THE GREEN HORDES OF MARS
The Eleventh Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
The Green Hordes need little introduction. They were one of
the main factors that connected with the reading public when Edgar Rice
Burroughs's A Princess of Mars was finally unleashed on bored pulp
fiction readers in February through July 1912. The Green Hordes were full-bodied,
truly alien beings. ERB gives a superb anthropological presentation of
their habitat, customs, and mores. This story marks the true genesis of
American science fiction.
The amazing thing about the Green Hordes is their absolute lack of human
sensibilities, like mother love. However, at the advent of John Carter
– just in time to save the planet from subjugation by the Empire of Zodanga
and the religion of Issus – an atavistic love-vibe still beats miraculously
in the hearts of at least two of the creatures, which Carter uses both
to his own advantage as well as for the advancement of Martian culture.
Thus, we are introduced to the polar opposites of the Green Martians, from
the half-way rational Thark tribe, to the irrational, blood-thirsty tribe
of the Warhoons.
Although we are given a plethora of detail concerning these first two
hordes, we are given sparse information on the other two competing hordes,
the Torquas and the Thurds, except that they show, like the Warhoons, no
atavism when it comes to sentiment. The Green Hordes are feared above everything
else, save the Great White Apes, by the Red Martians, and here is the reason
A) Tars Tarkas and the Tharks:
John Carter's advent on the angry red planet in A Princess of Mars
with his introduction to the Green Martians, the first intelligent creatures
he meets on Barsoom; and the first one he interacts with is the enigma
of Tars Tarkas. But first he tries to get used to the gravity of the strange
place, discovering inadvertently a Green Martian incubator. It is while
he is inspecting this incubator and its little hatchlings, that Carter
realizes that he is on a total alien planet:
“Five or six had already hatched and
the grotesque caricatures which sat blinking in the sunlight were enough
to cause me to doubt my sanity. They seemed mostly head, with little scrawny
bodies, long necks and six legs, or, as I afterward learned, two legs and
two arms, with an intermediary pair of limbs which could be used at will
either as arms or legs. Their eyes were set at the extreme sides of their
heads a trifle above the center and protruded in such a manner that they
could be directed either forward or back and also independently of each
other, thus permitting this queer animal to look in any direction at once,
without the necessity of turning the head.
This is one of the most famous scenes in early American science fiction,
and nearly one hundred years after it was written, it still casts its spell
over the reader. The first encounter between John Carter and a Green Martian
will evolve into one of the greatest friendships in modern literature.
But it doesn’t start out that way:
“The ears, which were slightly above the eyes
and closer together, were small, cup-shaped antennae, protruding not more
than an inch on these young specimens. Their noses were but longitudinal
slits in the center of their faces, midway between their mouths and ears.
“There was no hair on their bodies, which were
of a very light yellowishgreen color. In the adults, as I was to learn
quite soon, this color deepens to an olive green and is darker in the male
than in the female. Further, the heads of the adults are not so out of
proportion to their bodies as in the case of the young.
“The iris of the eyes is blood red, as in the
Albinos, while the pupil is dark. The eyeball itself is very white, as
are the teeth. These latter add a most ferocious appearance to an otherwise
fearsome and terrible countenance, as the lower tusks curve upward to sharp
points which end about where the eyes of earthly human beings are located.
The whiteness of the teeth is not that of ivory, but of the snowiest and
most gleaming of china. Against the dark background of their olive skins
their tusks stand out in a most striking manner, making these weapons present
a singulary formidable appearance.
“Most of these details I noted later, for I was
given but little time to speculate on the wonders of my new discovery.
I had seen that the eggs were in the process of hatching, and as I stood
watching the hideous little monsters break forth from their shells I failed
to note the approach of a score of full-grown Martians from behind me.
“Coming, as they did, over the soft and soundless
moss, which covers practically the entire surface of Mars with the exception
of the frozen areas at the poles and the scattered cultivated districts,
they might have captured me easily, but their intentions were far more
sinister. It was the rattling of the accouterments of the foremost warrior
which warned me.
“On such a little thing my life hung that I often
marvel that I escaped so easily. Had not the rifle of the leader of the
party swung from its fastenings beside his saddle in such a way as to strike
against the butt of his metal shod spear I should have snuffed out without
ever knowing that death was near me. But the little second caused me to
turn, and there upon me, not ten feet from my breast, was the point of
that huge spear, a spear forty feet long, tipped with gleaming metal, and
held low at the side of the mounted replica of the little devils I had
“But how puny and harmless they now looked beside
this huge and terrific incarnation of hate, of vengeance and of death.
The man himself, for such I may call him, was fully fifteen feet in height
and, on Earth, would have weighed some four hundred pounds. He sat his
mount as we sit a horse, grasping the animal’s barrel with his lower limbs,
while the hands of his two right arms held his immense spear low at the
side of his mount; his two left arms were outstretched laterally to help
preserve his balance, the thing he rode having neither bridle or reins
of any description for guidance.
“And his mount! How can earthly words describe
it! It towered ten feet at the shoulder; had four legs on either side;
a broad flat tail, larger at the tip than at the root, and which it held
straight out behind while running; a gaping mouth which split its head
from its snout to its long, massive neck.
“Like his master, it was totally devoid of hair,
but was of a dark slate color and exceeding smooth and glossy. Its belly
was white, and its legs shaded from the slate of its shoulders and hips
to a vivid yellow at the feet. The feet themselves were heavily padded
and nailless, which fact had also contributed to the noiselessness of their
approach, and, in common with a multiplicity of legs, is a characteristic
feature of the fauna of Mars. The highest type of man and one other animal,
the only mammal existing on Mars, alone have well-formed nails, and there
are absolutely no hoofed animals in existence there.” (PM/3.)
“Behind this first charging demon trailed
nineteen others, similar in all respects, but, as I learned later, bearing
individual characteristics peculiar to themselves; precisely as no two
of us are identical although we are all cast in a similar mold. This picture,
or rather materialized nightmare, which I have described at length, made
but one terrible and swift impression on me as I turned to meet it.
Carter checks out their weapons, finding that besides the long spear, they
also carry longbarreled rifles of a white metal stocked with wood, the
metal being an alloy of aluminum and steel, of small weight, using a small
caliber, explosive, radium projectile. The effective range of the rifle
is three hundred miles with wireless finders and sighters. Carter knows
that he cannot escape the range of the rifles. But he does start realizing
that he has superhuman powers on Mars. In fact, he is Superman, although
it will take time for this to sink in.
“Unarmed and naked as I was, the first law of
nature manifested itself in the only possible solution of my immediate
problem, and that was to get out of the vicinity of the point of the charging
spear. Consequently I gave a very earthly and at the same time superhuman
leap to reach the top of the Martian incubator, for such I had determined
it must be.
“My effort was crowned with a success which appalled
me no less than it seemed to surprise the Martian warriors, for it carried
me fully thirty feet into the air and landed me a hundred feet from my
pursuers and on the opposite side of the enclosure.
“I alighted upon the soft moss easily and without
mishap, and turning saw my enemies lined up along the further wall. Some
were surveying me with expressions which I afterward discovered marked
extreme astonishment, and the others were evidently satisfying themselves
that I had not molested their young.
“They were conversing together in low tones, and
gesticulating and pointing toward me. Their discovery that I had not harmed
the little Martians, and that I was unarmed, must have caused them to look
upon me with less ferocity; but, as I was to learn later, the thing which
weighed most in my favor was my exhibition of hurdling.
“While the Martians are immense, their bones are
very large and they are muscled only in proportion to the gravitation which
they must overcome. The result is that they are infinitely less agile and
less powerful in proportion to their weight, than an Earth man, and I doubt
that were one of them suddenly to be transported to Earth he could lift
his own weight from the ground; in fact, I am convinced that he could not
“My feat then was as marvelous upon Mars as it
would have been upon Earth, and from desiring to annihilate me they suddenly
looked upon me as wonderful discovery to be captured and exhibited among
their fellows.” (PM/3.)
“The Martians, after conversing for a
short time, turned and rode away in the direction from which they had come,
leaving one of their number alone by the enclosure. When they had covered
perhaps two hundred yards they halted, and turning their mounts toward
us sat watching the warrior by the enclosure.
The leader commands one of his men to take Carter up on his mount and they
ride into the Horde’s camp, the ancient dead city of Korad, where he is
confronted by nine or ten hundred of the strange creatures:
“He was the one whose spear had so nearly transfixed
me, and was evidently the leader of the band, as I had noted that they
seemed to have moved to their present position at his direction. When his
force had come to a halt he dismounted, threw down his spear and small
arms, and came around the end of the incubator toward me, entirely unarmed
and as naked as I, except for the ornaments strapped upon his head, limbs,
“When he was within about fifty feet of me he
unclasped an enormous metal ornament, and holding it toward me in the open
palm of his hand, addressed me in a clear, resonate voice, but in a language,
it is needless to say, I could not understand. He then stopped as though
waiting for my reply, pricking up his antennae-like ears and cocking his
strange-looking eyes still further toward me.
“As the silence became painful I concluded to
hazard a little conversation of my own part, as I had guessed that he was
making overtures of peace. The throwing down of his weapons and the withdrawing
of his troop before his advance toward me would have signified a peaceful
mission anywhere on Earth, so why not, then, on Mars!
“Placing my hand over my heart I bowed low to
the Martian and explained to him that while I did not understand his language,
his actions spoke for the peace and friendship that at the present moment
were most dear to my heart. Of course I might have been a babbling brook
for all the intelligence my speech carried to him, but he understood the
action with which I immediately followed my words.
“Stretching my hand toward him, I advanced and
took the armlet from his open palm, clasping it about my arm above the
elbow; smiled at him and stood waiting. His wide mouth spread into an answering
smile, and locking one of his intermediary arms in mine we turned and walked
back toward his mount. At the same time he motioned his followers to advance.”
“With the exception of their ornaments
all were naked. The women varied in appearance but little from the men,
except that their tusks were much larger in proportion to their height,
in some instances curving nearly to their high-set ears. Their bodies were
smaller and lighter in color, and their fingers and toes bore the rudiments
of nails, which were entirely lacking among the males. The adult females
ranged in height from ten to twelve feet.
The crowd clamors around Carter until the leader issues a word, and they
quickly trot to a huge building in the central plaza, then Carter is escorted
inside to confront the ruling body.
“The children were light in color, even lighter
than the women, and all looked precisely alike to me, except that some
were taller than others; older, I presumed.
“I saw no signs of extreme age among them, nor
is there any appreciable difference in their appearance from the age of
maturity, about forty, until, at about the age of one thousand years, they
go voluntarily upon their last strange pilgrimage down the river Iss, which
leads no living Martian knows whither and from whose bosom no Martian has
ever returned, or would be allowed to live did he return after once embarking
upon its cold, dark waters.
“Only about one Martian in a thousand dies of
sickness or disease, and possibly about twenty take the voluntary pilgrimage.
The other nine hundred and seventy-nine die violent deaths in duels, in
hunting, in aviation and in war; but perhaps by far the greatest death
loss comes during the age of childhood, when vast numbers of the little
Martians fall victim to the great white apes of Mars.
“The average life expectancy of a Martian after
the age of maturity is about three hundred years, but would be nearer to
the one-thousand mark were it not for the various means leading to violent
death. Owing to the waning resources of the planet it evidently became
necessary to counteract the increasing longevity which their remarkable
skill in therapeutics and surgery produced, and so human life has come
to be considered but lightly on Mars, as is evidenced by their dangerous
sports and almost continual warfare between the various communities.
“There are other and natural causes tending toward
a diminuition of the population, but nothing contributes so greatly to
this end as the fact that no male or female Martian is ever voluntarily
without any weapon of destruction.”
“On the floor of this chamber, which
was dotted with highly carved wooden desks and chairs, were assembled about
forty or fifty male Martians around the steps of a rostrum. On the platform
proper squatted an enormous warrior heavily loaded with metal ornaments,
gay-colored feathers and beautifully wrought leather trappings ingeniously
set with precious stones. From his shoulders depended a short cape of white
fur lined with brilliant scarlet silk.” (PM/4.)
Carter notices that the Martians are oversized compared with the furniture,
which appears to accomodate more readily people of his own size. They dismount
and the leader approaches the rostrum, everyone making way for him; the
chieftan rises to greet him.
“My captor, whose name was Tars Tarkas,
was virtually the vice-chieftan of the community, and a man of great ability
as a statesman and warrior. He evidently explained briefly the incidents
connected with his expedition, including my capture, and when he had concluded
the chieftan addressed me at some length.
Carter is made aware that the chief desires to see a demonstration of his
jumping prowess, and he meanders around the room like a grasshopper, not
yet having mastered the Martian gravity. This disturbs a warrior:
“I replied in our good old English tongue merely
to convince him that neither of us could understand the other; but I noticed
that when I smiled slightly on concluding, he did likewise. This fact,
and the similar occurrence during my first talk with Tars Tarkas, convinced
me that we had least something in common; the ability to smile, therefore
to laugh; denoting a sense of humor. But I was to learn that the Martian
smile is merely perfunctory, and that the Martian laugh is a thing to cause
strong men to blanch in terror.
“The ideas of humor among the green men of Mars
are widely at variance with our conceptions of incitants to merriment.
The death agonies of a fellow being are, to these strange creatures, provocative
of the wildest hilarity, while their chief form of commonest amusement
is to inflict death on their prisoners of war in various ingenious and
horrible ways.” (PM/4.)
“I again had recourse to creeping, but
this did not suit them and I was roughly jerked to my feet by a towering
fellow who had laughed most heartily at my misfortunes.
They order him to jump again and again, but Carter finally stops and rubs
his stomach, letting them know that he is hungry.
“As he banged me down upon my feet his face was
bent close to mine and I did the only thing a gentleman might do under
the circumstances of brutality, boorishness, and lack of consideration
for a stranger’s rights; I swung my fist squarely to his jaw and he went
down like a felled ox. As he sunk to the floor I wheeled around with my
back toward the nearest desk, expecting to be overwhelmed by the vengeance
of his fellows, but determined to give them as good a battle as the unequal
odds would permit before I gave up my life.
“My fears were groundless, however, as the other
Martians, at first struck dumb with wonderment, finally broke into wild
peals of laughter and applause. I did not recognize the applause as such,
but later, when I had become acquainted with their customs, I learned that
I had won what they seldom accord, a manifestation of approbation.
“The fellow whom I had struck lay where he had
fallen, nor did any of his mates approach him. Tars Tarkas advanced toward
me, holding out one of his arms, and we thus proceeded to the plaza without
further mishap. I did not, of course, know the reason for which we had
come to the open, but I was not long in being enlightened. They first repeated
the word ‘sak’ a number of times, and then Tars Tarkas made several jumps,
repeating the same word before each leap; then, turning to me, he said,
‘sak!’ I saw what they were after, and gathering myself together I ‘sakked’
with such marvelous success that I cleared a good hundred and fifty feet;
nor did I this time, lose my equilibrium, but landed squarely upon my feet
without falling. I then returned by easy jumps of twenty-five or thirty
feet to the little group of warriors.” (PM/4.)
“Tars Tarkas and the chief exchanged
a few words, and the former, calling to a young female among the throng,
gave her some instructions and motioned me to accompany her. I grasped
her proffered arm and together we crossed the plaza toward a large building
on the far side.
Sola shows Carter to his quarters and inside he meets Woola, the fierce
“My fair companion was about eight feet tall,
having just arrived at maturity, but not yet to her full height. She was
of a light olive-green color, with a smooth, glossy hide. Her name, as
I afterward learned, was Sola, and she belonged to the retinue of Tars
“Sola motioned me to be seated upon a
pile of silks near the center of the room, and, turning, made a peculiar
hissing sound, as though signaling to someone in an adjoining room. In
response to her call I obtained my first sight of a new Martian wonder.
It waddled in on its ten short legs, and squatted down before the girl
like an obedient puppy. The thing was about the size of a Shetland pony,
but its head bore a slight resemblance to that of a frog, except that the
jaws were equipped with three rows of long, sharp tusks.” (PM/4)
I must say, out of all the depictions of Woola, I like James Killian Spratt’s
the best. (See ERBzine
#1301.) Sola leaves Carter in the care of Woola, who has been ordered
not to allow Carter out of the room. He spends time examining the murals
on the walls left by the ancient race. Sola returns with food and Carter
learns about the magical plant that thrives in the dead sea bottoms, a
large plant which grows practically without water, but distills from the
products of the soil, a slightly acidic milk, though not unpleasant to
the taste. He then grows sleepy and succumbs to the silks and furs. He
is awakened in the middle of the night by a hand coming from Sola next
to him that draws back the furs over his uncovered body.
“I presumed that my watchful guardian
was Sola, nor was I wrong. This girl alone, among all the green Martians
with whom I came in contact, disclosed characteristics of sympathy, kindliness,
and affection; her ministrations to my bodily wants were unfailing, and
her solicitous care saved me from much suffering and many hardships.” (PM/5.)
All right, if you have a dirty mind like mine, then you have some evidence
for assuming some kind of sexual relationship between Carter and Sola.
They are evidently sleeping naked side by side, and Carter makes it clear
that she satisfied all of his bodily wants. Besides, Tars Tarkas has placed
him in her care, and the use of the word “ministrations” reminds the reader
of the ministrations performed by the sixteen year old Abishag upon King
David to see if he was still worthy to be king because of sexual prowess.
(2 Kings 1:1-4.)
Not to mention, Sola has come into her maturity, even if not full height.
This means that she is only two feet taller than Carter. Furthermore, we
later learn that Red Martian women are desirable to some Green Martian
men, thus, why wouldn’t it be the same for Green Martian women liking white
Earth men, since, other than their skin color, they are exactly like Red
Martian men? Finally, as we shall see, it appears that Sola is a bit jealous
of Dejah Thoris once she comes onto the scene. And then, of course, there
are those cold Martian nights; spooning is a great way to stay warm. Enough
of the speculation for now.
“After Sola had replenished my coverings
I again slept, nor did I awaken until daylight. The other occupants of
the room, five in number, were all females, and they were still sleeping,
piled high with a motley array of silks and furs.
Carter decides to explore the city and see how far he can go with Woola.
He then discovers the terrible threat of the Great White Apes the hard
way, when he jumps to a high window while playing with Woola. After Carter
and Woola are almost killed by a Great White Ape and his mate, the Green
Martians are amused:
Across the threshold lay stretched the sleepless
guardian brute, just as I had last seen him on the preceding day; apparently
he had not moved a muscle; his eyes were fairly glued upon me, and I fell
to wondering just what might befall me should I endeavor to escape.” (PM/5.)
“As I delivered the blow a low laugh
rang out behind me, and, turning, I beheld Tars Tarkas, Sola, and three
or four warriors standing in the doorway of the chamber. As their eyes
met mine I was, for the second time, the recipient of their zealously guarded
Tars Tarkas and the other warriors argue about what to do with the wounded
and injured Woola, and it is decided that Woola will be shot. But Carter
intervenes to save the faithful brute who saved his life, almost causing
another duel before Tars Tarkas tells the others to call it quits.
“My absence had been noted by Sola on her awakening,
and she had quickly informed Tars Tarkas, who had set out immediately with
a handful of warriors to search for me. As they had approached the limits
of the city they had witnessed the actions of the bull ape as he bolted
into the building, frothing with rage.
“They had followed immediately behind him, thinking
it barely possible that his actions might prove a clue to my whereabouts
and had witnessed my short but decisive battle with him. This encounter,
togther with my set-to with the Martian warrior on the previous day and
my feats of jumping placed me upon a high pinnacle in their regard. Evidently
devoid of all the finer sentiments of friendship, love, or affection, these
people fairly worship physical prowess and bravery, and nothing is too
good for the object of their adoration as long as he maintains his position
by repeated examples of his skill, strength, and courage.
“Sola, who had accompanied the searching party
of her own volition, was the only one of the Martians whose face had not
been twisted in laughter as I battled for my life. She, on the contrary,
was sober with apparent solicitude and, as soon as I had finished the monster,
rushed to me and carefully examined my body for possible wounds or injuries.
Satisfying herself that I had come off unscathed she smiled quietly, and,
taking my hand, started toward the door of the chamber.” (PM/6)
“I then knelt down beside the fearsome-looking
thing, and raising it to its feet motioned for it to follow me. The looks
of surprise which my actions elicited from the Martians were ludicrous;
they could not understand, except in a feeble and childish way, such attributes
as gratitude and compassion. The warrior whose gun I had struck looked
up inquiringly at Tars Tarkas, but the latter signed that I be left to
my own devices, and so we returned to the plaza with my great beast following
me close at heel, and Sola grasping me tightly by the arm.
The next adventure takes place when the tribe visits the incubator for
the hatching of the next generation of Green Martians. Carter observes
that child raising on Mars is very strange.
“I had at least two friends on Mars; a young woman
who watched over me with motherly solicitude, and a dumb brute which, as
I later came to learn, held in its poor ugly carcass more love, more loyalty,
more gratitude than could have been found in the entire five million green
Martians who rove the deserted cities and dead sea bottoms of Mars.” (PM/6.)
“After breakfast, which was an exact
replica of the meal of the preceding day and an index of practically every
meal which followed while I was with the green men of Mars, Sola escorted
me to the plaza, where I found the entire community engaged in watching
or helping at the harnessing of huge mastodonian animals to great three-wheeled
chariots. There were about two hundred and fifty of these vehicles, each
drawn by a single animal, and one of which, from their appearance, might
easily have drawn the entire wagon train when fully loaded.
Carter watches the ceremony and upon returning to his own chariot discovers
that Sola has captured a little one and is holding it in her arms. ERB
then gives the reader an in-depth view and analysis of Green Martian child-rearing:
“The chariots themselves were large, commodious,
and generously decorated. In each was seated a female Martian loaded with
ornaments of metal, with jewels and silks and furs, and upon the back of
each of the beasts which drew the chariots was perched a young Martian
driver. Like the animals upon which the warriors were mounted, the heavier
draft animals wore neither bit nor bridle, but were guided entirely by
“This power is wonderfully developed in all Martians,
and accounts largely for the simplicity of their language even in long
conversations. In the universal language of Mars, through the medium of
which the higher and lower animals of this world of paradoxes are able
to communicate to a greater or less extent, depending upon the intellectual
sphere of the species and the development of the individual.
“As the calvacade took up the line of march in
single file, Sola dragged me into an empty chariot and we proceeded with
the procession toward the point by which I had entered the city the day
before. At the head of the caravan rode some two hundred warriors, five
abreast, and a like number brought up the rear, while twenty-five or thirty
outriders flanked us on either side.
“Every one but myself – men, women, and children
– were heavily armed, and at the tail of each chariot trotted a Martian
hound, my own beast following closely behind ours; in fact, the faithful
creature never left me voluntarily during the entire ten years I spent
on Mars. Our way led out across the little valley before the city, through
the hills, and down into the dead sea bottom which I had traversed on my
journey from the incubator to the plaza. The incubator, as it proved, was
the terminal point of our journey this day, and, as the entire calvacade
broke into a mad gallop as soon as we reached the level expanse of sea
bottom, we were soon within sight of our goal.
“On reaching it the chariots were parked with
military precision on the four sides of the enclosure, and half a score
of warriors, headed by the enormous cheiftan, and including Tars Tarkas
and several other lesser chiefs, dismounted and advanced toward it. I could
see Tars Tarkas explaining something to the principal chieftan, whose name,
by the way, was, as nearly as I can translate it into English, Lorquas
Ptomel, Jed; jed being his title.
“I was soon appraised of the subject of their
conversation, as, calling to Sola, Tars Tarkas signed for her to send me
to him. I had by this time mastered the intricacies of walking under Martian
conditions, and quickly responding to his command I advanced to the side
of the incubator where the warriors stood.
“As I reached their side a glance showed me that
all but a very few eggs had hatched, the incubator being fairly alive with
the hideous little devils. They ranged in height from three to four feet,
and were moving restlessly about the enclosure as though searching for
“As I came to a halt before him, Tars Tarkas pointed
over the incubator and said, ‘Sak,’ I saw that he wanted me to repeat my
performance of yesterday for the edification of Lorquas Ptomel, and, as
I must confess that my prowess gave me no little satisfaction, I responded
quickly, leaping entirely over the parked chariots on the far side of the
incubator. As I returned, Lorquas Ptomel grunted something at me, and turning
to his warriors gave a few words of command relative to the incubator.
They paid no further attention to me and I was thus permitted to remain
close and watch their operations, which consisted in breaking an opening
in the wall of the incubator large enough to permit of the exit of the
“On either side of this opening the women and
the younger Martians, both male and female, formed two solid walls leading
out through the chariots and quite away into the plain beyond. Between
these walls the little Martians scampered, wild as deer; being permitted
to run the full length of the aisle, where they were captured one at a
time by the women and older children; the last in line capturing the first
little one to reach the end of the gauntlet, her opposite in the line capturing
the second, and so on until all the little fellows had left the enclosure
and been appropriated by some youth or female. As the women caught the
young they fell out of line and returned to their respective chariots,
while those who fell into the hands of the young men were turned over to
some of the women.” (PM/7.)
“The work of rearing young, green Martians
consists solely in teaching them to talk, and to use the weapons of warfare
for which they are loaded down from the very first year of their lives.
Coming from eggs in which they have laid for five years, the period of
incubation, they step forth into the world perfectly developed except in
size. Entirely unknown to their own mothers, who, in turn, would have difficulty
in pointing out the fathers with any degree of accuracy, they are the common
children of the community, and their education devolves upon the females
who chance to capture them as they leave the incubator.” (PM/7.)
Elsewhere we are informed that the Green Martians are overall a chaste
people, but this appears to be exaggerated from the above information,
for if a Green Martian mother has no idea of who the father is, this attests
to a culture of promiscuity and fornication. I wouldn’t be surprised, after
a few nights with John Carter, if Sola’s next egg was fertilized.
“Their foster mothers may not even had
an egg in the incubator, as the case with Sola, who had not commenced to
lay, until less than a year before she became the mother of another woman’s
offspring. But this counts for little among the green Martians, as parental
and filial love is as unknown to them as it is common among us. I believe
this horrible system which has been carried on for ages is the direct cause
of the loss of all the finer features and higher humanitarian instincts
among these poor creatures. From birth they know no father or mother love,
they know not the meaning of the word home; they are taught that they are
only suffered to live until they can demonstrate by their physique and
ferocity that they are fit to live. Should they prove deformed or defective
in any way they are promptly shot; nor do they shed a tear for a single
one of the many cruel hardships they pass through from earliest infancy.
Yes, John Carter has arrived on Mars just in time for his superpowers to
save the dying planet. He can leap thirty feet into the air, has incredible
physical strength and can read everyone’s mine while no one can read his.
And now he has mastered the Martian language and weapons just in time to
meet and save his incomparable princess, Dejah Thoris.
“I do not mean that the adult Martians are unnecessarily
or intentionally cruel to the young, but theirs is a hard and pitiless
struggle for existence upon a dying planet, the natural resources of which
have dwindled to a point where the support of each additional life means
an added tax upon the community into which it is thrown.
“By careful selection they rear only the hardiest
specimens of each species, and with almost supernatural foresight they
regulate the birth rate to merely offset the loss by death. Each adult
Martian female brings forth about thirteen eggs each year, and those which
meet the size, weight, and specific gravity tests are hidden in the recesses
of some subterranean vault where the temperature is too low for incubation.
Every year these eggs are carefully examined by a council of twenty chieftans,
and all but about one hundred of the most perfect are destroyed out of
each yearly supply. At the end of five years about five hundred almost
perfect eggs have been chosen from the thousands brought forth. These are
then placed in the almost air-tight incubators to be hatched by the sun’s
rays after a period of another five years. The hatching which we had witnessed
today was a fairly representative event of its kind, all but about one
percent of the eggs hatching in two days. If the remaining eggs were hatched
we knew nothing of the fate of the little Martians. They were not wanted,
as their offspring might inherit and transmit the tendency to prolonged
incubation, and thus upset the system which has maintained for ages and
which permits the adult Martians to figure the proper time for return to
the incubators, almost to an hour.
“The incubators are built in remote fastnesses,
where there is little or no likelihood of their being discovered by other
tribes. The result of such a catastrophe would mean no children in the
community for another five years. I was later to witness the results of
the discovery of an alien incubator.
“The community of which the green Martians with
whom my lot was cast formed a part was composed of some thirty thousand
souls. They roamed an enormous tract of arid and semi-arid land between
forty and eighty degrees south latitude, and bounded on the east and west
by two large fertile tracts. Their headquarters lay in the southwest corner
of this district, near the crossing of two of the so-called Martian canals.
“As the incubator had been placed far north of
their own territory in a supposedly uninhabited and unfrequented area,
we had before us a tremendous journey, concerning which I, of course, knew
“After our return to the dead city I passed several
days in comparative idleness. On the day following our return all the warriors
had ridden forth early in the morning and had not returned until just before
darkness fell. As I later learned, they had been to the subterranean vaults
in which the eggs were kept and had transported them to the incubator,
which they had then walled up for another five years, and which, in all
probability, would not be visited again during that period.
“The vaults which hid the eggs until they were
ready for the incubator were located many miles south of the incubator,
and would be visited yearly by the council of twenty chieftans. Why they
did not arrange to build their vaults and incubators nearer home has always
been a mystery to me, and, like many other Martian mysteries, unsolved
and unsolvable by earthly reasonings and customs.
“Sola’s duties were now doubled, as she was compelled
to care for the young Martian as well as for me, but neither one of us
required much attention, and as we were both about equally advanced in
Martian education, Sola took it upon herself to train us together.
“Her prize consisted in a male about four feet
tall, very strong and physically perfect; also, he learned quickly, and
we had considerable amusement, at least I did, over the keen rivalry we
displayed. The Martian language, as I have said, is extremely simple, and
in a week I could make all my wants known and understand nearly everything
that was said to me. Likewise, under Sola's tutelage, I developed my telepathic
powers so that I shortly could sense practically everything that went on
“What surprised Sola most in me was that while
I could catch telepathic messages easily from others, and often when they
were not intended for me, no one could read a jot from my mind under any
circumstances. At first this vexed me, but later I was very glad of it,
as it gave me an undoubted advantage over the Martians.” (PM/7.)
BARSOOMIAN GREEN MEN and TARS TARKAS ART GALLERIES
| II | III
| IV | V
| VI | VII
Green Man Horde by Murphy Anderson