A revised and expanded series of these articles
were later serialized in ERB-List and ERBCOF-List
and is also collated with footnotes by Bruce Bozarth at
John Martin's ERBmania! Edgardemain website
This ERBzine series has been further expanded by Bill Hillman with
reference articles and a mutitude of related art from the ERBzine archive.
Foreword ~ Welcome to Amtor
1. The Novice Swordsman of Venus
2. Carson and Duare: Tough Love
3. Land, Sea and Air / The Problem with People
4. The Wizard of Amtor / Health Care on Amtor
5. The Flights of the Anotar
6. Weather a Friend or Foe / The Gods of Amtor
7. Amtor Observations
8. Untold Tales of Venus
9. ERB's Fun with Words / The Born Writer
10. Cover Growls / Venus: Somewhat like Earth / Carson of Amtor (poem)
Alternate: Text Only of the Entire Series
It began with Carson Napier making a gift to his friend, Jimmy Welsh, of an airplane. It concluded with Carson making a gift to his friend, Ero Shan, of an anotar -- a Venusan airplane.
The first Venus novel featured a mysterious woman in Vepaja, who roamed in a forbidden garden. The last Venus story featured a mysterious woman, Vanaja, who roamed in a forbidden garden.
In between are myriad adventures, wild and wonderful, on the second planet from the sun, known to its residents as Amtor.
Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote most of the Venus series in just over 10 years. He began writing the first novel, Pirates of Venus, on Oct. 2, 1931, and he put the period to a last full short story, The Wizard of Venus, on Oct. 7, 1941.
The first four novel-length books overlapped the events leading up to and following World War II, with the first installment of Pirates appearing in Argosy Weekly on Oct. 1, 1932, and the last book, Escape on Venus, made up of four 1941-42 magazine novelettes, coming out on Oct. 15, 1946.
The last story, Wizard, was apparently to be the first novelette in a series of perhaps four which may have eventually been combined into a fifth Venus book. (A few words of a planned, but unfinished, sequel to Wizard do exist.)
The manuscript, which garnered a few magazine rejection slips, languished in Burroughs's office until 1964, when Canaveral Press published it in book form in Tales of Three Planets, along with two other non-Venus short stories. Wizard has some other non-Venusan literary companions, never having been published alone. There is the first hardback Canaveral volume which also features The Resurrection of Jimber-Jaw, a tale of Earth, and Beyond the Farthest Star, a story set upon distant Poloda, or one might acquire the Ace paperback version of Wizard which is bound with another unrelated and Earth-bound Burroughs novelette: Pirate Blood.
The first Venus story, Pirates of Venus, has connections to more Burroughs venues than any of his other novels. The opening pages link to the world of Tarzan, the Pellucidar series, and the Mars series, as ERB reports having received news of the successful conclusion of Tarzan's expedition to Pellucidar (the inner world series) and tells of the safe return of Jason Gridley (connected to the Mars series) from the inner world. One might say that Pirates is connected to the Mars series in another way, since Mars was Carson Napier's original destination, which did not happen as he failed to take into consideration the gravitational influence of the moon. That mistake sent his ship off course and steered it toward Venus instead.
While it would be a stretch to say that the series is connected to ERB's Moon Maid trilogy, because of the influence of the lunar orb in this novel, it is worth mentioning that at least Earth's single satellite plays a role.
Pirates of Venus is linked to at least one other ERB world: The
real-life environs of the office of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. ERB not
only makes himself an important character in the story by receiving Carson
as a guest in his office, but also includes an appearance by his real-life
secretary, Ralph Rothmund.
Napier noted that "before I came to Venus I never carried a weapon of any d-scription." (EV, Chapter 25). However, he had certainly received some weapons training that came in handy on several occasions, especially on a world where it was common for both men and women to walk around armed with swords and daggers, and some had access to spears and R-ray guns as well.
In Chapter 5 of Pirates, he reflected on the fact that "I thanked the good fortune, however, that had led me to take up fencing seriously in Germany, for it was helping me now, though I could not long hold out against these men with the Venusan sword which was a new weapon to me."
After becoming a pirate aboard the So-fal, Carson put his German fencing tricks to good use in defeating the captain of the Sovong (PV 11).
Carson knew he had the disadvantage of not being fully accustomed to the wider Amtorian sword, but believed his strength and German dueling skills would make up for it. But soon he found "difficulty in defending myself" as the captain waged a savage cutting attack. "Being experienced, it did not take him long to discover I was a novice...."
Finally, with his back against the wall of the cabin, Carson got off defense and parried a cut, which gave him an opening which he used to stab the captain in the heart. During the battle, Carson had been nicked a few times in places where blood flowed readily, so his men thought he had been wounded far worse than he was: "Those three little scratches proved of great value to me, but they were nothing in comparison with the psychological effect produced by the wholly disproportionate amount of blood they had spilled upon my naked hide."
Carson always tried to make sure he had a sword with him, but after he got his hands on an R-ray gun, that became his preferred weapon. It never ran out of ammunition and would keep a steady, fatal ray shooting out as long as he held the trigger down. Great for sweeping crowds of onrushing attackers.
Still, on at least one notable occasion, Carson elected to use his sword instead of simply vanquishing an enemy with an R-ray blast. That was near the end of Carson of Venus, when Carson, like a film noir detective, tracked deposed jong Muso through the dives of Sanara to rescue the kidnapped Nna, little janjong of Taman.
Face to face with Muso, the dialogue except for the mention of swords -- sounded like something out of the American West, as Muso cried, "You wouldn't shoot me down in cold blood?"
Carson laid his pistol on the bench and replied, like the sheriff in a cowboy movie, "I should, but I am not going to. We'll fight with swords. Draw!"
With the life of little Nna at stake, this might not have been Carson's smartest option and indeed, moments later, Carson admitted to himself that "...I might have bitten off more than I could chew." Then, just when Carson thought he might be getting the advantage, Muso bet it all on a surprise move, throwing his sword at Carson's face. Just at that moment, little Nna, apparently deciding to choose her own destiny rather than have it decided for her by this pair, grabbed Carson's R-ray gun and shot Muso dead.
Certainly, Carson was not a swordsman in the class of John Carter. Had the Warlord of Barsoom even shown up on Amtor, he would have automatically become the best swordsman of four worlds -- adding Venus to Earth, Mars and Jupiter on his resume!
Carson Napier did have other skills besides being a mediocre swordsman. These physical attainments would come in handy on Venus. He had training in swimming, boxing and wrestling. His waterborne skills included diving and distance swimming, as revealed in his ability to make it through heavy seas to shore in Pirates of Venus, chapter 14.
Escaping from captivity in Lost on Venus, he dove into a river. "I have always been a good diver, but I doubt that I ever made a prettier swan dive in my life than I did that day from the parapet of the gloomy castle of Skor, the jong of Morov." (LV, 8)
His earthly athletic training no doubt contributed to his physical potency. Attacked by a basto (LV, 5), Carson grasped the charging beast's horns in his hands and "...thanks to my unusual strength, I succeeded in breaking the force of the impact as well as diverting the horns from my vitals."
His own strength was boosted by Venus's lesser gravity. In Pirates, Chapter 7, believing his friend Kamlot to be dead, he carried the body while noting, "I am extraordinarily muscular, and then, too, the gravitational pull of Venus favored me more than would that of earth, giving me an advantage of over twenty pounds in the dead weight I should have to carry and even a little better than that in the amount of my own live weight...."
While roaming the upper terraces of the Vepajan forest, seeking the spider web-like tarel, Carson noted that he lacked expertise in tree-climbing "for I am not naturally arboreal" (PV, 6). He soon adapted to such venues, though, as trees were often the only thing that stood between him and a violent death from some denizen of Amtor.
Though Carson became an able climber, he never mastered the art of staying out of trouble. He admitted, "I am rash. I take chances... oftentimes I know the thing I am about to do is stupid, and yet I go ahead and do it. I gamble with Death; my life is the stake. But I have a grand time, and so far I have always beaten Death to the draw." (WV, 1)
As a devil-may-care adventurer, Carson was free to get himself into trouble and, sometimes through skill and sometimes through blind luck, get himself out of it. Yet, one cringes at times as Carson charges, once again, unerringly toward disaster, such as in Escape. After surviving hostilities in many lands and safe with his beloved Duare and friend Ero Shan in the anotar, he made the questionable decision to descend for a closer look at huge war machines moving across the landscape. Only when the land vessels opened fire did he realize the mistake which not only endangered him, but his companions as well.
"With throttle wide I climbed, zig-zagging in an attempt to avoid their fire, upbraiding myself for being such a stupid fool as to have taken this unnecessary chance, and then a moment later, as I was congratulating myself upon having made good our escape, the nose of the anotar disappeared, together with the propeller." (EV, 43)
Edgar Rice Burroughs's first impression of Carson was that he was a man of 25 to 30 years of age, and Carson, later in Pirates, nailed down his age at 27. Carson had blond hair and blue eyes (in later volumes sometimes described as grey, and sometimes as blue-grey eyes), which made him stand out on Venus as no others had those particular features.
He told ERB that "My father was a British army officer, my mother an American girl from Virginia" and that, while his father was stationed in India, he had studied under the tutelage of an old Hindu named Chand Kabi. There he had learned advanced telepathy and the ability to project mental images to great distances. It was through this talent that Carson communicated his Venus adventures to Burroughs across 26 to 30 million miles of space.
Carson inherited his fortune from his grandfather. He first used it to finance a reckless lifestyle, then began using it to build rocket cars and attend flight school. He became an aerial stuntman, which led to his decision to build a rocket capable of flying to another planet.
Napier was not immune to miscalculation, however, and earned a Wrong-Way
Corrigan reputation among ERB fans for his mathematical calculations designed
to head his spaceship for Mars. His slipup in forgetting the moon's gravitational
pull swung him toward Venus instead. The rest is history -- maybe not something
you will find in any U.S. history book -- but certainly: History on Venus.
Readers could get a bit uncomfortable with Carson as he pressed his suit of this young lady, who appeared to at least superficially discourage his attentions. In the first place, Carson was 27 years old and Duare was not yet 19, we are told, so in some circles Carson would be called a cradle robber. But in a land where, thanks to a longevity serum, people could be expected to live a couple of thousand years or so while maintaining youthful vitality, perhaps age differences weren't so significant.
Kamlot, Carson's best friend in Pirates of Venus, called Duare "the hope of the world" because Mintep, the jong, had failed to produce a son though he'd tried with over 100 women. (Ol' Mintep got around a bit.) So, he was left with Duare, who wasn't allowed to wed (become a "love woman") until age 20 and then it would have to be to someone considered fit to father a royal heir.
Carson, from another planet and different in complexion from the average Venusan, would probably not have been the choice. Not only that, but when Dr. Danus had examined blood samples from the Earthman, "...he was shocked by the variety and nature of malignant bacteria they revealed." (PV, 5).
"You are a menace to the continued existence of human life on Amtor," Danus had said (fortunately, with a chuckle!).
But the real problem in the Carson-Duare relationship must be laid squarely at the feet of one man: Mintep himself. Carson was a stranger in Vepaja. He looked somewhat different than everyone else. When some invaders showed up later on, they were summarily killed and their bodies heaved over the railings of the walkways of the high Venusan city, carved out of huge trees that tower thousands of feet above the surface. But what did they do with Carson? Though a man of unknown background and intentions, they invited him in, fed him, gave him an Amtorian wardrobe, and started training him in the language, customs, geography and knowledge of Vepaja. Not only that, but Mintep gave this stranger a royal residence in -- of all places -- a suite which had a deck that adjoined the veranda where his virgin daughter lived.
True, her balcony was choked with foliage and Carson, at first, did not realize that anyone even lived there. But he would find out.
So, if Carson eventually got a look at Duare and she got a look at him, and something clicked, who was at fault? Mintep would have no one but himself to blame but, being Mintep, the idea of blaming himself would probably never even occur to him.
Duare was not allowed to speak to men, other than close family members or trusted servants, but it happened that she and Carson did exchange a few words.
Duare had probably been watching Carson through the foliage a long time before he ever saw her. But once he did catch a glimpse, it haunted him until the day he kissed his brains goodbye and jumped the fence between their decks and stood face to face with her.
Being ignorant of the Venusan custom, he blurted out his interest in seeing her, which only alarmed her. And then he did what any brute might do... he reached out and "seized her arm." Tarzan, who began smothering Jane with kisses at the first opportunity, at least had the excuse that he was an ignorant savage, unschooled in proper social behavior!
Duare, however, knew how to behave in such a situation. She "whipped the dagger from the scabbard at her girdle" and threatened to kill him. So Carson, the slow learner, followed that up with: "I love you."
Carson obviously did not believe in long courtships. Duare, however, did.
Alas, the course of true love is never easy. On a tarel-hunting expedition, Carson and Kamlot were captured by klangan and flown to a Thorist ship, on which they eventually led a mutiny and became the book-titled "pirates of Venus". Duare, meanwhile, was captured from off her veranda by klangan, and flown to the Sovong, another Thorist ship which became the pirates' first victim. (One might also wonder at the intelligence of Mintep in having his "hope of the world" daughter live in a place which was so easily penetrated by enemy forces).
Aboard the Sofal, after they had rescued Duare, Carson first heard Kamlot give full details of Duare's exact status.
None of this fazed Carson, who still believed that he would eventually become her mate. Had things gone differently, he would have been mistaken. As it was, circumstances left Carson washed up on a beach in Noobol, where he had an opportunity to rescue Duare again, after she had been (yet again) recaptured.
At the end of Pirates, Carson was taken captive as Duare was flown by a bird-man, presumably back to the Sofal. She called out to her suitor on the shore, "I love you."
The guy didn't actually get the girl, despite his best and seemingly unwelcome efforts, but at least she said she loved him at the end.
In the next book in the series, Lost on Venus, the relationship had to start from ground zero.
Carson, to some degree, acknowledged that he had been out of line. In Lost, Chapter 1, he mused: "During the eighteen years of her life she had not been permitted to see nor speak to no man other than members of the royal family and a few trusted servitors until I had invaded her garden and forced my unwelcome attentions upon her."
It just wasn't Duare's day... or even her year. Ripped out of what she thought was a secure home, she had gone from one captivity to another and now her only protection was from a man who periodically wanted her to speak words of love to him, as the prelude for the physical culmination that he obviously wanted. But she proved she could handle it—most of the time. Carson observed:
"Duare, notwithstanding all the hard-ships and dangers she was constantly un-dergoing, seldom complained. She remained remarkably cheerful in the face of what was now palpably the absolute certainty that we could never hope to find the dis-tant island where her father was king. Sometimes she was sober and silent for long periods, and I guessed that at those times she was sorrowing; but she did not share her sorrows with me. I wished that she would; we often share our sorrows with those we love.Later, Carson urged Duare along and she snapped back that, as the daughter of a jong, she was not accustomed to being ordered around. Carson threatened to spank her, causing her to cry again and say, "You take advantage of me because there is no one to protect me. I hate you..." LV, Chap-ter 6
"But one day she suddenly sat down and commenced to cry." ~ LV, Chapter 5
But a few pages later, Carson had hope. They made camp along a river in idyllic surroundings with singing birds, and Duare said, "I wish I were not the daughter of a jong."
And so it went, back and forth, as Duare was torn between her royal duty and her attraction to the man from Earth. Carson felt that if he would serve Duare well he would find some way of returning her to her home in Vepaja. But had he succeeded he likely would have been executed for violating the Vepajan traditions by spending so much time alone with Mintep's daughter, doing who knows what.
But the issue was finally resolved at the end of the volume as Carson rescued Duare from a mink-lined death row in the so-called Utopian city of Havatoo, and flew her away in the newly built airplane, the anotar.
She said, "I love you" at the end of Pirates.
She said it again at the end of Lost.
Only that time, she didn't take it back later.
Skor sent one of his walking dead to choke Carson to death in the middle of the night. Skor thought his henchman had succeeded, but the unconscious Carson awoke to see a beautiful girl peering down at him from a trap door in the floor of the room above. He accepted her invitation to come up so they could plan an escape. There, she told him she had seen him and Duare being brought into the castle grounds the day before, and that she had seen that same young woman escape early in the morning. "I do not know how she got out of her room, but from the window I saw her cross the outer courtyard. She climbed the wall on the river side, and she must have dropped into the river. I did not see her again," said the girl, Nalte.
Carson had been suspicious, at first, that the girl might be a confederate of Skor's, but "...as her fine eyes met mine in mu-tual appraisement, my fears of treachery vanished. I was sure that no duplicity lurked behind that lovely countenance."
Subsequent events bore out Carson's judgment. Nalte was a faithful companion as the two escaped the castle and made their way, through adventure and misadventure, to the city of Havatoo, where Nalte soon caught the eye of Carson's new friend, Ero Shan.
Nothing more was learned of Duare's fate until Chapter 16, when Carson crossed the River of Death from Havatoo to Kor-mor, Skor's Capital City, in search of the abducted Nalte, and went, disguised, into a banquet room where Skor marched in with none other than Duare.
From that moment on, the pace of the story moved quickly. Carson rescued Duare and Nalte and they evaded pursuit and returned to Havatoo. This immediately brought up problems for Duare since she had come from the city of the dead and the pristine pure leaders of Havatoo feared she would taint their city. Before long, she found herself under a sentence of death and Carson, in one of the most thrilling episodes in the Venus series, made a mad dash to save her, escaping with her in the anotar as sirens mobilized pursuers throughout the city.
There was no time for Duare to bring Carson up to date on what adventures befell her while they were apart. Nor is there any flashback in the next book, Carson of Venus. So we'll never know what happened to Duare while she was "offstage." We'll never know how she got out of her castle room, nor why she even thought it would be a good idea to escape without trying to bring Carson along to protect her from the dangers which constantly threatened travelers in Venus. We know that Skor didn't recapture her right away, because his search party was sighted in Chapter 9 by Carson and Nalte, and Duare was not with them. But we don't know how much longer she wandered and what perils she survived, nor how she came again under the power of the disgusting Skor.
This fact had occurred to Carson and apparently, in their adventures in Noobol together up to that time, there had been no occasion to take a dip, for he was ignorant of any swimming abilities she might have. In Chapter 9 of Lost on Venus, Carson worried, "I did not know that Duare could swim nor that she could not, but the chances were highly in favor of the latter possibility, since Duare had been born and reared in the tree city of Kooaad a thousand feet or more above the ground."
In Lost, one can only guess about Duare's ability to swim, since we don't have her first-person account of what happened. But in Escape on Venus, we learn for sure that she can hold her own in the water.
First, in the adventure in Mypos, Carson rescued Duare by blasting Tyros, the jong, and, as warriors closed in, they escaped under water. Carson narrated: "I led her to the mouth of the tunnel and followed her in. I must have been wrong in my estimate of the distance to the lake. It was far more than a hundred yards. I marveled at Duare's endurance, for I was almost all in and virtually at my last gasp, had I dared to gasp, when I saw light shining from above. As one we shot to the surface; and as our heads broke it, almost simultaneously, Duare flashed me a reassuring smile. Ah, what a girl!" EV, Chapter 16
Later in Escape, when Duare was stuck with Vik-Yor, the amoeba man from Voo-ad, she had to swim to keep the precious anotar from being borne away in a river current. "She looked into the deep flowing water. What ravenous monsters might lurk beneath that placid surface! To lose the anotar, was to forfeit her life and Carson's as well. It was that last thought that sent her into the midst of the hidden dangers of the flood. Striking out boldly, she swam strongly toward the anotar. A slimy body brushed against her leg. She expected great jaws to close upon her next, but nothing happened. She closed in upon the anotar; she seized a pontoon and climbed to the wing; she was safe!" EV, Chapter 40
It's hard to imagine Duare being allowed down from the trees in Vepaja to take a few swimming lessons in a creek or a lake. But those trees were pretty big around. Maybe in his stay in the tree city, Carson never got a chance to visit the tree with the Olympic-size swimming pool hewn out of the inside of a towering Amtorius Sequoius! But if Kooaad did not have some kind of swimming facility, then Carson must have eventually taught Duare to take a dip, or she had learned by the "sink or swim" method. And maybe that last option is, after all, the way she survived when she took a leap into the river from the wall of Skor's castle!
Duare eventually proved to be a worthy companion of Carson. One of the best decisions he made was to teach her how to fly the anotar, so that she was his equal in its operation. Her knowledge came in handy in their adventures during the war in Amlot in Carson of Venus.
In Escape, after Carson was captured and taken to Brokol, Duare flew the anotar from Japal to distant Brokol and was able to rescue her man from certain death in a Roman games-type stadium.
Later, when she escaped from the Voo-ad museum of natural history, she was able to select the right parts from the anotar repair kit and reattach the propeller properly while pausing to shoot down attackers, in order to escape.
When Carson and Duare shot to the surface in Myposa, he had thought: "In two worlds; yes, even in all the Universe I doubt that there is her like."
John Carter of Mars, husband of "the incomparable Dejah Thoris," would
argue. But at least these bold beauties reside on different planets, millions
of miles away from each other, where they can't try to scratch each other's
eyes out to determine who's No. 1!
On a planet like Amtor, there are few nations which warmly welcome strangers. And even the more accommodating peoples -- like those of Kooaad in Vepaja and Ha-vatoo in Noobol -- while friendly to a degree, have the mechanism in place to eliminate any wayfarers who didn't measure up. Places such as Sanara and Japal were hospitable, thanks to the fact that Carson made friends with a leading person of those lands before attempting to enter their cities.
The first totally unfriendly land the reader is introduced to is Thora, although Carson only hears about it but never actually gets there. From ERB's description, it sounds as if Thora is a Venusan equivalent of Earth's Communists. The official name of the country, The Free Land of Thora, is somewhat reminiscent of communist nation titles, such as The Peoples Republic of China.
Like the Communist appellation of "comrade," they refer to each other as "friend" (LV, Chapter 1) and to a ruler as an ongyan, Venusan for "great friend" (LV, 1) The name of Moosko, the Ongyan, suggests Moscow.
Zog, one of Carson's fellow pirates aboard the Sofal, said he had enjoyed more freedom as a slave than as a so-called free-man of Thora: "Then, I had one master; now I have as many masters as there are government officials, spies, and soldiers, none of whom cares anything about me, while my old master was kind to me and looked after my welfare." PV, Chapter 9.
Lost on Venus
It might seem that Thora would play a leading adversarial role in Carson's adventures, but as it turns out, his closest brush with the Thorists came from his brief time aboard a Thorist ship, on which he led a successful mutiny (Pirates), and a short time in the Noobolian city of Kapdor, which was in league with Thora (Lost). His adventures on Amtor never took him to the nation of Thora itself.
Noobol was a big continent and had room for more than just the Thorist-linked lands. Duare, reflecting on her geography lessons, said, "It is a sparsely settled land reaching, it is supposed, far into Strabol, the hot country, where no man may live. It is filled with wild beasts and savage tribes. There are scattered settlements along the coast, but most of these have been captured or reduced by the Thorists; the others, of course, would be equally dangerous, for they would consider all strangers as enemies." (LV, Chapter 3)
After escaping through sheer luck from a tribe of cannibalistic kloonobargan, Carson and Duare made their way to the land of Morov, first ending up in Skor's castle full of mindless zombies, and later in Skor's city of Kormor, which was similarly populated.
Both the Thorist city of Kapdor and Skor's domains of the dead were depressing places.
Through the brief look he had at the city of Noobol, Carson painted an unflattering picture. "There were many people on the streets of Kapdor, but they seemed dull and apathetic. Even the sight of a blond-haired, blue-eyed prisoner aroused no interest within their sodden brains. To me they appeared like beasts of burden, performing their dull tasks without the stimulus of imagination or of hope". LV, Chapter 1
The people in Skor's castle were de-scribed in a similarly depressing way: "Her eyes were glazed and staring. She moved with a slow, awkward shuffle. And now, behind her, came two men. They were much as she; there was something indescribably revolting about all three." LV, Chapter 7
Then there were the general surroundings. In Kapdor, Carson saw that "the buildings for the most part were mean hovels of a single story, but there were others that were more pretentious.... There were a number of stone buildings facing the streets along which I was conducted; but they were all box-like, unprepossessing structures with no hint of artistic or imaginative genius." There was beauty in Kapdor, but it all belonged to the headquarters of the regime.
Likewise, Lost, Chapter 7, was tell-titled as "The Gloomy Castle." Carson reported, "The enclosure across which we passed was barren except for the few trees that had been left standing. It was littered with refuse of all descriptions and was unspeakably disorderly and untidy.... The only spot from which any effort had been made to remove the litter was a few hundred square feet of stone flagging before the main entrance to the building."
If Burroughs was deliberately trying to compare the gloomy people and surroundings of Communist-like Kapdor with the revenants and habitat of Morov, then he succeeded. ERB makes his point: Life under Communism is like a living death.
Skor tried to blithely explain away the dullness of his subjects by saying his specimens were that way only because they were dull people in life (LV, Chapter 9). If any of his "specimens" came from Thorist regimes, he'd have a point.
One other city in Noobol was much nicer, depending on one's definition of nice. Havatoo appeared to be a model city, Carson even reflecting upon it as "Utopian." (CV, 16) Carson, temporarily traveling with newly acquired sidekick Nalte, was welcomed there. The city seemed to have solved all of the world's problems and people lived together in peace and harmony. In fact, unhappiness was not tolerated in Havatoo. To maintain that harmony, undesirables, such as the unintelligent or "four strikes and you're out" wrong-doers (CV, 12), were "destroyed" for the good of everyone else. It was a bit dicey for Carson because the leaders at first decided to destroy him because of his poor breeding, but then relented when he made a chance remark about his space travel and they realized he could contribute to their culture by becoming a teacher of astronomy. As a side-line, Napier introduced the concept of flying machines, the airplane.
When Carson rescued Duare from Kor-mor and brought her to Havatoo, their stay was short-lived -- the Havatooans decided Duare had too much baggage, having lived for awhile in the dead city and might have picked up who-knows-what in germs, bad habits, etc. So Carson and Duare make a sudden aerial exit in the newly constructed anotar.
Carson of Venus
The primary location of Carson of Venus was the kingdom of Korva in the country of Anlap and centered around the cities of Sanara and Amlot. But there was a brief interlude at the start of the book where Carson and Duare played capture and escape with a tribe of people in which women dominated, and the weak men answered to names such as Lula and Ellie.
The Nazi-like Zani controlled the city of Amlot and were besieging Sanara, but with Carson on the job the war was soon won with the right side winning control, the right side being not only the more decent guys, but also being the guys with whom Carson was friendly, and he not only won the right for him and Duare to live in Sanara, but also became the adopted son of Taman, the new jong of Sanara.
ERB began writing Carson in 1937 and the rise of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany influenced him to bring a Nazi-like regime in as Carson's new foe. The story is a masterpiece of satire, with ERB using his Zani characters to show that much of Nazi practice was plain silly, while -- at the same time -- illustrating the horror of it all.
On the silly side, ERB mocked the "Heil Hitler" salute of the Nazis with the Zani cry: "Maltu Mephis." Men not in uniform had to stand on their heads when Mephis passed by, probably a parody of the Nazi salute. Carson referred to these customs as "the silly flubdub of Zani ritual."
ERB's version of the goose-stepping Nazi troops was told with a straight literary face, making it all the more hilarious: "The entire company took three steps forward, hopped once on the left foot, took three more steps forward, leaped straight up to a height of about two feet, and then re-peated" and all the while the men chanted 'Maltu Mephis' in a sing-song voice." Chapter 9
As Zerka and Carson watched the troops, Zerka told him that this marching routine was the brainchild of Mephis himself. "I could easily imagine that might be so," said Carson -- dryly, no doubt.
On the horror side, the rule of Mephis, like that of Hitler, went hand in hand with "race purification."
In Carson, Chapter 7, Zani guards confronted a man whose great-grandmother had been nursed by a woman of Ator. The guards beat him, then dragged him away. Zerka explained the warped Zani rationale: "The milk and therefore the blood of an Atorian entered the veins of an ancestor, thereby contaminating the pure blood of the super race of Korva."
Later, the Zani officer Spehon gave a little more specificity to the evils wrought by Atorians, saying the Zanis kill them "...because they have large ears. We must keep the blood of the Korvans pure." (Chapter 9)
Mephis's ally, Muso, the corrupt jong who headed Sanara until he was overthrown, was probably ERB's version of Italy's Mussolini. As of the 1937 writing of Carson, Mussolini and Hitler were two European strong men who were sometimes friendly, sometimes uneasy with one another, but their alliance was solidified in 1938, making ERB's relation between Muso and Mephis a bit prophetic.
The Del-Rey paperback of Carson of Venus shows the copyright date as 1930 -- a neat trick for a book not written until 1937 and not published for the first time until 1938! Someone with only the Del-Rey paperback might incorrectly conclude that all of ERB's Nazi-Zani references were an amazing bit of prophetic writing!
ERB is indeed prophetic in Chapter 10, "The Prison of Death," in which he describes the horrors of Zani imprisonment and torture, and even includes a furnace where the bodies of the slain prisoners are cremated. Though the Nazi persecution of the Jews and others was well under way, in ever-escalating phases in the 30s, the death camps and furnaces were a thing yet in the future when ERB wrote this novel.
Assigned to prison staff duty, Carson was given a tour by a Zani guard who showed him an imprisoned doctor whose crime was that he had alleviated the agony of an Atorian who was dying of an incurable disease. "Can you imagine?" asked the guard. Carson's reply was far over the head of the guard's discernment abilities: "I am afraid that my imagination is permanently incapacitated. There are things that transcend the limits of a normal imagination. Today you have shown me such things."
Escape on Venus
In Escape on Venus, Carson and Duare made it into the Northern Hemisphere of Amtor and encountered peoples unknown to those in the south. Here were a wild batch of denizens, with our lovebirds encountering and then escaping from weird people after weird people.
Unconventional methods of reproduction and/or child-rearing were featured
among three of the humanoid-type groups they encountered in this volume.
First were the Myposans, who had fish heads and aquatic qualities, especially when young. Carson, enslaved, was assigned to help keep flying predators, called guy-pals, from plucking fish out of the pools. But these weren't ordinary fish, they were the tadpole-like young who were developing into amphibious, human-like adults.
ERB couldn't resist giving one of the adult "fish" the name of Kod.
After escaping and finding refuge in Ja-pal, the land of the Myposans' enemies, and totally human for a change, Carson was captured and had a solo adventure in the land of green men, Brokol, where was found the second instance of unusual child-rearing: The kids literally grew on trees. Perhaps Brokol was short for broccoli.
Captives in Brokol were generally sacrificed to the fire goddess. Before meeting her, Carson heard of her in a rare conversation with a soldier of the normally taciturn Brokolians. "...she is not a woman; she is more than a woman. She was not born of woman, nor did she ever hang from any plants." EV, Chapter 24
After they came to the city, Carson learned firsthand what that meant. As he and fellow prisoner Jonda, also a real human, were marched to meet the goddess, they passed trees with little Brokolians, ranging from one to 15 inches, some squirming like newborns. Jonda said to Carson: "Pretty nearly ripe and about to fall off." EV, Chapter 25
Brokol was the only land Carson encountered where the people had any kind of a religion, and that particular religion, in true ERB fashion, was overthrown while Carson was there. Carson wasn't the one responsible for doing the overthrowing, but his arrival in Brokol set in motion the events which led to the downfall of the goddess, who was actually a U.S. citizen who had probably been mysteriously transported there from Earth. So, while she had certainly been born of a woman, she had never hung from a tree.
Duare, meanwhile, had been safe among the tribesmen of Timal, allies of Japal. After Kandor helped Duare repair the anotar, she flew to Brokol in time to rescue Carson and Jonda from kloonobargan in a Roman games-style arena.
Next in Escape, Carson and Duare fell into the hands of the fine citizens of Voo-ad, most of whom had a red line centered on their body. That red line was an element of the third unusual method of reproduction that is found in this book. At a certain time in their lives, these "amoeba people" reproduced by literally splitting along the red line so each half could grow a new half.
Carson and Duare were tricked into eating a paralyzing drug and then suspended in the city's Museum of Natural History as exhibits... forever. Ero Shan, Carson's friend from Havatoo (Lost on Venus) was also on display. So at least they had company.
Through the aid of a rebel named Vik-yor, Duare was re-ambulated and escaped. Her plan was to come back and rescue Carson and Ero Shan but first she had to go through a solo adventure with Vik-yor until she was able to get the upper hand from him and return and effect the rescue.
After he and Ero Shan were freed, Carson released all the other people in the museum, many of whom were warriors who were highly irritated at having had to hang around for so long, and as the trio flew out of the city the freed warriors sacked and torched it.
Finally in Escape, Carson, Duare and Ero Shan encountered a land of four warring cities where combat engagements were fought with huge land battleships. They were initially captured because of Carson's stupidity in flying the anotar too close to their warships. He eventually received a fitting punishment -- becoming a slave whose job was to shovel manure.
After their adventures in that land, the trio had to escape on the ground and went over the mountains riding in a small scout ship swiped from the Falsa navy, aided by the Cloud People that Carson had be-friended.
The Wizard of Venus
The last adventure is The Wizard of Venus, in which Carson and Ero Shan went on an excursion without Duare (Duare loathers rejoice) and ended up in an Arthurian land where they had to outwit, outplay and outlast the self-styled wizard, Morgas, in order to survive.
Here, for the first time on record since he got to Amtor, Carson employed
the illusionary telepathic powers he had first demonstrated to ERB back
in Pirates. And thus we learn why Carson hadn't used his powers
all along: It would have been too easy for him to get out of his previous
pickles and would have made for less exciting reading!
This ability was unveiled to the reader beginning with the opening line of Pirates of Venus: "If a female figure in a white shroud enters your bedchamber at midnight on the thirteenth day of this month, answer this letter. Otherwise, do not."
That's how Carson introduced himself to ERB. If his experiment worked on ERB, it would mean that he and the author were in mental harmony, and Carson could probably easily communicate with him from outer space, so that a waiting world would be able to learn of his adventures there.
The experiment was successful. ERB saw the vision Carson sent and accurately heard what it said, and he and Carson were in business.
The California adventurer had acquired this skill while living in India as a child. Carson had studied under a Hindu mystic named Chand Kabi, who taught him enhanced telepathy skills.
In his Foreword to The Wizard of Venus, ERB said that he had often wondered why Carson used his mystic power so infrequently "...to meet the emergencies which so often confront him."
It was true that Carson had used his projection powers sparingly, but he did sometimes report on other uses of his abilities.
Aboard the Sofal in Pirates, Carson claimed his gift of psychic powers was what justified his pursuit of Duare: "...from the first moment that I had seen this girl watching me from the garden in Vepaja, I had been impressed by an inner consciousness of her interest in me, her more than simply interest. It was just one of those things that are the children of old Chand Kabi's training, a training that has made me infinitely more intuitive than a woman." (Chapter 12)
Carson once claimed a foresight ability, but probably only as a ruse. When confronting Zani prison guard Torko, Carson said, "I'm psychic... I even know things are going to happen before they do." (CV, Chapter 15). Here Carson was not actually relying on special abilities, but on preplanned tactics he had set in motion.
Carson's telepathic abilities may have worked against him when he and Duare were taken prisoner by the Myposans in Escape on Venus, Chapter 4: "Perhaps there are few people more gifted with telepathic powers than I, yet I do not always profit by my knowledge. Had I, I should not then have thought about my pistol, for while I was wondering why Ulirus had not taken it from me, he pointed to it and asked me what it was. Of course it might have been only coincidence."
In Wizard, Carson gave full reign to his mystical powers, making several people "see things" so he and Ero Shan could rescue Vanaja and others from the psychological, not magical, spell that had been cast by Morgas.
After freeing Vanaja by use of his powers, Carson decided not to fully explain to Ero Shan -- right then -- exactly what he had done. "Had I, Vanaja would doubtless have immediately jumped to the conclusion that I was a wizard, and I had good reason to suspect that wizards might not be overly popular with the Pandar family."
However, with Carson prevailing in the preliminary and final showdowns
with Morgas, and with the known accomplishments of his psychic training,
including his successful transmission of all the Venus stories to ERB,
we conclude that Carson Napier is, after all, the true "Wizard of Venus."
All of those duties might keep a fellow pretty busy, but Danus didn't have to run a day-to-day practice because the Venusan longevity serum "...not only provides immunity from all diseases but insures the complete restoration of all wasted tissue." (Chapter 5)
So, the times when Danus's services would be needed was usually only when someone got injured. He had plenty of free time to spend teaching Carson the history of Vepaja, Amtorian geography and the like.
The enemy nation of Thora, however, came into being with an uprising that resulted in elimination of much of the cultured, educated class. So the Communist-like Thorans conducted raids on Vepaja with the goal of kidnapping intelligent people, including doctors, to serve their diseased and aging population.
Thora's tactics were similar to those of the Kalkars, the Soviet-like conquering aliens in ERB's The Moon Men, published in 1925. After taking over the Earth, "Practically all the men who understood the technical details of operation and maintenance, or engineering and mechanics, belonged to the more intelligent class of earthmen and were, consequently, immediately thrown out of employment and later killed." (Moon Men, Chapter 2)
When Carson and Kamlot were captured and brought aboard the Thoran ship Sofal, (PV, Chapter 8), the captain asked, "Is either of you a doctor?"
Kamlot spoke up first and gave his occupation as a hunter and woodcarver. Carson at first identified himself as an aviator, which the Venusan skipper could not pronounce, spell or understand. Then, when asked if he were a doctor, the quick-thinking Carson replied "Yes." As the captain ordered them to be taken away, he told the guard: "...be careful of this one; he is a doctor."
Later, when Moosko the ongyan, blazing mad at Carson's disrespect for him, brought the earthman before the jong of the Thorist-satellite Kapdor, the jong wanted to know if Carson was a doctor and Moo-sko told him it didn't matter; he deserved to be executed regardless because he had grossly disrespected the Thoran ongyan.
The jong briefly objected: "But we need doctors badly. We are dying of disease and old age. If we do not have a doctor soon, we shall all be dead." LV, Chapter 2
Later in Lost, Chapter 7, Skor said he was from the northern part of Strabol, the hot region, and disparaged the level of science in that area. "It is a land of fools. They frown upon true science and progress." So, presumably, their health care system was lacking.
Of course, Skor was no model scientist. He was more of a Dr. Frankenstein, complete with castle. He himself apparently had access to the Venusan longevity serum, as he said he left the land of his birth 100 years before. How did he manage to obtain such a serum in the unscientific region? He didn't say. But while he apparently had solved his own health problem, his idea of immortality for others was to turn them into zombies, or revenants, with limited will power. Carson and Duare had to contend with these walking dead not only in the castle but later in Skor's capital city of Kormor.
Long Life for Carson and Duare?
A longevity serum, that doubled as an immunity and rejuvenation shot, would make a lot of health care programs unnecessary on Amtor.
In Pirates of Venus, Chapter 6, Carson received an injection of the longevity se-rum, which could help someone live indefinitely, as long as they got repeat doses every two years.
Just how long one could live with regular doses is not known, but Danus had told Carson that the serum had been perfected 1,000 years before and there were some people still around who had gotten the first-ever doses.
Carson left Vepaja involuntarily. But subsequent events convinced him it was a great idea to stay clear of the place. So what would happen when his two-year inoculation wore off?
Luckily for him, he eventually wound up in Havatoo, a city greatly advanced in science.
In Havatoo, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that they had a serum that would give immunity from old age for two or three hundred years. The bad news was that you wouldn't get a second dose. Ero Shan explained: "It was quite apparent that if we lived forever the number of children that could be permitted would be too small to result in any considerable improvement of the race, and so we have refused immortality in the interest of future generations and of all Amtor." (LV, Chapter 13)
So, their logic was different from those in Vepaja. Since the Vepaji did like the idea of living as long as possible, they solved the overpopulation potential by limiting the number of children which could be born.
After Carson passed muster and was declared fit to remain as a fully honorable citizen of Havatoo, he was accorded all rights and privileges of citizenship. The book doesn't say if or when he was given their 200-300-year serum, but one would conclude he had received it, because in Chapter 13, when Korgan Kantum Mohar, the warrior physicist, asked Carson to build the first airplane on Venus, Carson replied that it might take a lot of experimentation to construct a successful one. The smiling Mohar responded: "You have two or three hundred years."
Yet, in Carson of Venus, Chapter 4, Carson made a passing reference to the longevity serum he had received from Danus, but made no mention of the more powerful shot he likely received in Hava-too. In Carson, Chapter 5, he mentioned that a year had passed since Duare had originally been kidnapped from Vepaja. Since Carson left Vepaja about the same time, that means that-- if he was relying only on the inoculation from Vepaja -- he was one year away from needing the booster shot!
And what about Duare? She was only 18 when kidnapped by the Klangan and may not have even been old enough to receive her first shot! If she hadn't, and if she was counting on maintaining her young, 20-something good looks for awhile, she would soon need either her first shot, or a booster, as well!
In Escape on Venus, Chapter 2, Carson and Duare were flying in the anotar when Carson talked as if he had received a full 1,000-year serum. "...for while I live I shall never admit the possibility of death," said Carson. "Somehow, it doesn't seem to be for me—at least not since Danus injected the longevity serum into my veins and told me that I might live a thousand years. You see, I am curious to know if he were right."
Later in Escape, Chapter 39, the mostly paralyzed Carson was on exhibit in Voo-ad while Duare was stuck flying around in the anotar with Vik-yor, continually trying to get the upper hand so she could return and rescue Carson. In a confrontation with an attacking tharban, Duare thought: "She was about to die, and Carson would never know. He would hang there on that wall until death released him, the longevity serum with which he had been inoculated in Vepaja, a curse rather than a blessing."
So it seems that both Carson and Duare forgot that serum "booster shots" must be given every two years, and Carson had completely forgotten about the 200-300 year serum he had most likely received in Havatoo. Both were expecting to live 1,000 years without benefit of repeat doses.
At the end of Escape, Carson noted that another year had passed since their adventure in Korva. So, adding the year that Carson mentioned at the start of Carson of Venus, they had now been adventuring for two years, and if Carson had actually not received an inoculation in Havatoo, they were both due for a shot now!
Ah, but since Carson and Duare wound up as residents of the city of
Sanara, and since the pair had re-established friendly relations with Havatoo,
one can imagine that both Carson and Duare would some-how manage to get
the needed injections some day to keep them alive, adventuring, and good-looking
for years to come.
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 one.
Fortunately 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
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 and T-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, 1).
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.
There, 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 atten-tion 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 Shan.
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 Amtor.
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.
Some famous weather scenes in Burroughs works include the young Tarzan's comparison of an approaching rainstorm to lions successfully hunting their prey in Jungle Tales of Tarzan, and the huge Barsoomian tempest which drove the flier of Tara of Helium overnight and much of the following day, leading her to an eventual adventure among The Chessmen of Mars.
In Pellucidar, the eternal noonday sun was ever present and ever directly overhead and ERB referred to it frequently in those novels, as his characters played out their risky lives on the exotic landscape below.
With a planet like Venus, perpetually enveloped in clouds, one could expect cloudy weather to have a role in some of the stories, although ERB used it sometimes just for effect, to help stimulate the reader's imagination in envisioning the world in which his characters walked.
An example comes from Lost on Venus, Chapter 3. "The relative proximity of the sun lights up the inner cloud envelope brilliantly, but it is a diffused light that casts no well-defined shadows nor produces contrasting highlights. There is an all-pervading glow from above that blends with the perpetual light emanating from the soil, and the resultant scene is that of a soft and beautiful pastel."
But other times, the weather is a plot factor. In Chapter 14 of Pirates of Venus, a fierce gale arose and Kiron discouraged Carson from sailing immediately to Noo-bol, because "No boat could live in this sea."
A few minutes later, after Carson had been swept overboard by a "Titan" wave, he said amen to Kiron's statement and added "...and no swimmer could breast the terrific onslaught of those racing, wind-driven mountains of water that might no longer be described by so puny a word as wave."
Though the waves beat him about mercilessly, he managed to keep his head above water and the tempest eventually rough-housed him to shore.
ERB describes Venus as surrounded by two cloud envelopes -- outer and inner. Venusans knew nothing of the solar orb we call the sun, so they attributed the source of heat and light to "the all-enveloping fire which rose from the molten mass upon which Amtor is supposed to float." But those clouds occasionally parted, and when they did the proximity of the sun can cause a hot time on Venus. In the opening of Escape on Venus, the sun broke through the clouds.
By Chapter 2, the sun had burnt through both layers so that "the ocean commenced to boil.... Vast clouds of steam arose. The heat increased."
Carson turned the anotar and tried to outrace the searing heat. "But then the wind changed! It blew in a sudden furious gust from the south, bringing with it stifling heat that was almost suffocating. Clouds of condensing vapor whirled and swirled about us, drenching us with mois-ture and reducing visibility almost to zero."
The wind became a gale and then increased to hurricane force and Carson could see nothing beyond the nose of the anotar. But they survived, and eventually the two were flying over a new country, ready to land for food and water, get captured and have an adventure.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, Ero Shan, in an anotar he had built from Carson's plans after Carson and Duare had fled Havatoo, was caught in the same storm. They found that out when they met Ero Shan again in Escape, Chapter 33, when all had become prisoners, and exhibits, in the Natural History Museum of Voo-ad. "The Sun broke through rifts in the cloud envelopes, causing terrific winds, and making the ocean boil," Ero Shan said, describing the same storm that Carson and Duare had survived.
It was not surprising that Ero Shan should speak of the sun, since Carson's public service in Havatoo had been to teach the science of astronomy, previously unknown to Amtorians.
In The Wizard of Venus, Carson and Ero Shan had a different encounter with the clouds. That time the sun did not break through to boil anything, but the clouds themselves dropped lower than usual and, at the same time, the compass on the anotar went awry.
As the clouds continued to descend, Carson brought the plane in for a landing to await the time when they would lift again and visibility would return. While on the ground, they had the adventure with the unfriendly neighborhood self-styled wizard, Morgas.
My favorite weather story in the Venus series, however, comes in Lost on Venus, Chapter 1, with a plain old earth-style rainstorm. Maybe I like this story because I live in rainy Washington state and it reminds me of home.
Carson had escaped The Room of the Seven Doors in time to locate and rescue Duare from the unwanted advances of Moosko. Then, it was time to get out of the city of Kapdor -- quickly!
"When I went to the window, I found that it had commenced to rain," Carson said.
The rain helped them, because "it had driven all within doors."
Since Moosko only visited Kapdor occasionally, Duare figured that if Carson took the slain ongyan's ring, with his insignia of office, that it could be useful in getting them past the gatekeepers. "Furthermore," she said, "it is night; and with the darkness and the rain the danger that your imposture will be discovered is mini-mized."
In the street, "The drizzle had become a downpour. Objects were indiscernible a few yards distant, and for this I was thankful." As they got nearer the gate, "The rain in-creased in violence."
While the rain was beneficial, it also created a problem. Duare warned Carson that the guard would be suspicious because "...you can have no possible excuse for wishing to leave the safety of a walled city on a night like this...."
As she predicted, the guard was doubtful, and it took a bold ruse by Carson to get him to open the gate before pursuers arrived. But once he had, "Duare and I hastened into the outer darkness and were lost to his view in the rain."
And not only lost to view, but lost on Venus, as the title of the book and the final line of Chapter 2 makes clear.
But it was better than Carson being dead and Duare suffering a fate worse than death!
On Amtor, however, ERB eliminated organized religion as a whipping boy by having Carson learn, early, that there was no such things on Amtor.
Having mentioned to his teacher, Danus, that he had caught a fleeting glimpse of a girl (Duare) in a garden, the instructor cautioned him not to mention it to anyone, and to forget it happened.
Carson reasoned: "It occurred to me that she might be a priestess of some holy order, but I was forced to discard that theory becauase of my belief that these people had no religion, at least none that I could discover in my talks with Danus. I had attempted to describe some of our earthly religious beliefs to him, but he simply could not perceive either their purpose or meaning any more than he could visualize the solar system of the universe." (PV, Chapter 5)
Of course, knowledge is not universal on Venus but for the most part the Vepajan instructor was correct. Carson did not encounter any religion in his travels until he made it into the Northern Hemisphere in Escape on Venus, and was taken, a captive, to the land of Brokol, where he encountered the only recorded religious system he'd known on Venus, the cult of the fire goddess, Loto-el-Ho-Ganja (most high more than woman).
However, the Vepajans did have a kind of religion, even though they did not characterize it as such.
When Kamlot and Carson, aboard the Sofal, discussed Duare, Carson began, for the first time, to understand just how special she really was. Kamlot declared: " '...all Vepaja loves her -- she is the virgin daughter of a Vepajan jong!' "
Carson thought: "Had he been announcing the presence of a goddess on shipboard, his tone could have been no more reverential and awed." PV, Chapter 11
A few lines later, Kamlot himself made the comparison: " 'You have told me of the divinities of that strange world from which you come; the persons of the jong and his children are similarly sacred to us.'"
And then, Carson uttered a false prophecy: "Then, of course, they shall be sacred to me."
Long after Duare had yielded her love and, presumably, her body to Carson, she herself made the same comparison in the opening pages of Carson of Venus.
Telling Carson that he must never fall into the hands of her father, she said, "The unwritten law that decrees this thing is as old as the ancient empire of Vepaja. You have told me of the gods and goddesses of the religions of your world. In Vepaja the royal family occupies a similar position in the minds and hearts of the people, and this is especially true of the virgin daughter of a jong -- she is absolutely sacrosanct. To look at her is an offense; to speak to her is a crime punishable by death."
But Carson eventually found a more earthlike religious system. In the strange case of the goddess of Brokol, Carson heard, for the first time, a resident of Venus use the word "God"—the English word "God"—when he said, "Thank God, this is the end. I feel it." EV, Chapter 28
The story broadly hinted that this goddess was actually from Brooklyn in the United States, and although no details were provided, the reader familiar with Burroughs's other works would conclude she had been mysteriously transported to Venus in the same way that John Carter and Ulysses Paxton had been transported to Mars.
Carson was surprised to hear her utter the word "God" in English. "There is no word for God in Amtorian. Most High More than Woman of the fire is the nearest approach to the name of a deity that I have ever heard here," he observed.
Carson himself appeared to be a man who, while familiar with the religions of Earth, did not particularly adhere to any. In Pirates, Chapter 14, he was swept overboard but brought safely to shore in such a way that he exclaimed "I had been the beneficiary of a miracle." However, he added, "A more devout man would have given thanks, but I felt that as yet I had little for which to give thanks."
In Pirates, Chapter 3, as his off-course rocket hurtled toward the sun, he mused, "What if I were to approach Venus more closely than any other human being of all time! It meant nothing. Were I to see God, himself, even that would mean nothing."
I don't think Carson was actually contemplating meeting God, but rather simply using the word as a way of expressing the futility that he felt as he approached his end in a way that would go unnoticed by his fellow man.
While trying to figure out how to safely escape from the room of the Seven Doors in Lost on Venus, he mused about having had his share of lucky breaks and how Fate had guided him.
"Yet I was not unmindful of that sound advice, 'Put your trust in God, my boys; and keep your powder dry!' In this event I might have paraphrased it to read, 'Put your trust in fate, but keep an avenue of retreat open!' "
But while Carson was no parson, he later showed he can think about the almighty on certain occasions.
For example, after the battle with the giant Amtorian spiker-like creature, Carson was left with what he believed was the dead body of non-religious Kamlot. He de-cided he would try to do the "right thing," so, he found a suitable location on the floor of the Vepajan forest to dig a grave.
"While I worked I tried to recall the service for the dead. I wanted Kamlot to have as decent and orderly a burial as I could contrive. I wondered what God would think about it, but I had no doubt but that he would receive this first Amtorian soul to be launched into the unknown with a Christian burial and welcome him with open arms."
So, at least for this moment, Carson thought it would do some good to call on God. But that was for Kamlot. For himself, Carson tended not to depend too heavily on God but did make references to deity in the sense that a lot of people do, simply as a figure of speech.
Aboard the anotar in Chapter 2 of Escape, the anotar was buffeted by heavy winds. "How long we were the plaything of the Storm God, I may only guess; but it was not until almost dawn that the wind abated a little, and once more we were permitted to have some voice in the direction of our destiny...."
There are other references to the supernatural realms scattered about the books, such as "the peace of heaven" and "bats out of hell."
But one can wonder: If there is no God who watches over the events of Amtor, then who do its people turn to when they need help beyond their own abilities?
In Escape, Carson met Kandar of Japal, a fellow slave of the Myposans. "Our work ashore is not heavy," Kandar explained, "and we are not treated so very badly; but at sea -- that is different. Pray that you are not sent to sea."
One might wonder just who, exactly, Kandar meant that Carson should pray to.
We don't know much about the culture of Kandar's home of Japal, but maybe they believed in God and Kandar might have influenced Carson to believe as well. Because, after those harrowing experiences in Mypos, Carson quit thanking "fate" and the "good fortune" for getting Duare and him out of trouble, but credited God Himself: "I shall never forget with what a sense of gratitude to God and with what relief we felt the ship rise above the menace of this inhospitable land." EV, Chapter 16
And then Carson himself, in The Wizard of Venus, called for sacred petition on the part of Ero Shan. The two were imprisoned in the castle of Morgas, the supposed wizard, when Carson decided to put his mind to work to create some telepathic images that might help spring them from their cell. He told Ero Shan that while he was busy with his telepathy, "...you may devote yourself to silent prayer."
It didn't say if Ero Shan knew who to pray to or if he understood the
definition of the word prayer, but he did lapse into at least a "moment
And if he did pray, the prayer was answered.
But were there dogs on Venus?
The closest animals the reader finds to dogs are the hunting pack of Skor of Morov. Carson and Duare encountered them after crossing the land of Noobol through the large, dangerous forest. "I chanced to glance back and saw a strange animal standing on the opposite rim watching us. It was about the size of a German police dog, but there the similarity ceased. It had a massive, curved beak remarkably similar to that of a parrot; and its body was covered with feathers; but it was no bird, for it went on four legs and had no wings. Forward of its two short ears were three horns, one in front of either ear and the third growing midway between the others. As it turned part way around to look back at something we could not see, I saw that it had no tail. At a distance its legs and feet appeared bird-like." (LV, Chapter 7)
The animals voiced "a hoarse, wailing scream" which Carson referred to as "baying." The dogs also cackled. Later, they were said to be whistling. So on Venus, it's the dog that whistles instead of the master.
When Carson fired an arrow at one, the others attacked and devoured it. Even on Venus, it's a dog-eat-dog world.
However, they turned out to be animals called kazars, domesticated by Skor, who showed up shortly; Skor used the kazars for hunting and protection.
Later, after Carson and newfound acquaintance Nalte escaped from Skor's gloomy castle in search of the missing Duare, the duo had to hide when they spotted Skor with his pack, apparently out hunting for all the escapees.
That's about the last we hear of any kind of "dog" in the Venus series until Escape on Venus, and then ERB reintroduces them in a brief humorous reference to what sounds a lot like Earth dogs.
In the land of Brokol, where men turn dark green with anger, and infants grow on trees, Carson briefly discussed infant mortality. While those babies were dangling from the branches, guypals (the same flying beasts which ravaged the pools of polly-wog people in Mypos) take their toll. Insects are no friend of the little green babies either.
But Carson reassured the readers:
"...as the Brokols are polygamous and both the ground and the females ex-tremely fertile, there is little danger that race suicide will exterminate them.
"I might mention that no dogs are al-lowed in the orchards."
So, those inviting trees were not to have foreign substances sprayed or trick-led onto them by any passing beasts who might desire to hike a hind leg next to a tree.
No further description of thoese Brokolian "dogs" is provided, so one might wonder: Are these "dogs" more of the kazar-like creatures, or, was Loto-el-Hoo-Ganja Kum O Raj out walking her pregnant dog when she (along with the animal) was mysteriously transported there from Brooklyn?
Or was Carson just inserting a little joke that ERB reported with a straight face?
I Still Live!
ERB's Martian series probably first comes to the mind of fans as the place to look to find the phrase, and the concept, "I still live." Most notably, Tara of Helium breathed the exact phrase on several occasions as she "recalled the Spartan stubbornness of her sire in the face of certain annihilation."
But the term is really characteristic of all Burroughs heroes and heroines, and those on Venus are no exception.
In his rocket ship, speeding toward what he thought would be a death either from the sun's increasing heat or a deadly collision with Venus (PV, Chapter 3), Carson mused: "Yet I was excited. I cannot say that I felt fear. I have no fear of death -- hat left me when my mother died; but now that the great adventure loomed so close I was overwhelmed by contemplation of it and the great wonder that it induced. What would follow?"
As it became more apparent that the ship would crash on Venus, Carson got ready: "Even though I did not shrink from death... the urge to live that is born with each of us compelled me to make the same preparations to land that I should have had I successfully reached my original goal, Mars."
Later, on Venus itself, Carson had been swept overboard in a storm but had managed to stay afloat and at last was contemplating a dangerous landing on a rocky, surf-pounded shore. "As I drew nearer it, many things, some of them quite irrelevant, passed through my mind; but some were relevant, among them the Burial Service. It was not a nice time to think of this, but then we cannot always control our thoughts; however, 'In the midst of life we are in death' seemed wholly appropriate to my situation. By twisting it a bit, I achieved something that contained the germ of hope -- in the midst of death there is life. Perhaps --" (PV, 14)
His narration continued: "A great wave lifted me upon its crest and carried me forward—the end had come! With the speed of a race horse it swept me toward my doom; a welter of spume engulfed my head; I was twisted and turned as a cork in a whirlpool; yet I struggled to lift my mouth above the surface for an occasional gasp of air; I fought to live for a brief moment longer, that I might not be dead when I was dashed by the merciless sea against the merciless rocks -- thus dominating is the urge to live."
In Lost on Venus, Chapter 22, appropriately titled "To Live or Die?", Carson and Nalte were surrounded by zangans -- beast men, called by Carson "Human Tigers." Both thought they were about to die.
Carson said, "I am saving the last second in which to die. Until then I shall not admit that there is ever to be a last second for me, and then it will be too later to matter."
Nalte said she admired him for saying that, "But at least it will be a quick death."
After Carson loosed his last arrow, Nalte said, "Hold me close. I am not afraid to die, but I do not want to be alone...."
Replied Carson, "You are not dead yet, Nalte." He added, to ERB: "I couldn't think of anything else to say. It must have sounded foolish at such a time, but Nalte ignored it."
But luckily for both, they were shortly to be introduced to Ero Shan from Hava-too who had ridden to their rescue with a company of men.
In Escape on Venus, Chapter 2, as Carson and Duare battled the storm in the anotar, Duare said, "We have lived. Life can hold nothing better for us than that which we have enjoyed. I am not afraid to die. Are you, Carson?"
"That is something that I shall never know until it is too late," I said, smiling down at her, "for while I live I shall never admit the possibility of death."
In chapter 16, trying to escape the Myposans, Duare says, "We are trapped. But at least we shall die together."
"We are not dead yet," Carson said, which is another way of saying "We still live."
At the start of The Wizard of Venus, as Carson and Ero Shan embark on their "misadventure," Carson speaks of life and death another way. "I gamble with Death; my life is the stake. But I have a grand time, and so far I have always beaten Death to the draw."
Burroughs used instances in the Venus series to present his low opinion of modern art and architecture, and to promote his preference for art that he thought of as a product of true beauty and imagination.
His first opportunity comes in Pirates of Venus when Carson goes to visit Mintep, jong of Vepaja. As he awaited his audience, he admired the artwork:
"While I waited there, I embraced the op-portunity to study the elaborate carvings that surrounded the portal, forming a frame fully five feet wide. The motif appeared historical, and I could easily imag-ine that the various scenes depicted important events in the life of a dynasty or a nation. The workmanship was exquisite, and it required no stretch of the imagination to believe that each delicately carved face was the portrait of some dead or living celebrity. There was nothing grotesque in the delineation of the various figures, as is so often the case in work of a similar character on earth, and only the borders that framed the whole and separted contiguous plaques were conventional." (Chapter 4)But, taken as a prisoner to the communist-like city of Kapdor, he had a much dif-ferent experience: "There were a number of stone buildings facing the streets along which I was conducted; but they were all box-like, unprepossessing structures with no hint of artistic or imaginative genius. In that respect they were reminiscent of the so-called modern architecture that was just making itself felt before I left earth." (LV, Chapter 1)
In the next chapter, Carson is an escaped prisoner and viewing the city on his own. He said, "I took the time now to investigate the room, on the chance that it might contain something else of use or value to us in our bid for liberty. It was a rather large room. An attempt had been made to furnish it ornately, but the result was a monument to bad taste. It was atro-cious." Even in the midst of seeking a weapon to help flee a dangerous city, Carson took time to comment on the decor.
In Havatoo, Carson was much more impressed: "The gate itself was of magnificent proportions and an architectural gem, bespeaking a high order of civilization and culture. The city wall, of white limestone, was beautifully carved with scenes that I took to portray the history of the city or of the race that inhabited it, the work having apparently been conceived and executed with the rarest taste; and these carvings extended as far as I could see." (LV, Chapter 11)
ERB seems to have most of his fun with art -- good and bad -- in Escape on Venus. In chapter 4, in Mypos, the city of amphibious people, "We passed along narrow, crooked streets flanked by one storied houses built of frame or limestone. The former were of roughly split planks fastened to upright framework, the latter of carelessly hewn blocks of limestone. The houses were as crooked as the streets. Evidently they had been built by eye without benefit of plumb-line. The windows and doors were of all sizes and shapes and all manner of crookedness. They might have been designed by a modernist of my world, or by a child of five."
Fishy taste in art appreciation
Burroughs, via Carson, rubs it in with:
"The Myposans have little or no sense of the artistic. They seem to be form and line blind. Their streets are crooked; their houses are crooked. The only harmony that abounds is that of disharmony. The palace of Tyros was no exception. The throne room was a shapeless, polyangular space somewhere near the center of the palace. In some places the ceiling was twenty feet high, in others not much more than four. It was supported by columns of different sizes, irregularly spaced. It might have been designed by a drunken surrealist afflicted with a hebephrenic type of dementia praccox; which, of course, is not normal, because surrealists are not always drunk." Chapter 14After Duare rescued Carson from Bro-kol, they continued on their quest for Sanara, and as they flew over the Venusan landscape, ERB, through the voice of Carson, praised one of his favorite artists -- Nature itself. This time, he used it as a comparative in getting in another dig at modern art:
"There is something strangely beautiful about an Amtorian landscape, beautiful and unreal. Perhaps it is the soft, pastel shades, that make it look more like a work of art than a creation of Nature. Like a gorgeous sunset on Earth, it is something that could never be reproduced by man. I sometimes think that man's inability to reproduce the beauties of Nature has led to the abominable atrocities called modern art." (EV, Chapter 30)Perfect... but flawed
Says Ero Shan, while "hanging around" with Carson and Duare, "...they have no creative genius in art or letters; they can copy beautifully, but are without imagination, except of the lowest order."
So, ERB likes realistic art influenced by some imagination, but not to the point of being grotesque.
In the final major land Carson and Duare visit in Escape, the only art that is found is the art of war, followed by the art of the Pangan girls, who manage to do what their men couldn't—artfully bring about the defeat of the conquering Falsan army by getting the foolish troops drunk!
Finally in that book—people who exer-cise an effective form of art!
The "behind that door" tease has always been popular. A more recent and less dangerous version was Monty Hall's television game show, "Let's Make a Deal," with contestants given a choice of at least three doors, behind which stood either a wonderful prize worth thousands of dollars, or something much less desirable, such as a goat or a coop full of chickens. Sometimes, after a contestant had chosen his door, but while it was still closed, Monty would then introduce a fourth option, calling for a curtain to be opened which would show a nice alternate prize, or offering a handful of cash, and telling the contestant he could either have that or whatever was behind his unopened door.
Thus, the agony of choice was amplified.
In the opening of Lost on Venus, Carson Napier was placed in The Room of the Seven Doors in Kapdor, the Thorist-allied city in the land of Noobol. The odds were pretty much against Carson, because only one of the seven doors led to life, while different kinds of barbaric death lurked behind the other six, including a tharban, the Amtorian equivalent of a tiger.
In addition, they added to the mix of choices by including a table with seven drinks and seven plates of food. Six of the seven drinks would be fatal, just as were six of the seven choices of doors. In the mat-ter of the food, the odds were different: Six of the food dishes were edible; only one was poisoned.
Still, the food didn't offer a very ap-pealing choice -- like playing Russian rou-lette and spinning the cylinder of the revolver, hoping that the chamber with the bullet did not come up.
At least one other obvious option presented itself, though: A rope ending in a noose, suspended above the table on which the food sat. The rope wasn't positioned to where he could manage to snap his neck, but where it would allow him only to slowly strangle to death.
Well, suppose he decided to do nothing? Just sit there and wait for whatever.
His captors had thought of that, too, and after a time released all manner of snakes, including one giant-size one, into the room to help hasten his decision.
His decision was to "go for it" and open one of the doors and to jam
it open with a spiked chair that had been left in the room to further torture
him. This proved to be the door behind which the tharban lurked but, to
Carson's good fortune, when it charged out it got into a battle to the
death with the big snake.
The snake won, then started for Carson once again. Having few alternatives, he began ascending the rope, and here was exposed the flaw in the chamber of horrors, a flaw which perhaps no one else had ever discovered. The rope was attached at the top to a beam, and walking along the beam Carson came to the walls at the top of the chamber and found an eighth door in The Room of the Seven Doors, this one apparently left by construction crews, and it led to the roof and freedom.
Was that a deus ex machina or a more satisfactory way of escaping this dilemma? The reader must decide, but escape he did and Carson soon was "lost on Venus," which turned out to be a better deal than losing his life.
There seems to be one other thing lacking in The Room of the Seven Doors. There was no place for spectators to gloat over the agony of the victim. At least, there were no spectators that were readily visible to Carson. If there were secret viewing ports, they apparently weren't being used, since no alarms were raised when Carson shinnied up the hangman's rope and found his own way out of the vault of horror.
The jong of Kapdor had taken fiendish delight in telling Moosko about the horror of The Room of the Seven Doors, so you would think these warped people would have had a way of delighting in their torture by watching it. But apparently not, and lucky for Carson they didn't!
Now for an exercise in "what if." Fans often wonder why Carson didn't use his telepathic powers more often to get him out of pickles on Venus. Probably because it would have made the stories a lot less exciting. Here's a short little example I wrote back in 2007:
The Room with the Seven Doors
Carson Napier was trapped in The Room of the Seven Doors. Behind one door lay freedom; behind the other six lay fates too horrible to contemplate.
"No problem," he smiled. "I'll just turn on my nifty little hallucinatory powers."
He concentrated, and soon those outside the Room saw Carson standing next to them, grinning triumphantly. Then, the vision disappeared.
"What's going on," demanded one guard.
"I don't know, let's check the room," said the other.
They opened the door to the Room and ran in; Carson, hiding behind the
door, conked them on their heads and then made his escape.
His purpose was not necessarily to close every loop while doing that.
So, there are things in the Venus novels which were introduced and then aban-doned, much as we live our own lives in situations where some circumstance seems important for awhile, but then we move on to something else entirely and the other thing no longer occupies our thoughts.
One such "untold Venus story" is discussed elsewhere in this series of studies on Amtor: "Duare, Frosty Fille to Femme Fatale." What was her story during the time she and Carson were separated in their escapes from Skor's gloomy castle? We never find out.
Here are some other untold tales:
KAMLOT—What adventures were experi-enced by this great friend of Carson? In Pirates of Venus, Kamlot became Carson's first and best friend. They went tarel hunting together, an expedition which ended in disaster when Carson thought Kamlot had been killed. He had so much regard for his friend that he carried his body through the trees until he was able to find a suitable spot for a proper burial.
Then, after Kamlot regained consciousness, there was a second disaster: They were kidnapped by klangan and flown to a Thorist ship.
Working together, they led a mutiny and took over the ship. Eventually, they rescued the Janjong Duare and it was only then that Kamlot discovered that Carson was intent on courting Duare and becoming her partner, something so foreign to the traditions of Vepaja that we earthmen find it difficult to understand.
Kamlot was honor-bound to kill Carson for such intentions and he came close to doing it. No sooner had Carson declared that he intended to marry Duare then Kamlot "...leaped to his feet and whipped out his swod. It was the first time that I had ever seen him show marked excitement. I thought he was going to kill me on the spot."
Kamlot ordered Carson to defend himself and Carson asked him if he'd gone crazy. Kamlot dropped his sword then and said, "I do not wish to kill you.... You are my friend, you have saved my life—no, I would rather die myself than kill you, but the thing you have just said demands it."
So, a strong bond of friendship between these two had saved Carson's life.
But, after Carson was swept overboard by the storm, what did Kamlot have to do to return to Vepaja?
Did he become the captain of the Sofal and lead many successful raids on behalf of Vepaja, or did he just happen to wend his way home more quietly and once again become a simple tarel hunter?
We know he did get back to Vepaja because, in Carson of Venus, Chapter 14, the rescued Mintep tells Carson: "When Kamlot returned to Kooaad, he told me of all that you had done to serve my daughter, Duare."
THE PASSAGE TO KORMOR—Beneath the River of Death was a secret passage which zombies from the dead city of Kormor used to sneak into the Utopian city of Havatoo across the river, and there kidnap new victims for Skor to turn into the walking dead.
In Lost on Venus, after Carson followed the passage to rescue Nalte, and discovered that Duare was there too, they returned to Havatoo via the same passage.
What did the leaders of Havatoo do once they learned of the passage's existence? Did they board it up? At the very least, they likely did that. Did they do anything else, such as send a raiding party through it to put an end to the evil in Kormor once and for all? Did they conduct a successful search for other such passages and board them up, too?
What of the future of Kormor and the nation of Morov? With Skor dead and most of the residents zombies, who would take over? There were some humans in Kormor that were untainted by Skor, but they were elderly. Whatever happened to that city?
JIMMY WELSH—This young man in Pirates of Venus was Carson's friend and co-worker, who helped him build his rocket ship. He was close enough to call him "Car." Carson said, "It was going to be like parting with a brother....but I could not risk a single life unnecessarily."
Jimmy wanted to travel into space with Carson, but it wasn't to be. Carson did tell Jimmy he could have his airplane, a Sikorsky amphibian.
So whatever happened to Jimmy and his airplane? What adventures did he have in that airplane, this rugged soul who towered head and shoulders above the other laborers, mechanics and assistants who built Carson's rocket?
The story of Jimmy Welch remains untold.
But maybe he went on to an adventurous career that did not involve flight. The San Francisco News reported the following story on May 26, 1952, just over two decades after Carson blasted off for another world: "Flying Saucer is Captured by Officer"
Daly City, Calif.—At last one "flying saucer" mystery has been solved—thanks to the fast action of Daly City Police Officer James Welsh.
Welsh was in his patrol car on el Camino Real early yesterday when a passerby ran up, pointing and exclaimed: "Look, there's a flying saucer or something."
Sure enough, a bright globe was moving slowly across the sky.
Without waiting for help, Welsh took off in pursuit and was rewarded to see the object alight in Greenlawn Cemetery in Colma. With drawn pistol, he approached.
The "flying saucer" turned out to be a 10-inch rubber balloon, with a flashlight battery and bulb attached.
"Some joker's idea of humor," Welsh reported.
Sadly, the only story on record about the man who may have been ERB's Jimmy Welsh is one in which he was the victim of a practical joke. But it doesn't mean that he didn't have a distinguished career, and probably brought many bad men to justice, even as Carson was doing on another planet.
It's for sure that Jimmy would never have forgotten Carson and, if that real-life police officer in the San Francisco newspaper was really ERB's Jimmy, then perhaps, when he saw that strange flying object, he pursued it so swiftly because he thought maybe, just maybe, Carson had found a way to return to earth.
But Jimmy would have had no way of knowing that Carson would never come back, unless he could bring his beloved princess with him.
Unless, of course, Jimmy had read the Venus series by Edgar Rice Burroughs and was aware of what was happening all along!
THE KLANGAN—The klangan, the flying creatures that are both bird-like and human-like, are a symbol of the planet Amtor, due to the penchant for artists, almost universally, to feature them on the covers of the first book in the series, Pirates of Venus.
They may have gained the status of a well-known symbol of Venus, but we actually know very little about the klangan (plural for the singular angan, which means "bird man.").
The first appearance of the klangan comes at the end of Pirates, Chapter 7, when Carson cried, "Look, Kamlot! What are those" The birdmen are revealed for what they are in the next chapter, as five of them fly about the tarel-hunting twosome and drop wire lassoes on them.
The appearance of the creatures is, at first, frightening, but that image quickly softens. Even though Kamlot and Carson were taken captive and being flown to the Thorist master of the klangan, their captors are next described in a less-threatening manner: "The klangan talked a great deal among themselves, shouting to one another and laughing and singing, seemingly well satisfied with themselves and their exploit. Their voices were soft and mellow, and their songs were vaguely reminiscent of Negro spirituals, a similarity which may have been enhanced by the color of their skins, which were very dark."
Carson goes on to describe the physical makeup of the klangan in detail, in-cluding their growth of feathers in place of hair, their multiple colors, and their hollow bones, similar to those of earth's birds. In Chapter 14, Carson adds that klangan are great talkers, in the gossiping sense.
In chapter 11, we learn that klangan don't have minds of their own, so to speak.
As they plot mutiny aboard the Sofal, Carson wonders whose side the klangan will be on, prompting this response from Ki-ron: "They have no initiative. Unless they are motivated by such primitive instincts as hunger, love, or hate, they do nothing without orders from a superior."
Zog adds: "And they don't care who their master is. They serve loyally enough until their master dies, or sells them, or gives them away, or is overthrown; then they transfer the same loyalty to a new master."
After Carson and Duare both end up on shore, they find themselves in control of one angan, and the book ends with Carson ordering the birdman to fly Duare back to the ship, even though he has to ar-gue a bit to get him to do it.
In the start of Lost on Venus, we find out the angan never made it to the ship, fearful that he would be punished for hav-ing earlier helped kidnap Duare. That's why Carson ends up in the company of Duare for good, starting in the second book of the series.
That's about it for the klangan in the Venus series. They are great fodder for an untold tale of Venus: Where do most klangan live? What is their normal lifestyle when not serving as someone's slave? Are there any angan among them who have a bit different mindset, who have leadership skills and the abilities to help their fellow klangan?
Too bad Carson never got to explore the world of these strange creatures a bit more.
So those are some of the untold sto-ries of Venus that could be fleshed out by a good pastiche writer. And there are oth-ers besides those!
Here are some of the less-common words that show up in the Venus series:
Individous -- Before taking off in his rocket from earth, Carson had a conversation with his friend, Jimmy Welch. "He was grateful, of course, but still he could not hide his disappointment in not being allowed to accompany me, which was evidenced by an indivious comparison he drew between the ceiling of the Sikorsky and that of the old crate, as he had affectionately dubbed the great torpedo-like rocket that was to bear me out into space in a few hours."
"Indivious" means "to create ill will or resentment, or give offense, hateful; offensively or unfairly discriminating; injurious." Since Jimmy Welch was a good friend of Carson, perhaps "indivious" was too strong of a word to use here. But at least Carson softened the term by saying he said it with affection!
Contretemps -- In the opening paragraph of Pirates of Venus, Chapter 12, ERB uses the word "contretemps"—twice. Carson had just realized that Duare, the janjong (princess) of Vepaja, was the same girl he had tried to romance back in Vepaja. He said: "What a strange contretemps! Its suddenness left me temporarily speechless; the embarrassment of Duare was only too obvious. Yet it was that unusual paradox, a happy contretemps—for me at least."
"Contretemps" is "an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance: He caused a minor contretemps by knocking over his drink." Or, "An unforeseen event that disrupts the normal course of things; an inopportune occurrence."
It can also refer to a blunder in fencing, an occurrence with which Carson was somewhat familiar.
Haut ton -- In Chapter 12 of Pirates, Car-son led a successful mutiny to take over the Sofal, not only to escape from being a prisoner, but to use the ship to stage raids on Vepaja's enemies. He said, "We were outlaws, we of the Sofal -- pirates, buccaneers, privateers.... Buccaneer has a devil-may-care ring to it that appeals to my fancy; it has a trifle more haut ton than pirate."
Today, one might have few occasions to come across that French phrase unless one is a reader of Regency romance novels, which, according to likesbooks.com, use a lot of "weird language." On the website, Diane Farr writes:
"What is the ton? Or the haut ton? The latter has survived (sort of) to the present day, translated from the French to the English, in our expression "high-toned." the ton is a set of persons who are rich, well-born, and fashionable. In order to be a member of the ton, you must be all three. A duke's daughter who spends her days puttering about in a Sussex garden is not a member of the ton, despite her birth and money. And a wealthy mer-chant can dress the part and act the part, but he will never succeed in crashing the gates."It sounds as if calling himself a "buccaneer" would not really give Carson much "haut ton."
Filip -- Is this a word or a typographical error? In Chapter 14 of Pirates, with Carson at the mercy of the sea, the first edition book says, "The sea gave me a final filip that rolled me high upon the sands to mingle with the wrack and flotsam that she had discarded."
What is a filip? The dictionary yielded no results. So maybe Carson meant that the sea gave him a flip. There is, however, a word with two L's: fillip. The definition is "to strike with the nail of a finger snapped from the end of the thumb," "to tap or strike smartly," or, as a noun, anything that tends to rouse, excite, or revive; a stimulus. Praise is an excellent fillip for waning ambition."
It could have been that ERB meant "fil-lip" as it would be a figurative use of the term in his context. Either "filip" was an accepted alternate spelling for "fillip," or a spelling error was made, but whether the typographers misspelled "flip" or "fillip," we don't know!
It's interesting to see how other editions word it. In the first Ace paperback, it's exactly as it is in the first edition, but in the more recent Del-Rey paperback, the editors decided ERB must have meant "fillip." I would think the University of Nebraska Bi-son Press editors would set a standard for accuracy. And theirs reads: "flip."
The old Dover Press trade paperback, published in 1963, credits the text to the original Argosy Weekly serial, and avoids the problem completely. Its wording: "The sea finally rolled me high upon the sands...."
Flip? Filip? fillip? Take your pick!
Mal de mer -- shows up in Lost on Venus, Chapter 3, when Carson and Duare were captured by the cannibalistic kloonobar-gan. "they bare their teeth in a grimace and emit a sound that is for all the world like the retching of mal de mer, and there is no laughter in their eyes. It took quite a stretch of my imagination to identify this as laughter."
"Mal de mer" is another French word, and it means "seasickness."
Temerarious -- ERB liked the word "temerarious" so well that he used it three times, adding a "-ness" in The Wizard of Venus. "Temerarious" means reckless or rash, which is certainly a good word to be applied to the behavior of Carson Napier.
Its first appearance is in Carson of Venus. Without the anotar, Carson was near the start of a long boat trip with Zani refugees Zerka and Mantor aboard (Chapter 16).
ERB wrote: "In the evening of the third day, the storm suddenly abated; and, though the seas were still running high, we put out from our little harbor and set our course once more for Sanara. Perhaps it was a foolhardy thing to do, but the enforced delay and my anxiety to reach Sanara and be reunited with Duare had rendered me temerarious."
In Escape on Venus, Chapter 2, as Jantor, the jong of Japal, strode into a dangerous situation, Carson said: "I couldn't help but have a great deal of respect for Jantor. He was doing a very courageous, albeit, a very temerarious, thing. I watched him as he walked toward his enemies. His step was firm, his head high. He was every inch a jong."
In Chapter 1 of Wizard, Carson said: "It seems to me that I always plan intelligently, sometimes over meticulously; and then up jumps the Devil and everything goes haywire. However, in all fairness, I must admit that it is usually my fault and attributable to a definite temerariousness which is charcteristic of me."
Ballochute -- In chapter 2 of Wizard, Carson was describing a new-fangled parachute he had designed which combined the properties of an airborne balloon, which would allow the chutist to remain airborne for awhile. He called it a "ballochute." You won't find this one in a dictionary because the word was one of Carson (or ERB's) invention, and not to be found in standard references.
Fredrik Ekman, writing in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Summary Project at
erblist.com, has made it clear that the term "ballochute" is a combination
of the words "balloon" and "parachute."
In addition to those that appear elsewhere in this Edgardemain feature, here are a few other passages that I thought were worthy of singling out:
From Pirates of Venus:
"I knew that I had ample room in which to wander, since science has calculated the diameter of space to be eighty-four mil-lion light years, which, when one reflects that light travels at the rate of one hundred eighty-six thousand miles a second, should satisfy the wanderlust of the most inveterate roamer." Chapter 1
"I had aimed at Mars and was about to hit Venus; unquestionably the all-time cosmic record for poor shots." Chapter 2
On musing about the fact the night noises often multiply themselves in a most disconcerting way: "I have heard coyotes yapping and screaming around my camp on Arizona nights when, but for the actual knowledge that there were but one or two of them, I could have sworn that there were a hundred, had I trusted only to my sense of hearing." Chapter 3
When brought up from the hold of the Sofal, a prisoner, to work on the ship, and marveling at the scenery: "I had not been ordered above for the purpose of satisfying the aesthetic longings of my soul." Chapter 8
Adrift in a storm on an Amtorian ocean: "I was carried on; moments seemed an eternity! Where were the rocks? I almost yearned for them now to end the bitterness of my futile struggle. I thought of my mother and of Duare. I even contemplated, with something akin to philosophic calm, the strangeness of my end. In that other world that I had left forever no creature would ever have knowledge of my fate. Thus spoke the eternal egotism of man, who, even in death, desires an audience." Chapter 14
From Lost on Venus:
Commenting to Duare while attempting to make fire: "It's like golf. Most people never learn to play it, but very few give up trying. I shall probably continue my search for fire until death overtakes me, or Prometheus descends to Venus as he did to earth."
"What is golf and who is Prometheus?" demanded Duare.
"Golf is a mental disorder and Prometheus a fable." Chapter 2
Following the fight of the tharban and the basto: "Neither of these mighty engines of destruction turned upon us; neither moved. Except for a few convulsive shudders they lay still in death. And thus Death saved us from death." Chapter 5
"There were flowers and leaves of colors that have no name, colors such as no earthly eye ever had seen before.
"Such things bear in upon me the strange isolation of our senses. each sense lives in a world of its own, and though it lives a lifetime with its felllow senses, it knows nothing of their world.
"My eyes see a color; but my fingers, my ears, my nose, my palate may never know that color. I cannot even describe it so that any of your senses may perceive it as I perceive it, if it is a new color that you have never seen. Even less well might I describe an odor or a flavor or the feel of some strange substance. Only by comparison might I make you see the landscape that stretched before our eyes, and there is nothing in your world with which I may compare it -- the glowing fog bank overhead, the pale, soft pastels of field and forest and distant misty mountings -- no dense shadows and no high lights -- strange and beautiful and weird -- intriguing, provocative, compelling, always beckoning one on to further investigation, to new adventure." Chapter 6
As Carson and Duare contemplate the best way to get away from a threatening beast: "I think the best course for us to follow is to continue steadily toward the forest without seeming haste. If the thing does not increase its speed, we shall reach the trees ahead of it; if we run for it, the chances are that it will overtake us, for of all created things man seems to be about the slowest." Chapter 6
From Carson of Venus:
While attempting to escape from the woman-dominated tribe of the Houtamis: "Right then I would have given a lot for a rear-sight mirror, for I wanted to see what was going on behind us, but didn't dare look back for fear of suggesting that we were doing something that we shouldn't be -- it was a case of nonchalance or nothing, and not a cigarette of any brand among us." Chapter 3
After escaping and enjoying a good meal: "Once again we were happy and contented. Our recent troubles now seemed very remote, so quickly does the spirit of man rebound from depression and push black despair into the limbo of forgetfulness." Chapter 4
From Escape on Venus
"One of the great anthropologists of my world, who leads expeditions to remote corners of the Earth, and never has any adventures, says that having them is an indication of inefficiency and stupidity." Chapter 2 (The anthropologist in question is not identified in Escape, but a similar statement is found in Wizard, Chapter 1, and is credited there to Roy Chapman Andrews.)
Carson to Kandar, who disparaged the so-called culture of the Myposan fish people: "We have had peoples like that in my own world, led by such men as Genghis Kahn and Attila the Hun, who wrecked the culture and civilization of their times and set the world back many centuries; and I suppose we shall have others."
"And what happened after them?" asked Kandar.
"Civilization struggled slowly from the mire into which they had plunged it, as I suppose it always will struggle back after each such catastrophe; but to what glorious heights it might have attained had they never lived!" chapter 11
Carson, commenting on the fact that his latest captors, the Brokols, don't do any unnecessary gabbing: "I am always amazed, if not always amused, by the burst of feminine gabble which follows the lowering of a theater curtain for an intermission. There can't be that much important conversation in a lifetime." Chapter 24
From The Wizard of Venus
Carson, on entering the forbidden garden in Morgas's castle to search for Vanaja: "Its walks were laid out in a maze-like confusion, and I had gone only a short distance along them when I realized that I might have difficulty in finding my way out again; yet I ventured on, though I had no Ariadne to give me a clew of thread to guide me from the labyrinth. The only goddess upon whom I might rely was Lady Luck." Chapter 7
Carson went for a few sailboat rides and spoke of sometimes seeing huge sea monsters. Near the end of Carson, he sailed from Sanara to Vepaja in quest of Duare, whose father, Mintep, had forced her to fly there in the anotar after Carson had rescued him from a Zani prison.
Frazetta's painting shows the sea monster that Carson described on that voyage:
"the waters teamed with fish and occasionally I saw monstrous creatures of the deep... the most numerous of these larger creatures must attain a length of fully a thousand feet. It has a wide mouth and huge, protruding eyes between which a small eye is perched upon a cylindrical shaft some fifteen feet above it head. The shaft is erectile; and when the creatures is at rest upon the surface or when it is swimming normally beneath, it reclines along its back; but when alarmed or searching for food the shaft springs erect.... The Amtorians call it a rotik, mean-ing three-eye. When I first saw one, I thought it an enormous ocean liner as it lay on the surface of the ocean in the distance."Frazetta painted the beast according to Carson's description, but nowhere does Carson state that it nearly stood on its hind fin out of the water, as the Frazetta cover painting depicts, nor does it attack Carson, as one might think from looking at the cover. Frazetta may have gotten his idea from John Coleman Burroughs' frontispiece in the ERB Inc. and Canaveral editions, which took similar liberties, and Burroughs made it even more obvious that his beast was attacking.
Frazetta liked his version so well, though, that he repainted the scene in tones of blue instead of gold for a later Carson cover.
It's pretty universal for artists to put an angan, carrying Duare, on the cover of Pirates of Venus. That was the cover of the ERB Inc. hardback editions, the cover of the first, small-size Ace and the cover of one of the later larger size Ace editions. Thomas Floyd, the artist for the Bison Books edition, depicted an angan flying alone over a city. Richard Hescox, artist for the Del-Rey paperback, also used an angan but had it just sitting beside Carson and Duare rather than in flight.
The original magazine appearance of the story featured a cover of Carson fighting a giant Venusan spider-like creature, though, as did the cover of the Canaveral edition.
Somewhere in the world, there may be a cover that actually shows Carson as a pirate, to go along with the book title.
Burroughs fans would probably agree that the most ridiculous cover was the taller Ace edition in which the cover of ERB's A Fighting Man of Mars was transplanted to Pirates. The cover shows one man attacking another while at least four Martian flyers are in the background. Aviation didn't make its advent on Venus until the second book in the series, and even then the anotar probably didn't look much like a Barsoomian airship.
Around that time, Ace had also played mix and match with a lot of other ERB covers in a similarly nonsensical move!
A huge mistake was made in the Del-Rey editions. The cover for Carson shows our hero and Duare being pursued by kloonobargan, but there are no kloonobargan in Carson. That cover should have been on Lost on Venus.
The Del-Rey cover intended for Carson, showing Carson and Duare on parade atop a giant gantor in Sanara, is the one that ended up on Lost on Venus.
One would love to be a mouse in the room listening to the conversation when the publishers and the artist discovered that mistake!
See lots of the Venus covers at:
"Venus is a world of contradictions, anomalies, and paradoxes. In the midst of scenes of peace and beauty, one meets the most fearsome beasts; among a friendly, cultured people exist senseless and barbarous customs; in a city peopled by men and women of super-intelligence and sweetness the quality of mercy is utterly unknown to its tribunals. What hope had I, then, of finding a safe retreat for Duare and myself?" CV, Chapter 1Eventually, Carson and Duare did find friendly places, such as Japal; and a place to stay permanently, such as Sanara, and even a place to return for a visit, such as Havatoo which, according to Ero Shan, had reversed it decision that Duare had to be destroyed.
Although Carson's travels never took him there, one speculates that one might also find a friendly city in the mountains of Andoo, the home of Nalte, who became the love woman of Ero Shan.
But mostly, Venus was full of the exact kinds of dangers of which Carson
spoke: Wild tribes, man-eating beasts, devilish tor-turers, and Dr. Frankensteins.
So death still lurked everywhere on Venus, as Carson noted while flying with Ero Shan: "With throttle wide we raced above that vast expanse of heliotrope and lavender foliage which, like a beautiful mantle of flowers across a casket, hid death beneath." WV, Chapter 2
Many of us have a spirit of adventure that would motivate us to visit other worlds, but we can't. And so, we visit them vicariously through the eyes of characters like Carson Napier, John Carter, Julian the 5th, David Innes and others.
But we can always explore our own back yard. Because, is our Planet Earth that much different from Venus?
All of the things that Carson described in that paragraph about Venus are true of Earth as well.
On this planet, there are places of great beauty -- the Alaskan wilderness, the tropical jungles, the Rocky Mountains, the Sonoran Desert.
Yet, in these places of stunning beauty, one might find oneself in sudden and mortal danger with the appearance of a huge brown bear, a deadly snake, a stalking mountain lion, a venomous Gila monster, searing heat, or marrow-freezing cold.
And we have people who can be friendly and cultured, and yet practice the barbaric customs of stoning or beheading someone for crimes that aren't even crimes in other countries, or for merely avowing conversion to another religion, or simply for being an innocent traveler from another land.
And while one may throw himself or herself upon the "mercy of the court" in many civilized and intelligent lands, such mercy can still be withheld even in circumstances where the greater part of common sense calls for it.
The difference between Earth and a fictional world like Amtor is that all of the negatives are in much greater supply there, rather than here. On Earth, our negatives seem far outweighed by our positives.
Carson of Amtor
Carson built a rocket
To travel to Barsoom;
But when he filed his flight plan,
He overlooked the Moon.
The pull of Luna gripped his ship
And flung it toward the Sun.
Long before he got there,
He knew he'd be well done.
But Venus smiled on Carson
And in its orbit sped
To make the rocket land upon
The Shepherd's Star instead.
Because he knew his vessel
Was certain to be bashed,
He jumped out with a parachute
Just before it crashed.
He landed in the mammoth trees
Which played host to Vepaja.
Before too long he knew he loved
The daughter of their Rajah.
Alas, the course of love, true love,
Is seldom without slip.
Klangan captured Carson
And dumped him on a ship.
Duare was the girl he loved,
But she'd been kidnapped, too,
And taken to another ship,
Now what's a guy to do?
Well, Carson led a mutiny,
And took the ship's command
And stormed the other ship and took
The princess by the hand.
But it would be too easy
For things to end right there;
Carson took a swim to shore;
Duare went by air.
Carson was condemned to choose
From doors that led to death;
Or he could use a hangman's noose
To take away his breath.
Instead he found his own way out
Then, by the sheerest chance,
He rescued his Duare
But it got him no romance.
They crossed the land of Noobol,
Where dwelt the nasty Skor,
They fled from him to Havatoo,
Then had to flee once more.
Airborne in the anotar
They cruised the Amtor skies;
Duare finally pledged her love,
To no ERB fan's surprise.
They helped to win a righteous war
Against an evil jong,
And in Sanara they were loved,
But they weren't there for long.
No, back aboard the bird ship,
They got caught in a storm,
That blew them clear to Mypos,
Where fish breath was the norm.
The king fish liked Duare
And took her for a swim.
Carson took the plunge and put
An R-ray into him.
They fled from there to Timal,
Where tails and horns were worn.
The people couldn't help it,
It's the way that they were born.
A brief sojourn in Japal
Which Carson helped defend
Until the foemen captured him
(This seemed to be a trend!)
In Brokol (short for broccoli?)
Where children grew on trees,
The local fire goddess
Kept green men on their knees.
The fire goddess disappeared
With all her English jargon,
And Duare rescued Carson
From hungry kloonobargan.
The anotar was grounded when
They lost an engine doodad,
And so they hung around among
The half-wits down in Voo-ad.
Then on to fight for Falsa,
In ships that sailed the land,
Escaping o'er the mountains as
The Cloud Folk lent a hand.
Carson capped his saga
With the power of his brain,
To best the wizard, Morgas,
Who seemed a bit insane.
Thus ends the tale of Carson;
There's no fact left to bare.
He kept in touch for ten long years
Then vanished in thin air.
Note: An earlier version of this poem appeared in ERBapa 106 and also was posted to ListServs Sept. 17, 2011, as part of an "ERB on this day" post on ERB's Venus. The version above has been tweaked in a few spots and a few verses have been added, so this version is now "the definitive version."