The Monster Men

The Monster Men was written early in Edgar Rice Burroughs' career during his most prolific decade. This tale, which features overtones of Frankenstein, South Seas pirate stories, and ERB's signature brand of adventure romance, is noteworthy for an expressive philosophical exploration of what makes a human being. Originally published in the November 1913 issue of The All-Story Magazine under the title "A Man Without A Soul," this eighth novel by Burroughs had a working title of "Number Thirteen." The Monster Men was not published in book form until 1929 by A.C. McClurg.

Edgar Rice Burroughs created a diverse cast of characters for The Monster Men. Their adventures and travails occur in a rapid fire, often convoluted, series of separate scenes that ultimately culminate in the expected happy ending—but one with a twist!

David Bruce Bozarth's introduction to the ERBmania! hosted on-line version of The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Read the ERB Summary Project entry for The Monster Men.

ERB'S MONSTER MASH-UP

John "Bridge" Martin

THE MONSTER MEN, Chapter 1: THE MAGIC NUMBER

There are different reasons advanced through the centuries for why 13 is considered an unlucky number. The mystique surrounding the number 13 is likely why Edgar Rice Burroughs chose it as the number of monsters that Professor Arthur Maxon was brewing up on his remote island near Borneo in ERB's The Monster Men, first published in All-Story Magazine in, appropriately enough, November of 1913.

On that jungle island, the temporarily insane Professor Maxon was brewing those monsters in coffin-shaped vats, and the next part of his evil plan was to force his daughter, Virginia, to marry his latest creation: Number Thirteen.

But is Number Thirteen a little too perfect to just automatically go along with the professor's plan, or does his daughter have ideas of her own as well?

It's an action-packed story with a philosophical bent as well, revolving around the question of just what makes someone a real human, and what it is that blesses them with a soul.

If 13 bothers you,* though, don't read The Monster Men, because the creature known as Number Thirteen isn't the only time that numeral shows up.

* Fear of the number 13 is known as Triskaidekaphobia.

One of those instances is because 13 is the total number of monsters: Since Number Thirteen has the number he does, it's obvious that there must be a baker's dozen of these "creatures" altogether.

And if you want to stretch a point, you can count 13 letters in the book's title, The Monster Men, as well as in the name of the heroine, Virginia Maxon.

Going a bit further, an object of some mystery, "the heavy chest," is referred to a number of times and when it isn't called "heavy" it's called "the great chest." And both combinations have 13 letters.

This, of course, is similar to seeing a face on Mars. It's there if you want to look for it. It's unlikely that ERB intended all of the aforesaid 13s, because if he wanted to pepper the story with that number he missed a lot of other opportunities to do so in the names of other characters, locales, etc.

And of course there's absolutely no significance to the fact that the story first appeared in 1913.

Or is there?

THE MONSTER MEN, Chapter 2: MONSTER MADNESS

The first few paragraphs of The Monster Men present a contrast between disgusting horror and carefree light heartedness.

Edgar Rice Burroughs's opening sentence brings vividly before the reader "the last grisly fragment of the dismembered and mutilated body" which is being devoured by nitric acid. There are words like "horrid" and "gallows."

This is followed by a paragraph about ague, and a convulsive shudder, fear, perspiration and pressure — and most ominous of all... the approach of footsteps. What unnamed dreadful thing is now creeping toward the man's quarters, the reader wonders, his imagination already stirred by the title of the book and the cover on whatever edition he happens to have picked up.

Next we have the "madness of apprehension," followed by the inevitable knock.

And then, ERB changes the mood as the "sweet tones of a girl's voice" say, "Daddy!"

And for a little while, the mood is lightened by his "sweetheart," his caring and concerned daughter, who talks laughingly about dolls and mud pies.

But then the mood darkens again. For while the girl teases about making mud pies, the father himself has been brewing far dirtier concoctions, the most recent of which he chopped up, as in a scene in an EC Comic Book of the future, and fed into flesh-eating acid.

This man, though he loved and cared for his daughter at the beginning of the story, and thankfully at the end as well, would become so gripped by his dark passions that he would actually plan to marry the girl off to one of his creations — and that plan was in place even before he actually knew how his "Number Thirteen" creation would turn out.

Thanks to the Chinese cook Sing Lee, the only man among the small group on that remote island who had any brains, and the cunning to go with them, such a travesty was averted. But that the professor had actually become criminally insane for awhile there is no question, for Burroughs states as much.

Professor Arthur Maxon is at first said merely to be suffering the "haunting ghosts of the mental anguish that had left him an altered man," but by then he's already in such a state of mind that he would consider it murder to kill off any of the artificially human creatures he had brewed. But, at the same time, he is entertaining a plan to marry off his daughter to one of them. For right after shrinking from the idea of getting rid of any of his monsters, he turns around a paragraph or two later to speak of "Number Thirteen," still being molded in the coffin-shaped vat, saying, "Be this one what he may he shall wed my daughter!"

Doctor Carl Von Horn, Maxon's assistant who is planning to turn some events to his own advantage, is nonetheless a noble character at times. He's not criminally insane; he's just a criminal. But at this point in the story he has more common decency than Maxon. When Maxon weeps over the death of monster Number One, saying, "...you were my first born son and I loved you most, dear child," even the duplicitous Von Horn at least has the indignation to ask the professor, "Are you mad?"

Yes, he's mad. Almost 20 pages later, the professor is talking about his plan to keep Number Thirteen's origin a secret until after "mutual affection has gained a sure foothold between them." And when Von Horn asks what the professor will do if that doesn't happen, the evil genius responds that he, in effect, is contemplating the rape of his own daughter.

"I should prefer that they mated voluntarily," replied the professor, the strange gleam leaping to his eyes at the suggestion of possible antagonism to his cherished plan, "but if not, then they shall be compelled by the force of my authority—they both belong to me, body and soul."

If there was any doubt about the state of Maxon's mind, ERB confirms it in straightforward language in Chapter VI:

"In the latter [Maxon] shone a strange gleam— it was the wild light of insanity that the sudden nervous shock of the attack had brought to a premature culmination."

Fortunately, the therapy of a sharp rap on the head, administered by an enemy, is just the tonic to bring Maxon back to his right mind. In Chapter VII, we read:

The blow of the parang upon the professor's skull had shocked his overwrought mind back into the path of sanity.... and it had given him a clearer perspective of the plans he had been entertaining for so long relative to this soulless creature.

A clearer perspective? Well that's nice! Indeed, the professor returns to his right mind and from then on his actions and attitude are for the good of his daughter.

Yes, it's only fiction. But Professor Arthur Maxon doesn't come across as a particularly noble ERB protagonist. It may be possible to forgive this man's wild ideas because of his state of mind, but it sure doesn't call for forgetting them, nor disregarding what his unstable mind might be capable of should he get another rap on the head someday!

Virginia's future husband better keep a careful eye on the professor from now on!

THE MONSTER MEN, Chapter 3: MONSTERS GALORE

More than 13 monsters are roaming around in Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men.

It was obviously ERB's intention, though, that the real monsters were just about everyone but those who were called monsters.

The 13 monsters came out of the secret island laboratory of Professor Arthur Maxon. Just what raw materials he used, or where he got those materials, is never specified, but it was some type of liquid concoction stirred up in his lab which solidified inside a coffin-like vat to resemble a bipedal, man-shaped creature which had a lot of the attributes of man, though lacking in the "looks" department.

The only clues as to the content of the raw material was a statement by the professor that he was making his monsters out of chemicals, and to a description that comes in Chapter III, which says, "Vat Number Thirteen lay dashed to the floor — the glass cover was broken to a million pieces — a sticky, brownish substance covered the matting."

Thinking his production of the 13th living creature had been ruined, the professor then revealed how much longer it would have taken for that "sticky, brownish substance" to be transformed into something that would at least be recognizable: "It is all ruined," he said. "Three more days would have —."

He was interrupted because it was at that moment that Von Horn spotted "a handsome giant, physically perfect" seated in a far corner of the room.

The first description of one of these monsters was of the being called Number One, who was said to have hideous features. It lumbered awkwardly like a great grizzly, paced like a wild beast in captivity, but moved like a huge sloth.

His brain was described as malformed, but it was sharp enough to figure out how to pull enough saplings off the roof of a building to build a "bridge" from the structure to the fence, and — after making the wall — was smart enough to haul the saplings after him and deposit them in the surrounding jungle to delay any notice of his departure.

A bit later in the same chapter is a more complete description, and most of the different book illustrators over the years have done a faithful job of recreating this creature, although their imaginations and painting styles differ:

One eye was fully twice the diameter of the other, and an inch above the horizontal plane of its tiny mate. The nose was but a gaping orifice above a deformed and twisted mouth. The thing was chinless, and its small, foreheadless head surmounted its colossal body like a cannon ball on a hill top. One arm was at least twelve inches longer than its mate, which was itself long in proportion to the torso, while the legs, similarly mismated and terminating in huge, flat feet that protruded laterally, caused the thing to lurch fearfully from side to side as it lumbered toward the girl.

Perhaps the next most terrifying-looking creatures in The Monster Men were the Dyak pirates.

ERB describes them from the point of view of when Virginia Maxon first saw them:

The dark skin was creased in fierce wrinkles about the eyes and mouth. Gleaming tiger cat's teeth curved upward from holes pierced to receive them in the upper half of each ear. The slit ear lobes supported heavy rings whose weight had stretched the skin until the long loop rested upon the brown shoulders. The filed and blackened teeth behind the loose lips added the last touch of hideousness to this terrible countenance. Chapter VIII

And, again, in Chapter IX:

The Dyak warriors presented an awe inspiring spectacle in the fitful lights of the nearby camp fire. The ferocity of their fierce faces was accentuated by the upturned, bristling tigercat's teeth which protruded from every ear; while the long feathers of the Argus pheasant waving from their war-caps, the brilliant colors of their war-coats trimmed with the black and white feathers of the hornbill, and the strange devices upon their gaudy shields but added to the savagery of their appearance as they danced and howled, menacing and intimidating, in the path of the charging foe.

The monsters were hideous creatures and the Dyaks were hideous humans. But in many ways the Dyaks were more hideous than the monsters. They, unlike the monsters, had the ability to reason, but deliberately chose a lawless and terrorist lifestyle.

No less monsters were the Malay pirates and the lascars who sought Virginia Maxon and "the heavy chest".

ERB wasn't so trite as to write that "There is no honor among thieves," but he made the same point in another way in Chapter VI:

There was murder in the cowardly hearts of several of them, and cupidity and lust in the hearts of all. There was no single one who would not betray his best friend for a handful of silver, nor any but was inwardly hoping and scheming to the end that he might alone possess both the chest and the girl.

And altogether, there were more than 500 such enemies of the little party from the island.

Dr. Carl Von Horn, Professor Maxon's assistant, was a monster. Not only was he a criminal wanted by the U.S. Navy, but he was plotting to make Virginia his bride, whether she willed it or not, not merely to possess her body but also to possess any inheritance to come to her from her father. And if that called for expediting the old man's death, that was fine with Von Horn, too.

Even Von Horn had to admit to himself, very reluctantly, that he was a worse creature than the Number Thirteen he despised:

A sudden wave of jealous rage swept through the man's vicious brain. He saw that the soulless thing within was endowed with a kindlier and more noble nature than he himself possessed. He had planted the seed of hatred and revenge within his untutored heart without avail, for he read in the dead bodies of Bududreen's men and the two Dyaks the story of Number Thirteen's defence of the man Von Horn had hoped he would kill. Chapter VII

The professor himself was a monster. He was carried away by his insane desire to play God and produce human life in a lab when he had already succeeded in producing a beautiful daughter under, one may presume, much more pleasant circumstances. His insanity excused some of his actions, and it was good for him that his sanity returned eventually. But he was certainly a monster of the worst kind for much of the book.

As for the thirteen "monsters," they acted only out of the scant knowledge gained in their short life and had no moral code to guide them. Number Thirteen was able to harness their abilities in the service of Virginia Maxon and, as he told her eventually:

"Poor, hideous, unloved, unloving monsters — they gave up their lives for the daughter of the man who made them the awful, repulsive creatures that they were."

"What do you mean?" cried the girl.

"I mean that all have been killed searching for you, and battling with your enemies. They were soulless creatures, but they loved the mean lives they gave up so bravely for you whose father was the author of their misery — you owe a great deal to them, Virginia."

So the monsters who are the title character of this book, the monsters who are depicted as grotesque, maniacal creatures, the monsters who ended up living their lives only to end the lives of others and sacrifice their own lives in the process — they were the noble ones in this book. And the humans, from the primitive to the one who had earned a high teaching position at Cornell University, were the real monsters.

You don't have to be ugly to be a monster.

Ironic ERB in one of his best outings!

THE MONSTER MEN, Chapter 4: MONSTER MARINERS

If a movie were to be made of The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs, a few comic relief scenes would help to ease the intensity of the repeated screen portrayal of brute force and grotesque flesh.

For an Old Time Radio style script see: The Monster Men, An Audio Play by D B Bozarth

One of those scenes could come from Chapter VIII, where Number Thirteen and his misshapen and mentally deficient followers commandeer an enemy prahu and attempt to learn the ropes of navigation in order to follow the other canoes across the China Sea to the island of Borneo in an attempt to rescue the captive Virginia Maxon.

Because the monsters were created in Professor Maxon's lab just a few weeks earlier, they had a lot to learn, and that included the proper technique for propelling a boat.

After the human-like beasts attacked and drove off the Dyaks who were aboard the wrecked Ithaca, Number Thirteen tried to instantly train his cumbersome crew to operate the prahu that had been abandoned by the rest of the fleeing pirates. And Number Thirteen had only just figured the technique out himself:

Neither Number Thirteen nor any of his crew had ever before seen a boat, and outside of the leader there was scarcely enough brains in the entire party to render it at all likely that they could ever navigate it, but the young man saw that the other prahus were being propelled by the long sticks which protruded from their sides, and he also saw the sails bellying with wind, though he had but a vague conception of their purpose.

For a moment he stood watching the actions of the men in the nearest boat, and then he set himself to the task of placing his own men at the oars and instructing them in the manner of wielding the unfamiliar implements. For an hour he worked with the brainless things that constituted his party. They could not seem to learn what was required of them. The paddles were continually fouling one another, or being merely dipped into the water and withdrawn without the faintest semblance of a stroke made.

The tiresome maneuvering had carried them about in circles back and forth across the harbor, but by it Number Thirteen had himself learned something of the proper method of propelling and steering his craft. At last, more through accident than intent, they came opposite the mouth of the basin, and then chance did for them what days of arduous endeavor upon their part might have failed to accomplish.

That happenstance came when "...a vagrant land breeze suddenly bellyed the flapping sail...."

The scene was, in a way, a trial run for ERB's imagination as he prepared to write his next Tarzan outing, The Beasts of Tarzan, which would be published about a year later in All-Story Cavalier Weekly. Tarzan had been marooned on an island by the evil Nikolas Rokoff but you can't keep a good ape-man down. After making friends with Sheeta the Panther, the native Mugambi and an ape named Akut and his furry friends, Tarzan fits a small craft for service to sail to the African mainland.

Tarzan had the advantage on Number Thirteen, the latter having no memory of anything other than what he had learned since becoming self-aware in Professor Maxon's lab.

So Tarzan at least knew what he was doing from the start, but teaching apes to man oars proved to be about as easy as teaching faux-human monsters. ERB wrote:

The next few days Tarzan devoted to the weaving of a bark-cloth sail with which to equip the canoe, for he despaired of being able to teach the apes to wield the paddles, though he did manage to get several of them to embark in the frail craft which he and Mugambi paddled about inside the reef where the water was quite smooth.

During those trips he had placed paddles in their hands, when they attempted to imitate the movements of him and Mugambi, but so difficult is it for them long to concentrate upon a thing that he soon saw that it would require weeks of patient training before they would be able to make any effective use of these new implements, if, in fact, they should ever do so.

There was one exception, however, and he was Akut. Almost from the first he showed an interest in this new sport that revealed a much higher plane of intelligence than that attained by any of his tribe. He seemed to grasp the purpose of the paddles, and when Tarzan saw that this was so he took much pains to explain in the meager language of the anthropoid how they might be used to the best advantage.

Tarzan, too, was aided by the wind in making it back to Africa.

And so it was that when the first fair wind rose he embarked upon his cruise, and with him he took as strange and fearsome a crew as ever sailed under a savage master.

Mugambi and Akut went with him, and Sheeta, the panther, and a dozen great males of the tribe of Akut.

THE MONSTER MEN, Chapter 5: MONSTER MENTIONABLES

As is usual with his writings, ERB has his especially memorable phrases and passages in The Monster Men. There is a ship that is "wallowing drunkenly", "the lynx-eyed Sing", "savage happiness", and "frightful freight".

It is an eyebrow-raiser in Chapter II, when Professor Maxon says, "The future of the world will be assured when once we have demonstrated the possibility of the chemical production of a perfect race." No precise spoiler alerts here, other than that, near the end of the story, one gets the final evidence that the learned one is anxious to "forget forever" that particular subject!

When Number Thirteen is moving through the jungle alone, he decides to check out some nearby noises.

His experience with men had taught him to be wary, for it was evident that every man's hand was against him, so he determined to learn at once whether the noise he heard came from some human enemy lurking along his trail ready to spring upon him with naked parang.... Chapter XI

That line about every man's hand being against him brings to mind a passage in Genesis, and ERB was wont to directly quote the Bible at times, and allude to passages from it at other times. Was he doing so in this case, with a reflection on Genesis 16:12 regarding Ishmael?

"And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him, and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren."

Number Thirteen is known by some other names. Von Horn calls him "Jack" in Chapter V:

"You are getting along nicely, Jack," he said kindly, looking over the other's shoulder and using the name which had been adopted at his suggestion to lend a more human tone to their relations with the nameless man.

Later, Number Thirteen adopts the name of "Bulan," which is what the natives call him. "Bulan" means "moon" in Malaysia and refers to a moon goddess in the Philippine language. Chapter IX states:

Number Thirteen noticed that when they addressed him it was always as Bulan, and upon questioning them he discovered that they had given him this title of honor partly in view of his wonderful fighting ability and partly because the sight of his white face emerging from out of the darkness of the river into the firelight of their blazing camp fire had carried to their impressionable minds a suggestion of the tropic moon which they admired and reverenced.

And the reader will discover one other name by which Number Thirteen is known.


"The heavy chest," sometimes called "the great chest" and sometimes just "the chest" is a much-sought prize in The Monster Men and many possess it briefly but none ever seem to have it quite long enough to open it up and look inside.

So what are its contents? Perhaps if ERB fans were after this container, they would hope it contained 29 McClurg ERB books in pristine jackets. But it's more logical to assume that it is full of gold, or another kind of negotiable treasure.

One man, besides Professor Maxon, is said to know what is in the heavy chest. It is Sing Lee, the camp cook. In Chapter II we read: "But he muttered much to himself the balance of the day, for Sing knew that a chest that strained four men in the carrying could contain but one thing, and he knew that Bududreen was as wise in such matters as he."

Well, did Sing really guess what was in the chest? And did he and Bududreen, another villain who is onstage for awhile, both have the same idea about what was in the chest? We don't get the reactions of either when the contents of the chest are finally disclosed, so we'll just have to imagine what their reactions were, or might have been, to its contents.

ERB writes of the magic of a woman's smile:

Virginia Maxon sent back an answering smile — a smile that filled the young giant's heart with pride and happiness — such a smile as brave men have been content to fight and die for since woman first learned the art of smiling. Chapter VIII

In describing the different levels of human-like development which the diverse monsters had reached, ERB provided a definition for what makes one a human:

These were by far the most dangerous, for as the power of comparison is the fundamental principle of reasoning, so they were able to compare their lot with that of the few other men they had seen, and with the help of Von Horn to partially appreciate the horrible wrong that had been done them. Chapter VII

THE MONSTER MEN, Chapter 6 MONSTER MEANINGS

A Glossary of some of the uncommon terms ERB uses in Monster Men:

Bulan
(Earlier referenced in Part 5 of 5, Monster Mentionables) — Malaysian word for "moon," usually a reference to "moon goddess" in the Philippine language.

What happened to Bulan and Virginia?

The Case of the Plaintiff Pirate
by D B Bozarth

Chapter IX states "Number Thirteen noticed that when they addressed him it was always as Bulan, and upon questioning them he discovered that they had given him this title of honor partly in view of his wonderful fighting ability and partly because the sight of his white face emerging from out of the darkness of the river into the firelight of their blazing camp fire had carried to their impressionable minds a suggestion of the tropic moon which they admired and reverenced."
Cabalistic
— Relating to or associated with mystical interpretation or esoteric doctrine. After burying "the heavy chest" stolen from Professor Maxon, Ninaka and cohorts "buried the treasure at the foot of a mighty buttress tree, and with his parang made certain cabalistic signs upon the bole whereby he might identify the spot when it was safe to return and disinter his booty." Chapter XIII
Camphor Crystals
— A waxy, flammable, white or transparent solid with a strong aromatic odor. It is found in the wood of the camphor laurel, a large evergreen tree found in Asia (particularly in Sumatra, Indonesia and Borneo) and also of the kapur tree, a tall timber tree from the same region. It also occurs in some other related trees in the laurel family, notably Ocotea usambarensis. Dried rosemary leaves, in the mint family, contain up to 20% camphor. It is used for its scent, as an ingredient in cooking (mainly in India), as an embalming fluid, for medicinal purposes, and in religious ceremonies. "The head hunters had been engaged in collecting camphor crystals when their quick ears caught the noisy passage of the six while yet at a considerable distance, and with ready parangs the savages crept stealthily toward the sound of the advancing party." Chapter XI
Celestial
— Sing Lee, the Chinese cook for the Arthur Maxon scientific camp, is first referred to as an "oriental" and then several times as a "celestial." Celestial was a term referring to Chinese emigrants to the U.S., Canada and Australia during the 19th Century. The term was widely used in the popular mass media of the day. The term is from Celestial Empire, a traditional name for China. Chapter VI, et al
Cognomen
— An extra personal name given to an ancient Roman citizen, functioning rather like a nickname and typically passed down from father to son. "Both the name and the idea appealed to Number Thirteen and from that time he adopted Bulan as his rightful cognomen." Chapter IX

St John interior from the 1929 edition

Contumely
— Insolent or insulting language or treatment. After Professor Maxon referred to Number Thirteen as "that horrid, soulless thing,"..."At the very moment that he spoke the object of his contumely was entering the dark mouth of a broad river that flowed from out of the heart of savage Borneo." Chapter IX
Court of Mystery
— Name coined by Von Horn for the part of the compound where Maxon makes his monsters in his secret lab. "For days and nights at a time Virginia never saw him [her father, Professor Maxon], his meals being passed in to him by Sing through a small trap door that had been cut in the partition wall of the 'court of mystery' as Von Horn had christened the section of the camp devoted to the professor's experimentations." Chapter II, et al
Dyak
— The Dayak or Dyak or Dayuh are the native people of Borneo. It is a loose term for over 200 riverine and hill-dwelling ethnic subgroups, located principally in the interior of Borneo, each with its own dialect, customs, laws, territory and culture, although common distinguishing traits are readily identifiable. ERB described the Dyak pirates in terrifying terms, with tiger teeth sticking out of their faces.
Effete
— We all are familiar with this word from many of ERB's books, but what does it actually mean? The dictionary says: "(of a person) affected, overrefined, and ineffectual." Chapter XV: "At the sight of the mighty figure reduced to pitiable inefficiency and weakness, despite the knowledge that her protector could no longer protect, the fear of the jungle faded from the heart of the young girl — she was no more a weak and trembling daughter of an effete civilization."
Gudgeon
— A socket-like, cylindrical (i.e., female) fitting attached to one component to enable a pivoting or hinging connection to a second component. The second component carries a pintle fitting, the male counterpart to the gudgeon, enabling an interpivoting connection that can be easily separated. Designs that may use gudgeon and pintle connections include hinges, shutters and small boat rudders. "Here he [Von Horn] found that the rudder [of the Ithaca] had been all but unshipped, probably as the vessel was lifted over the reef during the storm, but a single pintle remaining in its gudgeon." Chapter XI
Gunung Tebor
— a locale in Indonesia. "...it being Ninaka's intention to dispose of the contents of the chest as quickly as possible through the assistance of a rascally Malay who dwelt at Gunung Tebor, where he carried on a thieving trade with pirates." Chapter XIII
Incontinently
— In a way that lacks self-restraint, no control (in modern sense, mostly refers to lack of control of bowels or urination) "For a moment they stood valiantly before his attack, but after two had grappled with him and been hurled headlong to the floor they gave up and rushed incontinently out into the maelstrom of the screaming tempest." Chapter VIII, et al.
Kris (kriss)
— an asymmetrical dagger with distinctive blade-patterning achieved through alternating laminations of iron and nickelous iron (pamor). While most strongly associated with the culture of Indonesia the kris is also indigenous to Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore. The kris is famous for its distinctive wavy blade, although many have straight blades as well. Both the spelling of "kris" and "kriss" are used in The Monster Men.
Lascar
— A lascar was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian Subcontinent or other countries east of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the Indian Subcontinent or other countries east of the Cape of Good Hope. The word (also spelled lashkar, laskar) derives from Persian la┼íkar, meaning military camp or army, and al-askar, the Arabic word for a guard or soldier. The Portuguese adapted this term to lascarim, meaning an Asian militiaman or seaman, especially those from the Indian subcontinent. Lascars served on British ships under "lascar agreements." These agreements allowed shipowners more control than was the case in ordinary articles of agreement. The sailors could be transferred from one ship to another and retained in service for up to three years at one time. The name lascar was also used to refer to Indian servants, typically engaged by British military officers. In "The Monster Men," ERB uses the term to refer to refer to some of the natives who assisted, as well as attacked, the expedition. "The gravel bottom of the rivulet made fairly good walking, and as Virginia was borne in a litter between two powerful lascars it was not even necessary that she wet her feet in the ascent of the stream to the camp." Chapter II
Malay
— Member of an ethnic group of Austronesian peoples predominantly inhabiting the Malay Peninsula, eastern Sumatra, southernmost parts of Thailand, south coast Burma, island of Singapore, coastal Borneo including Brunei, West Kalimantan, and coastal Sarawak and Sabah, and the smaller islands which lie between these locations — that collectively are known as the Alam Melaya. These locations today are part of the modern nations of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand. Numerous mentions throughout book; along with the Dyaks, the chief antagonists of the expedition.
Mias pappan
— A native name for the orangutan. "As she looked she saw a huge mias pappan cross the stream, bearing in his arms the dead, or unconscious form of a white-skinned girl with golden hair." This was a Virginia sighting later reported to von Horn by an unidentified native woman. Chapter XII
Nostrum
— A medicine, especially one that is not considered effective, prepared by an unqualified person. Sing Lee's "first thought when he had made Professor Maxon comfortable upon the couch was to fetch his pet nostrum, for there burned strong within his yellow breast the same powerful yearning to experiment that marks the greatest of the profession to whose mysteries he aspired." Chapter VII
Ourang outang
— Was apparently a popular spelling of the name of beast more commonly rendered as orangutan today. First used in The Monster Men as a hyphenated word and thereafter as two words. This was the spelling in Poe's Murders in Rue Morgue, published in 1841. Chapter X.
Panglima
— A Malay noble of secondary rank, a petty raja. The word has also been used as the name for a "fun, fast vocabulary game." This is the rank of Ninaka of the Sibnana Dyaks, cohort and rival of Rajah Muda Saffir, chief villain. Chapter X
Parang
— A collective term for swords, big knives and machetes hailing from all over the Malay archipelago. Used throughout the story. One example: "They had entered a narrow canon when Number Twelve went down beneath a half dozen parangs." Chapter XIV
Pintle
— See gudgeon, above
Prahu
— A type of sailing boat originating in Malaysia and Indonesia that may be sailed with either end at the front, typically having a large triangular sail and an outrigger. Used throughout the book.
Sumpitan
— A kind of blowgun for discharging arrows, - used by the savages of Borneo and adjacent islands. Definition evident from context: "A shower of poisoned darts blown from half a hundred sumpitans fell about them, and then Muda Saffir called to his warriors to cease using their deadly blow-pipes lest they kill the girl." Chapter XIV
Tuan Besar
— A European boss in colonial Malaysia, used twice in Chapter XI to refer to Von Horn. The first time it is used in the original editions, it is misspelled as "Taun."

The USS New Mexico in ERB's tale cannot be the U. S. battleship launched in 1918. The ship class Burroughs likely referenced was the St. Louis cruisers built from 1902 to 1908. Several St. Louis class cruisers participated in the "Great White Fleet" circumnativation of the world ordered by President Theodore Roosevelt, which began in 1907 and completed in 1909. The term "cutter" has been in use for centuries and describes a variety of vessel types that can be quite large (frigate classes and up). ERB's New Mexico is painted white, supporting a link to the "Great White Fleet" event which concluded four years before The Monster Men was written. —Editor

USS New Mexico
— A battleship (BB-40) in service with the U.S. Navy from 1918 to 1946. She was the lead ship of a class of three battleships. New Mexico was extensively modern­ized between 1931 and 1933 and served in World War II in both the Battle of the Atlantic and the Pacific Theater. After her decom­missioning she was scrapped in 1947. New Mexico was the first US Navy ship named for the U.S. state of New Mexico. The second such ship is a Virginian Class submarine (SSN 779) placed in service March 27, 2010. Since the book version of The Monster Men came out in 1929, it would have been logical for readers to assume BB-40 was meant. However, the story was first published in All-Story magazine in 1913. So, the name with which ERB christened his ship was fictional, at the time. Five years later, a real USS New Mexico was launched by the Navy.
ERB identifies his New Mexico as "flagship of the Pacific Fleet," which would usually mean it was a rather large ship with an admiral aboard. The one in his story, however, is identified as a cutter, a much smaller and more maneuverable fighting ship. And that would be smaller, as well, than the battleship which eventually bore that name. Chapter XVII