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ERBzine 7522


By Ralph Buttigieg
NOTE: The following  article is based on the original works of Edgar Rice Burrough and the ERB Inc approved extended cannon of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe.

Perhaps the strangest lost civilization  discovered by Lord Greystoke was the diminutive people of Minuni . As told in the novel  Tarzan and the Ant Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs, they are no more than 18 inches tall but are perfectly formed.  Although there are small races in Africa such as the Pygmies , the Minunians are far smaller. Also surprisingly,  they have managed  to build a civilisation that is of at least mediaeval level in an isolated part of Africa.

So far-fetched the story seemed, that Philip Jose Farmer discounted it in his biography of Tarzan believing it to be a complete fabrication by Burroughs. But is it? Could the mini humans actually exist? And What happened to them?

To answer that we need to first understand the cosmology of the Burroughsverse.  Clearly the Burroughs Universe of Barsoom, Pellucidar, etc. is not ours, Its not really Tarzan either. In the Moon Maid the Great War ends in 1967  and communication with Barsoom had been established, a very different history from ours or Tarzan’s who fought in WW2.

Dr Victory Harben in her report “Victory Harben and the Fires of Halos”  by Christopher Paul Carey at least partly solves the mystery. The worlds are at a different angle to each other. What we would call the multiverse. We may call the earth of Tarzan “Earth” and the earth of John Carter “Jasoom” . I will refer to our more boring earth as Terra.  Pellucidar is a strange world, it is actually part of the Jasoom Universe that has somehow been lodged in the Earth core. There is a field around Pellucidar that allows people from Earth to enter the Jasoomian Universe Pellucidar once passed. Just how and why Pellucidar became this way is a mystery.

Physics works differently in the Jasoomian Universe. There are the strange “rays” which give Barsoomians their unique technology and relative size seems variable. In Swords of Mars , John Carter travels to Thuria (Phobos) . Phobos is only a tiny moon in our universe but John Carter shrinks in size until the relative size of Thuria is that of a planet. The same effect is experienced  by Jason Gridley when he too travels to the Martian moons,  See Jason Gridley of Earth: Across the Moons of Mars by Geary Gravel (A Novella contained in Red Axe of Pellucidar by John Eric Holmes).

It is therefore my contention that the Minunians were original from Jasoom Universe not Tarzan’s Earth Universe . Just what part is unknown, maybe from another planet or moon. But for some reason did not reach full human height when they found Africa.

There is other evidence. The Minunian scientist Zoanthrohago had built an apparatus that shrank Tarzan to the size of the Ant Men. How did he discover the technology? Remember this is a pre-industrial society without even electricity . Note, although the instrument works on the human body the process evolves strange physics not biology I quote:

 From all matter and even from such incorporeal a thing as thought there emanate identical particles, so infinitesimal as to be scarce noted by the most delicate of my instruments. These particles constitute the basic structure of all things whether animate or inanimate, corporeal or incorporeal. The frequency, quantity and rhythm of the emanations determine the nature of the substance. Having located upon this dial the coefficient of the gland under discussion it now becomes necessary, in order to so interfere with its proper functioning that the growth of the creature involved will be not only stopped but actually reversed, that we decrease the frequency, increase the quantity and compound the rhythm of these emanations. This I shall now proceed to do," and he forthwith manipulated several small buttons upon one side of the box, and grasping the crank handle of the free disc revolved it rapidly.
~ From Tarzan and the Ant Men.
It is my belief that Zoanthrohago did not discover the technology himself. Rather he rediscovered the technology probably through some old documents or equipment.

So what ever happened to the Minunians? Zoanthrohago was developing minimization  technology to allow his tribe to increase the physical size of their warriors to defeat other Minunians.  Lets assume he succeeded and had complete mastery of size. Some of the Ant Men would have left their home and explored the other world. What would they have found? The Great Depression, Colonisation, World War Two atomic bombs etc. They would have quickly realised exposure to the world would be the destruction of their society. So they decided to hide. How? Easy by becoming even smaller. If they shrank to actual ant size then millions could be living on a few hectares in Africa.

Hopefully future reports  will clarify what the fate of the little Ant Men was.

~ Ralph Buttigieg

Ralph Buttigieg became a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs 
at the age of 14 when he  first read A Princess of Mars
He has had several jobs and was an owner of a Science Fiction and Fantasy bookshop for several years. 
He now works in finance and since the pandemic has happily transitioned to work from home. 
He lives with his lovely wife in Sydney Australia.

Tarzan and the Ant Men in ERBzine C.H.A.S.E.R. Bibliography ERBzine 0497
Tarzan Alive by Philip Jose Farmer featured in ERBzine 1501
The Case for the Omos Star System Being a Megastructure by Ralph Buttigieg in ERBzine 6889


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