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Volume 1406

It's ALL The Same Mars
Den Valdron
Part of the Exploring Barsoom Series


. . .. . . 
Part 2 of a 16,700-word article by Den Valdron
Continued from Part I
A Short and Bloody Trip to Mars
A Happier Visit to Venus
Where on Barsoom are we?
The Story
Shades of Barsoom
GUSTAVE LE ROUGE 1908 & 1909
A Story Worthy of John Carter!
A Barsoomian Mirror


1901 brought George Griffith's serial, Stories of Other Worlds, also known as  Honeymoon in Space.

A Short and Bloody Trip to Mars

 An aristocrat, Lenox, receives the use of an anti-gravity ship from a  brilliant mysterious scientist, and goes on a tour of the solar system with his bride and a Scottish butler/handyman. 

The trio start with the moon, move on to Mars, visit Venus and then press on to Jupiter and Saturn. Of course, we're primarily interested in the trip to Mars. We are not predisposed to a good impression of the Martians. Before even approaching Mars, Griffiths characters have a fairly caustic discussion of the probable nature of the Martians: 

"I wonder what they're thinking about us down there.....but still you never know. You see,  their ideas of right and wrong and hospitality and all that sort of thing might quite different  to what we have on the earth. In fact, they may not be men at all, but just a sort of monster  with perhaps a superhuman intellect, with all sorts of extra-human ideas in it." 
That's a pretty clear hint that they were expecting something along the lines of H.G. Wells'  Martian invaders. And indeed, if we accept that War of the Worlds and Barsoom are all in the same universe, they may well be referring to the actual experience of the Martian  invasion only two or three years before. Their spaceship has certainly been armed to the teeth. 

Our protagonists, after first checking out Phobos and Deimos to ensure there is no life there,  descend into the Martian atmosphere, doing a bit of sightseeing. They're soon confronted by  a fleet of aerial Martian warships which attacks them with poison gas shells. After rising  above the fleet, they destroy a Martian ship and then descend towards a great city located  near the equator. They observe a park with fairly typical Barsoomian flora: 

"By this time the Astronef was hanging suspended over an enormous square about half the size of Hyde Park. It was laid out just as a terrestrial park would be in grassland, flower beds, and avenues, and patches of trees, only the grass was a reddish yellow, the leaves of the trees were like those of a beech in autumn, and the flowers were nearly all a deep violet, or a bright emerald green."
A large, but orderly crowd, all dressed identically comes out to meet them. They are greeted by the Martian leaders. These Martians are bald, asexual giants, eight or nine feet tall, with  no visible distinctions between sexes. 
"That's brains - too much brains, in fact! These people have lived too long. I daresay  they've ceased to be animals - civilised themselves out of everything in the way of  passions and emotions, and are just purely intellectual beings, with as much human  nature about them as Russian diplomacy or those things we saw at the bottom of Newton crater. I don't like the look of them." 
And based on that, at the first sign of trouble, they turn their machine guns on the crowd  slaughtering hundred of unarmed people, kidnapping, interrogating and killing the Martian leader. 

As it turns out, they're right. The Martian society of the giants, they find by interviewing the leader, has evolved to a sterile intellectual perfection, in which human feelings have been purged. Intellectually accomplished and telepathic, they are yet sterile and barren. Although advanced, they are a slaveholding society, and avariciously covet the beauty of the Earth woman. 

Which, I suppose, makes our heroes act of interplanetary mass murder all right... Or maybe not. 

A Happier Visit to Venus

Perhaps the best case for placing 'Honeymoon in Space' in Burroughs universe comes not from Mars, but from Venus. Alighting on some random region of Venus, they encounter a  race of Bird people. Allow me to contrast their observations with Burroughs descriptions: 

     ".... yet they haven't got feathers." "Yes, they have, at least round the edges of their wings or whatever they are-- "You're quite right. Those fringes down their legs are feathers, and that's how they fly. They seem to have four arms." In some respects they had a sufficient resemblance to human form for them to be taken for winged men and women, while in another they bore a decided resemblance to birds. Their bodies and limbs were almost human in shape, but of slenderer and lighter build; and from the shoulder-blades and muscles of the back there sprang a pair of wings arching up above their heads. Between these and the lower arms, and continued from them down the sides to the ankles, there appeared to be a flexible membrane covered with a light feathery down, pure white on the inside, but on the back a brilliant golden yellow, deepening to bronze towards the edges, round which ran a deep feathery fringe." (Griffith) 
     "Their chests were large and shaped like those of birds. Their wings, which consist of  a very thin membrane supported on a light framework, are similar in shape to those of a bat and do not appear adequate to the support of the apparent weight of the creatures' bodies, but I was to learn later that this apparent weight is deceptive, since their bones, like the bones of true birds, are hollow." (Burroughs) 

     "Below this and attached to the inner sides of the leg from the knee downward, was another membrane which reached down to the heels, and it was this which Redgrave somewhat flippantly alluded to as a tail. Its obvious purpose was to maintain the longitudinal balance when flying." (Griffith) 

     "Similar feathers also grow at the lower extremity of the torso in front, and there is  another, quite large bunch just above the buttocks--a gorgeous tail which they open into a huge pompon when they wish to show off." (Burroughs) 
     Zaidie. "And look what funny little faces they've got! Half bird, half human, and soft, downy feathers instead of hair. I wonder whether they talk or sing." (Griffiths)
     They had low, receding foreheads, huge, beaklike noses, and undershot jaws; their eyes were small and close set, their ears flat and slightly pointed. Feathers grew upon their heads instead of hair. (Burroughs) 

      "Some of them stroked her smooth, shining sides with their little hands, which Zaidie now found had only three fingers and a thumb. Many ages before they might have been bird's claws, but now they were soft and pink and plump, utterly strange to work as manual work is understood upon Earth." (Griffith) 

     ". . . their arms were very long, ending in long-fingered, heavy-nailed hands. The lower part of the torso was small, the hips narrow, the legs very short and stocky, ending in three-toed feet equipped with long, curved talons." (Burroughs) 

     "Just listen," she went on, stopping in the opening of the doorway, "have you ever heard music like that on earth? I haven't. I suppose it's the way they talk. I'd give a good deal to be able to understand them. But still, it's very lovely, isn't it?" Zaidie sang the old plantation song... (Griffith) 

     "Their voices were soft and mellow, and their songs were vaguely reminiscent of Negro spirituals," (Burroughs)

Griffith's Angels of Venus, interestingly, are distinguished only by sizes, which our travellers take for sexual differentiation. But it is not at all clear that they are male and female. Burroughs' Wieroo of Caprona are exclusively male. 

Griffith's Angels of Venus are innocents from a Garden of Eden. Meanwhile, Burroughs Angans are simply shallow and superficial, lacking deep emotions or convictions. 

What we've got here are two radically different takes on what is essentially the same creatures: Biblical angels transposed to science fiction. Burroughs makes no secret of it, the name 'Angan' is obviously a play on 'Angel'. The Wieroo of Caprona consider themselves the servants of God, and in fact, speaker to God is their highest title.  Angels are next to God and above man in the celestial order, the Wieroo consider themselves and in the logic of Caprona, are the most highly evolved 'humans.' Angels are the spirits of the dead  gifted with wings, and the Wieroo look like flying corpses. No question is that it's angels all around! 

The big difference is that Griffiths goes for a sweet, treacly sentimental take on these creatures, as opposed to their 'mass murder' approach to the Martians. He's completely uncritical, the 'Angels' are by definition good and innocent, and he looks no further. 

Burroughs takes on Angels are more mature and completely unsentimental. His Wieroo are an unappealing pinnacle of evolution, having ascended to actual angels, they have left  humanity behind. They're literally flying corpses in Burroughs' descriptions, and that's  singularly unattractive. The Wieroo are so 'perfected' that they've lost all feminine qualities and therefore are all male. Their perfection leaves them so individualist that they can barely manage a functioning society. 

Meanwhile, Burroughs' Angans are an assault on Angels from the other direction. Rather than being divine and innocent, the Angans are merely stupid and shallow. Their innocence, an innocence which Griffiths celebrates, Burroughs denounces as ignorance. The Angans 'innocence' means that they have no convictions, they have no love, no loyalty, they blow in the wind and stand for nothing, they're completely unreliable. They lack the intellectual foundations for anything meaningful. 

It's interesting that Burroughs has taken an idea that Griffith used here (and that others used elsewhere) and pushed it so hard and in such a stern direction. There's no sentimentality at all in Burroughs, his characters deal with the Angans and Wieroo face to face. In contrast, Griffiths characters do not 'deal' at all with their Angels, they 'ideal' them. Burroughs has taken practically the same idea and same creature and put a hard spin on it, in such a way that the Angans and Wieroos are comments on our own society and illusions. 

In the same way, H.G. Wells took the same notion of evolution of sterile intelligence for Martians that Griffiths worked with, and he too pushed it hard and in stern directions.  Griffith's Martians are simply assholes, cold enough to justify Zaidie and Lenox's mass murders. Wells' Martians are actual monsters. But like Burroughs and his angels, Wells uses his Martians to comment on our own society, on our own conceptions. Burroughs Angels and Wells Martians are, in some sense, reflections of our own society, and of our own hypocrisy. On the other hand, Griffith's Martians and Angels are simply others, they are not reflections at all, and there is no sense of hypocrisy or irony in dealings with them. 

I suppose that this is why we remember and continue to read Burroughs and Wells, whereas Griffiths has fallen completely out of sight.   I am not, by the way, suggesting that Griffith inspired any part of Burroughs. Griffith simply drew superficially from the common well of ideas and inspirations floating around at the time. Burroughs drew more and drank deeper of that well, and there you have their differences and commons. 

Despite the similarities of Angels and Angans on Venus, even that comes from the common well. If Mars was a planet of war, Venus was the planet of love. You expected monsters on Mars and Angels on Venus. At best, Wells may have read Griffith and took his Angels of Venus as a sloppy, sentimental slap in the face. If so, then the Angans and Wieroo are a couple of stiff  haymakers in rejoinder. 

Be that as it may, it seems that the creatures that Zaidie and Lenox meet on Venus differ from Burroughs' Angans only in the point of view of the observers.  They're Angans, they're on Amtor, which would mean that Mars is Barsoom. 

We should note that Zaidie and Lenox also visit the surface of the Moon, where they find the surface devoid of life and filled with ruins of a vanished civilization, with animal life persisting only in the deepest valleys. Not too bad a match for the world of the Moon Maid.

Where on Barsoom are we?

Griffith's Martians share some features with the Barsoomians. A slaveholding, city-based society, Barsoomian foilage, a universal language based on telepathy, a warlike nature,  aerial fleets that are confined to the atmosphere, canals, the whole nine yards. 

On the other hand, they're bald giants. But so what? The Therns are just as bald, and compared to the Green Men, they're not gigantic at all. They're merely taller than the average run of Barsoomians, and well within the ranges attributed to human giants on Earth.

Psychologically, they're different from most Barsoomians, mainly in being jerks, but one  could imagine an inbred culture on Barsoom turning out this way. There's even a reasonable geographical cue, their city is located on the equator, bisected by a canal. 

Because I actually have a copy of this story to read, we can even locate them with some degree of confidence. From five miles up, our space travellers initially note that they are about 5 miles up between latitudes 40 and 50. They see what they believe are continental islands (highlands surrounded by dark mossy areas), and follow this from the equator a short distance north, until they find a large city at the tip of a continental peninsula they describe as the 'London' of Mars. 

Referring to the topographic Map and using this description, we can actually find a reasonable location for this london at the border between green (midland) and yellow (low highland) areas on the map, even down to the peninsula.   They do not, however, visit this city. Instead, the press on traveling closer to the Equator, and coming across a pair of cities divided by a large canal or river, definitely a body of water this time, which they describe as the 'New York' and 'Brooklyn' of Mars. This is the city of  the Giants in which they land. 

Now, following the topography map, if we start at the 'London' area, and follow the border between green midlands and yellow low highlands west, we find at approximately 5 degrees latitude and -15 degrees longitude what appears to be a  large river or canal. It works, check it out for yourself. 

Of course, these regions are right in the middle of explored civilized Barsoom as John Carter knows it. But they never visit 'London' so it may well be chock full of Red Men. As for the Twin Cities of the Giants, their race is obviously sociopathic and anti-social, so they probably don't get much in the way of tourists, while at the same time clearly having aerial  fleets and technology to defend themselves. The conclusion is that on John Carter's Barsoom,  everyone knows about the Twin Cities of the Giants but no one has a reason to go there.

The big obstacle to this being Barsoom is that as our heroes approach Mars, they claim to see  the dying seas and oceans.   Of these are honeymooners not trained scientists or observers, and their observations are being made from an altitude of up to hundreds of miles.   By the time they’re around a mere five miles up they’re heading over land.   Anyone who has flown over seas in an airplane can testify that from several miles up, its not terribly obvious.   So its quite more than likely that they are simply following their own expectations to see seas and oceans and mistaking dark flat sea  bottoms covered with moss for actual seas. Certainly they've brought their preconceptions and prejudices to Mars.   So, I think we can happily ascribe this to Barsoom.


1905    Arnould Galopin - "Le Docteur Oméga - Aventures Fantastiques de Trois Français dans la PlanPte Mars" [Dr. Omega - Fantastic Adventures Of Three Frenchmen On Planet Mars] (Libr. Mondiale). 

The Red Valley: Doctor Omega
Dr. Omega invents a spacecraft dubbed "Cosmos" to travel to the Red Planet. The "Cosmos" is a projectile-shaped vehicle built using an antigravitational substance called "repulsite". It can also function on land and under water.  This is another in a long line of anti-gravity spaceships.

Mars turns out to be inhabited by some strange beings, including giant dinosaurian beasts, ugly little dwarfs with death rays, and bat or insect-winged humanlike creatures.   This would be the fourth appearance of winged Martians.  (Wells, Kline and La Faure)

In a revised version, Les Chercheurs d'Inconnu [Seekers of the Unknown] serialized in 12 issues in 1908-09, Galopin changed the name of the ship to "Excelsior" and the substance to "stellite". 

In 1908, we have Henri Gayar writing - "Les Aventures Merveilleuses de Serge Myrandhal sur la Planete Mars" [The Wondrous Adventures Of Serge Myrandhal On The Planet Mars] (Laumonier).

The Story
Myrandhal reaches Mars via a spaceship called “Velox” powered by the psychic energy of a thousand hindu fakirs.   Then he disappears.   His fiancé, his best friend and a little dog named Spot (I’m not making this up), go off in search for him in a second, smaller ship.

They discover that the Velox has been trapped in a volcanic geyser while exploring Mars' northern regions.   However, no sooner do they get it free than Serge’s friend is abducted by Houas, small, red-furred manlike dwarves who live underground in volcanically heated caverns.  But it turns out they’re fairly benign, and Serge even adopts one. 

The Houas reveal the existence of a higher race on Mars, beautiful winged humanoids called Zoas, which Serge also referrs to as "Elohim" (a type of Angel).    Myrandahl is all hot to go there, and since the two psychic powered spaceships convert into boats, they set out on the Martian sea, sailing around the coast southwards.   They pass through a Sargasso sea, and finally come to the ruins of an underground city.

They find resting there, in crystal eggs since time immemorial, the mummies of the Zoa, an exquisite winged race which became more and more diaphanous and asexual. They became extinct: "They surpassed the allowed intelligence and reached the apex; they are become scholars as gods; they did not have any more reason to exist." The group find a few last Zoa resting on a bed; the group calls them the "Elohim." At the end, when Serge finally establishes communication with Earth, thanks to a telepathic transmitter, his friend rushes in shouting, "The Elohim have awoken!" 

In a later version, published in 1927 as Les Robinsons de la Planete Mars [The Robinsons of Planet Mars] under the pseudonym of "Cyrius", Gayar got rid of the psychic energy and instead used the planetary force of attraction; he also added German villains to the plot and prophetically rechristened the rocketships V1 and V2.

Shades of Barsoom

One of the interesting things here is the Hindu mystic driven ‘psychic powered ship’.   Robert Darvel in Prisoner of the Planet Mars finds himself launched to Mars by a device powered by a monastery of Hindu fakirs. 

Within Burroughs, a key part of Carson Napier’s skills was his high development of psychic power in Tibet, which he proposed to use for communicating between worlds.   In the context of this and other stories, his psychic prowess may have been intended to have more applications to space travel.

As for the inhabitants of Mars here, we have no trace of small red-furred dwarf, but then again, Barsoom is a big place, so there’s no inherent obstacle.   Certainly, dwarf races on Mars will appear several more times in other stories.   They may be an isolated population which Carter has never encountered.   Certainly, they are not nearly as strange as the Kaldanes or the Lothars.

The winged, diaphanous and asexual race of Zoas (Elohim) on the other hand, we have seen before, or at least, creatures like them.   They are reminiscent of Wells' flying Martians from ‘The Crystal Egg’, Kline’s butterfly-winged little people from Swordsman of Mars, and Graffigny and La Faure’s Adventures of a Russian Scientist and Galopin’s Dr. Omega.  This, therefore is the fifth appearance of such creatures.

This is also the second appearance of dwarflike Martians.   They had previously troubled Dr. Omega in 1905, though these dwarfs are far more primitive.

Meanwhile, the geography of the story from the brief descriptions, seems suggestive.   The northern volcanic region filled with caverns is likely Alba Patera, an immense shield volcano at the upper edges of Tharsis.   Serge crosses a sea, which in Barsoomian terms is almost certainly Gulliver Jone’s Opal Sea, immediately to the east of Alba Patera in Tempe Terra.   Thereafter, he heads south, down canals or rivers, through the great valley of the Kaolian forests, into a Sargasso sea which is most likely a section of the Toonolian Marshes, and then finally into more volcanic caves on the opposite side of the Marshes, near or at Tharsis southern flank.

1908 & 1909

A Story Worthy of John Carter!

There are a couple of novels in 1908 and 1909, which if they are not set upon Barsoom, perhaps ought to be,  French “pulp” author Gustave LeRouge’s (1867-1938) wrote “Le prisonnier de la planete Mars [The Prisoner of Planet Mars]” and it’s sequel, “La guerre des vampires [War of the Vampires]” 

Gustav LaRouge Le prisonnier de la planète MarsThe Martians observe us ~ Lanos illo
Robert Darvel, a young American scientist/engineer journeys to Tibet, and the monastery of Chelambrum, where Prince Ardavena convinces him to construct a psychic energy condenser, an elaborate machine which would combine the psychic energies of a thousand fakirs or holy men into a chamber where a person could then use them to communicate with other planets. LeRouge puts a lot of time and energy into convincing the audience of the ins and outs of this remarkable machine.

Darvel was previously attempting to communicate with Mars by writing gigantic letters in the siberian tundra, in the hopes that the Martians would be able to see it and respond by writing equally gigantic symbols on their planet's surface. Don't laugh, this was actually a fairly serious notion by astronomers, around this time. 

It is these activities which inspire Ardavena to recruit Darvel, who immediately turns his attention to the possibilities of psychic communication.   Unfortunately, things do not go well for Robert. Prince Ardavena turns out to be an evil schemer who wishes to use the device for his own power. 

Meanwhile, the 'energy condenser' turns out to be far more powerful than Robert figured, when it physically catapults him to Mars. Essentially, Darvel seems to have stumbled across an artificial means of duplicating John Carter's 'astral jumps' between the worlds. 

Unfortunately, once on Mars, Darvel has no way to get off, or to communicate. He discovers that Mars is a low marshy region, inhabited by a primitive and rather unhappy race of small humans. They wear feathered cloaks, but lack the wherewithal to make fire. 

Darvel describes exotic creatures including giant crabs, giant clams and giant moles, which he speculates have dug Schiapelli's canals. He also encounters large Octopi with humanoid faces, something which is vaguely suggestive of Wells' WoW invaders. 

In addition, there are 'bat winged' 'humanlike' creatures called Erloor, vampiric creatures who dominate the humans.  Like any good hero, Darvel proceeds to introduce chaos to Mars. He gives the gift of fire to the humans, and then proceeds to overthrow the Erloor. Sentiment leads him to spare a small Erloor child who leads him to the cave of the Erloor, where he's taken prisoner.

Luckily, he's rescued by the Martians he liberates.  Darvel then discovers another race of 'Erloor', except these are invisible. They're described as having shimmering dragonfly wings, in drawings, they have round human heads, small bodies and two boneless tentacular arms ending in flexible fingers. They keep crystal urns, somewhat reminscent of Wells' crystal egg. Luckily, Darvel finds an opal helmet which allows him to see them. 

Darvel, goes underground to combat these invisible Erloors and finds an entire civilization of sleepers in caves under the surface of the planet, he also discovers an underwater city whose inhabitants remain completely indifferent to the action on the planet surface. 

Darvel discovers that there's a pecking order on Mars. At the bottom are the primitive savages of the swamp, above them the 'bat' Erloors, above them the invisible Erloors, and at the top of the heap, a Giant Brain which claims to rule the planet from its crystal mountain. It savagely rules the invisible Erloors, who are fairly unhappy about the whole thing. 

Portrait of Robert Darvel [on Mars]
Darvel cuts the Giant Brain's power, interrupting its rule. But the Brain recovers, uses its Erloor slaves to capture Robert and sends him back to Earth, using the power of a Volcano to speed him on his way. 

In the next book, Robert discovers that fifteen of the invisible Erloor have accompanied or preceded him to Earth. They want Robert to go back to Mars and kill the giant brain so that they can rule the planet, and threaten his fianc . And so, late in the innings, we've got another Burroughs trope, the 'lady love' in peril, John Carter would sympathize. Robert manages to kill all the Erloor except one, which retreats to Tunisia, to write bitter Erloor poetry. 

Although chock full of Burroughs style adventure, called frantic and even surreal by his critics, Darvel's story frequently bogs down in Jules Verne style exposition, nowadays called 'technobabble' and in Wellsian digressions. Still, fans of Gustave LaRouge describe the Robert Darvel stories as his masterpiece. 

Darvel was clearly influenced by both of Wells' Martian stories, which may account for a resemblance or two. Gustave LaRouge, like both Wells and Burroughs clearly was doing his homework, his writing shows familiarity with both Flammarion and Schiaprelli. However, despite preceding A Princess of Mars by four years, its almost certain that it was not an influence on Burroughs, since it was written in French and not published in English or in America. Of course, caution is advised. I've had no opportunity to read LaRouge, or even a detailed translation. This synopsis is generated entirely by internet research, with the generous if erratic assistance of translator programs.

A Barsoomian Mirror

In Barsoomian terms, Darvel has almost certainly wound up somewhere in the Toonolian Marshes.   The descriptions are very suggestive of the 1800 mile long swamp which represents the last remnant of Mars great seas, a largely unexplored and unexplorable region occupied by races of feathered cloak wearing primitive savages and by remnants of old Barsoomian life. 

A small note on Barsoomian and Martian Geography here. The Toonolian Marshes are most likely identified with Valles Marinis, the vast canyon complex, which is related to and which begins in the Tharsis uplift region. Tharsis itself is a geologically volcanically elevated bulge on the Martian surface, containing several volcanoes. It's also the most likely spot on the planet for an immense cavern complex. So if we transpose Darvel to Barsoom, the geography continues to work. He starts off in the Toonolian Marshes in a 'no man's land', winds up entering cavern complexes which lead to Tharsis.   The Great Brain then uses one of the Tharsis volcanoes, both for power, and to help get rid of him. 

In short, while we cannot pinpoint Darvel’s location precisely, we can identify with a great deal of certainty, the real areas of Barsoom or Mars that he would have been in. 

Interestingly, Darvel’s journey is almost a mirror image of Serge Myrandahl’s in Gayer’s story published later in the same year.   Both reach Mars via psychic power from an army of Hindu Fakirs.   Serge starts trapped in a volcanic geyser, and Darvel ends up being shot out of a volcano.   Both begin by encountering primitive races and seeking out the higher ones.   Myrandahl’s primitives, though ultimately good hearted, are more primitive and less sympathetic than Darvel’s, while Darvel’s primitives are oppressed and waiting liberation.   Myrandahl travels down into a Sargasso sea that might well be a section of the Toonolian Marshes.  Both find underground caverns and seek out winged races, though Myrandahl’s are dead and benign while Darvel’s are very much alive and dangerous.   It’s almost as if they very nearly crossed paths.

Darvel’s two novels featuring flying martian humanoids are the sixth and seventh occurrences of such creatures.   Interestingly, like Kline’s little people in the ‘Swordsman of Mars’ the higher race of Erloors has the power of invisibility.    Invisibility, by the way, appears several times in the Barsoom stories, the natives of Invak and Onvak are invisible, the inhabitants of Thuria master psychic invisibility, the Jahar scientist Phor Tak invents invisibility as do the Skeleton Men of Jupiter.

The Erloors are also vampires, but this is consistent with H.G. Wells’ Martians.   His Martian flyers are associated with the Sarmak invaders who themselves are vampiric, it stands to reason then that the flyers may be vampiric themselves.   The Erloors also show signs of being a hive society, with two different types of Erloors and a ruling ‘Great Brain.’   Wells’ Martians, in the two races living together without conflict may also be hive creatures.  Burroughs Kaldanes are definitely hive creatures.

The Giant Brain is interesting, because philosophically, this entity seems to reflect the Kaldanes' racial objective, though it's rather more aggressive. The Kaldanes' hypothetical giant brain will basically sit and think until the end of time. This one amuses itself by playing little tin god.  In another sense, the Great Brain is a fairly logical extension of Wells' Martians. His inhuman invaders have reduced themselves to literally nothing but brain, so it would follow that their society, and perhaps the related society of the flyers would be ruled by an ultimate brain. 

Also reminiscent of Wells’ Martian stories are the giant crabs, suggestive of the giant beetles, and the pseudo-human faced octopi, perhaps another version of the ‘big head’ Sarmak Martians.

The only thing that Darvel misses is the more civilized Barsoomians. But this story takes place after Wells' Martian invasion, and after the John Carter/Gulliver Jones crusade against the 'big head' Martians as chronicled by Effinger and Moore. So the related species of flyers, and the controlling intelligence is probably keeping a low profile. Darvel never finds an advanced human Barsoomian city like Phundahl or Toonol because the Erloors are themselves careful to stay away and restrict all travel and communication there. Darvel is more interested in fighting the Erloors than in exploring randomly in the hope of finding a completely hypothetical (to him) higher Barsoomian culture. 

Not even the underwater city is completely out of place, since it may be at the bottom of the deep canyons of the Toonolian Marshes.  Meanwhile, there are manifest Burroughsian elements.   The American hero, the threat to his fiancee, the endangered Martian humans, the sleeping cave dwellers.   Only the undersea city seems out of place.

Robert Darvel takes his place alongside Frederick Hamilton, Gullivar Jones, Ulysses Paxton and John Carter, Harry Thorne and Jerry Morgan as a select group of American adventurers on Mars. One wonders if they met for poker on Friday nights when Dejah Thoris was out with the other  Princesses. 

Of the various Mars stories I've researched, this and Gustavus Pope’s Journey to Mars are the two that seem like they would be fun to read, and would be fun to actually work to integrate directly into Barsoom. Alas, with the limited information we have available to us, we can only qualify this as a very intriguing possibility.


1906   Charles Torquet - "L'Appel d'un Autre Monde" [The Call From Another World] in Je Sais Tout (15 Nov).

A hairy Martian giant. The call of another world ~ From the November 15, 1906 article I Know All by Charles Torquet   An American occultist who has visited Mars through astral travel reports the existence of two species of Martians: hairy giants, four times the size of men, and smaller, wall-crawling cave dwelling dwarfs or pygmies.

Giants are not atypical on Barsoom, although these seem to be human giants.   The fact that they are hairy beings suggest that they may be related to the hairy red men, the Thither people, who inhabit the edges of Tempe Terra of the Tharsis region. 

If so, this would put the giants and pygmies deeper within Tempe Terra.   And this would also place them relatively close to the cave dwelling dwarfs of Gayer’s tale of Serge Myrandahl.   This, by the way, is the third appearance of dwarfs or pygmies.


1911  Jean de La Hire - "Le Mystére des XV" [The Mystery Of The XV] in Le Matin, 1911; reprinted as 2 vols., Le Secret des XII [The Secret Of The XII] and Les Conquérants de Mars [The Conquerors Of Mars] (Jaeger, 1954).

Jean de la Hire (1878 - 1956), les Conquérants de Mars
Mad scientist Oxus and his 14 associates travel to Mars on a radioplane using a series of hertzian relays, planning to colonize the planet. There, he faces his arch-enemy the Nyctalope, and the Martians from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds.

If we count Gustave Le Rouge’s Prisoner of Mars, this is the third appearance of H.G. Wells' Sarmak Martians.

Jean de La Hire will write a sort of sequel bringing back the H.G. Wells Martians once again as, improbably enough, a Boy scout adventure.


1912   Marcel Laurian - "L'Étrange Aventure de M. Narcisse Barbidon" [The Strange Adventure of Narcisse Barbidon]  Reprinted as Les Hommes-Singes [The Ape-Men] and La Guerre des Nains et des Géants [The War of the Dwarves and the Giants] (1919). 

L'Étrange Aventure de M. Narcisse BarbidonLa Guerre des Nains et des Geants

Like Verne's Hector Servadac, Prof. Barbidon, his daughter, nephew and man-servant are carried to Mars on a chunk of Peru, after a meteorite crashed into the Earth.   There, they encounter the technologically-advanced and telepathic dwarves of the wondrous city of Lankmirakar. They help them in their battle against the luminous electro-magnetic beings of Pomernia. They discover prehistoric monsters, black-skinned and red-skinned anthropoids, winged sphinxes, mermaids, and cyclops. They meet Nostradamus from Earth, and a Persian sorcerer called Mahousky-Khan. They eventually return to Earth on a chunk of electrically-powered mountain, and land safely in the Sahara. 

In a Barsoomian context, this seems like an awfully long shot.   But the black and red skinned humanoids or ape-men are reminiscent of Burroughs black and red skinned races.  They’re also reminiscent of the red cave-dwarfs that Serge Myrandahl meets in Gayer’s story.

Dwarfs, although not seen in Burroughs Barsoom, have been encountered now several times in other stories.   This is their fourth appearance.

The winged sphinx and cyclops seem like creatures of classical greek mythology.  But on the other hand, a sphinx is a winged creature with a humanlike head and nonhuman body, so in that sense, it resembles some of the species of winged flyers we meet.   If so, this would be an eighth appearance for such creatures.

And its worth noting that John Carter himself encounters a race of cyclopes, one eyed beings, in the Masena race of Thuria.

As for Nostradamus and Mahousky-Khan, it’s well established that humans from Earth are able to psychically project or incarnate upon Mars.  We’ve seen that in Flammarion, Burroughs, LaRouge and Kline.

So, without knowing more detail of the novel, we might indeed have Barsoom once again.   The presence of Dwarves probably puts us on or around the northern part of the Martian Tharsis region.   The presence of a winged flyer is also suggestive of Tharsis.   But no further detailed identification of location  is possible.


1921    Anonymous - Fascinax No. 13. "Un Message de la Planete Mars" (Message from Planet Mars).

A French pulp Super-hero named Fascinax defeats bat-men-like Martians who have travelled to Earth in a rocketship and plan to invade -- however, this may be an elaborate fake scheme by human villains.

For the record, this amounts to the ninth story which features winged Martians.


1924   Henri Allorge - "Ciel contre Terre" [Heaven vs. Earth] (Hachette).

Earth is again attacked by vampire-like Martians who are described in reviews and notes as looking like Le Rouge's Erloors from "Le Prisonnier de la Planete Mars". These Martians, however, are defeated by alcohol. 

V. Michel 1901
Well, with the little we’ve got to go on there isn’t much to say.   But we do appear to have the tenth  appearance of ‘bat-winged’ or ‘insect winged’  ‘humanlike’ flying Martians.   LeRouge’s particular concept of the Erloors proved influential, since several stories copied his creatures closely.


  In 1924, Lord Dunsany, writing his Travel Tales of Mr. Jorkens describes a traveller named Tercet who, upon flying in an airplane to Mars, encounters humans kept like poultry in wire cages.   He kills one of their inhuman captors, a creature reminiscent of Wells’ ‘big head’ Martian invaders.   Tercer then returns to his plane and flies off.  But years later, as related in Mr. Jorkens Returns To Africa, he receives a challenge from the Martians, loads up with weapons, and takes off.   The sole message that comes back from him is "Victory."

Well, there are slight overtones of both Wells’ and Burroughs, and this is written late enough that it might well be a pastiche and the resemblances may be deliberate.   However, we’d have a bit of trouble incorporating this into Barsoom....    An airplane?   Really now.   And to make matters worse, on the way back from Mars in his airplane, Tercer makes a stop on an asteroid and encounters elephants the size of mice.

Still, it's Barsoomian in that we have a human race, as well as the fourth appearance of a Wells’ Sarmak type Martian.


1926 - Jean de La Hire - "Les Grandes Aventures d'un Boy Scout" [The Great Adventures of a Scout] (Ferenczi) (illustrations by Geeorges Vallée). 30-episode magazine serial.

Les grandes Aventures d'un Boy Scout  de Jean De La Hire ed. Ferenczi 1926 (illustrations de Georges Vallée)Franc-Hardi et les martiens

The hero, Franc-Hardi, accompanied by eleven boy scouts and five girls, explores the solar system in Engineer Korrid's (who appeared in the Nyctalope saga) radioplane.

On Mars, they meet men from Earth who came to the Red Planet in the 18th century.   Then they meet the native Martians, who happen to be bear sized round creatures, essentially heads, with large eyes, parrotlike beaks and two clusters of eight tentacles.   Essentially, Wells' Martians.

The artists depictions of these creatures make them look pretty cute, actually.   But we can still count this as the fifth appearance of an H.G. Wells’ ‘Sarmak’ type Martian.

Stanley G. WeinbaumA Martian Odyssey

1934 - Stanley G. Weinbaum,  A Martian Odyssey, Wonder Stories, July & Startling Stories, November ~ 1st hardcover ed. New York: Fantasy Press (1949). 
Stanley Weinbaum’s story takes us back to Lowell’s Mars, a dying world, mostly desert, empty but for dunes and arrow straight canals, and yet, with a breathable atmosphere.   Weinbaum’s Earthmen are explorers in the 21st century, charting the world in its twilight, when one of the explorers meets an alien intelligence.

That intelligence is Trrrweerrlll P-p-p-proot., called Tweel for short in the story.   Tweel is not a humanoid creature.  Instead, the first description is  ‘That freak ostrich’   “The martian wasn’t a bird really, it wasn’t even birdlike, except at first glance.   It had a beak all right, and a few feathery appendages, but the eighteen inch beak wasn’t really a beak.  It was somewhat flexible.  I could see the tip bend slowly from side to side.  It was almost like a cross between a beak and a trunk.  It had four toed feet, short arms and four fingered things - hands you’d have to call them.  A little roundish body, and a long neck ending in a tiny  head - and that beak.  It stood an inch or so taller than I,” relates Jarvis, its temporary companion. 

Tweel is an extraordinary leaper, able to jump dozens of feet straight up in the air, flip around and come back down like a missile.   He has desert adaptations, feathery structures that cover his nostrils and eyes during a sandstorm.

Tweel is intelligent.  He has tools, sophisticated equipment, he can communicate the difference between carbon and silicon based life.   However, his intelligence seems to have basic differences from human.   Communication is difficult and always imperfect, there is always a point at which it breaks down.

Burroughs never wrote anything like Tweel, of course.  But on the other hand, Otis Adelbert Kline included no less than three different breeds of flightless bird in his area of Mars.   The first to be seen is the Koree a 30 foot tall ostrich like desert predator in Swordsman of Mars.  The next is the Rodal, a  ten foot tall bird, five feet at the shoulder, which appears to be a riding mount for desert nomads.  Finally, there is the Koroo, a forty foot tall oasis hunter in Outlaw of Mars.

In comparison to these monsters, Tweel is a runt.   But still, all four birds seem to follow the same general body plan of a distorted ostrich.   It is not hard to see them as being related.   In the articles on Kline, I speculate that the Elyssium plateau was, during Mars wet period, was a large permanent madagascar sized Island in the polar sea.   Perpetually isolated from the mainland, it, like Madagascar and New Zealand were colonized by birds who eventually became flightless giants.   The isolated line of evolution that leads to the Koree, Koroo and Rodal might well produce a Tweel.

Kline’s Martian books came out in 1933 and Weinbaum’s story followed in 1934.   So it’s unlikely that Kline was inspired by Weinbaum or vice versa.  More likely, the giant flightless birds of each man were independent inventions.

Larry Niven, in his book Rainbow Mars includes Tweel’s race, along with Wells’ invaders, Burroughs' red men, green men and kaldanes, and Lewis’ sorns, hrossa and pfifltrigii.   So, who am I to argue with the great Larry Niven?   Somewhere on Barsoom, perhaps around the lost sea of Kline’s areas, a race of strange intelligent birds endures.


1935   Paul Charles Severin - "Heureux Martien" [Happy Martians] (Livres Nouveaux). 

Paul de Kervan travels to Mars on the "Épervier" (a propeller plane!). He finds a society ruled by an avaricious Queen. Soon a revolution begins. Kervan marries a beautiful Martian girl. 

An Airplane yet again?  One wonders if Mr. Kervan knew Mr. Tercer.   This is potentially Barsoomian only for the ‘human’ Martians. 


1945   Guy Séverac - "Les Conquérants de l'Infini" [Conquerors of Infinity] (La Jeunesse). 

Young scientist Henri Nissac and girl-friend Georgina Smolen travel to Mars in a rocket. Martians are technologically advanced, peaceful, tentacled, spherical beings, with great mental powers. Returning to Earth, they crash in the desert and forget their journey. 

The description of tentacled spherical beings sounds like yet another iteration of Wells Sarmak Martians, the sixth.



1921     Théo Varlet & Octave Jonquel - "Les Titans du Ciel" [The Titans of the Sky] (1921) and "L'Agonie de la Terre" [The Agony of Earth] (1922) (MalfPre). 

A sequel to Wells' War of the Worlds. The Jovians intervene to help Earth after another Martian attack on Earth, this time using rockets filled with deadly gases. 

Earth is almost completely destroyed by the Martians. The Soviets take over. Meanwhile, the Jovians punish Mars by using focused solar energy to destroy it.  However, the Martian Overlords (who look like Le Rouge's Erloors from "Le Prisonnier de la Planete Mars") escape to Earth. 

Our planet is then revealed as the place where Martian souls reincarnate. Souls are alleged to travel inward from Mars, to the Earth, to Venus, to Mercury, to end up being one with the Sun. This explains the original invasion. 

In Volume Two, the destruction of Mars has released millions of Martian souls ready to take over human bodies. The heroes fight the body-snatching Martians, this time with the help of the Venusians. 

This is definitely not Barsoom, although it has enough affinities to make us stop and take a second look.  In some ways, this is some fevered Wells/Burroughs melange. 

The notion of souls of Martians reincarnating on Earth is obviously a clever inversion of Flammarion’s notion of Earth souls reincarnating on Mars.   Particularly significant, since ‘reincarnation’ or astral teleportation plays such a critical role in Burroughs universe.

Meanwhile, both sets of H.G. Wells’ Martians make an appearance here, including the tentacled big heads or Sarmaks, showing up for the seventh time, and the winged flyers who resemble Erloors tenth occurrence.

Sadly, this cannot take place in Burroughs Universe because there is no subsequent invasion from Mars.   Instead, Earth fights a savage world war off and on from 1914 to 1967 which causes quite enough trouble, thank you.

1931 brought a separate unrelated novel:  Pierre Lavaur - "La ConquLte de la Terre" [The Conquest of Earth] (Tallandier).    The Jupiterians are at war with Mars and kidnap Astronomer Edgar Rogotha. Colonel Mac Brody helps defeat an invasion. 

The war with Jupiter is reminiscent of both Burroughs' Skeleton Men of Jupiter in which Jupiter plots an invasion of Mars, and the Titans of the Sky, in which Jupiter interferes with a Martian invasion of Earth.

Why Jupiter?   Obviously, it’s the next planet out after Mars, duh!

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