EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS'
Skeleton Men of Jupiter
David "Nkima" Adams
Copyright © 2000
Skeleton Men of Jupiter was first published in Amazing Stories, February 1943. It was left incomplete and has been often "finished" by many pastiche writers. It was later reprinted in Amazing Stories Quarterly, Volume 3, no. 4, fall 1943 and in Amazing Stories, January 1964. The first book appearance was by Canaveral Press, Inc. July 24, 1964. John Carter's last adventure is told in nine chapters.
ERB states that he dislikes forewords, yet he has written many himself. He claims that he is merely John Carterís amanuesus in this story.
Chapter One: Betrayed
"I am no scientist. I am a fighting man." "Theories come and theories go — scientific theories." Today Space is curved. Once Flammarion said that Mars was inhabited. I live on Mars today. John Carter is called away from Dejah Thoris to Tardos Mors in the Hall of Jeddaks by an unknown guard. Perhaps he is from Zor, a recently conquered city. Multis Par, a prince of Zor has been missing for five years. It is turning dark on Mars. Carter is captured by strange men speaking a strange language. They look like human skeletons! He is carried off in a long, lean, sinister space ship. Morgors are described in detail. He is being transported to Sasoom (Jupiter) three hundred and forty-two million miles from Barsoom.
Chapter Two: U-Dan
The red man who led Carter into this trap is U-Dan, formerly a padwar in the guard of Zu Tith, the Jed of Zor. He is in love with Vaja, a cousin of Multis Par, who has also disappeared. Multis Par is holding her captive on Sasoom, and U-Dan is bribed into helping him capture Carter in order to get her back. The Morgors of Sasoom are planning to conquer Barsoom. They are a warlike race. "Their every thought was of war." The city of Helium will be their first target, and they need information from Carter. The Morgors plan to attack in thousands of invisible ships. This invisibility is achieved by coating their ships with submicroscopic, magnetic sand composed of prismatic crystals. A Morgor tells Carter that he must learn their language in the 18 days it will take them to reach Sasoom.
Chapter Three: The Morgors of Sasoom ...
While Carter is learning the language, he is slapped and deprived of sleep. Carter punches a Morgor, a terrible act from "a creature of a lower order." This effrontery will be dealt with by Bandolian when they reach the planet of Eurobus (Sasoom). Carter learns their language in only 15 days. The Morgors use the Eighth Barsoomian Ray to travel through space at a great speed. This ray is combined with Ray L (cosmic rays) and gravitational forces. Carter understands this theory, which "would certainly surprise some of my scientific friends on earth." The scientists on earth would have to "eat humble pie" again when Carter lands on an inhabited Jupiter. Sasoom is heated by gigantic volcanoes that wrap 30,000 miles around the equator of the planet. There is no vegetation in the cities of Sasoom, which are gloomy, brown buildings built of volcanic rock. There is a rosy glow over everything caused by light from the volcanoes, and outside the cities is a riotous growth of tropical verdure with unearthly hues. The slaves of the Morgors are purple-skinned humanoids called Savators. The commander of the ship that brought Carter to Sasoom is Haglion, the name of his ship as well. Mars is called Garobus. The Morgors ride enormous centipede-like creatures, as many as a dozen at a time. Morgors seldom speak; they never laugh; they look like skeletons risen from sad graves in a cemetery city of the dead. Haglion take Carter and U-Dan to a basement cell in a tall, ugly building.
Chapter Four: ... And the Savators
Carter is less effected by gravity than even on Mars due to the rapid rotation of the planet. Carter and U-Dan have a blue-skinned Savator cell-mate. He was imprisoned for bumping into a Morgor. They will all be destroyed at the graduation exercises of the next graduating Morgor military class. The Savatorís name is Zan Dar. Carter and U-Dan are taken to the palace of the Morgor ruler. There they see Vaja with Multis Par. All four appear before Bandolian, Emperor of the Morgors. Bandolian asks Carter for military information about Barsoom, and he laughs at the suggestion. They are taken back to their cells.
Chapter Five: I Would Be A Traitor
There is no night upon Jupiter because of the rosy light of the volcanoes. Many other details of the planet and its history are described. Zan Dar tells them that he is from Zanor, a mountainous island unconquered by the Morgors. Multis Par is brought to their cell to persuade Carter to help Bandolian. He refuses and knocks him to the ground when he discovers that Dejah Thoris will also be brought to Sasoom. A Morgor is thrown into the cell with Carter, U-Dan, and Zan Dar. He is called Vorion and happens to be the one who slapped Carter during the voyage. They start to make plans to escape together when Carter is taken to Bandolian. Dejah Thoris is brought into the room. She says to John, "Courage! Better death than dishonor." She too has learned the language of Sasoom. Bandolian threatens to torture Dejah, but she tells John she has a thin blade hidden to take her own life should that occur. (The Morgors do not know how to speak the Barsoomian language -- it is below them.) Deja tells him she is imprisoned with Vaja in the top floor of a tower at the rear of the building. Bandolian allows Carter a little more time to consider his decision.
Chapter Six: Escape
Vorian outlines a plan of escape for them, but Carter and U-Dan will not leave the women behind. "You are strange creatures," Vorian remarks. Vorian picks the lock, and they escape into the streets, Vorian treating Carter and the other two as his slaves to avoid attention. One of Bandolianís guards questions Vorian, and Carter strikes him dead. They steal a little ship and take to to the airfield for one of the larger, invisible ones. Vorian flies this one back to Bandolianís palace for the woman, as Carter carefully notes how to run the ship. The invisible ship hovers by the window where the women are held, and Carter leaps in. He finds Multis Par trying to kiss Dejah. The women escape into the ship, but Carter is captured by the Morgors and locked into a cell -- chained to the wall.
Chapter Seven: Pho Lar
Carter is brought before the lord high inquisitor. Carter baits him with words of contempt, and Gorgum almost kills him with his sword. Horur then questions Carter with similar humorous replies. Horur tells Carter that if he cooperates he will be given a high office in Bandolianís new kingdom. Carter replies, "Never!" Carter is placed in another cell with 20 Savators. Pho Lar, a Savator bully, is slapped by Carter, then beaten unconscious. The other Savators are pleased. He makes friends with them and with Han Du.
Chapter Eight: In The Arena
Pho Lar finally awakens, and he too becomes friends with Carter. Since they will have to fight in the arena soon, Carter gives them all fencing lessons with smuggled in sticks. Han Du was a magnificent swordsman, as was Pho Lar. It took Carter an hour to disarm him. He was one of the greatest swordsmen he had ever faced. On Morgor graduation day they face 40 cadets in a pitched battle. They give their opponents a surprise. They approach in a line chanting, "Death to the Morgors!" They kill ten Morgors in the first quick flurry. At the end of the fight, all the Morgors are dead and 10 Savators survive. They break out of the gates of the arena and through the city gates as well, escaping into the tropical forest. Here Carter is almost eaten by a man-eating tree, which is really a carnivorous animal. They even have one for breakfast -- it tastes like veal. Carter, Han Du, and Pho Lar head for Zanor. The others go another way.
Chapter Nine: To Zanor!
Pho Lar leaves them to head for his own country, and Carter and Han Du continue together, making spears and bows and arrows for protection from wild beasts. They come to Han Duís city, which is invisible -- covered with sands of invisibility found in great quantities along the beach of a great ocean. Carter meets O Ala, Han Duís wife. The Morgors are completely unaware of their invisible city. The inhabitants find their doorways by strategically placed umpalla plants. Carter learns that Zanor and thus Dejah lies across a great ocean. He plans to build a boat to cross the sea when suddenly they are attacked in the open by Morgors. Carter manages to drive off the few guards around their ship and steals it. He flies across a raging ocean to Zanor, lands, demagnetizes the hull, and steps forth saying, "I am a friend of Zan Dar." He expects to be soon reunited with Dejah Thoris.