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Volume 3349
 Interesting Survivability Rates
by Cristian Sildan

Some days ago, Rick Johnson wrote to me the following text:

Cristian, I was writing a Pellucidar story where the woman sarcastically asks the hero/husband “why do we always appear in the jungle? Why can’t we ever appear in a nice hotel with a good bar?”

I did some really rough math and came up with this: IF 100 people were to randomly appear on the Earth…
29% of the Earths surface is land so 71 visitors will appear over the ocean and drown!
10% of the land is Artic (3% total) so 3 will freeze to death
30% of the land is desert or semi-arid 10% total) so 8 will die of thirst
40% of the land is wilderness (forest, swamp, mountains @ 13% total) so 1 will survive but be lost.
20% of the land is farmland (7% total) and so the rest have a good chance of survival.
2% of the land is inhabited (town, village, city @ 1/2% total) and will live.. unless mugged or arrested.
Therefore of our 100 visitors, 82 die immediately or very quickly from drowning, freezing, thirst.
17 live. BUT, less than 15 will appear someplace where they have a chance of surviving.
And only 3 will arrive in a city or town someplace chosen at random around the world!
Is it any wonder John Carter, David Innes and Carson Napier arrived in the wild?
So, I’ll let you do the demographics of the survival rates of a visitor to Barsoom, Pellucidar,
 Amtor, etc. since you are so much better at this than am I.
Mainly because a) we only have Abner Perry’s belief that 75% of Pellucidar is land and he is so often wrong.
I am guessing that 1% of Barsoom is water or arctic.
I am guessing that 30% is dead sea bottom.
I am guessing that 5% or less is forest or swamp.
I am guessing that 1% is city or waterway.
Which leaves the rest desert!
But then, I never actually graphed the planet so am GUESSING! Based on my own maps I did.
Have fun and I hope to see what you will do with this idea.
Thanks and looking forward to your thoughts.
 --  Rick Johnson

The bugger has a way to choose his challenges, and this one is the kind I can't resist, and he surely knows it, I bet!
Well, upon being challenged I almost immediately started to think about the problem, and I came up with some ideas. But in order not to repeat ideas already formulated, I decided to reproduce here some texts I wrote on the occasion of my other essays, and which texts treat about the same matter or can be useful for its treatment.

So in my Barsoomian demography essay I said:

First, let's analize the feeding capability of the planet. Considering the map, the total length of the canals is around 100,000 km (66,000 miles or so). Their width is around 25 km (16-17 miles): that’s what Lowell says, and besides if it takes five hours to cross one at caravan pace (PM) that should be the distance. Now, this should make the total irrigated surface of Mars, if we add some more to it for the cities, be around 3,000,000 sq km or about 1,400,000 sq mi. We must add to this some cultivated  areas in the Toonolian and Kaolian marshes, around Korus, in the hothouse cities of the North and also the pasturelands of Gathol, Amhor - which seem to be quite consistent, hundreds of thousands of sqkm of semiarid but still, usable pastures - and the several areas that don't seem to need irrigation, like Invak and others. How many people would all this nourish? Well, after all this little calculus, it appears that the situation is far from being that desperate. The fertile areas cover maybe as much as 4 million sqkm -- size of Western Europe -- and the semiarid ones, another 1 or 2 million. Besides, it's almost never a total desert, the moss and other plants, some of them very nourishing, being almost everywhere.

The global image is much more like a mossy Australia than like Sahara. In fact it is said (PM) that the Greens are 5 million – it's a pity ERB didn't give other data, but it's also true he gave us work to do by not being precise -- which would make their density, considering the area of the planet, be 0.03-0.04 inhabitants/sqkm (0.01-0.02/sq mi), quite comparable with that of the Inuit or the Australian aborigines before the modern age.

Here's what I deem relevant to our problem from the Pellucidar essay:

What about the water cycle? Well, it seems there’s no much rain upon/in Pellucidar – in the books we witness only two in fact, during Tarzan's foray into Zoram and after David escapes the tribe of crazy people, if I remember well. In fact we clearly notice the scarcity of storms upon land and their relative frequency upon sea (there’s at least one almost each time a character takes the sea) – but what can be the cause of this difference? I'd risk the hypothesis that giving the eternal day and uniform climate and temperatures, the water cycle in Pellucidar is very local in the sense that what evaporates, precipitates fairy rapidly back on the soil. The land doesn't hold much moisture so, what evaporates must mostly come back as dew, rapidly sucked by the ground and the plants and therefore mostly invisible at a casual glance. But upon the sea, the matter is different, there’s plenty of water and the strong rhythm of evaporation under the eternal day must lead to a lot of accumulation of clouds and with them energy, electricity, you name them.

Could there be any significant variation of the climatic condition in Pellucidar? Yes there is variation, the vegetation is different - there are forests, savannas, swamps etc. there has to be variation, but less so because of the climate or the water cycle as we saw they are very uniform, as the differences are more likely to be in function of the position of the chains of mountains and the water expanses towards each other, and also probably the degree of remoteness from the sea and the position of the region in respect to the humid atmospheric currents that may exist. Another cause of the difference of vegetation could be the composition of the soils, as it is known that plants don't thrive uniformly on any soil.

Deserts could be possible – though unlikely since some amount of moisture must be present and therefore recycle locally in any region. So the dry areas must be more like savannas, or like "green deserts" as is Australia.

What influence do the Polar openings have upon the climate? ERB says the winds of the inner world are  influenced by the exterior polar summer and winter, but since the polar openings don't seem to be very large, their influence must be rather small at the scale of the whole world, I don't think they beat the heat of  the eternal sun at any moment, except in their own vicinity.

Would such a small birthrate be sustainable, with all these man-eating monsters loitering around, and all these charming human relations the guys there seem to have the secret? Well, let's review a bit the approximative reasons for mortality, and the violence: intra-tribal violence: normally it should be low, small groups can't afford strong inner tensions due to conflicts between their members; as a rule, all observable tribes in our world punish severely such tensions, as a matter of fact they punish severely even things we regard lightly; the tribes down below should be no exception inter-tribal violence: this too should be rare, for the tribes appear to be very scattered, with hundreds of miles of empty terrain between them; as a matter of fact, the stealing of girls seems to be the only source of armed conflict in 90% of the cases, throughout the books; also, we notice that even in case of total victory, the victor seldom exterminates the vanquished, as we see with the two rival tribes on the floating islands the Mahars seem to activate only in the Eastern parts of the Peninsula most captives appear  to be made slaves rather than killed/eaten the beasts: that's another story; but, let's analyze the odds one primordial human denizen has to be masticated by some Megafauna club member. It appears the tribes don't move a lot around, unlike the ones that once roamed the surface of our orb. As you might know, our own ancestors were moving a lot in search for food, since they were following the pattern of seasonal change, and the resulting migration of the animals they were consuming. These displacements were implying a constant modification of their routines, and were very likely to produce accidents and stuff. On the other hand, in Pellucidar there are no seasons so, likely no significant migrations of the herds. Maybe just local ones, in the sense that for example the Triceratopses move a bit further in the Gyor Kors after depleting the grass from a certain surface. Therefore, humans are very likely to just stay put, in the best place of the territory, from where most of the herds are easily reachable. Maybe at a distance as equal as possible from the most unavoidable passes and fords and drinking places and other spots where one can be sure to find prey often and where the said prey doesn't have much space to move. The humans must be really good at the routine established in each of the hunting places, since these don't vary much. And since they are good, they are likely to avoid many accidents and injuries that would occur in more unstable scenarios. Also, we are repeatedly told in the books that when humans are in large groups – more than three appears to be ok already – animals usually don't attack unless they are the biggest bosses in the Megafauna club. All this can only mean that losses by animal attack can't be that many, anyway not as many as one would expect. As a matter of fact, we see that it's usually some mistake, some rush or some strong incentive that brings a lone hero/heroine to try his/her chances alone in the wild. Usually humans go grouped, and then relatively few things can happen to them. Which brings us to consider that for most people, who don't run away alone, the  wild beasts can't be too much of a reason for high mortality either.

So, these are the texts in my previous essays that touch the discussed problem.

I have nothing on Amtor as far as geography goes, and yet it's this world I'll touch first, because it seems to me it's the simplest to deal with.

We know Amtor is a jungle planet, with few things other than forested area. From the book, we see that around 40% if not 50%, let's say 40%, of the southern hemisphere is land mass. So, for the average teleported dimensional tourist, there are basically 60% chances for him to drown in some sea, and 39% chances or so to arrive in the middle of some jungle and 1% in any other setting – clearings, Anlap plateau savanna, bare rock mountain area, towns etc.

We have absolutely no idea about the makeup of the northern hemisphere. There appears to be a big continent with variated geography that lies there, but we don't know anything more than that. Except one important aspect: the Nobargan. These kinds of apeman predators appear to be absent from the island and peninsulas of the southern hemisphere, but we see them in the northern one, as well as in the region of the continent that goes into the southern hemisphere, Noobol or what was its name.

So, what are the odds of someone to teleport to Amtor and survive? Much, much less than 1%. Unlike for Duare and Carson, jungle MUST be unforgiving, I don't see how these two got along quite fine in it, unless some supernatural instance was really not grudging for not being recognized by the Amtorians, or maybe just because there was in the person of Carson someone to believe in such agency and so he had some big friend “out there”. Because without that, it's unconceivable. Not with all the beasts and other things and hazards. Too much luck. Unless one materializes just some small distance from some habitation or at least in some more open and predator-less area, it's just not realistic for the person to survive. After all, our Carson made it very close from a town and presumably so did Betty Calwell, maybe even under the nose of the Brokols because otherwise, why would they consider her supernatural unless after seeing her appear out of nowhere?

As for the towns, we know that they are almost the only inhabited areas upon Amtor, except here and there some small regions inhabited by savages. Which savages are almost always very hostile. Even the towns are not always safe, since on many occasions they harbor regimes that don't like foreigners and reject/kill them very easily. During his adventures, Carson comes into contact or hears about around 28 communities or so. We count here towns, tribes, ship crews, both human and not. All the groups of more or less rational beings. Of these, only 7 or so seem/are described as friendly and 1-2 have mixed attitudes like Havatoo, all the others are hostile or very hostile.

So what are the chances for a person teleported to Amtor to avoid jungle, predators, water, hostile savages and hostile polities, or escape them and find some better place? It's obvious even 1% would be quite big. Methinks Amtor is the most unforgiving burroughsian world concerning the destiny of the newcomers.

What about Pellucidar, that appears to be in a similar situation, and very certainly possessing an even more impressive flora and fauna?

Well, I think that nature is indeed just as unforgiving or even more so than upon Amtor, but as far as humans go we must take into account two factors when we analyze the regime of the foreigners in Pellucidar, that is their sex and the regime of the captives in savage tribes. Indeed, women might fare much better than men, being a prize. Also, unless captured by cannibals, which don't seem to be many tribes, or by some freaky non-humans, slaves seem to fare not that bad in general, although some tribes do kill them, since the mechanisms of tribal integration are relatively simple and straightforward and the captive usually becomes a member of the tribe after a while, from what we know from the books and from our Earth as well. But we must not forget that the male foreigner has to prove himself to be strong, or rapidly adaptable, to be taken seriously and not as an – expandable – burden.

Unlike upon Amtor, there IS much savagery but there's also a primitive innocence and absence of dogmatically based rejection of the foreigners that allows for easy change of mind of the community concerning the newcomer. We see in the books how many tribals go friendly after an initial inimical attitude. Also, the Pellucidarian tribes are not numerous as numbers of souls go, but are very scattered and so the locations where one could find humans are surely more numerous than upon Amtor. There are not more than some thousands of inhabited spots - towns and tribes – upon Amtor, but there must be tens of thousands of them in Pellucidar.

That means sensibly more chances to survive, at least for some.

I think that Pellucidar is indeed 75% land, and that is not just a supposition of Perry, it's a conclusion drawn from a Mahar map. Now, since the Mahars have missed the Polar openings, it's clear their mapping skills are not the pinnacle of geographical knowledge. Nevertheless, such proportions are not that hard to guess, after all our own ancestors got it quite right around 1550 and only their theory of planetary equilibrium of the land masses made them invent the famous Terra Australis. Otherwise, even if they were still getting many contours wrong, they were not wrong on the proportions of lands and waters at least not in the northern parts they knew better. And since the Mahars fly, and have the famous homing instinct, there's reason to believe they should get quite right the contour of the oceans and map things quite well after all, even if they miss things.

Also, from what I wrote about the Pellucidarian ecosystem in my essay, it is safe to assume that there are no deserts there, nor any extreme climes and vegetation, except for the high mountain areas.

Another thing I estimate to play in favor of the survivability in Pellucidar is that, despite its archaic character, the nature with its flora and fauna is somehow more familiar to the newcomer than the ones of Amtor and so it must give some sort of help. You can't recognize the, say, Vaxlapia fruit to be eatable, you recognize the banana or the coconut. You are not sure about the danger of approaching a Kazar, you are about the one of approaching a Tyrannosaurus. You see what I mean.

So all in all, I estimate that the survivability rate for a teleported/marooned individual in Pellucidar should be more than the triple of the rate upon Amtor. Let's say if the Amtorian rate is 0.3% - maybe 0.2% for the males and 0.4% for the females –  then  the Pellucidarian one should safely be assumed to be 1% - maybe 0.5% for a male and 1.5% for a female.

What about our dear Barsoom?

Let's remember what Rick said:

I am guessing that 1% of Barsoom is water or arctic.
I am guessing that 30% is dead sea bottom.
I am guessing that 5% or less is forest or swamp.
I am guessing that 1% is city or waterway.
All the rest must be desert.
He studied the Barsoomian geography much better than me.

I give him the 1% water+arctic and the 30% dead sea bottom. And the 5% forest+swamp. But from my own essay, I calculated the canals+cities+semiarid pasturelands at around 6 million sqkm, which is around 5% of the surface. Which gives us 59% desert, 1% water and ice and 40% vegetation – including agricultural lands plus urban areas.

OK. Now, to put it shortly, the dead sea bottoms are generally inhabited by the Greens, nobody – human – inhabits the deserts, outside some marginals like Phor Tak or some oasis dwellers like the Ghastans.

We can safely assume that no teleported individual survives the desert or the sea bottoms, unless possessing special powers like JC. Let's remember how did he get the sympathy of his captors – by being extremely strong, much stronger than a simple Earthling using his gravitational advantage. Being a woman doesn't help at all here, since the Greens are a totally different species. But then, the sea bottoms have to be divided between northern and southern ones, since we know that 80% of the Greens inhabit the southern ones and only 20% the northern ones.

There is enough reason to assume that Green-induced death threat is 4 times less likely in the northern hemisphere. It also seems that, barred Greens and banths, surviving in the sea bottoms is not that impossible since one can find Mantalia and other stuff to feed upon. Also, judging from the maps of Rick, the canal polities are much more present in the northern hemisphere, and so are the pasture lands. Banths and other predators don't seem to be that many, just remember how the jed of Gathol manages to survive for probably months alone in the desert without meeting one such predator until he reaches Bantoom. The eatable stuff must also be quite frequent to allow for such a feat.

So the dead sea bottoms, let's say 0.1% chance of survival in the south, and maybe as much as 0.5% if not 1% in the north. I think I remember these bottoms are more frequent in the northern hemisphere, so if we estimate a  mean of survivability, we can assume around 0.4% for all of them. If 30% of people materialize upon them, something like 0.13% survive.

OK. Now, let's see about the jungles and swamps. Simple, death. These areas are full of predators of all kinds and sizes, and only the most lucky and exceptionally endowed like JC or Tor-du-bar can make it.

And now, the most important, what is the likelihood for a newcomer to survive if materializing upon the soil of some polity? Well, I'd say his/her chances of raw survival are above 80%, if we don't talk U-gor, the Thern/Black lands, or Ghasta. Otherwise, people seem to be civil and relatively kind, and anyway, always ready to get a new slave if not a new friend. Why kill someone especially unarmed, if you can use him for work or her for pleasure? Remember how JC got well received along the Zodangan territories and how easily he traveled around when pretending to be some panthan.

It's relatively safe to live upon Barsoom except for the danger that comes from the assassins and which assassins I don't think they care much about easy prey. I don't think there's much killing of naked slaves and such. Everybody is more or less honorable upon Barsoom, that includes the assassins who love to kill by dueling, in general.

Let's say if one gets materialized within the limits of the civilized areas, that's 5% chance, there's around 4% chances for him to make it alive, if not alive and free. If materializing occurs upon some pasture, there's a danger to be killed by some guarding calot or mad zitidar or so, but I don't think the probability is that great. So I'd say for the pasture lands the chances might be as big as for the canals/cities, or close.

The global survivability rate of the arrivals upon Barsoom could be as big as 4.15-4.2%. Much better than Amtor or Pellucidar.

What about Jupiter?
We don't know almost anything about this huge world, not even how much of it is inhabitable. But we know it's very little, and this little is full of walking skeletons and cannibal trees and stuff, so the king of the gods seems to be a total disaster as a host. But we don't have almost any serious information about its makeup, except for some generalities, to draw an honest conclusion. We must refrain and give it the benefit of doubt, but without much hope for a positive surprise.

What about Va-nah, or Poloda?
Well, Va-nah could be an even less friendly place than Amtor to teleport upon, since it's populated by cannibalistic horse-people and degenerated tribalized communists that kill any foreigner they find. Only Laytheans are friendly but these are only a handful, upon one spot.

Poloda, I guess it depends if it's some civilized country and not a dictatorship, and it's during a pause and not during a bombardment. Barred these considerations, rates of survival might be the same as those for our Earth. But we don't know enough about Poloda to drive a learned enough conclusion.

So, what could be the final consideration? Well, appearances are pretty misleading even for things like the planets, since it's the god of war that proves itself to be more welcoming than Geea's womb, Venus, Afrodite and Jupiter combined. Must be the rugged honesty and nobility of the warrior...

I hope this essay has made some teleportation enthusiasts curb their expectations and think twice before engaging in concentrating on some planet at night. Be careful what you wish upon a star, and what star the one wished upon is...

But if you have some accident and the thing happens, remember my information. Hope it helps.

Read all of Cristian's ERBzine articles at the

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