Savjoda stood in a large hall in the hive-like city of the doyaks.
All was quiet save for the muffled calls of the vagas and horn-dogs from
Several doyaks, including Fomas-67 had gathered this day for the
purpose of passing judgement on this man. Also there were several persons
from Earth and Barsoom Including John Carter and myself. By that time,
I had ascended to the throne of the jemdar. My time reunited with my beloved
father had been all too short before old age had taken from me what the
"Savjoda", said one of the doyaks, a certain Gotan-14, Director of
the city, "you are aware that you can no longer be welcome on any of the
established worlds. It would be easy to simply have you executed and be
done with it and, at first, the majority of us felt that that would be
the best course of action."
I was slightly surprised to find myself breathing a sigh of relief
for this man who had caused, if inadvertently, so much chaos. I had learned
respect for him and even, in a way, come to like him personally.
Gotan-14 gestured to Fomas-67 who drew back a divider revealing a
device of peculiar construction. With a tentacle he touched a small lever
and a beam of light illuminated a small screen. An image appeared That
was at first difficult to decipher. It resembled a view of Earth from high
orbit, but it just went on and on. I could see the scale of the view from
the weather patterns and it was huge. I counted twenty continents the size
of Africa or Asia and could find no horizon at all.
"What is that?" Asked Savjoda.
Gotan-14 responded, "That is a view of a small portion of Thorandalo,
the world within Eurobus. It has always been thought by its inhabitants
that the planetís huge gravity was countered by its immense rotational
speed, but that is incorrect. The thinness of the planetary shell is such
that the gravity is only slightly higher than that of Earth in any given
location even though the total mass of the planet is far greater than several
"This world boasts incredible variety. The distances are so great
that live evolved separately in several remote locations and the products
of those separate evolutions have only come into fleeting contact recently.
There are a million unknowns in Thorandalo and someone must come into this
world to explore and develop it. There are several forms of civilized and
semi-civilized creatures in this world, many of them hostile beyond imagining.
Although the surface world of Eurobus is remarkably geologically active
and the oceans so storm ridden that travel upon them is impossible, Thorandalo
is much less troubled by these factors. The oceans are, by comparison,
peaceful and save for a few regions, volcanoes and earthquakes are rare."
John Carter had a wistful expression in his gray eyes. He could see
what lie ahead. Savjoda was to be transported to this unknown and dangerous
world. While a rational man might feel otherwise, I could see that his
heart was consumed with envy.
Savjoda spoke. "So this is to be my prison?"
"Your home." Said Gotan-14.
Savjoda said, "I accept the judgement of the doyak lords of Dhaimira."
His expression was unreadable.
Gotan-14 gestured in a manner that must have been the doyak equivalent
of a head nod. He continued to speak. "This world is huge and much of it
is unknown. We can offer to send more than one person if one should choose
to go there of his own volition."
John Carter was instantly attentive. His expression told all. Could
Gotan-14 mean what he thought he had meant?
A flyer lifted from the palace at Greater Helium. It had a pilot
and a single passenger. The passenger was the exiled Savjoda who looked
toward his future with mixed feelings. Everything he had ever known in
his long life was to be left behind forever, but ahead was perhaps something
just as interesting.
The pilot was John Carter, the Warlord of Barsoom. He had said that
he wished to explore the new world for a few months and the doyaks had
granted his wish. He had turned the government over to his son, Carthoris
who immediately called for the election of a real parliament and a Prime
Minister after the style of Earth. He had not actually said as much, but
John Carter was not expected to return. Without the warfare, without the
adventure and most of all, without his incomparable princess, Barsoom had
little left for him. His "retirement" was as permanent as that of Savjoda.
The sky opened over the flyer revealing a new world, a thousand new
lands. The airship flew through the opening without hesitation and without
either of its occupants giving a backward glance.
Well, this has been interesting.
Needless to say, as the astute reader might have figured out, I have
taken a liberty or two. The big one was giving Vah-Nah a sun, which it
didnít have in "The Moon Maid". Originally that world was supposed to be
lit and warmed by light entering through randomly placed holes in the crust
and some internal phosphorescence. I had to give it a sun to make the internal
logic of my story work. Vah-Nah simply couldnít have been warm enough from
sunlight shining through randomly placed "hoos" and the physics of my solar
system required some consistency. I have, as a result of writing this story,
contemplated writing another which would be titled "Einstein at the Earthís
The personalities of both John Carter and "Savjoda" have changed
and mellowed with the passing of ten centuries. Ras Thavas remains the
same, caught up in his enthusiasms and beyond good or evil.
The teller of the tale, Julian 68th, is not a heroic type.
Although descended from heroes, he is more of a sheltered aristocrat. He
is not without his own brand of resourcefulness, but, unlike Savjoda or
John Carter, is aware of his limitations. He wants adventure, but is pragmatic
about how much adventure he thinks he can deal with. In my need to shorten
this project, Iím afraid that I never allowed Julian to find his own real
voice in this story. He ended up reading like more of a cardboard cut out
than any other character.
Tamla of Helium knows in her own mind that she is supposed to be
a warrior, but is mostly thwarted in that regard. If she has inherited
John Carterís longevity, she will, no doubt, end up in Thorandalo seeking
I feel bad about Kivu. I needed something spectacular for the jomads
to upset, but I couldnít bring myself to cause major harm to any of Burroughsí
original worlds. Someday, I may go back and write the story of William
Heller of Kivu, knowing full well of its eventual end.
I wanted to deal with the idea of what does an immortal hero do when
there is no more heroing to be done. In this case, I stated the issue and
then dodged it by sending my heroes to a latter day Valhalla, Thorandalo.
I expect some criticism for this work. In some ways it has violated
much of the central premise of ERBís work, that the adventure goes on forever.
His worlds did change over time, become better known, better explored,
but somehow it was implied that the adventure would always be there, that
there was no shortage of evil queens and lost races, but, of course in
a real world there eventually has to be. I was hoping to inject some of
that sense of finitude into ERBís world and still make it work.
I ended up having to rush this project or be in danger of being unable
to finish it at all. If it seems like there is a lot squeezed into the
later chapters, that is the reason why. I had planned this as a 50,000
word novel and instead ended up with a 30,000 word novella. Perhaps someday
when I have time on my hands I may flesh it out, but lets not hold our
To anyone who bothered to read this far, you have my thanks for your
patience and I would enjoy to hear your reactions.
Seth Kallen Deitch