Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBLIST FEATURES FAQs, Articles, Reviews, Persona Directory, Hall of Memory SUMMARY PROJECT Summarizing ERB's works one chapter at a time FAN FICTION Shorts, Novels, Poetry, Plays, Pulps ERBmania! Articles, Contributors: Tangor Responds, Edgardemain, ERB: In Focus, Nkima Speaks, Beyond 30W, Tantor Trumpets, Dime Lectures, Korak in Pal-ul-don, Public Domain novels of ERB GLOSSARIES Worlds of: Barsoom, Pellucidar, Moon, Amtor, Caspak, Pal-u-don
"WE STILL LIVE!" ...John Carter
Copyright © 1982, 1996-2003 All Rights Reserved.
OTHER WORLD RACES
On Thuria (Phobos), Barsoom's lesser moon, other civilizations flourish. In Swords of Mars John Carter journeys to the tiny moon and encounters strange beings, stranger creatures, and manages to survive it all. ERB focuses on the hypnotic powers of the Tarids. Telepathy was not a new subject for ERB, it was covered in the very first volume of the Barsoomian Saga. John Carter, in fact, has the ability to read the minds of others and to control certain animals which are responsive to such contact. Much of the literature written in the early years of the twentieth century concentrated on that which we "cannot understand and which is greater than mere mortals..." which is not a direct quote from any source, only a synthesis of the common thoughts regarding such psychic abilities.
While the races of Thuria are interesting enough, one senses the casual coloration of long practice in adventure telling. The Tarids and Masenas, for example, are not treated with the same intense detail which ERB used when dealing with the Green, Yellow and Red Martians in the first six books of the series. He also expected his readership to be fairly knowledgeable of the prior books, thus saving some additional effort on his part. Real ERB fans like myself don't mind this at all, we get to partake in the adventure without "boring" recaps and descriptions.
Let us examine the intelligent races of Thuria, or Ladan as the natives of this tiny moon call their home.
The Masenas were, in Burroughs own words, less than agreeable in form and manner:
The creature was naked but for a leather skirt ... the shape of his skull was similar to a human but his features were most inhuman. In the center of his forehead was a single, large eye about three inches in diameter; the pupil a vertical slit, like a cat's eyes. ...The fingers and four of the toes were much longer than in the human race, his thumb and large toes were considerably shorter and extended laterally at right angles to hands and feet. ...whole arboreal ... most hideous of his countenance were his mouths. He had two of them, one directly above the other. The lower mouth, which was the larger, was lipless, the skin of the face forming the gums in which the teeth were set ... white teeth always exposed in a hideous death-like grin. The upper mouth was round with slightly protruding lips controlled by a sphincter-like muscle it was toothless.
Nose, wide and flat with upturned nostrils ... two small orifices near the top of the head serve as ears. A stiff yellowish mane about two inches wide ran back along the center of his cranium. Masenas have the ability to change their coloration at will, like a chameleon.
The white skinned humans of Thuria appear quite normal, differing in only one aspect: blue hair and eyebrows. In addition to this unusual color of hair, Tarids are powerful hypnotists, able to render themselves invisible to the eye, acting directly on the brain of those they wish to conceal themselves from. John Carter, the ageless Virginian, from the very beginning of the Barsoom manuscripts, describes himself as being telephatically inert, that is to say he can read the thoughts of those about him effort, but they can not read him at all. ERB had invented or made use of the "mind shield" so commonly used in later generation hardware-oriented science-fiction.
John Carter made a second trip off-planet, traveling to Jupiter in one of the last books written by ERB. There he encountered two races, the Morgors and the Savators.
Morgors, also known as the Skeleton Men of Jupiter, have a ghastly appearance; human skeletons animated by brains and an extremely thin musculature. Though the Morgor resembles naked bones a parchment-like skin is stretched over the bony structure which bears no fat or cartilage beneath it. Deep set eyes of brown with no whites, the skin of the face merged with the gums leaving the teeth exposed.
The Morgor has no nose to speak of, a gaping hole in the center of the face and smaller openings for ears on either side of the head. The skin of a Morgor is so thin that its internal organs are visible if the creature stands in front of a bright light.
The Savators are the blue-skinned human race of Eurobus, as the natives call their planet of Jupiter. They are as human as any of the other human races conceived by ERB for his Barsoomian Saga. The Savators are oppressed by the Morgors and, to protect their families and cities, they make use of the sand of invisiblity to conceal their habitations.
Copyright © 1982, 1996-2003 by David Bruce Bozarth. All Rights Reserved.