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ERB Summary Project


Moosko, the Ongyan

Vilor, Thorist spy

Carson Napier (aka Albargan)




Chand Kabi


Nalte voo jan jum Baltoo



Ero Shan


Hara Es




Mal Un


Hara Es





Strabol (Hot Country)





Sofal (a ship)

"kl" or "kloo" (pural nouns)

angan (winged Amtorian)

Sovang (a ship)

tharban (predator)

snakes (fanged, earred, horned)


tharban (predator, tiger)

basto (blue bison)

vere (predator, lizard)

kazars (feathered "dog")

jong (king)

zorat (odd horse)

kob (linear measure)

zangan (beast-men)

sentar (biologists)

ambad (psychologists)

kalto (chemists)

kantum (physicists)

korgan (soldiers)

Sera Tartum (Central Laboratories)

yorgan (common)

vik-ro (substance)

lor (substance)

five vir (20 minutes)

Lost on Venus

Summarized by
The Members of ERBList

Fredrik Ekman, Editor
David Bruce Bozarth,
Managing Editor

Introduction: The Seven Doors

David Bruce Bozarth

Edgar Rice Burroughs's Lost on Venus (1933) continues the tale of Science Fiction's most famous Wrong-Way Corrigan. Carson Napier left the Earth in a spaceship intended to land on Mars and ended up on cloud-covered Venus by happy accident. The "happy" part is Carson did not vaporize in the Sun. The less happy part is that he fell madly in love with an unapproachable princess and had Hell to pay for his attentions. In Pirates of Venus Napier and Duare are nearly undone. In Lost on Venus their continued adventures are trials most extreme.

Napier's tale (sent by mental telepathy to Edgar Rice Burroughs) begins with an encounter with Thorists--a thinly disguised political commentary of Communists of the 1930s. The entire Venusian stories by ERB are political satire, some of it most scathing. Napier has to make choices in a death chamber of seven doors, and finds a different exit. This novelty of "more than one way to skin a cat" becomes the theme for Lost on Venus.

From one extreme to another Burroughs leads the reader through the dangers of Communism and Nazi Socialism. In later volumes the reader is introduced to even more thin parodies of Mussolini's Fascism. By the end of Lost on Venus we have encountered the unyielding concept of Adolph Hitler's "scientifically advanced" (Aryan) city of Havatoo.

The Amtorian (Venus) series written by ERB is not an adventure romance familiar from his early years as an author, though the story has all those elements we hold dear as readers. Lost on Venus in particular is a blatant attempt to warn the reader of insidious political factions in the 1930's reader's real world. Lost on Venus predicts political and ideological events that eventually came true. I doubt Ed Burroughs was happy to see these predictions realized.

Originally published as a serial in Argosy Weekly, 1933, the first edition by ERB, Inc. was printed in 1935. Grosset & Dunlap's reprint appeared in 1936.

The different versions

As is often the case with ERB's novels, there are differences between the original magazine version and the book version. In this particular case, it is interesting to note that there are even two different book versions. The first one (the "hardback version") was first seen in ERB Inc.'s first edition, and all subsequent hardback editions seem to follow this version. Paperback editions, however, were based on the original magazine version.

The exact differences between the two versions are yet not completely investigated. There are some differences in the chapter divisions and several minor textual differences. This summary is based on the paperback version. For purposes of comparison, the chapter titles of the hardback version are given below:


1. The Seven Doors

2. Lost

3. Cannibals

4. Fire

5. The Bull and the Lion

6. Down the Escarpment

7. The Gloomy Castle

8. The Girl in the Tower

9. The Pygmies

10. The Last Second

11. To Live or Die?

12. Havatoo

13. A Professor of Astronomy

14. The Attack in the Night

15. The City of the Dead

16. A Surprise

17. In Hiding

18. Under Suspicion

19. Flight



Fredrik Ekman

The author, in few words, summarizes the events leading up to Carson Napier's adventures on Venus (or Amtor, as it is called by its inhabitants). He also tells how, through the eyes of Carson, he could see Carson rescue the princess Duare from the Thorians, how Duare was carried by an angan bird-man toward safety, and how Carson himself was captured by Thorians.

Chapter 1 The Seven Doors

David Bruce Bozarth

Moosko, the Ongyna and Vilor, the Thorist spy lead the capture of Carson Napier subsequent to Duare being carried away to the Sofal. Before Vilor hacks Napier to death, another from Kapdor suggests a more fitting torture. Marching to Kapdor, Napier recalls the previous events and Duare's narrow escape, flying into a gale and her avowal of love. The Thorists of Kapdor speculate on Napier's origin. Napier silently explores the Amtorian cosmic theory--which is completely inaccurate because of the constant cloud cover. Later, entering the walled city of Kapdor, Carson notes the well-armed populace: swords, daggers, and r-ray pistols (destroys animal tissue). Within a large building Hokal greets Sov and recommends the room of seven doors for Carson. Jailed, Napier ponders recent adventures, including a desire to explore Venus, his early life in India before his English father died and Chand Kabi, his mentalist tutor. Soldiers arrive, Napier is escorted to the room of seven doors. He is told all doors but one lead to horrible deaths, the food and drink is poisoned, and the noose is there should he elect to suicide. The lights go out--then Napier discovers the floor revolves and he cannot tell which door is the exit!

Chapter 2 Coiled Fury

David Bruce Bozarth

Uncertain of the food and drink, Napier's discomfort grows. He attemts sleep on the floor, only to awake covered with snakes. He leaps to the table. Growing desperate, Napier wedges a chair into a door opening--unfortunately it is the tharban door. Leaping again to the table, Napier watches the red and white stripped tharban battle a huge snake. The snake wins then begins to stalk Napier.

Chapter 3 The Noose

David Bruce Bozarth

Napier climbs the rope above the noose and settles upon a great beam. Moving along the beam he again hears a woman's scream. He finds a door and steps out on a balcony. Another scream sends Napier in that direction. Crossing a catwalk to the next building, Carson sees a woman held down by a man with an upraised knife, it was Moosko attempting rape upon Duare! Napier strangles the man, but when he tries to embrace the girl, she rejects him. As they dine, Duare explains her presence: the angan had cowardly turned back and flown directly to Kapdor where Moosko took her for his own. She also reveals how difficult it will be to escape the city walls and hundreds of sentries.

Chapter 4 "Open the Gates!"

David Bruce Bozarth

Duare suggests Napier take the seal ring from the ongyan's finger as a means of passing through the sentries. They descend stairs and traverse most of a long hallway before new arrivals force them to hide in a side room. After the person passed, they race to the exit into the rain. At the gate Napier confuses the sentry with a story, who opens the gate. The couple hurried into the darkness and rain. Continuing on, hoping to reach the sea, the dawn glow indicates they are lost.

Chapter 5 Cannibals

David Adams

Lost in Noobol, Carson and Duare haggle over his love for her, even as she reminds him he should not even be speaking to a Princess. Searching for food, they enter a colorful forest and are attacked by nobargans -- hairy, stinky, half-human cannibals. They are captured, and Carson strikes one of them who is dragging Duare by the hair. They call him Albargan -- no-hair-man. (All races on Amtor speak the same language.) (The sun of Amtor is always behind clouds, which gives it a perpetual, diffused glow -- soft and pastel.) They are brought to the nobargan village and pushed into a filthy hut. In the evening, they are put on barbecue grilles and the fire under Duare is lit. They are to be roasted alive.

Chapter 6 Fire

David Adams

Just then, 24 tharbans come into the village and chase all the nobargans into the forest. Duare rolls off the grill and frees herself and Carson. They escape into the forest, build a tree platform and argue some more about love. Duare asks, "Tell me -- what is this thing called love?" After much trial and error, Carson finally makes fire -- "Golf is a mental disorder and Prometheus is a fable" -- and weapons. Out on the hunt again, they are attacked by a basto.

Chapter 7 Bull against Lion

David Adams

Carson grasps the horns of the basto (a blue, Amtorian buffalo) and is thrown into a tree, which gives Duare time to climb to safety as well. A tharban (red and white striped tiger) kills the basto, and is likewise killed in the effort. They have basto steaks, Carson imagining that he is a proper primitive man. Duane weeps in her depression, but they go on and see distant mountains.

Chapter 8 Down the Escarpment

David Adams

They come to a great valley with a river running through it. They climb down a perilous escarpment, meeting a vere, a huge, predatory lizard. Carson is caught by its tongue and almost swallowed, but it is speared blind by Duare. The lovely valley is filled with strangely colored flowers and numerous beasts. They are charged by a large herbivore with an erectile horn, but it proves to be harmless. Carson kills a small herbivore, and they have a lovely meal.

Chapter 9 The Gloomy Castle

David Adams

Carson and Duare spend an idyllic couple of days in the lovely valley, but Duane must try to return home (Vepaja) because she is a princess who must marry at twenty and carry on the royal line as a queen (vadjong). Carson wants to marry her, but she says he has no right to talk that way. She is a princess (janjong) and any man who even speaks to her without permission must die. Carson points out that he is not anxious for them to find Vepaja. They are attacked by a pack of cackling, feathered, three-horned "police dogs" (kazars) who belong to Skor, the jong of Morov in the land of Noobol. Skor rides a zorat (Amtorian horse with almost horizontal femurs and a natural saddle). He promises to help them when he learns they are not Thorists and brings them to his stony castle. His servants are zombie-like with bloodless pallors. The castle has but a single, small wooden door, and the small windows are barred. Skor tells them they are in Strabol (Hot Country) on the northern hemisphere of Amtor. He has been driven out to live here alone, a man of science. They have a meal of unpalatable food in the courtyard and are ushered to separate rooms in the tower to sleep. Carson finds his door has been locked.

Chapter 10 The Girl in the Tower

Fredrik Ekman & David Adams

Examining his prison, Carson finds some pieces of rope, but neither door nor window can be opened to allow escape. He hears footsteps from the floor above. He falls asleep and is awakened by someone trying to strangle him. He is beaten to unconsciousness. In the morning Carson awakens and talks with a lovely girl who is imprisoned in the room above him. He climbs up to her, bringing the rope. She has seen Skor ride away with his troops to find Duare who has escaped and there are probably only servants left. She explains Skor's method of making synthetic life from dead bodies by using the blood of the living. His best specimens are kept in Kormor, his capital city. They make their escape through the girl's window to the roof of the castle. They are spotted by three guards that were left behind and are forced to jump into the river. Carson lowers the girl into the river-moat, then makes a swan dive escape himself. The girl cannot swim. Fortunately, Carson can take her to the riverbank on the opposite side from the castle. She tells him that she once lived in the mountains, but was captured during a war. She escaped the enemy, then some boat people, and her companion soldier was killed. She has been a prisoner of Skor a long time.

Chapter 11 The Pygmies

Fredrik Ekman & David Adams

The guards enter the water in pursuit, but cannot swim so they float along the river to be washed ashore downstream. Carson still has his bow and arrows and they start to walk downstream, hoping to eventually find Duare. Carson realizes that they do not know eachother's names and asks the girl her name. It is Nalte voo jan jum Baltoo (Nalte, the daughter of Baltoo). He is asked to call her the familiar, Nalte. They come across the zombies, but they appear to be headed back to the castle. Skor and his pack of kazars also pass on the opposite riverbank, but he has not found Duare. Carson and Nalte try to cross this small river at a ford to get on the side closest to the Big River. They are met on the other side by fifty three-foot-high, hairy pygmies. Their leader is Ul from the land of Ul. They have one chant: "Go away! I kill! I kill!". Carson and Nalte are forced to retreat back to the right bank. Carson tells Nalte about his love for Duare. Nalte says that she is also the daughter of a jong, but she can choose her own mate. After spending a chaste night together in a tree platform, Carson says that he will spend but one more day looking for Duare. If she is not found, he will go with Nalte to her home, Andoo, many kobs away. (The Amtorian system of measurement is explained.) Everyone is lost.

Chapter 12 The Last Second

Fredrik Ekman

On the afternoon next day they reach the big river into which the one they have followed flows. They decide to make a raft and cross to the other side of the smaller river. On the following morning they start their crossing, only to find that the current is too strong and they float down the big river, hoping to float ashore before they reach falls that Nalte knows to be farther downstream. Presently they approach two cities, one on each side of the river. The one on the left looks drab and almost ruined while the larger one on the right is white and beautiful. Nalte assumes the one on the left to be Skor's city Kormor. From that city a boat with dead men approaches, but Carson manages to push the men into the water and take the boat. Now they can finally get ashore, but wait until they have drifted yet some distance past the cities. The white city is large, but walled so they cannot see what it looks like inside. They hear the falls and land on the right bank. As they go to hunt for food Nalte gives a cry of alarm.

Chapter 13 To Live or Die

Fredrik Ekman

Carson and Nalte are attacked by a pack of ferocious zangans (beast-men). Carson defends himself with his bow, but soon runs out of arrows. Expecting instant death in the hands of the approaching zangans, Carson draws Nalte close and kisses her. At that moment a dozen men with r-ray rifles appear and drive off the zangans. The men, who are all very beautiful, have come from the white city, Havatoo. The officer in charge, Ero Shan, treats Carson and Nalte very courteously, yet it is clear that they are prisoners rather than guests. They go to Havatoo in a car and are brought before a man called Mohar. He informs them that they will undergo an examination to determine whether or not they shall be permitted to live and to stay in Havatoo.

Chapter 14 Havatoo

Fredrik Ekman

After a physical examination and a long hearing by a committee of five, Carson and Nalte are separated. Nalte is taken into the care of a woman called Hara Es and Carson is brought to the home of Ero Shan. Ero Shan explains the history and culture of Havatoo, which was once ruled by the jong Mankar. Mankar killed all politicians and sterilized all others that were deemed unfit to bear children. At his death he imposed a new form of government. A council of five, one from each of the higher classes, were to rule the city. The ruling classes are the sentar (biologists), ambad (psychologists), kalto (chemists), kantum (physicists) and korgan (soldiers). The center of the half-circle formed city holds the central laboratories. The next arc-formed section is divided like a cake into five pieces, one for each of the ruling classes. Outside the center, in the Yorgan, live the "common" people, although they too are racially improved by selective breeding. Near the city walls are the markets and the factories. Ero Shan introduces Carson to Herlak, a soldier who is to be his servant and guard until after the examination results are revealed.

Chapter 15 The Judgment

Fredrik Ekman

In the morning, Carson is brought to the Sera Tartum (Central Laboratories) where Shogan, the chief of the board, pronounces the board's judgment. Carson is to be put to death because of defects in his genes. Upon hearing this he smiles at the thought of traveling twenty-six million miles just to be killed. He is asked why he smiles and says so. The board is astonished and he has to explain about space, planets, the sun and astronomy (which the clouds of Amtor prevent their knowing of). This leads to a new hearing. This time, Carson's scientific knowledge is deemed to outweigh his genetic defects he is allowed to live and become a citizen of Havatoo. Nalte, too, has passed her test and is allowed to live in the yorgan section of the city. A few days later, as Carson is making himself at home in the city, he happens to mention that he would like to build an airplane to search for Duare in Kormor. The Amtorians have never heard about airplanes and Ero Shan is very interested. A few days later, Carson meets with Nalte and spends a day with her. The next day he begins his duties as a teacher of astronomy. Later that day he is called to Mohar at the Sera Tartum. Mohar has heard from Ero Shan about the airplane and wants Carson to build one.

Chapter 16 Attack in the Night

Fredrik Ekman

In a factory near the city wall Carson works part of his time on the airplane, and at the same time he continues teaching astronomy. He is working hard, but Ero Shan also shows him the various pastimes of the city, including the games at the great stadium. In stark contrast to the civilized and technically developed society of Havatoo, the games are a brutal show where men team up and kill each other with primitive weapons. Ero Shan explains that Havatoo sees few wars and humans need to channel their aggressions somehow. The airplane is eventually completed and fitted with an engine fuelled by the element vik-ro reacting on the substance lor, which practically lasts forever. The night before the first flight, Carson takes Nalte out for dinner. She confesses that she was once nearly in love with him but that she now loves Ero Shan. They take a walk in the streets when they are suddenly attacked by two men. One drags Nalte into a building and the other seizes Carson.

Chapter 17 City of the Dead

Fredrik Ekman

Carson manages to wrestle his foe to the ground before several people arrive. Both are arrested and almost immediately brought to court in the Sera Tartum. The other prisoner, who calls himself Mal Un, is soon found not to be a citizen of Havatoo. As Carson sees his eyes he realizes that this is a dead man from Kormor. Carson is immediately freed while the dead man is sentenced to incarceration. Carson and Ero Shan start investigating the building into which Nalte was taken. Ero Shan pities Carson's loss of his beloved, but Carson explains that they were only friends. They continue searching, but find only empty rooms. While Ero Shan goes to retrieve permission to search other houses, Carson remains on guard. He discovers footprints leading into a wall. Further investigation reveals a hidden door and, proceeding on his own, he descends into a dark tunnel. The door closes behind him. The tunnel ends on the other side of the river and Carson soon finds himself in a dirty and abandoned building in Kormor. Going into the streets he meets a corpse who eyes him suspiciously and he decides to find some old rags to conceal his identity. Along with the rags, he adopts the walking style of the dead. He asks and receives directions for the palace of the jong.

Chapter 18 A Surprise

Fredrik Ekman

Upon reaching the palace, Carson decides that entering by the main gate is impossible and there are no other gates. But a loose door on a nearby building presents a way since it can be used as a ramp for a running leap. A successful attempt takes Carson into the courtyard and an open window at the back of the main building allows further entry. Beyond the window is a room, beyond the room is a corridor and beyond the corridor is another corridor, full of dead servants moving to and fro with plates and dishes. Following the stream, Carson enters a banquet hall full of dead people. Seated around a table are some that at first seem alive but upon closer inspection turn out as dead as the others. Enter Skor and Duare. On Skor's orders the guests eat, drink and laugh. When the meal is finished, Skor and Duare withdraw, Carson close at their heels. They enter a private room and Carson follows, closing the door behind him.

Chapter 19 In Hiding

Fredrik Ekman

Hearing the door close, Skor draws his sword. Duare, afraid that Carson will be killed, wishes that he had never come. Skor tells her that Carson did not come for her but for Nalte. Just as Skor is ready to tear open Carson's belly, Duare knocks him down with a heavy vase, but when Carson wants to take her in his arms, she repels him. They go to free Nalte, which is easily accomplished, and as Duare recalls a secret way out of the castle, they return to Skor's unconscious body to tie him up and steal his keys and sword. Finally, they manage to sneak out of the castle and into the streets. Duare is dejected and without hope. Pretending to be dead they arouse no suspicion, but Carson is unable to find the door leading to the secret tunnel under the river. They move about the city until by dawn they hide in a house and fall asleep. When they wake up they are discovered by an old, living woman named Kroona. There are several more old people living in the city and these promise to help. When they hear that Skor's minions are searching the city the trio disguise as old people, using make-up obtained from the corpse's cosmetician, who is a living man. Skor's creatures arrive and enter the garden where Carson is digging down Skor's sword. He is not recognized so they go on to search the rest of the house.

Chapter 20 Under Suspicion

Stan Galloway

Skor's creatures search Kroona's house, but find no one hiding and move to the next house. Afterward Nalte points out to Carson the dead man who abducted her. Carson follows him to learn the way to the tunnel entrance to Havatoo. Upon return to Kroona's, Nalte and Duare tell Carson that the cosmetician has betrayed them and that troops are coming to find them disguised as old people. They strip their disguises and set out, boldly passing the men sent to look for "old" people, and find a deserted house to await night. By darkness, they go through the tunnel and take "a public conveyance" to Ero Shan's. Shortly thereafter they are arrested as Kormor spies. After interrogation, they are released, but Duare is ordered to return in the morning. Ero Shan suggests that her further questioning is not without danger.

Chapter 21 Flight

Stan Galloway

For her examination, Duare is put under the charge of Hara Es. Carson checks out his plane while awaiting Duare's outcome. Duare is condemned to death. Carson regrets the men of Havatoo are subject to neither sentiment nor corruption. Ero Shan and Nalte appeal to allow Carson one last meeting with Duare; twenty minutes (five vir) is allowed. Ero Shan confides that he and Nalte will remain together. Duare is puzzled that Carson has come to see her and asks him not to speak of love. Impulsively, Carson takes the scarf from Duare and when Hara Es returns, binds and gags her, leaving Duare to guard her. He returns to Ero Shan's house, then sneaks away in his own car. He retrieves Duare and flees to the hangar. Pursuit is evident. Under rifle fire, Carson flies them over the gate. Duare asks why they do not fall, then asks why Carson has left Nalte, whom she says he loves. Carson says the plane is safe and that he loves only Duare; he is taking her to Vepaja and there hopes to win her love in return. Duare then confesses that she loves him, more a woman than the daughter of a jong. They embrace.