblood in the center
of some savage heart.
Then Tars Tarkas grabs him by the ankles and pulls him down into the hole
and out of the grasp of the fiendish foes. They climb a ladder, enter a
cave above, wander down a corridor, find themselves in the Chamber of Mystery,
fight banths and therns, then free Thuvia, who explains to them the function
of the Plant Men in the religious world view of Issus.
“And thus I fought as I never had fought before,
against such frightful odds that I cannot realize even now that human muscles
could have withstood that awful onslaught, that terrific weight of hurtling
tons of ferocious, battling flesh.
“With the fear that we should escape them, the
creatures redoubled their efforts to pull me down, and though the ground
about me was piled high with their dead and dying comrades, they succeeded
at last in overwhelming me, and I went down beneath them for the second
time that day, and once again felt those awful sucking lips against my
“‘The Holy Therns eat human flesh,’ she
answered me; ‘but only that which has died beneath the sucking lips of
a plant man – flesh from which the defiling blood of life has been drawn.
And to this cruel end I have been condemned. It was to be within a few
hours, had your advent not caused an interruption of their plans....
They escape together, and as they make their way through the labyrinth
corridors of the giant cliffs of the Otz Mountains, they come across an
opening that allows them to peer down on the balcony from which the Therns
call the Plant Men to the feast.
“‘All who reach the Valley Dor are, by custom,
the rightful prey of the plant men and the apes, while their arms and ornaments
become the portion of the therns; but if one escapes the terrible denizens
of the valley for even a few hours the therns may claim such a one as their
“‘The therns are mortal,’ she replied. ‘They die
from the same causes as you or I might; those who do not live their allotted
span of time, one thousand years, when by the authority of custom they
may take their way in happiness through the long tunnel that leads to Issus.
“‘Those who die before are supposed to spend the
balance of their allotted time in the image of a plant man, and it is for
this reason that the plant men are held sacred by the therns, since they
believe that each of these hideous creatures was formerly a thern.
“‘And should a plant man die?’ I asked.
“‘Should he die before the expiration of the thousand
years from the birth of the thern whose immortality abides within him then
the soul passes into a great white ape; but should the ape die short of
the exact hour that ternimates the thousand years the soul is for ever
lost and passes for all eternity into the carcass of the slimy fearsome
silian whose wriggling thousands seethe the silent sea beneath the hurtling
moons when the sun has gone and strange shapes walk through the Valley
“At our right the sun was setting, a
huge red orb, below the western range of Otz. A little below us stood the
Holy Thern on watch upon his balcony. His scarlet robe of office was pulled
tightly about him in anticipation of the cold that comes so suddenly with
darkness as the sun sets....From brilliant light you are plunged without
warning into utter darkness. Then the moons come; the mysterious, magic
moons of Mars, hurtling like monster meteors low across the face of the
Later, Carter is captured by the Black Pirates and while bound within one
of their warships, he tells Phaidor, daughter of the leader of the Holy
Therns, his ultimate intention toward the Plant Men.
“The declining sun lighted brilliantly the eastern
banks of Korus, the crimson sward, the gorgeous forest. Beneath the trees
we saw feeding many herds of plant men. The adults stood aloft upon their
toes and their mighty tails, their talons pruning every available leaf
and twig. It was then that I understood the careful trimming of the trees
which had led me to form the mistaken idea when first I opened my eyes
upon the grove that it was the playground of a civilized people.
“As we watched, our eyes wandered to the rolling
Iss, which issued from the base of the cliffs beneath us. Presently there
emerged from the mountain a canoe laden with lost souls from the outer
world. There were a dozen of them. All were of the highly civilized and
cultured race of red men who are dominant on Mars.
“The eyes of the herald upon the balcony beneath
us fell upon the doomed party as soon as did ours. He raised his head and,
leaning far out over the low rail that rimmed his dizzy perch, voiced the
shrill, weird wail that called the demons of this hellish place to the
“For an instant the brutes stood with stiffly
erected ears, then they poured from the grove toward the river’s bank,
covering the distance with great, ungainly leaps.
“The party had landed and was standing on the
sward as the awful horde came in sight. There was a brief and futile effort
of defense. Then silence as the huge, repulsive shapes covered the bodies
of their victims and scores of sucking mouths fastened themselves to the
flesh of their prey.
“I turned away in disgust.
“‘Their part is soon over,’ said Thuvia. ‘The
great white apes get the flesh when the plant men have drained the arteries.
Look, they are coming now.’
“As I turned my eyes in the direction the girl
indicated, I saw a dozen of the great white monsters running across the
valley toward the river bank. Then the sun went down and darkness that
could almost be felt engulfed us.” (GM/5.)
“‘I fear that I would ill-requite your
father’s hospitality,’ I answered, ‘since the first thing that I should
do were I a thern would be to set an armed guard at the mouth of the River
Iss to escort the poor deluded voyagers back to the outer world. Also should
I devote my life to the extermination of the hideous plant men and their
horrible companions, the great white apes.’” (GM/8.)
This, of course, horrifies Phaidor, for such ideas threaten the very existence
of the Therns. After Carter becomes Warlord of Mars we are not told if
Carter ever attempted to carry out his threat of extermination. If he changed
his mind, it was perhaps because of the compliancy of the Plant Men toward
the First Born that he witnesses as he and his son, Carthoris, are marched
off through the Valley to the arena for the gladiator games.
“When we reached the gardens of Issus
we were led away from the temple instead of toward it. The way wound through
enchanted parks to a mighty wall that towered a hundred feet in the air.
After the Therns and Black Pirates are defeated by the Red Martians and
the Green Hordes, Carter is able to secretly follow the black dator, Thurid,
across the Valley Dor at night without fear of the Plant Men or Great White
Apes, as recorded in the third book of the opening trilogy, Warlord
“Massive gates gave egress upon a small plain,
surrounded by the same gorgeous forests that I had seen at the foot of
the Golden Cliffs.
“Crowds of blacks were strolling in the same direction
that our guards were leading us, and with them mingled my old friends the
plant men and great white apes.
“The brutal beasts moved among the crowd as pet
dogs might. If they were in the way the blacks pushed them roughly to one
side, or whacked them with the flat of a sword, and the animals slunk away
as in great fear.” (GM/11.)
“So it was that I remained hidden until
after Thurid had disappeared over the edge of the steep bank beside the
sea a quarter of a mile away. Then, with Woola following, I hastened across
the open after the black dator.
The Plant Men play no major role in any of the other stories in the Barsoomian
Mythos, and since their function was mainly to drain people of blood before
the Therns could eat them, and since it is assumed that cannibalism too
was made taboo after their defeat, there does not seem to be a legitimate
function for these animals in Valley Dor. Unless it is for the gardening
skills of the Plant Men. Perhaps they were allowed to exist for that sole
reason, if they were allowed to exist at all. We will deal with the Goolians
in the next part.
“The quiet of the tomb lay upon the mysterious
valley of death, crouching deep in its warm nest within the sunken area
at the south pole of the dying planet. In the far distance the Golden Cliffs
raised their mighty barrier faces far into the starlit heavens, the precious
metals and scintillating jewels that composed them sparkling in the brilliant
light of Mars’s two gorgeous moons.
“At my back was the forest, pruned and trimmed
like the sward to parklike symmetry by the browsing of the ghoulish plant
“Before me lay the Lost Sea of Korus, while farther
on I caught the shimmering ribbon of Iss, the River of Mystery, where it
wound out from beneath the Golden Cliffs to empty into Korus, to which
for countless ages had been borne the deluded and unhappy Martians of the
outer world upon the voluntary pilgrimage to this false heaven.
“The plant men, with their blood-sucking hands,
and the monstrous white apes that make Dor hideous by day, were hidden
in their lairs for the night.
“There was no longer a Holy Thern upon the balcony
in the Golden Cliffs above the Iss to summon them with weird cry to the
victims floating down to their maws upon the cold, broad bosom of ancient
“The navies of Helium and the First Born had cleared
the fortresses and the temples of the therns when they had refused to surrender
and accept the new order of things that had swept their false religion
from long-suffering Mars.” (WM/1.)
BARSOOMIAN GREEN MEN and TARS TARKAS ART GALLERIES
| II | III
| IV | V
| VI | VII