Air Supremacy on Venus
If one wants to live long and prosper on Venus, it's
helpful to have an airplane with a lifetime supply of fuel, along with
a gun that never runs out of ammunition.
Carson and Duare had their troubles on the ground while
lost on Venus, but at the end of the second novel they escaped from the
paradise of Havatoo in the airplane that had been built, to Carson's specifications,
by the technicians of that city.
Prior to Carson's arrival, air travel was unknown on Venus.
In Havatoo, he mentioned the existence of such machines on Earth and the
Venusan scientists and engineers were excited about the idea of building
for Carson and Duare, the first airplane on Venus was finished and ready
to go at the time that Duare had been declared to be permanently "persona
non grata" and so the anotar served as a vehicle for their escape, in the
nick of time.
It was quite an escape for Duare, who did not understand
just how they were going to get away when Carson seated her in the airplane.
She was soon on the flight of her life.
She rapidly overcame her natural fear of flying. She nicknamed
the airplane the "anotar" -- Amtorian for bird-ship -- and Carson soon
taught her how to fly and repair it.
What a ship it was. The fuel for a life-time could be
held in the palm of the hand and the probable life of the ship had been
computed by the physicists to be in the neighborhood of fifty years. It
would need few repairs, other than for problems caused by accidents (and
with Carson at the helm, one knows that's going to happen!).
Back in Pirates of Venus, when the Sofal attacked
the Thorist ship, the Yan, Carson saw that his ship's powerful T-ray runs
were not damaging the vital parts of that ship because they "were protected
by a thin armor of the same metal of which the large guns were composed,
the only at all impervious to T-rays." (Chapter 13)
In Lost on Venus, Chapter 14, Carson said the anotar
was made of "materials that only the chemists of Havatoo might produce,
synthetic wood and steel and fabric that offered incalculable strength
and durability combined with negligible weight."
That "incalculable strength" made it impervious to T-rays
like the armor of the Thorist fleet. That was emphasized later when, in
flying over the city of Sanara and the besieging Amlot army (CV,
Chapter 4), Carson noted that the attackers had shields. "These shields,"
he said, "are composed of metal more or less impervious to both R-rays
Then, he noted that the anotar was similarly impregnable.
"As every portion of the ship, whether wood, metal, or fabric, had been
sprayed with a solution of this ray-resisting substance I felt quite safe
in flying low above the contending forces...."
Just before coming to Sanara, Carson had given Duare her
first flying lessons, and that came in handy later in that adventure, when
Duare flew the anotar during a bombing raid on the enemy city of Amlot
while Carson was on the ground conducting sabotage operations.
Carson further described the anotar this way:
"The design had been mine,
as aircraft were absolutely undreamed of in Ha-vatoo prior to my coming;
but the materials, the motor, the fuel were exclusively Amtorian. For strength,
durability, and lightness the first would be impossible of duplication
on Earth; the motor was a marvel of ingenuity, compactness, power and durability
combined with lightness of weight.... In design the ship was more or less
of a composite of those with which I was familiar or had myself flown on
Earth. It seated four, two abreast in an open front cockpit and two in
a streamlined cabin aft; there were controls in both cockpits, and the
ship could be flown from any of the four seats."
The anotar was also equipped with retractable pontoons (CV,
The sprayed-on protection from T-rays served Carson and
Duare well in the escape from Havatoo, and was a godsend in that adventure
in resolving the conflict between Sanara and Amlot and defeating the Zani
threat. But there was still the danger they would always face when landing.
Carson said it this way:
"...we would have to make
occasional landings for food and water, and it seemed as though every time
we landed something terrible happened to us. But that is Venus. If you
had a forced landing in Kansas or Maine or Oregon, the only thing you'd
have to worry about would be the landing; but when you set a ship down
in Venus, you never know what you're going to run up against. It might
be kloonobargan, the hairy, man-eating savages, or a tharban, that most
frightful of lion-like carnivores, or a basto, a huge, omnivorous beast
that bears some slight resemblance to the American bison; or, perhaps,
worst of all, ordinary human beings like ourself, but with a low evaluation
of life -- that is, your life." EV, Chapter 17
The Landings of the Anotar
As long as Carson and Duare stayed air-borne in the anotar,
they were "safe on Venus." But there's no book of that title in the series,
and it would make for pretty bland reading if they just glided over mysterious
lands! So, they had to set 'er down from time to time and, as Carson said,
each time they did, something terrible happened.
At a landing stop in the opening of Carson of Venus,
Duare was captured by an Amazon-like tribe. And it was a problem again
at the end of the book when Mintep, who had been a prisoner of the Zanis,
forced Duare to fly him back to Vepaja, where she would face judgment for
consorting with the likes of Carson Napier. Carson had to make a sea voyage
to get her and the plane back.
At the start of Escape on Venus, they landed and
were taken prisoner by the Mypos fish people.
Fortunately, through all of this, the anotar was still
in good shape.
It was later on in the Myposan region, however, when the
anotar suffered its first real damage. In the big lake battle between the
fleets of Myposa and Japal, the ships had closed with one another and "there
was hand-to-hand fighting on decks slippery with blood. It was a grewsome
sight, but fascinating." Carson couldn't resist: "I dropped lower to get
a better view, as the smoke from burning ships was cutting down the visibility.
"I dropped too low. A rock from a catapult struck my propeller,
smashing it." EV, Chapter 22
The good news was that Carson managed to glide to a landing
near a forest, and flight crew Kandar and Doran helped him conceal it.
Carson and friends were taken captive by the usurper of
the throne of Japal, but then escaped in time to help fight against a new
attacker, the green men of Brokol. Here, headstrong Carson got himself
in trouble again by rushing so far forward into the fray that he got himself
captured and marched to the land of Brokol.
Carson was to die in a stadium game. But, just in time, "I heard a familiar
sound above me."
Just what sound Carson heard is not clarified, since,
in Carson, Chapter 2, he had said, "The engine was noiseless and efficient
beyond the dreams of Earth men." Maybe the ol' anotar had developed some
creaks and squeaks by then!
But that familiar noise drew his attention to a circling
aeroplane and he knew the only person who could have repaired and flown
it was Duare.
In his absence, his friend Kandar had become the new jong
of Japal and had sent "a strong body of warriors to Timal to bring Duare
and Artol back to his court. He also, following my instructions, had had
a new propeller made for the anotar. Knowing that I had been captured by
the Brokols, they knew where to look for me...." EV, Chapter 29
So the anotar was humming again. But not for long. Flying
over another city (EV, 30-31), the new propeller dropped off. When they
landed in the seemingly friendly city of Voo-ad, someone ran off with it.
Our peerless pair had but little choice than to allow the "friendly people"
of Voo-ad to wine and dine them while a search was made for the propeller.
At the banquet, they were served a paralysis drug. When they realized they
could no longer move from the neck down, the jong, Vik-Vik-Vik, smushed
an avocado-banana-like fruit in Duare's face to emphasize that fact! (This
is a favorite passage of Duare scorners!) EV, Chapter 32
Paralyzed from the neck down, the intrepid duo were suspended
on the wall of the town's Museum of Natural History, along with other unfortunates,
including Ero Shan.
A Voo-adian named Vik-yor, who had visions of romance
with Duare, helped her escape. His idea was to run off with her in the
anotar. Duare's idea was to get away from him and rescue Carson and Ero
The propeller was lying beneath the anotar and Duare's
"hasty examination showed that it was undamaged; then she examined the
flange, shrunk to the end of the crankshaft, to which it had been bolted.
The bolts were there and undamaged -- the nuts must have vibrated off simultaneously;
Kandar had evidently neglected to use either lock washers or cotter keys.
"These Duare found among the spare parts in the cockpit
of the anotar, together with the necessary nuts." EV, Chapter 37
After Duare had tightened two nuts, some Voo-adians discovered
what was happening and rushed the plane. So "Duare switched the wrench
to her left hand and drew her pistol." (She had taken it from Carson's
paralyzed body when leaving the museum).
The crowd backed off when Duare dealt death, but when
she put the pistol in its holster to resume work on the propeller, Vik-yor
swiped it and took command. Thus, she had to complete her work and fly
off with him rather than return to the museum for Carson and Ero Shan.
On her crazy journey with Vik-yor she repeatedly tried
to persuade him to give back the gun, but he refused (probably suspecting
she would use it on him!). Having learned the workings of the gun by watching
her, he also thought he'd try flying the anotar, since he'd watched how
she did that, too. He succeeded, briefly, before it came down for a water
landing. Fortunately, he didn't wreck it and about that time he went into
spasms and died from a malady unique to Voo-adians.
At last Duare could return to Voo-ad with both the indispensable
gun and the anotar and rescue her lover and her friend. It was quite an
adventure for one who had spent her first 18 years as the sheltered daughter
of a jong, high in the treetops of Vepaja.
There was to be one more adventure with the anotar. This
flight ended abruptly as Carson, instead of making a beeline for Sanara,
chose to descend to get a better look at some huge land battle-ships in
another area of Venus.
Perhaps the effects of the anti-T-ray spray were wearing
off. A blast from one of the ships decimated the nose of the anotar, so
not only the propeller was gone this time, but the housing as well.
After a couple of captures and escapes, even Carson and
Duare and Ero Shan combined could not put the anotar together again, as
some of the ignorant people in the land had smashed the engine and other
parts while the plane sat untended.
Carson didn't know it until he met up with Ero Shan again
in Voo-ad, but for awhile there had been two anotars plying the skies of
After Carson had absconded with the first one, Ero Shan,
with the knowledge he had gained working with Napier in Hava-too, supervised
the construction of a second. He had been on a test flight when he, too,
had been so unfortunate as to end up in the city of Voo-ad and become an
exhibit in their museum.
In Wizard of Venus, Carson, Ero Shan and Duare
were safely back in Sanara and Carson had been commissioned to start work
on an air force for the nation, and also was helping Ero Shan build a new
anotar to fly him back to Havatoo.
It was in this anotar -- the third to fly the skies of
Amtor -- that Carson and Ero Shan were grounded by bad weather and had
their brief adventure in the land of the pretend wizard.
After that, the Venus saga ended but we might assume that
Carson and Ero Shan got back to Sanara safely, Ero Shan flew back to Havatoo
in his new anotar, and Carson and Duare lived happily ever after in Sanara.
But knowing Carson's penchant for getting into trouble,
we might be wrong about that.