Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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Summarizing ERB's works one chapter at a time
Shorts, Novels, Poetry, Plays, Pulps
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
Worlds of: Barsoom, Pellucidar, Moon, Amtor, Caspak, Pal-u-don

"WE STILL LIVE!" ...John Carter
Copyright © 1982, 1996-2003 All Rights Reserved.



A Barsoom Glossary

White apes, Tangor, inspired by Frazetta sketch

EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS populated the ancient desert planet of Barsoom with a rainbow of humanoid races. In most respects the races of Barsoom parallel those of Earth, but with a twist that is common to ERB's penchant for opposites and reverses.

The red man, for example, is presented as the Indian (American Southwest) elevated to the level of being the predominate race not only by technolgy but by sheer numbers. Though the red civilization is perhaps 100,000 years of age and is guided by a tradition of honor towards women and strict codes of combat engagement, it is described as the "new kid on the block."

The First Born, a black race, claims to be the original humans on the planet and first from the Tree of Life (see RELIGION). The First Born is also portrayed as a long time menace to the planet at large--the Pirates of Barsoom--with a history that eclipses that of the Red race, as far as longevity and history are concerned.

The Therns, the current white race of Barsoom, is portrayed as being subservient to the black First Born, which is an obvious role reversal to earth's history. Later in the series we are introduced to the Lotharians, a white race with mental powers who are isolationistic and depraved. At the end of the series we are introduced to the descendents of the Orovars, the ancient white race of Barsoom.

The yellow race of Mars is represented as being an unknown people, except in legend, who occupy the northern pole. Tradition, as shown in the game of Jetan, suggests that the yellow race and the First Born were bitter enemies in the early days of Barsoom history.

The green martians are not, generally speaking, a "human" race because of their markedly different physiology, but are included as human because of their organized culture and use of ordinary (Barsoomian) technology.

All of the races of "men" which inhabit Barsoom are endowed with the same emotional characteristics of terrestrial humans. They are given to love, fidelity, back-stabbing, murder, hate, politics, or greed for power. The first two attributes are generally reserved for the protagontists while the latter attributes are the canvas upon which the interactions of characters and the plot evolve.


Black men, First Born. AKA The Black Pirates or The Pirates of Barsoom. Claim to be the first humans of Barsoom.

Green men, nomads of the dead sea bottoms, tribes of 30,000 loosely affiliated with larger hordes. An implacable enemy to the Red men, cruel and unforgiving.

Red men, the current dominate human race of Barsoom. Sophisticated and scientific, they have built upon the legacy of the older white race, the Orovars.

White men, the dominate race when Mars was young and with oceans. Seafaring, scientific, they developed the atmosphere plants.

Yellow men, the bearded race living at the north pole in domed cities. Their science revolves around electromagnetics.

Kaldanes, the Bantoomian brain which co-exists with a brainless humanoid body (rykors). The super-intelligence of Barsoom.

Hormads, the chemically manufactured androids of Toonol's Ras Thavas; malformed, low intelligence.



-- Masenas, the chameleon men. Tarids, blue-skinned men with hypnotic powers


-- Morgors, skeleton men of Jupiter. Savators, the human race of Jupiter with blue hair and eyebrows.