Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 1626
A Long Time Ago From A Galaxy Far, Far Away . . . 

. . . . . Came . . .
Jeff "Elmo" Long's


Jeff Long
ERBzine is proud to present a reprint
-- retrieved from the Web archives --
Volume 1 ~ Number 6
of this much-prized collector's publication.

Jeff Long's collection of 
news items from Barsoom
first appeared on the Web in

Submissions, comments, lunatic ravings
... are still welcome.
E-mail them to Elmo



The Long March to Fluke
Timo Mantere

A Kingdom for the Thoat
Timo Mantere

Are YOU Tarzan?
David Adams

Rod Hunsicker

Elmo's note: This is parody. It is not an infringement on the Tarzan trademark, it is a commentary on its enduring appeal. It is up to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions ~ Jeff Long

By Elmo

Jane Clayton practically threw the wine glass into the sink. She was angry, all right. You could tell by the way her normally creamy-white skin was flushed and puffy. Stamping her little foot, she pouted and stuck out her tongue.

She could just scream! Or kick something. In fact, she booted a wastebasket halfway across the kitchen floor. It landed upside down, trapping little Nkima underneath. The monkey had been asleep by the stove when all the commotion began. He poked his nose out from beneath the basket, saw that Tarzan's she was in one of her moods again, and gently settled back amongst the coffee grounds to wait out the storm.

Jane clenched her fists into little balls. Oh, she was so mad! Her flush had deepened to nearly purple. A tear streamed down her usually flawless cheek.

Dejah Thoris walked in with another load from the dining hall.

"Goodness, our chieftains can certainly put away the grub," the Princess of Helium was saying. "You must give my kitchen slaves the recipe for that -- what do you call it? -- 'baked horta.' "

Jane took the plates and, stomping toward the sink, heaved them in. They crashed loudly. A huge ladel flipped up through the air and landed with a thud on the overturned wastebasket. But there was no sound from underneath -- little Nkima knew better. Besides, he'd found a half-eaten banana to munch.

"Jane, dearest!" cried Dejah Thoris, rushing to the Baltimore belle's side. "What in the name of Blaspheming Issus is the matter?"

Lady Greystoke gratefully accepted the silk hanky that the princess offered, gently dabbing at her tears. She let fly with a honk that cleared her sinuses, shaking the windows into the bargain.

"You keep it, dear," Dejah Thoris said when Jane had tried to return the crumpled hanky. "But tell me what brought all this on? You were fine but a moment ago!"

"Oh, I'm sorry," Jane sighed. "I'm ruining Christmas for everyone. And you've all come so far. I'm in a perfectly horrid state."

Tarzan's mother, Kala, hulked into the kicthen. She passed Jane without a glance, going straight for the 'fridge and yanking a live rat from the lettuce crisper. She returned to the dining hall without a word to the two women.

"My cooking is much too overdone for her boy," Jane explained to Dejah Thoris. "It stunts his growth."

Dejah Thoris nodded understandingly. Mother-in-laws could be very exacting. Although she'd never met John Carter's mother, she'd heard tell of how frustrating it could be to compete with a boy's first love -- Mommy.

Thuvia had once commented rather cryptically on the subject, Dejah Thoris recalled. But, for the life of her, the Princess of Helium couldn't imagine what Ptarthian maid meant. Dejah Thoris had no intention whatsoever of interfering with the little trollop's marriage to Carthoris.

"The dung heap in the living room isn't deep enough, or fragrant enough, for a good roll," Jane continued, sniffing. "Lord knows, I've tried to make it just right. I know both Tarzan and Kala enjoy a good roll in the dung every morning. I could just die, when they find it lacking."

The Princess of Helium couldn't think of an appropriate response, so she gently patted Lady Greystoke's shoulder, and was rewarded with another honking sob.

"I think the boys are going out for more beer," Dejah Thoris soothed. "Come back to the living room for some girl talk with the rest of us."

Jane nodded dejectedly, following the princess. She paused to look out the window and gasped.

"Oh, dear," she said, and then called out: "Mr. Philander? Could you come into the kitchen, please?"

Presently, Samuel T. Philander strolled in. He was carrying a squirming rat by the tail.

"Your mother-in-law suggested I might enjoy this as an after-dinner snack," he informed Jane. "But I really couldn't eat another bite."

He handed the rodent to Lady Greystoke, who put it back in the lettuce crisper.

"Mr. Philander, I had asked you to keep an eye on Papa," she said. "You know how impractical he is."

"Of course, my dear. He's in the den, playing billiards with some of the other guests."

Jane pointed out the kitchen window. Following her gaze, Mr. Philander saw his childhood chum in the backyard. Professor Archimedes Q. Porter, clad in tails and top hat, was riding an ostrich toward the setting African sun.

"Oh, my," Mr. Philander said, dashing out the back door.

"Has anyone seen Carson Napier?" Tarzan asked over the din of Muviro's boombox.

No one seemed to hear the question. Gangsta rap, which Tarzan couldn't stand, filled the den.

Bwana 'dis!
Bwana 'dat!
Gonna stab dat bwana cat!

After a moment, Tarzan threw back his head and let rip with the victory cry of a bull mangani. Everyone was immediately all ears. The jarring sounds from the boombox were abruptly switched off.

"Napier and Abner Perry left to get a few more cauldrons of beer more than an hour ago," Tarzan said. "They should have been back."

The other guys shrugged. Nobody had seen "Wrong Way" Napier since he'd set off for the Waziri village after dinner. It was just a short jaunt from the Greystoke Estate. Not far at all.

"He could be in Capetown, by now," suggested Ed Burroughs. "You know Carson."

Everyone knew Carson, all right. He'd once set off for Mars and wound up on Venus. With Perry as a guide, the two could be anywhere on Earth -- or under it.

Tarzan sighed, nudging John Carter.

"Wanna make a beer run with me?" the Lord of the Jungle asked, stubbing out a cigarette and downing the last of his brandy.

John Carter unbuckled his belt, and with a flourish threw his sword at Tarzan's feet.

"Where the noble Lord Greystoke leads, know that John Carter, Prince of Helium, will follow," said the Warlord of Barsoom.

Tarzan rolled his grey eyes, picking up the sword. It was the tenth time this afternoon he'd had to buckle Carter's belt back on his hips. It was cute when he'd asked the Warlord for help carving up Horta. But since then, the oaths of loyalty had become more frequent -- increasing exponentially with every shot of Southern Comfort that John Carter downed.

"You coming, Paul?" Tarzan asked D'Arnot.

The Frenchman's gaze was preoccupied with the slender form of La, whom he'd caught sight of through the doorway. She was reclining with the other women in the living room, engaged in animated conversation with Tarzan's mother.

"Another time, perhaps, Jean," D'Arnot suggested. "The heart of this Frenchman demands I direct my attentions elsewhere at the moment."

D'Arnot ran a hand through his thickly gelled hair -- all the rage in Paris these days -- and sauntered toward the living room, wiping his hand on the back of his pants. 

"Git a load offa dat slick, horny frog," commented Billy Byrne, chalking his billiard cue. "Wot a gink. Chasin' skirts like dat ain't nuthin' but a pain in da keester. Somebody oighta moidalize da bum."

"I tank it blow purty hard purty soon," added Sven Andersson, who was the only one who could understand a word Byrne ever said..

Billy nodded somberly, expertly blowing dust from the tip of his stick. He eyed all the swells in the room with suspicion, and then lined up his shot.

"Come down off that preposterous bird this instant," demanded Mr. Samuel T. Philander, who was huffing and puffing with the exertion of chasing Professor Archimedes Q. Porter. It seemed they'd traversed half the Dark Continent.

"A splendid machine," the professor was saying. "I really must get myself one of these motor cars upon our return to dear Baltimore."

He revved up the "motor car" and took off at breakneck speed through the underbrush. Mr. Philander doggedly followed, panting all the harder.

Ghek the kaldane had detached himself from his rykor and was pouring mint juleps down its gaping neck. The two were on Greystoke's front lawn. The headless rykor lolled drunkenly on a a reclining chair. Ghek was perched on a folding table. The kaldane himself had no use for liquor, or refreshment of any kind, but had recently discovered the delightful effect it had upon his brainless mount. For some reason, Ghek derived a twisted pleasure from getting the rykor roaring drunk.

Ghek and the rykor were the only ones in the front yard. The other guests had gone inside after a disasterous game of badminton, in which Korak the Killer had lived up to his name after a controversial call by Rapas the Ulsio, who'd been acting as referee. The less said about that incident the better, because it rather marred the Christmas spirit on the ranch for an hour or two.

Ghek gazed reflectively on the lengthening shadows. The day was coming to an end. He watched as Tarzan's dog, Terkoz, playfully sniffed the butt of Woola, John Carter's calot. Woola emitted a startled growl, then turned on Terkoz -- apparently ready to tear the cheeky Earth hound to ribbons.

After a bit of biting and slashing, the two mutts continued dashing about the yard, playfully. Ghek was amused. When Woola approached the table, the kaldane, on a whim, lowered himself to the calot's back. Then Terkoz and Woola were off again, Ghek enjoying the ride.

Pamba the rat suddenly dashed onto the lawn, and immediately the calot and dog were barking and growling like maniacs and chasing down the intruder with a frenzy. Ghek, startled, could only hang onto Woola's back for dear life as they plunged into the jungle.

It looked like it might be a long, wild ride.

A rascally band of cut-throat villains had rented the Waziri VFW hall for their annual meeting. It cost an arm and a leg. Literally -- the arm and leg of Comrade Paulvitch, who was upset about the deal because none of his fellows had even haggled. But the price was worth it. The accomodations were more than adequate for the group's needs.

It was a cash bar, however, and the Waziri behind it was hauling in a tidy sum, even if the tips were non-existent.

Gathered here was the evil organization known as ERBCOF (Enemies of Righteous Burroughs Characters and Other Farts). They had one goal: The violent downfall of Tarzan, John Carter and others of their ilk.

The annual meeting was starting to get off-topic. Nicholas Rokoff banged his gavel loudly before order could be restored among the assembled fiends and felons.

"No more talk of the Second Amendment!" Rokoff bellowed. "Much as we criminals love the right to bear arms, I'm sick to death of hearing about it! Write your Congressman or something if you're upset that your rights are being chipped away. But don't disrupt this forum any more!"

Phaidor raised a graceful arm, but the chairman shook his head before she even spoke.

"I'm afraid there will not be time for a 'quick romp between the sheets with Carter' before we cut off his stinking head and feed it to the fishes," Rokoff advised her. "I thought this motion was thoroughly discussed and rejected two hours ago?"

"No, it was tabled for later debate by Comrade Kerchak," Phaidor explained. "It's later now, isn't it?"

"I believe the intent was for the matter to be brought up again at next year's meeting," suggested Jubal the Ugly One, who cast a questioning glance with his good eye in Kerchak's direction.

The ape grunted affirmatively, then pounced on a grub that had crawled up the leg of the table he was sitting at.

"That's settled," said Rokoff. "Now then, to the business at hand: How do we get that bastard Greystoke?"

"And Carter!" shouted Matai Shang, with a disapproving glance at his daughter.

"Yes, yes, the Virginian, too," agreed Rokoff. "We'll get the whole bloody lot of them. I happen to know that every single one of our enemies is spending the weekend at Tarzan's ranch upriver..."

Sinister laughs broke out. Kerchak tossed the captured grub into his mouth and ground it between his teeth. The ape's belch of satisfaction echoed throughout the hall.

To be continued

By Timo Mantere

Url Web walk alone and lonely in the huge desert in Barsoom. He was naked, with only couple of belts and a sword in his waist. He has no radium pistol, because he was member of John Carter family, and the men, who carry the blood of John Carter in their veins, didn't use any radium weapons, only the sword.

He was a handsome young man and at his knowledge he was the youngest descended from John Carter and the first of the twenty-eighth generation to be descended from John Carter.

While walking, he thought of the history of his family and the famous ancestor John Carter, and the recent revolution in Helium, which forced him to escape from his born town of Helium into exile.

He was on his way into the small town of Fluke, which was almost totally isolated from the civilization of the rest of the Barsoom. Fluke was also the last town in Barsoom, into which a royal family member of large Carter family has married, only some two hundred years ago.

Url Web has heard from his family members, that because Fluke was isolated city, Carter family members were still honoured there, unlike the rest of the Barsoom.

Url Web walk in the cold thin air and remembered the stories his grandfather has told him about his great ancestor John Carter.

He has heard how John Carter arrived into Barsoon some seven hundred years ago and married the most beautiful princess of the planet, Dejah Thoris of Helium. Soon after his arrival, John Carter saved the whole planet by starting the air factory.

Url Web thought how thin the air were these days, air factories hardly could produce enough air to keep the planet alive anymore. Scientist of Helium has announced that air pressure in Barsoom have dropped fifty percent in last six hundred years, atmoshere could hardly keep any kind of greenhouse phenomenon active anymore, therefore the atmosphere in Barsoom has gotten ever more colder.

Url Web knew how cold it would be at nights, and wondered if he is going to survive over the next night in freezing temperature.

Url Web walk on and keep remembering his grandfathers stories of John Carter; how John Carter has two children, Carthoris and Tara, which both married into royal families of other Barsoomian cities.

Grandfather has told, how generation after other John Carter descendants has marry and reproduce approximately about two children. Over the centuries, John Carter family has grown and spread all over the Barsoom. New generation of John Carter family has born approximately every 25 years.

Several early generations of John Carter descendants has got royal marriage into other cities of Barsoom. They have married the most beutiful princesses and handsome princes.

But, grandfather has told, first they marry into the greatest cities on Barsoom, but after those run out, they were forced to marry into royal families of the smallest and insignificant cities of Barsoon. And then arrive the day, when all the beautiful princesses and handsome princes were married. Members of John Carter family now were forced to marry ugly princesses and repulsive princes. Yes, indeed, there did exist ugly princesses in Barsoom, even though there were people who try all they could to keep this fact secret. 

Soon the John Carter family members occupied every royal family in Barsoom, with all races, even the green. And the days follow, that there were no more unmarried princesses or princes on Barsoom, at least the ones that weren't too close relatives. John Carter descendants now were forced to marry the common folk. 

Url Web remember how the legend told that John Carter has said those days that "My god, I'm so happy, that my nephew Edgar didn't live to see this day, he would turn in his grave, if he were to know that John Carter descendants must marry ugly princesses and common folk these days."

Url Web keep on remembering the history and how the John Carter family has grown, twenty-seven generations in seven hundred years, with everyone having approximately little less than two children. Url Web remembered someone calculating that there were over hundred million John Carter descendants alive in Barsoom as recently as couple of years ago. Because of the thousand years of life expectancy and the great battling skills of those who have John Carter blood, hardly any Carter descendants were ever passed away before the recent developments.

Never before had such a family, that reproduce like rabbits, occupy the surface of Barsoom. Always before, common Barsoomian families has waited couple of hundreds years before reproducing. But John Carter children, generation after other, has reproduce in the young age of approximately twenty-five years.

Grandfather has told to Url Web, that this has finally lead into horrible overpopulation in Barsoom, and turn the non- Carter descendants against the  John Carter and his family.

Since John Carter family members occupy every royal families in Barsoom, the folk turn against their leaders. John Carter was blamed for the huge overpopulation in the dying planet and the members of John Carter family became hated.

Url Web remembered how the news arrived to Helium, how many Barsoomian cities has had revolution, and the Carter descendants occupied royal families were ousted, banished or beheaded.

Finally, the anti-Carter movement has grown too forceful in Helium, and the Jeddak Tardos Mors has no other other choice that banish John Carter out of Helium. But, it proved to be only buyed time to Tardos Mors and his son Mors Kajak, the Jed of lesser Helium. These two old rulers were seen as real Barsoomians and still had some loyalty among Heliumian folks. These two man has never reproduce like rabbits in their youth, loyal citizens remembered. 

But Carter family remain hated and and fact remains that Tardos Mors were very old man and his son Mors Kajak looked even older. Both men were ready to take their travel into river Iss, which would leave Carthoris, the son of hatred John Carter, to be the Jeddak of Helium.

Url Web remember, how the revolutionist finally turn the folk against royal family, Jeddak and Jed, with using the Carthoris threat as their main subject.

The revolution were unavoidable, it came and it was bloody. John Carter family members defended with their swords, but were unchivalrously shot with radium pistols. 

Url Web was one of the very few to survive, because he, uncharacteristically for the Carter family member, escape from the battle.

Url Web wondered, if old men Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak has survived, or where they beheaded as the revolution leaders has promised.

Ulr Web also wondered where John Carter and his beautiful princess Dejah Thoris live these days, no one knew, where they moved after John Carter was run into exile.

Url Web marching toward Fluke, wondering if the thousands other exile Carter family members has the same destination, and if there were any space for him anymore. He also wondered if the hatred against the Carter family has arrive to isolated Fluke before him, then he would come as outlaw into enemy city.

Url Web has no way of knowing any things that have happen in the outside world, so he keep on walking in the everlasting red desert in his lonely trip towards Fluke, wishing to meet some desert snakes, which would be about the only meal to satisfy his hungry stomach in this lifeless desert, with only his ever wandering thoughs as his traveling companion.

You can e-mail the author at a70752@UWasa.Fi 

A Kingdom for the Thoat
By Timo Mantere

A man run like hell in the red desert of Barsoom and fling his sword to the ground. Ahead of the man run a small desert ulsio. After a headlong run, man throw his sword toward ulsio. It missed by couple of inches. Cursing out loud, man run and catch up with ulsio. While running, man take his dagger into his hand. Finally, man dive toward ulsio, at the same moment ulsio plunge under the desert rock. Man reach the ground head first, his nose plow the desert sand and his speed finally stopped when his head bumped against the rock, under which the ulsio escaped. 

The red man was Url Web. 

What Url Web didn't know was that the ulsio he chased wasn't just any ulsio. It was ViiSas -- name given to it by other ulsios -- and it let the man intentionally reach it. ViiSas had formerly been an Earth rat in the European town Wien. It had died in fire in times of the plague hysteria among people. After death, ViiSas had awaked in the new, slightly different body. Somehow it felt the red star in the sky calling it, and soon it found itself to be in the Barsoomian ground. 

After arriving on Barsoom, ViiSas had met ulsios, Barsoomian rats. Later it marry the most beautiful female ulsio -- KauNis, the princess of desert ulsios. Later, the father of KauNis died and ViiSas became the jeddak of desert ulsios.

ViiSas was amazingly strong ulsio. It could jump tens of foots and run tens of haads in hour. It was a widely admired and respected ulsio. It had countless of childrens with countless females, since all female ulsios wanted to mate with it. And it wasn't too faithful, even though it was married to the most beautiful ulsio princess of Barsoom.

After living in Barsoom several centuries, it had millions of descendants. What it wasn't aware of was that ulsio race in Barsoom was getting seriously degenerated, because of uniformed genes. 

ViiSas had fun. It couldn't believe how stupid these Barsoomian red men were. Its biggest joy was to let poor desert wanderers chase it, while it run under one rock or the other. Over the years it had seen hundreds of men dying in hunger, while chasing it. Afterwards, it ate them. 

Right now, the mouth of ViiSas watered at sight of the red man. ViiSas take a new run under the rock. Red man run like crazy behind it. Finally, red man throw his sword toward ViiSas. It missed again by couple of inches. ViiSas laughed and dived under the other rock. Man dived toward it and bumped head-first into the rock under which ViiSas escaped. 

Under the rock, ViiSas laughingly thought: "That meal won't last too long now."

A man walk alone in the red desert, under the Barsoomian noon sun. Desert was hot. Man has walked many days, and it was visibly obvious by his weary appearance. His skin was copper red, after many days travelling naked under the hot equatorial sun. He looked almost as red as a red Martian, even though he was white-skinned man from Jasoom. He was John Carter, Warlord of Mars. 

While walking, John Carter cursed himself. "How could have I ever been so stupid...?"

He has lived in Gathol ever since the banishment from Helium. Gahan of Gathol had given him and his wife asylum. Gatholian people had not been as keen to take part to the anti-Carter movement as other Barsoomian folk. Gatholian royal family has no Carters, other than Tara -- wife of their jeddak, Gahan. Children of Tara and Gahan, seventeen daughters, had moved to the other cities.

Still, there were some problems. Gatholian people still remember John Carter's house guest, Elmo, the Jasoomian janitor, and how he had seduced their ruler's wife and commit adultery with her. Gahan had forgive, and so has his people. Most of them, at least.

Anyway, John Carter and his wife Dejah Thoris have lived peacefully in Gathol, until some weeks ago. They heard news of the revolution in Helium. Friendly messengers have told Carter that his son Carthoris, among other survivors, are trying to travel into Fluke.

John Carter decide to take his single-seated airship on a trip to the Fluke to see if his descendants have survived. Dejah Thoris had wanted to come along, but Carter had managed to convince her not to. 

John Carter cursed the hot sun and himself again. "How could have I ever been so stupid...?" Carter remembered his airship and what kind of idiot he must be to take a fly with ship carrying Carter colours in it. If anyone is stupid enough to fly around with Carter colours these days, he is asking to be shot down. And that was exactly what happened.

Carter cursed the hot desert. What he would give for a good thoat right now. Almost with that thought, Carter saw a man riding a thoat in the desert. Man saw Carter as well and directed his thoat towards him. 

Carter hoped it would be some of his descendants on the way to the Fluke. After a while, two men met. Carter didn't recognize the other man. Desert man was fooled by Carter's sunburnt skin and thought this might be some red Carter descendant on the way to the Fluke, since desert man knew, there were plenty of them travelling there these days. Red desert man take his sword into his hand, prepared to sword fight. He knew it would be major accomplishment to beat and kill Carter descendant in sword fight, and it would make him a great warrior among his people.

Desert man said: "Kaor! Who are you and what are doing in these lands?"

Carter thought about his answer for couple of seconds. Would it be wise to expose his identity, if the man really doesn't recognize him? Carter looked to his own arm and saw the sunburnt colour. He realize that the man think him as red Martian, so he answered: "Kaor! I am Dotar Sojat. I'm on my way to the Fluke. With whom am I talking?"

Desert man didn't need to weigh his answer too long. Every Barsoomian knew by now that John Carter uses pseudonym Dotar Sojat. Perceptive person would have marked that some red vanished from the desert man's face before he answered: "I am Pas Ka...are you trying to tell me that you are John Carter, the Warlord of Barsoom, on the way to the Fluke?"

John Carter cursed himself once more. He should have realized that after all these years every one must know his pseudonym. So he answered: "Yes, I am John Carter, Warlord of Barsoom"

Carter saw man push his sword back into sword-belt. Carter then asked if man might be a descendant of his. Man denied the slander. 

"No, and I don't like them Carters, either," desert man declared.

"Aren't you gonna fight with me then?" Carter asked.

"No, I don't like them Carters, but taking a sword fight with you, I would be as good as dead already, now wouldn't I?" man answered.

Carter grinned. "Well, yes, I believe so!" said the Warlord. 

Carter looked at the man's handsome thoat and wished that he could take a ride with it. So he asked the man if he would give him a ride into Fluke. 

Man answered: "No, I won't fight with you, but I help no Carters either. I will continue my trip, you do the same. Kaor!" And the man rode away with his thoat.

Carter looked after the man, and wished that the man would have fight and Carter could have gained that fine thoat after a honourable kill. On the other hand, Carter knew it was a wasted hope that anyone would take a sword fight with him. And even if this man would have fought, Carter wasn't all so sure that he could have beaten this man. It was over five hundred years since Carter had last had a sword fight. John Carter's reputation with a sword was so Barsoom-wide, that no man ever start a sword fight with him. Carter remembered his last sword fight being ages ago, when the
skeleton men of Jupiter last try to occupy Barsoom.

Ever since, no man allowed Carter to fight with him, even when Helium was in war and there were many sword fights to be had. As soon as Carter appeared into field, all the men he tried to approach with a sword escaped running as fast as they could. And Carter couldn't even run them down these days. The well-kept secret was that Carter's muscles had weakened after so long time spent in the weaker gravity of Barsoom. John Carter actually wasn't stronger than any common Barsoomian red man anymore.

But Carter would still have liked to fight with this man. That way he could have had that fine thoat. Carter continued his trip, cursing out loud: "Why the hell no one wants lose their heads anymore?"

Url Web walked alone toward Fluke. He looked like crazy, since he smiled from ear to ear and sing, even though everyone could see this man was totally wearied down by a long trip in the desert. But Url Web was happy.

Url Web thought: "So, I caught that damn ulsio and I ate it. It was the greatest meal I ever had. I wonder why we don't eat those ulsios in Helium? I will open a ulsio restaurant there, if I ever return. It will be a big hit, a real gourmet restaurant. No one ever realized before how good these ulsios taste. Damn, I will open that restaurant somewhere, yap, that is what I am going to do."

He sang:

Ei miesta yhta mahtavaa
ei metsastajaa samanlaista
hanta pelkaa kaikki elukat
jo surma oottaa ulsiolaista

mies kaikki ulsiot kiinni saa
ja jo ennen kuin loppuu tyo
ei pakoon paase yksikaan
han kaikki ulsiot suihin syo

nyt herkkua poyta taynna
voi milta ulsio maistuu
eihan parempaa olla voi
siina kostuu miehen suu

What Url Web sang was an old Barsoomian hunting song. Url Web had changed the words a bit. The song was old, really old. Url Web sang it in suomen, an ancient Barsoomian language that had died a long time ago. No one speak it anymore. Url Web had studied the language in the University of Helium. It was a sort of Barsoomian Latin.

What he sang cannot be correctly translated, but it went something like this:

No man as mighty
No hunter as great
Every animal fears him
Death waits for ulsio kind

Man will catch all the ulsios
And already before the job is done
Not a single one will get away
All the ulsios he eats into his mouth

Delicious food now fills the table
Oh, how good the ulsios taste
Nothing can taste better
It makes man's mouth water

Url Web walked, singing, until he saw a man riding a thoat in the desert. Might that be another Carter descendant? he wondered. Man saw him, too. Soon the two men met. Desert man stopped his thoat and asked: "Kaor! Who are you?"

Url Web answered, "Kaor," and asked: " Are you a Carter descendant?"

Desert man answered: "Name is Pas Ka...and no Carter descendant. And you?"

Url Web thought that it might not be too wise to admit being Carter descendant, but still answered: "Yes, I am Carter descendant, and very proud of that!"

Pas Ka grinned at his luck; he had just met John Carter himself. That was too risky an opponent, but now there was poor, desert-weakened Carter descendant to be-head. A perfect victim for a quick kill. That kill would make Pas Ka very admired and respected man among his people. So desert man take his sword into his hand and said: "You won't be proud of that too long after I cut your head off!" Man step down from his thoat, thinking it might be easier to kill this poor bastard from the saddle, but man might harm his valuable thoat. 

Url Web saw the handsome thoat and thought that the sword fight is unavoidable. "Maybe that is the best," he thought. "I can't survive alone by foot in this desert much longer. And if I win this fight, at least I have a shot at survival atop that fine thoat."

Desert man approach threateningly and frightful sword fight begin. Url Web might have looked like burnout man before, but he sure knew how to fight. Two men swing their swords and try to slash the other. This epic battle took several minutes, men sweated both sweat and blood. They insulted each other with unquotable phrases. Finally desert man lost his sight for a second, when running blood covered his eyesight. That was enough for Url Web. With one mighty sword stroke to the neck he beheaded the desert man.

Url Web had a hard time believing that he had won that battle and was now the proud owner of that handsome thoat. Url Web looked at the thoat, that carry no bags. The desert man had no food with him.

Url Web looked at the headless body of the man when he cleaned his sword, and said out loud: "Why the hell they all want to lose their heads?"

Url Web rise to the saddle. Thoat stand silently two seconds, then it jump to its four hind legs. Url Web fly out from the saddle and onto face in the red sand of Barsoom.

Small desert ulsio came out from under the desert rock. He had watched the fight from his hidden place. It was ViiSas. ViiSas had followed the red man couple of days, filled with fury and hatred, because his lover IhaNa, a very beautiful young ulsio maid, had been caught and eaten by this red man, just after their beautiful love making. 

ViiSas was disappointed to see this hated man had won the fight, but then again ViiSas hoped to kill this man himself. It had sworn to see this man dead. At least there was now plenty of food, it thought, as it watched the headless body of the other man. 

ViiSas looked the hated man lying in the ground, where he landed after thoat throw him down. Man was motionless. ViiSas wondered if it might be safe to bite this man already. ViiSas decide it will make a test. ViiSas run beside the man and bit the man's naked toe.

John Carter had walked a couple of days more. He was even more frustrated. He talk with himself: "That was a good thoat with that man, why didn't I kill him, when he had a sword out? That would have been a honourable kill. I should not have let him back out, damn it!"

Again Carter saw a man riding a thoat in the desert. Is it the same man? he wondered. 

After a while two men met. Carter saw that the man was not the same, so he yelled, "Kaor! Who are you?"

Man answered: "Kaor! Name is Pil Lu, and you?"

Carter decided to tell his real name this time and asked if the man is his descendant. 

"No, and I don't like them Carters either!" Pil Lu answered.

Carter was unhappy about this answer, but there were still hope. Carter looked tightly into the mans hands, but man didn't put his hand into his sword. Carter hoped that man would even accidentally touch his sword, so he could have a sword fight with this man.

"So, you are John Carter, the Warlord of Barsoom?" Pil Lu asked, hoping to calm him with friendly conversation. "So what are you doing in the lands of Vittu?"

Carter looked over the handsome thoat and answered, "Yes I am. I am on my way to the Fluke. Might it be possible that you would give me a ride to Fluke?" 

Pil Lu answered: "No, I help no Carters"

Carter's eyes were now even more tightly directed into man's hands. Carter hoped that man would even accidentally touch his sword. Carter would kill him into his spot then, and he could always think of it as an honourable kill, since man touch the sword first. But not to be, Carter was to be disappointed once more. Man has no intention to touch his sword. 

So after a while, Carter said to man, what a handsome thoat he had. Pil Lu saw that Carter was badly in need of a thoat, signs of a long desert trip
were visibly obvious. So man answered: "Yes, isn't it? Would you like to buy it?"

Carter knew he had no money with him, but new hope arose. Maybe he could negotiate a deal with the man. So Carter asked what the man would want for a thoat.

Man answered, "A kingdom for the thoat, how would that sound to you..?"

Carter thought that the man is joking with him of course. He hoped even harder that man would touch his sword. Carter try read man's mind to find even the slightest reason to kill him. 

Pil Lu continued, "But I suppose you don't have much in the way of kingdoms these days, warlord, now do you?"

That's it, Carter thought -- man was obviously needling to me, now isn't that reason enough to honourably kill him? I should kill him, I could always think of it as an honourable kill, because he start the slander. 

But Carter was honourable man, a Virginian gentleman, he was still not ready to kill this man, not without a fight challenge. If the man could only touch his sword! So, Carter answered: "No, not too many kingdoms these days. But I think you are joking with me. Is that a fight challenge? I am ready to have a sword fight with you!"

Carter was to be disappointed when man answered: "No, to sword fight with you, I would be as good as dead, now wouldn't I?"

Man think for few moments, gazing at fine beast. "It is a shame that you don't have kingdoms these days," he say to Carter. "This fine thoat could have been yours. You go your way, I go mine. Kaor!" And the man rode away with his fine thoat.

Carter looked after the man, cursing."I should have killed him right away, when he joked with me...Why the hell must I be so right-minded? That would have been reason enough to make it an honourable kill...That was a fine thoat, damn it! Why the hell didn't he fight with me?"

So he had no other choice than continue his lone walk towards Fluke, cursing out loud. "Why the hell no-one wants to lose their heads anymore?"

A lone man rode a thoat in the desert, man looked like crazy. He was singing and smiling from ear to ear, even though he looked like hell. He was Url Web, who was thrilled to finally ride this thoat. After it had throw him head first into the ground seven times, his face was all swollen and scarred. And when he kick his thoat to get more speed, he scream for pain. For some reason, his toes were in really bad shape and hurting. He didn't know why. But still, he was singing from joy.

ei ratsastajaa samanlaista
ei miesta yhta uljasta
sita joka thoatti kunnioittaa
ei hampaitaan paljasta

mies thoattia kun ohjastaa
thoatti miehen kauas vie
ihanaa thoatin matkavauhtia
aina sinne mihin matka lie

ja jos thoatti ei oo kunnolla
mies sita miekalla lyo
ja jos se viela vikuroi
mies sen suihin syo

Again, Url Web sang another old Barsoomian traveling song, using the dead suomen language. Again, no one can translate it correctly. But it went something like this:

No rider as great
No man as brave
Every thoat respects him
Doesn't show its teeth

When the man steers his thoat
Thoat takes the man far away
That fabulous thoat speed of travel
Wherever the destination may lay

And if the thoat doesn't behave
Man will hit it with his sword
And if it still doesn't obey
Man will eat it into his mouth

Soon Url Web saw a red man riding a thoat in the desert. Would this be another Carter descendant? Man saw Url Web, and soon the two men met.

Url Web said: "Kaor! Who might you be?"

Red man answered: "Kaor! Name is Pil Lu, and you?"

Url Web answered his name and ask if the man is Carter descendant. Man answered no and ask the same question from Url, and as Url admitted the fact, man laughed and said: "You won't be too long, you see, I don't like them Carters and I cut their heads off!"

Man took his sword out.

Url Web asked, "So, how many Carter heads you have collected?"

Pil Lu answered, "I have lost count. But just recently I met John Carter himself, and if he wouldn't had escaped by running so fast, thanks to his Jasoomian muscles, his head would be in my collection now too!"

Pil Lu was actually bragging coward, who had recognised Carter, when met him. That's why he didn't brag too much to John Carter. But this here poor bastard Carter descendant was another matter.

"Nah, you haven't met John Carter!" Url Web answered. 

Man said, "And how are you supposed to know I didn't?"

Url Web answered, "Well, you still have your head above your neck, haven't you? So obviously you haven't met John Carter!"

Pil Lu simply said, "Well, your head won't be above your neck much longer!" He rode his thoat with his sword pointed ahead, like in medieval tournament. Url Web start a low ride towards the man also. This fight, unlike the earlier one, wasn't too long. When Pil Lu reach Url Web, Url parry, and with one well-directed lash he decapitated the man.

Url Web looked at the headless body of a man in the sand and said out loud: "Why the hell, they all want to lose their heads?"

Url Web wondered if he should eat the other thoat now that he had two of them, and not much to eat. This rider also has no food with him, which suggested that there must be city nearby, from where these riders came from. While considering this, Url Web saw footprints in the sand. Obviously a red man, he thought, too small of a prints to be green Martian.

Url Web decided to follow these footprints, since it might be another Carter descendant on the way to the Fluke. Url Web was lost and by now he didn't know where the Fluke may lie, so he might as well follow these footprints. And so Url Web continued his trip towards Fluke.

Small desert ulsio sat on the desert rock, looking behind the red man and two thoats. It was ViiSas. ViiSas was disappointed to see this hated meal escape. With two thoats, this food will surely get away. ViiSas was also sad and furious, because the death of his lover IhaNa, a very beautiful young ulsio maid, was still left unpunished. Then he looked at the headless body, which the object of his hate left behind. There was plenty of delicious food again.

ViiSas take one last look after the red man before starting to eat. It swore that it will follow the man's path and saw that he will die somehow.


Copyright 1997 by Timo Mantere 
You can e-mail the author at a70752@UWasa.Fi

Editor's note: This is a commentary in story form about Edgar Rice Burrough Inc.'s policy regarding fan fiction that uses the trademark "Tarzan." Call it satire. Call it parody. But don't call it illegal. 'Cause it ain't. Jeff Long.

By David Adams

One afternoon in early October as Lord Greystoke was trying for at least the tenth time to get past the first page of Finnegan’s Wake, a helicopter appeared over the leafy branches of the forest that surrounded his African estate. The Lord of the Jungle quietly placed his half-eaten banana on the table and walked out to the noisy machine that was whipping up great clouds of dust from the ground.

The door of the helicopter opened and out stepped three men dressed in black each of whom carried a black briefcase. 

“Are you Lord Greystoke?” asked one of the dark strangers.

“That depends on who is asking,” replied the Lord.

“Don’t get funny with us, Lord,” said a beefy-looking thug, “we’re from ERB, Inc.”

“So?” replied the Lord with a slight smile.

“We’ve heard that you are using the name, ‘Tarzan’ now and then; is that correct?” said the third man, trying to look threatening as he could behind sunglasses that hid his squinty eyes.

“I AM Tarzan,” replied Lord Greystoke.

“Well, boys, that’s it,” said the first man. “Come along with us. You’re in big trouble now.”

Lord Greystoke lifted the two of the three men dressed in black, one in either hand, and tossed them like bags of horse feathers into the helicopter.

“Hey, you can’t do that,” the remaining man said with a discenable quiver to his voice.

The ape-man did not reply, but tossed the third faceless mug into the helicopter and slammed the door.

“We’ll be back,” the strangers shouted in chorus as they left the ground.

Tarzan walked back to the veranda and began sharpening the blade of his father’s hunting knife.


Rod Hunsicker

The Thark stepped over her and slipped his sword into the man rushing to her defense. It was easy for the giant green man to thrust out his longsword in time for the impulsive red man to impale himself on it. The Thark roared as he pinned the red man to the ground and stepped on his face. Then, thinking better of it, he took his immense foot off the red man's face so he could hear the dying man's moans of pain.

There were two more Tharks. The red girl scrambled along the mossy ground in a desperate search for some kind of weapon. Like most natives of Barsoom, she was naked except for ornamentation. One of the green giants caught her and hoisted her in the air like a baby. He seized her throat and pulled her pretty face up to his own. Rubbing his tusks on her cheek first, he snaked out his tongue and licked her lips. Laughing at her horrified reaction, he dropped her to the ground.

She rolled to her feet. No weapon was in sight. The two men who had been her companions were past helping her. All three Tharks were laughing at her now. She felt small and helpless before their monstrous bodies.

"Surrender, red woman," the smallest Thark hissed. "Both your men are dead. Live a little longer so the rest of our tribe can enjoy your dying." 

This was no idle threat. She was well aquatinted with Thark torture and their delight in slowly killing a captive piece by piece. It took all her courage to lift her oval face and spit at the Thark's face.

Her spittle never reached the young green man, but her message was clear. His unthinking reaction was a slap that lifted her off the ground and dropped her several feet away. Stunned, she tried to get up again.

A man stepped over a nearby hill and stood against the afternoon sun. He was not seen by the Tharks until he had lingered too long. The biggest one turned and pointed at him. The other two shouldered their rifles. The man remained frozen, as if deciding what to do. He was dressed in brown robes and was hooded. This was unusual for any Barsoomian. Nakedness was the custom among most of the intelligent races. Especially those who lived in hot climates. A plain harness was worn outside his robes. It was studded with buttons and lines that looked like electronic circuitry. On his right side was holstered a pistol and a longsword hung on his left. Only his legs and his hands were in sight and they were an odd bronze color.

Apparently he made his decision, because he walked down the hill toward the green men. Some martial instinct prompted one of the Tharks to take aim at him. The robed man danced his fingers over the studs on his harness and kept advancing. The Thark opened fire. The radium slug shot toward its target, then seemed to lose interest and simply drop to the ground in front of him. The other two Tharks tried to shoot the robed man with no more success.

Thirty feet away from the Tharks he paused. The red woman stumbled toward him. Hope cleared the shock from her battered mind. She lifted her hand in a request for help. The man inclined his cowled head toward her and accepted.

"Stand away from the woman and go in peace," he said.

At first, intimidated by the human's ability to disregard their riflefire, the Tharks were silent. Then they bristled at words of peace. These where the words of a coward. All three advanced on the human with swords ready. Eager to impress the others, the youngest one ran ahead to engage the human first.

It was a short fight. The young one died in the first pass. Again the robed man asked the Tharks to leave in peace.

"You are a strange coward," said the largest Thark. "I think you have tricks in your robes and no courage in your heart. Fight me naked with steel in your hand."

"Words of courage from a monster who fired upon me with a rifle. Your words mean nothing to me, green man. Your life will not mean anything to anyone if you don't retreat and depart."

The green man laughed and attacked and died.

The last Thark was more intelligent than the others. Few red men ever moved with the speed and power of this stranger. He rested his sword on his shoulder and stood with his weight leaning on one leg. "Who are you?" he asked casually.

"That doesn't concern you," the robed man said in a flat voice. "The ways of your people are violence and vandalism. If you are wise, you will rise above that now and live a little bit longer."

The Thark gave this some thought and agreed. "I am Gator Nel. Some day you will know that name again. And the knowledge will bring you pain and sorrow," he pledged. Then he gathered his possessions slowly for he was full of pride. He left a few minutes later.

The robed man stood quietly and watched the 15-foot green man walk away. When there was no more danger, he turned to the red woman. She was staring at him intently as if she were trying to see the face inside his cowl.

"Who are you?" she asked. Now that she was alone she was uncertain of her status with this stranger. The Tharks were a race of men not given to sexual interest as a whole, although there were a few deviates among them. It was true that no honorable red man should ever think of harming a woman and certainly never think of killing one. But this man was unknown to her. Not even his race.

To him, she was a lovely sight. Most red women were attractive and this one was not different. She stood with her legs together demurely and her hands clasped in front of her chest. Her breasts were small, as befitting a race whose children do not nurse. They were well shaped, however, indicating their importance in sexually attracting prospective mates. She was slender, with just a touch of plumpness to her buttocks and thighs. Her legs tapered down to delicate ankles. She lifted her chin proudly as she realized he was appraising her. Despite the bruise on her face, she was blessed with a refined beauty and deep brown eyes full of intelligence.

"My name is Fray," he said politely, with a little bow. "Are you injured badly?"

She had forgotten her injuries. A quick self-examination revealed them to be painful, but minor bruises. "No, I'll be all right."

"Good," he said tonelessly. He spied her fallen aircraft and walked over to it. It had been badly damaged by Thark riflefire and was beyond repair. The two red men who had been with her were dead. She stood beside him and stared blankly at the aircar.

"Looks like a long walk. You can't fix it, can you?" she asked.

"Not with the tools at hand. Frankly, your vehicle is ruined. One of those Tharks was a superior marksman. He hit the right places."

Fray examined the fallen red men again.

"Brave young men," the girl commented. "I'm so sorry we took this ride."

"Most young red men are brave," said Fray. "Foolishly, hopelessly, brave." There was a touch of sorrow in his flat voice.

"What do we do now?" she asked of him.. He was a man who had agreed to help her. She looked at him sharply. "Please forgive me. My manners are horrid. I am Gena Thal, daughter of Ceren Thal. My father has an encampment about 20 haads away. Not a far walk."

"Ceren Thal," he mused. "Is he the famed astronomer and mathematician?"

"Why, yes he is," she said. "Do you know him?"

Fray shook his head. "I have heard of his work. Read some of his papers. What is a scholar of his magnitude doing out in the wilderness?"

"He needs to observe some stellar phenomena from a viewpoint most favorable," she explained. "A comet is coming soon, and he wants to see it with his own eyes. He says he has seen enough through his instruments." Now that she was on familiar ground now, she felt more sure of herself. She smiled and rearranged her ornaments to where they had been before the fight.

"This is dangerous country. Too far from a major city or settlement. Are you a scientist as well?" he asked.

"I'm surprised you asked. Not many men think a woman could be scientist material. As a matter of fact, I am. My specialty is the science of biology."

Fray stood in silence for a long moment. "Come, we have to get you to your father's camp."

Gena Thal wondered if she would be any safer with her father than this man. And she had not yet seen his face.

Fray helped her gather what belongings she wanted to bring and they started toward Ceren Thal's camp. It was a warm afternoon. After the beating she had taken, Gena began to stumble after the first haad. She sat on the mossy ground and rubbed her right ankle.

"It's hurt worse than I thought," she said.

Fray looked at the sun.

"We only have a few hours of daylight left," he said. "Would you like to rest, and then proceed in the morning?"

"Am I safe here?" she asked softly.

"What do you mean? I don't think the Tharks will return quickly. The survivor recognized that he was outgunned. This is a broad barren place with few natural predators. There is always a chance of white apes appearing, but I think I can handle that."

"Then I am safe?" she said, looking meaningfully into his cowl. She'd put the question as bluntly and directly as Barsoomian custom allowed of a proper red woman.

He stepped back when he realized what she meant.

"I have offered my services to you," he said simply.

"I'm sorry," she said. "Please forgive me. It's hard to trust a man who hides his face. I know you must have reasons for hiding yourself. I am grateful for the help you have given me."

Fray set up a temporary camp. Using some of the things they had brought from the battle site, he managed to do a decent job. And he had his own gear, which he carried in a bag fitted to his harness. He shared his food with her. It was short rations, but it helped with her hunger. This night both moons were in the sky. It was easy to see each other as they lay down to rest.

Fray watched her as she turned away from him to sleep. Most red men were honorable when it came to women. It was expected of them. Much of the red man's idea of love was based on romance and the heroic concept of lofty, idyllic pledges. But Fray was not a red man. His blood raced at the sight of the beautiful, naked girl lying only a few steps away from him. The nights were cold on Barsoom, and the girl began to shiver. He stood up and took off his robe. Quietly, he stalked over to the sleeping girl and covered her with it. He returned to his spot and curled up to sleep.

In the morning, the girl was surprised to find Fray's robes on her. She was half frightened to search for him. Maybe he was so ugly that he had to hide behind these robes. She admonished herself for this ungrateful fear. Whatever he looked like he was her savior.

Fray was not ugly. He was different. His skin was a light bronze color. He was well formed with planar muscularity. The strangest thing about him was his head. His hair was blood red and his eyes icy blue. No man like him should exist on Barsoom.

"You are not of Barsoom?" she asked tentatively.

He held out his hand for his robe and put it on quickly. "I am a man who has offered you protection."

"Are you from Jasoom?" she asked.

Fray laughed. "You are the daughter of an astronomer. Surely you have looked at the surface of other worlds through his instruments. I could be from Jasoom, but I'm not. Men live on worlds all over the universe. If I am not from Barsoom, as you have asked, then I could be from any of these worlds. Men are very alike on these worlds. It is on Barsoom that so many differences in the human being can be found."

"What do you mean?"

He drew back his cowl to answer her. "In order to adapt to the harsh environmental needs enforced by a dying planet, your people had chosen to reform themselves instead of terraforming the planet. An interesting solution. Your ancient civilization was very advanced. But the people were self-centered. They were happy and carefree. They excelled in the arts and music and all expressions of the human spirit. Everything they did centered on their personal experiences. When the world began to die, they never thought to heal it. Instead, they hid from the fact until it was inevitable. Then they chose to change themselves rather than their world."

"Not true, we have the atmosphere plant, and are constantly struggling to maintain our water levels," Gena protested.

"Yes, that came later," Fray said. "Let's get going. We can have you in your father's camp in a few hours."

Neither made any comment as they prepared to leave. The Barsoomian climate was comfortable that day as they made their way across the land. Gena watched for any of the many dangers that might threaten them, but they seemed lucky. No monstrous predators, or hordes of green men, or savage white apes stood in their path. It was not long before the young woman grew curious again and began to ask questions.

"What makes you think you know all about my people or about my world?" she asked suddenly. "Have you lived our lives, suffered our pain, or faced our dangers?" She was prompted to defend her people against this alien. A man from nowhere.

"I don't know all about your people. I have many facts concerning them though. These facts are not unknown to yourselves. Its how you accept them that identifies who you are," he replied. He was intent on getting the girl to her father. It was a long walk. Time enough to say what must be said.

"Is what we are something you admire or respect?" she asked. She stopped walking and lifted up her pretty face.

"I'm honored that you request my opinion," he replied. "My studies have concluded that the red people of Barsoom are one of the most virtuous human races in the universe. Most of your people are clean, moral and strong. You can live for a thousand years, yet as a race have remained the same for half a million.. No change in so long. Perhaps you have gained perfection. The creation of the red race from the blending of all the others may have produced the ultimate Barsoomian."

He paused thoughtfully. "Come with me. I know a small detour we can make that might be interesting to you. Will you come?"

Gena was not anxious to go home. Fray was the most interesting man she had met in a long time. Blessed with a greater than average intellect, Gena found it to be a curse in most of her relations with men. She had just begun serious work in the biological fields when her father had insisted on her coming with him to see the comet. It was obvious that he wanted to speak with her about something serious, and wanted to do it in a place where the two of them were isolated. Going out on a sightseeing trip with two young men had postponed that discussion, but she feared that he would resume it upon her arrival in camp. He thought her too dedicated to her scientific work and should be more the carefree noblewoman usually found at her social station. Another delay in that discussion was welcomed.

"I trust you, Fray. And I like to see interesting things," she said.

Laughing, he pointed the way. They moved in a southerly direction for a few hours until Gena saw a small, domed building in the distance. As they got closer she recognized it as a green man hatchery. Fortunately none of the giants were around.

"We must be very careful, Fray. The green men will slaughter us if they find us here."

"Of course. This is their future, " Fray agreed. "But there are no adults around today. Come, let us get closer and look at the eggs."

As they walked closer to the hatchery, Gena raised on her tiptoes, naturally wanting to be quiet in such a dangerous place. Fray seemed unconcerned. He led her up to a window and pointed to the eggs lying inside. Most of the eggs were the same size. They were large enough to house a four-foot Thark child. When these children broke loose of their shell they would be completely mature except for their size. Education would proceed rapidly through some "parent" selected from any mature Thark in the tribe considered suitable for parenthood. All these things Gena knew.

"This is a rare find. You knew this hatchery was here?" Gena said softly. Suddenly she was suspicious of this red-haired stranger. Perhaps he consorted with Tharks. How else could he know where their most guarded secret was hidden?

"Yes, I found it about a year ago. It is the hatchery of a very small tribe of Tharks who roam the area in a circular pattern around this place. You can see that the number of eggs is small. These eggs are ready to deliver soon. At that time it would be dangerous to be here."

"Why show this to me?"

"Before the catastrophe that began the killing of Barsoom, people bore their children like humans everywhere else do. Their children were born live from their mother's womb. The Green men are not humans, though they share great similarities to us. The ancient men thought that to survive in an increasingly hostile world they must become like the green men. Let their children spring whole from an egg. Children can be produced in numbers needed with greater efficiency. Childcare was reduced drastically, freeing parents to devote their time to other endeavors. The red race has survived. Indeed it has prospered. Grown mighty in this dying world. A marvelous achievement.

"I just wanted you to know the downside. Proper maturation in humans is initiated in a slow process from baby to adult. The first five years a red child spends in his egg are respectively spent in the loving and instructive arms of his parents for normal humans. Human beings are so alike in many ways that their only differences can be traced to the formative care they experience in those first few years. It is true that a red child gets a jump on a normal human child, but he pays a price in the end. Racial stagnation. The red race has remained the same for half a million years. No change. No advancement. No racial evolution."

They were quiet for a while.

"Why tell me?" Gena asked.

"You are intelligent. You are interested in biological fields of science. You might be interested in what I have to say."

"Who are you? Why should what you say interest me? I have heard the thoughts and words of the most intelligent men in Helium," she said proudly.

"Who I am isn't important. What I say may be important to you. That's up to you. Just think about it. I'm not asking for more than that. You are a biological scientist. The human Barsoomian doesn't need to carry his eggs around in the manner of the green men anymore. The red man is no longer forced to march endlessly to find safety or food. You are strong now. Firmly entrenched again. Why remain like green men, who only live to fight?

"On the downside, normal human maturation will develop greater individualization among your people. Not everyone will share the same red man principles over time. Your wonderful sense of honor and integrity that exists in most of your people may be damaged. It is a matter of choice. Gena Thal, you have the intelligence to entertain these matters of choice."

Gena was silent for a long time. The little green men in those eggs would hatch and become exactly like their parents: Roving fighting machines, without concern for others or true personal relationships. If the red man had copied the green man, were the results a breed of one-dimensional human?

"Was it by chance that we met?"

"I had intercepted your communications with your father's encampment. Later, I learned of your misfortune. I would have tried to speak to you in some other fashion if fortune had not provided a way. I just wanted to tell you my ideas. My grandfather has told me that ideas are mightier than swords."

Gena pressed her palms against the wall of the hatchery. She was confused and troubled by what Fray had told her. It was too much to deal with now.

"Let's get going. We can still reach your father's camp by nightfall," Fray said. They resumed their journey.

Just over the hill was her father's camp. One of Barsoom's moons was rising in the darkening sky. Gena knew that Fray would not be going in with her.

"I will think about what you have said. And why you have said it to me. Will I ever see you again?" she asked. It was odd that she had felt so safe with this stranger, a man who was not even of her own race. It was a good feeling.

"I think so," Fray said. His voice was slightly thickened with emotion. "If we are friends, I certainly hope so."

Gena looked at his with soft dark eyes. "We are friends, Fray. Until we meet again."

Fray smiled and nodded. He watched her go down the small hill to her father's camp. Her naked buttocks shifted lithely and seductively. He had been moved by the red girl -- even though he knew that it was a characteristic of red women to inspire men to an emotional state of protectiveness with just a glance.

Fray was of the Old Race who lived on this world. His kind had left Barsoom over a million years ago to find a more exciting environment to live in. Now they had returned. Or, at least he had. A new race of men ruled Barsoom. Not his. Where they would go in an evolutionary sense, or even if they should, would be their own choice.

His job was to point out the choices.

He was glad another step had been taken.

Copyright 1997, Rod Hunsicker
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