Air Supremacy on Venus
If one wants to live long and prosper on Venus, it's helpful to have
an airplane with a lifetime supply of fuel, along with a gun that never
runs out of ammunition.
Carson and Duare had their troubles on the ground while lost on Venus,
but at the end of the second novel they escaped from the paradise of Havatoo
in the airplane that had been built, to Carson's specifications, by the
technicians of that city.
Prior to Carson's arrival, air travel was unknown on Venus. In Havatoo,
he mentioned the existence of such machines on Earth and the Venusan scientists
and engineers were excited about the idea of building one.
for Carson and Duare, the first airplane on Venus was finished and ready
to go at the time that Duare had been declared to be permanently "persona
non grata" and so the anotar served as a vehicle for their escape, in the
nick of time.
It was quite an escape for Duare, who did not understand just how they
were going to get away when Carson seated her in the airplane. She was
soon on the flight of her life.
She rapidly overcame her natural fear of flying. She nicknamed the airplane
the "anotar" -- Amtorian for bird-ship -- and Carson soon taught her how
to fly and repair it.
What a ship it was. The fuel for a life-time could be held in the palm
of the hand and the probable life of the ship had been computed by the
physicists to be in the neighborhood of fifty years. It would need few
repairs, other than for problems caused by accidents (and with Carson at
the helm, one knows that's going to happen!).
Back in Pirates of Venus, when the Sofal attacked the Thorist
ship, the Yan, Carson saw that his ship's powerful T-ray runs were not
damaging the vital parts of that ship because they "were protected by a
thin armor of the same metal of which the large guns were composed, the
only at all impervious to T-rays." (Chapter 13)
In Lost on Venus, Chapter 14, Carson said the anotar was made
of "materials that only the chemists of Havatoo might produce, synthetic
wood and steel and fabric that offered incalculable strength and durability
combined with negligible weight."
That "incalculable strength" made it impervious to T-rays like the armor
of the Thorist fleet. That was emphasized later when, in flying over the
city of Sanara and the besieging Amlot army (CV, Chapter 4), Carson
noted that the attackers had shields. "These shields," he said, "are composed
of metal more or less impervious to both R-rays and T-rays...."
Then, he noted that the anotar was similarly impregnable. "As every
portion of the ship, whether wood, metal, or fabric, had been sprayed with
a solution of this ray-resisting substance I felt quite safe in flying
low above the contending forces...."
Just before coming to Sanara, Carson had given Duare her first flying
lessons, and that came in handy later in that adventure, when Duare flew
the anotar during a bombing raid on the enemy city of Amlot while Carson
was on the ground conducting sabotage operations.
Carson further described the anotar this way:
"The design had been mine, as aircraft
were absolutely undreamed of in Ha-vatoo prior to my coming; but the materials,
the motor, the fuel were exclusively Amtorian. For strength, durability,
and lightness the first would be impossible of duplication on Earth; the
motor was a marvel of ingenuity, compactness, power and durability combined
with lightness of weight.... In design the ship was more or less of a composite
of those with which I was familiar or had myself flown on Earth. It seated
four, two abreast in an open front cockpit and two in a streamlined cabin
aft; there were controls in both cockpits, and the ship could be flown
from any of the four seats."
The anotar was also equipped with retractable pontoons (CV, 1).
The sprayed-on protection from T-rays served Carson and Duare well in
the escape from Havatoo, and was a godsend in that adventure in resolving
the conflict between Sanara and Amlot and defeating the Zani threat. But
there was still the danger they would always face when landing.
Carson said it this way:
"...we would have to make occasional
landings for food and water, and it seemed as though every time we landed
something terrible happened to us. But that is Venus. If you had a forced
landing in Kansas or Maine or Oregon, the only thing you'd have to worry
about would be the landing; but when you set a ship down in Venus, you
never know what you're going to run up against. It might be kloonobargan,
the hairy, man-eating savages, or a tharban, that most frightful of lion-like
carnivores, or a basto, a huge, omnivorous beast that bears some slight
resemblance to the American bison; or, perhaps, worst of all, ordinary
human beings like ourself, but with a low evaluation of life -- that is,
your life." EV, Chapter 17
The Landings of the Anotar
As long as Carson and Duare stayed air-borne in the anotar, they were
"safe on Venus." But there's no book of that title in the series, and it
would make for pretty bland reading if they just glided over mysterious
lands! So, they had to set 'er down from time to time and, as Carson said,
each time they did, something terrible happened.
At a landing stop in the opening of Carson of Venus, Duare was
captured by an Amazon-like tribe. And it was a problem again at the end
of the book when Mintep, who had been a prisoner of the Zanis, forced Duare
to fly him back to Vepaja, where she would face judgment for consorting
with the likes of Carson Napier. Carson had to make a sea voyage to get
her and the plane back.
At the start of Escape on Venus, they landed and were taken prisoner
by the Mypos fish people.
Fortunately, through all of this, the anotar was still in good shape.
It was later on in the Myposan region, however, when the anotar suffered
its first real damage. In the big lake battle between the fleets of Myposa
and Japal, the ships had closed with one another and "there was hand-to-hand
fighting on decks slippery with blood. It was a grewsome sight, but fascinating."
Carson couldn't resist: "I dropped lower to get a better view, as the smoke
from burning ships was cutting down the visibility.
"I dropped too low. A rock from a catapult struck my propeller, smashing
it." EV, Chapter 22
The good news was that Carson managed to glide to a landing near a forest,
and flight crew Kandar and Doran helped him conceal it.
Carson and friends were taken captive by the usurper of the throne of
Japal, but then escaped in time to help fight against a new attacker, the
green men of Brokol. Here, headstrong Carson got himself in trouble again
by rushing so far forward into the fray that he got himself captured and
marched to the land of Brokol.
was to die in a stadium game. But, just in time, "I heard a familiar sound
Just what sound Carson heard is not clarified, since, in Carson, Chapter
2, he had said, "The engine was noiseless and efficient beyond the dreams
of Earth men." Maybe the ol' anotar had developed some creaks and squeaks
But that familiar noise drew his attention to a circling aeroplane and
he knew the only person who could have repaired and flown it was Duare.
In his absence, his friend Kandar had become the new jong of Japal and
had sent "a strong body of warriors to Timal to bring Duare and Artol back
to his court. He also, following my instructions, had had a new propeller
made for the anotar. Knowing that I had been captured by the Brokols, they
knew where to look for me...." EV, Chapter 29
So the anotar was humming again. But not for long. Flying over another
city (EV, 30-31), the new propeller dropped off. When they landed in the
seemingly friendly city of Voo-ad, someone ran off with it. Our peerless
pair had but little choice than to allow the "friendly people" of Voo-ad
to wine and dine them while a search was made for the propeller. At the
banquet, they were served a paralysis drug. When they realized they could
no longer move from the neck down, the jong, Vik-Vik-Vik, smushed an avocado-banana-like
fruit in Duare's face to emphasize that fact! (This is a favorite passage
of Duare scorners!) EV, Chapter 32
Paralyzed from the neck down, the intrepid duo were suspended on the
wall of the town's Museum of Natural History, along with other unfortunates,
including Ero Shan.
A Voo-adian named Vik-yor, who had visions of romance with Duare, helped
her escape. His idea was to run off with her in the anotar. Duare's idea
was to get away from him and rescue Carson and Ero Shan.
The propeller was lying beneath the anotar and Duare's "hasty examination
showed that it was undamaged; then she examined the flange, shrunk to the
end of the crankshaft, to which it had been bolted. The bolts were there
and undamaged -- the nuts must have vibrated off simultaneously; Kandar
had evidently neglected to use either lock washers or cotter keys.
"These Duare found among the spare parts in the cockpit of the anotar,
together with the necessary nuts." EV, Chapter 37
After Duare had tightened two nuts, some Voo-adians discovered what
was happening and rushed the plane. So "Duare switched the wrench to her
left hand and drew her pistol." (She had taken it from Carson's paralyzed
body when leaving the museum).
The crowd backed off when Duare dealt death, but when she put the pistol
in its holster to resume work on the propeller, Vik-yor swiped it and took
command. Thus, she had to complete her work and fly off with him rather
than return to the museum for Carson and Ero Shan.
On her crazy journey with Vik-yor she repeatedly tried to persuade him
to give back the gun, but he refused (probably suspecting she would use
it on him!). Having learned the workings of the gun by watching her, he
also thought he'd try flying the anotar, since he'd watched how she did
that, too. He succeeded, briefly, before it came down for a water landing.
Fortunately, he didn't wreck it and about that time he went into spasms
and died from a malady unique to Voo-adians.
At last Duare could return to Voo-ad with both the indispensable gun
and the anotar and rescue her lover and her friend. It was quite an adventure
for one who had spent her first 18 years as the sheltered daughter of a
jong, high in the treetops of Vepaja.
There was to be one more adventure with the anotar. This flight ended
abruptly as Carson, instead of making a beeline for Sanara, chose to descend
to get a better look at some huge land battle-ships in another area of
Perhaps the effects of the anti-T-ray spray were wearing off. A blast
from one of the ships decimated the nose of the anotar, so not only the
propeller was gone this time, but the housing as well.
After a couple of captures and escapes, even Carson and Duare and Ero
Shan combined could not put the anotar together again, as some of the ignorant
people in the land had smashed the engine and other parts while the plane
Carson didn't know it until he met up with Ero Shan again in Voo-ad,
but for awhile there had been two anotars plying the skies of Amtor.
After Carson had absconded with the first one, Ero Shan, with the knowledge
he had gained working with Napier in Hava-too, supervised the construction
of a second. He had been on a test flight when he, too, had been so unfortunate
as to end up in the city of Voo-ad and become an exhibit in their museum.
In Wizard of Venus, Carson, Ero Shan and Duare were safely back
in Sanara and Carson had been commissioned to start work on an air force
for the nation, and also was helping Ero Shan build a new anotar to fly
him back to Havatoo.
It was in this anotar -- the third to fly the skies of Amtor -- that
Carson and Ero Shan were grounded by bad weather and had their brief adventure
in the land of the pretend wizard.
After that, the Venus saga ended but we might assume that Carson and
Ero Shan got back to Sanara safely, Ero Shan flew back to Havatoo in his
new anotar, and Carson and Duare lived happily ever after in Sanara.
But knowing Carson's penchant for getting into trouble, we might be
wrong about that.