Savjoda stood in a large hall in the hive-like city
of the doyaks. All was quiet save for the muffled calls of the vagas and
horn-dogs from outside.
Several doyaks, including Fomas-67 had gathered this
day for the purpose of passing judgement on this man. Also there were several
persons from Earth and Barsoom Including John Carter and myself. By that
time, I had ascended to the throne of the jemdar. My time reunited with
my beloved father had been all too short before old age had taken from
me what the jomads hadnít.
"Savjoda", said one of the doyaks, a certain Gotan-14,
Director of the city, "you are aware that you can no longer be welcome
on any of the established worlds. It would be easy to simply have you executed
and be done with it and, at first, the majority of us felt that that would
be the best course of action."
I was slightly surprised to find myself breathing a
sigh of relief for this man who had caused, if inadvertently, so much chaos.
I had learned respect for him and even, in a way, come to like him personally.
Gotan-14 gestured to Fomas-67 who drew back a divider
revealing a device of peculiar construction. With a tentacle he touched
a small lever and a beam of light illuminated a small screen. An image
appeared That was at first difficult to decipher. It resembled a view of
Earth from high orbit, but it just went on and on. I could see the scale
of the view from the weather patterns and it was huge. I counted twenty
continents the size of Africa or Asia and could find no horizon at all.
"What is that?" Asked Savjoda.
Gotan-14 responded, "That is a view of a small portion
of Thorandalo, the world within Eurobus. It has always been thought by
its inhabitants that the planetís huge gravity was countered by its immense
rotational speed, but that is incorrect. The thinness of the planetary
shell is such that the gravity is only slightly higher than that of Earth
in any given location even though the total mass of the planet is far greater
than several hundred Earths.
"This world boasts incredible variety. The distances
are so great that live evolved separately in several remote locations and
the products of those separate evolutions have only come into fleeting
contact recently. There are a million unknowns in Thorandalo and someone
must come into this world to explore and develop it. There are several
forms of civilized and semi-civilized creatures in this world, many of
them hostile beyond imagining. Although the surface world of Eurobus is
remarkably geologically active and the oceans so storm ridden that travel
upon them is impossible, Thorandalo is much less troubled by these factors.
The oceans are, by comparison, peaceful and save for a few regions, volcanoes
and earthquakes are rare."
John Carter had a wistful expression in his gray eyes.
He could see what lie ahead. Savjoda was to be transported to this unknown
and dangerous world. While a rational man might feel otherwise, I could
see that his heart was consumed with envy.
Savjoda spoke. "So this is to be my prison?"
"Your home." Said Gotan-14.
Savjoda said, "I accept the judgement of the doyak
lords of Dhaimira." His expression was unreadable.
Gotan-14 gestured in a manner that must have been the
doyak equivalent of a head nod. He continued to speak. "This world is huge
and much of it is unknown. We can offer to send more than one person if
one should choose to go there of his own volition."
John Carter was instantly attentive. His expression
told all. Could Gotan-14 mean what he thought he had meant?
A flyer lifted from the palace at Greater Helium. It
had a pilot and a single passenger. The passenger was the exiled Savjoda
who looked toward his future with mixed feelings. Everything he had ever
known in his long life was to be left behind forever, but ahead was perhaps
something just as interesting.
The pilot was John Carter, the Warlord of Barsoom.
He had said that he wished to explore the new world for a few months and
the doyaks had granted his wish. He had turned the government over to his
son, Carthoris who immediately called for the election of a real parliament
and a Prime Minister after the style of Earth. He had not actually said
as much, but John Carter was not expected to return. Without the warfare,
without the adventure and most of all, without his incomparable princess,
Barsoom had little left for him. His "retirement" was as permanent as that
The sky opened over the flyer revealing a new world,
a thousand new lands. The airship flew through the opening without hesitation
and without either of its occupants giving a backward glance.
Well, this has been interesting.
Needless to say, as the astute reader might have figured
out, I have taken a liberty or two. The big one was giving Vah-Nah a sun,
which it didnít have in "The Moon Maid". Originally that world was supposed
to be lit and warmed by light entering through randomly placed holes in
the crust and some internal phosphorescence. I had to give it a sun to
make the internal logic of my story work. Vah-Nah simply couldnít have
been warm enough from sunlight shining through randomly placed "hoos" and
the physics of my solar system required some consistency. I have, as a
result of writing this story, contemplated writing another which would
be titled "Einstein at the Earthís Core".
The personalities of both John Carter and "Savjoda"
have changed and mellowed with the passing of ten centuries. Ras Thavas
remains the same, caught up in his enthusiasms and beyond good or evil.
The teller of the tale, Julian 68th, is
not a heroic type. Although descended from heroes, he is more of a sheltered
aristocrat. He is not without his own brand of resourcefulness, but, unlike
Savjoda or John Carter, is aware of his limitations. He wants adventure,
but is pragmatic about how much adventure he thinks he can deal with. In
my need to shorten this project, Iím afraid that I never allowed Julian
to find his own real voice in this story. He ended up reading like more
of a cardboard cut out than any other character.
Tamla of Helium knows in her own mind that she is supposed
to be a warrior, but is mostly thwarted in that regard. If she has inherited
John Carterís longevity, she will, no doubt, end up in Thorandalo seeking
I feel bad about Kivu. I needed something spectacular
for the jomads to upset, but I couldnít bring myself to cause major harm
to any of Burroughsí original worlds. Someday, I may go back and write
the story of William Heller of Kivu, knowing full well of its eventual
I wanted to deal with the idea of what does an immortal
hero do when there is no more heroing to be done. In this case, I stated
the issue and then dodged it by sending my heroes to a latter day Valhalla,
I expect some criticism for this work. In some ways
it has violated much of the central premise of ERBís work, that the adventure
goes on forever. His worlds did change over time, become better known,
better explored, but somehow it was implied that the adventure would always
be there, that there was no shortage of evil queens and lost races, but,
of course in a real world there eventually has to be. I was hoping to inject
some of that sense of finitude into ERBís world and still make it work.
I ended up having to rush this project or be in danger
of being unable to finish it at all. If it seems like there is a lot squeezed
into the later chapters, that is the reason why. I had planned this as
a 50,000 word novel and instead ended up with a 30,000 word novella. Perhaps
someday when I have time on my hands I may flesh it out, but lets not hold
To anyone who bothered to read this far, you have my
thanks for your patience and I would enjoy to hear your reactions.
Seth Kallen Deitch