Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs

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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

In nearly all respects the Okarian race is similar to the social community of Red men. The basic differences appear to be in clothing and greetings.

The harsh climatic conditions at the Barsoomian North Pole require the Okarians to adopt a dress mode the more skin-loving races of the temperate and equatorial zones of Mars would find quite uncomfortable. Okarians wear orluk furs — which animal is domesticated and also used in combat — when traversing the snow fields of their hidden northern valleys. Okarians maintain a clothed appearance while in their domed cities. The familiar (to us) earthly hand shake is used when greeting in lieu of clasping shoulders as practiced by the Red Men. The Okarians, their skin the "color of a ripe lemon", are the only race on Barsoom which sport beards, making them unique in this respect.

Technologically the Okarians have used the sciences of Barsoom in several ingenious fashions. The geodesic domes which cover the three large cities mentioned in the manuscripts would appear to be among the largest man-made structures on the planet. Environmental support for these metropolitan areas comes from "sunray tanks", obviously a form of solar radiation and conversion. Electro-magnetic devices abound, most notably in their elevator and lift systems which connect the many underground sections to the surface. Inside the cities the Okarians use the Eighth Ray to add buoyancy to the great tires of their ground vehicles. The automobiles are powered by small engines, though most of the motive force comes from a silent propeller at the rear of the vehicle.

At the time John Carter arrives on Barsoom the Yellow Race is known only in old wives' tales and campfire stories. As red man Thuvan Dihn, Jeddak of Ptarth states:

"The ancient chronicles of the first historians of Barsoom — so ancient that we have for ages considered them mythology — record the passing of the yellow men from the ravages of the green hordes that overran all Barsoom as the drying up of the great oceans drove the dominate races from their strongholds.

"They tell of the wanderings of the remnants of this once powerful race, harassed at every step, until at last they found a way through the ice barrier of the north to a fertile valley at the pole.

"At the opening of the subterranean passage that led to their haven of refuge a mighty battle was fought in which the yellow men were victorious, and within those caves that gave ingress to their new home they piled the bodies of the dead, both yellow and green, that the stench might warn away their enemies from further pursuit.

"And ever since that day have the dead of this fabled land been carried to the Carrion Caves, that in death and decay they might serve their country and warn away invading enemies."

A nice device to keep the invaders away, right? Unfortunately the Carrion Caves, though they do exist, are the equivalent of a deep freeze. I'm at a loss to explain how protoplasm can decay and stink when frozen. There are terrifically good reasons for avoiding the Carrion Caves, however, it is the home of the fierce arctic apt, a terrible carnivore indigenous to the region.

The Okarians are a bright, vital race, given to slavery to support their economy, as are all the races of Barsoom. They, of course, remained apart from the mainstream of Barsoom, preferring the solitude of their secluded valleys until John Carter came among them. John's several adventures among the Okarians proved once again that there are good and bad in every society, and Carter managed to hook up with the good for the betterment of all. Eventually the Okarians joined forces with Carter and his adoptive Heliumites in battle. From the number of warriors who turned out for this bloody exercise it is apparent there are more settlements than the three domed cities mentioned.

In closing this section on the Yellow Men of Barsoom it is interesting to note that several minerals are native to the polar region. In no other manuscript are these materials mentioned, especially the odd gem-like substance which becomes electrically excited when in close proximity to a similar stone.