THE WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE
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Part Three in a series of articles by Coogan and Power about the life and influences of John Carter
"Eternal love." This phrase is often one of those hyperbolic terms used to describe emotion that is deep, strong and intended to last a lifetime, or perhaps beyond.
In the case of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, the term eternal love is not mere hyperbole but an accurate description of a love that truly transcends the boundaries of life, death, time, and space.
In 1866, a flash of red caught John Carter's eye and his life was forever changed. "My attention was quickly riveted by a large red star close to the distant horizon. As I gazed upon it I felt a spell of overpowering fascination--it was Mars, the god of war, and for me, the fighting man, it had always held the power of irresistible enchantment. As I gazed at it on that far-gone night it seemed to call across the unthinkable void, to lure me to it, to draw me as the lodestone attracts a particle of iron."
What really drew John Carter to Barsoom? The answer lies in his distant and forgotten past.
This is the third of several articles focusing on the history and influences of John Carter. The two previous articles in this series are, John Carter: Torn from Phoenician Dreams and The Lives and Times of John Carter. "John Carter: Torn from Phoenician Dreams" established that John Carter began his existence as Phra, a Phoenician trader who was born circa 88 B.C. Phra lived from 88 B.C. to 1588, although only consciously for about a dozen years. Between 63 B.C. and 1588 he had five periods of hibernation of several centuries each. Yet he was awakened more often than he believed as discussed in the aforementioned article and in "The Lives and Times of John Carter". "The Lives and Times of John Carter" provided detailed timeline of John Carter's various identities throughout out history. In most of his various identities he would meet a woman with whom he fell swiftly and passionately in loves, just as John Carter did for Dejah Thoris
The reason for the swift and sudden passion for these various women begins in 58. B.C. A flash of red caught Phra's eye and his life was forever changed.
Phra was the master of a Phoenician trading ship, circa 58 B.C. On one trading mission his ship put to shore to take on supplies. The secluded cove where they had chosen to anchor was already occupied by a pirate ship, which had anchored for the same reason. The pirate ship and its crew allowed Phra's vessel to anchor unmolested. The pirate ship already had a full hold of fresh slaves. Not wishing to risk his cargo and because Phra's ship and complement was larger than his own, the pirate ship ignored Phra and his men.
The pirate's slaves were ashore being exercised. Phra saw a flash of red among them, the hair of a red-headed woman who was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Immediately he knew that he had to possess her and quickly made arrangements with the pirate captain to buy her. Noting Phra's great interest in the beautiful slave, the pirate tried to gouge him. Phra signaled for one of his crewmen to slip behind the pirate captain and throw a noose around him. The pirate captain was choked until he agreed to a reasonable price. Phra left the pirate captain bound and gagged but with the agreed upon price at his feet.
Phra's account is rather silent about the specific dynamics of the initial relationship between Phra and Blodwen. This may have been due to Phra's lack of memory, due to the pain that remembering the early passion of his lost love caused, or it may be due to Phra's Victorian editor Edwin Arnold who would have been reticent about detailing such "sordid" details and make his main character as less than virtuous. It is almost certain that Phra and Blodwen entered into an intimate relationship while aboard the ship, although it would have been unlike Phra to have forced his attentions onto an unwilling female despite owning her. It is probably almost certain that Blodwen knew why she had been bought and considering the alternative to become the captain's woman or the crew's, she chose the former.
Phra was handsome (throughout the ages women have fallen for his looks) so Blodwen may have been as immediately physically attracted to him as he was to her. There is also the additional factor that she may have looked upon him more as her "rescuer" than her new owner.
As Blodwen's time on the ship passed, she became more a part of the crew, learning much of the ship's activities and labor. She taught Phra the language and customs of her people and told him of the riches that he could find if he began to trade with Britain. As happens in many couples, she began to take control of their relationship, despite her legally subservient role.
After a few months, Phra decided to follow Blodwen's advice and sailed from Marseilles to Britain. The ship became caught in a ferocious channel storm. Blodwen offered to steer them into a safe cove. Phra and the men readily agreed. The safe cove turned out to be Blodwen's home village, where she was the princess of that particular tribe of Britons. Landing upon the shore, Phra and his men soon discovered that the tables had turned, they became the captives of Blodwen's people. Blodwen was now ruler of the tribe, her father having been killed in the same raid that taken her as a captive. Blodwen's ascendance angered her cousin Dhuwallon, a druid and also the next in line to become chieftain. He had in fact been chieftain until her arrival. He planned to wed her to continue his rule, but Blodwen had other plans.
Blodwen was grateful to the Phoenicians for having rescued her and she was also deeply in love with Phra. She convinced him to become her consort until he departed. She used her influence to gather trade goods from the surrounding areas to fill his ship's hold. This process took several months during which time Blodwen gave birth to Phra's child. On the day before Phra was to sail away, he discovered that his crew and ship were gone. They had abandoned him in Britain. Phra was not certain but believed Blodwen had something to do with their departure. In truth he was not that upset for he had been torn about leaving her. Phra settled down to become the warrior princess' consort and protector.
In a few years word came that ships had once again arrived on their shores. It was quickly ascertained that these were not Phra's fellow Phoenicians but rather Romans, who had decided to make Britain part of their republic. Phra and several of Blodwen's warriors were dispatched with warriors from other tribes to drive the Romans back to the Continent. Dhuwallon accompanied Phra. As Phra and his men approached the Romans, Dhuwallon threw his javelin at Phra and struck his horse in the throat. Phra was thrown from the dying horse and captured by the Romans.
Because of his swarthy coloring, Phra was interrogated by the Romans, including being interviewed by Julius Caesar.
During the time Phra was held captive by the Romans, the combined British defensive force failed to drive the Romans away. Phra escaped and returned to his tribe. Dhuwallon convinced the Britons that Phra had turned traitor and so was the cause of their defeat. The ruling council of druids and leaders from the various tribes sentenced Phra and three others to be sacrificed to a deity Phra calls Baal. This was probably Belatu-Cadros, the Celtic god of war and of the destruction of enemies.
Dhuwallon whispered to Phra that he should not worry about Blodwen, he would take care of her. Phra saw two of his fellow sacrificial victims decapitated and saw the bronze adz descending towards his head when the Roman cavalry and soldiers rode into attack the Britons. For whatever reason, the adz did not decapitate Phra but left a deep cut in the back of his neck that probably went into his spine.(1)
In a few days it was noticed that the body of Phra did not corrupt. Since Phra's body did not decompose, plus given the fact that the Romans had attacked as Phra was being sacrificed, Blodwen convinced the Druids that the gods had rejected Phra's sacrifice because Phra was innocent of the charges laid against him by Dhuwallon. She also convinced them that Dhuwallon had overstepped his authority and that Phra needed to buried in a cairn that befit his station as her prince-consort.
In her audiences with the druids Blodwen received some devastating news, although she had Phra's body returned to her, he was forever lost to her. Since Phra was a Phoenician who had followed a false religion and Blodwen was a Celt and had followed the true religion, they would never again see one another, not even in the afterlife. When Phra finally expired from his wound, he would be consigned to whatever hell was reserved for unbelievers.
Blodwen seemed to resign herself to this fate and began to create a tattoo upon Phra's body that would detail her life, the lives of their children and the village. It began in the small of his back and covered his chest. Her reasoning was that when he awoke in the afterlife, he would at least know what had happened to his wife and their children. The Druids' council acceded to her wishes in this matter.
Yet Blodwen was more than merely a princess, she also had some druidic training and used this for her own purposes, which would have been forbidden had the druids known about it. Into the design of the tattoo she worked the ogham symbols of Saille (willow) for love, Huathe (hawthorne) for binding, Nion (ash) for rebirth and regeneration, Ioho (yew) for death, and Ur (heather) for passion. In addition to working the tattoos into the design of her large outer tattoo, Blodwen also tattooed Phra in secret places on his body so that even if her outer symbols were discovered and somehow altered, these would be hidden. She tattooed him on his inner eyelids, his armpits, his anus, inside his nostrils, the underside of his tongue and the underside of his scrotum. These special tattoos were burned into his flesh with a pin that had been soaked in a combination of Blodwen and Phra's blood; the burned symbols were inked over with an ink consisting of a mixture of Blodwen and Phra's blood and ashes; the ashes were derived from pieces of Phra and Blodwen's hair, nails, and skin being burnt to ash.
Yet had Blodwen had complete druidic training she would have known that many of the symbols that she had used also had meanings opposite of what she wished to accomplish. She used the symbols of Nion (ash) Ioho (yew) and Ur (heather) slightly more than the other symbols. Ash was the symbol of Gwydion, the Celtic trickster god; whether this played in the outcome of this ritual is anyone's guess. In addition to its positive meanings, ash can also mean hidden influences and false appearances. Ioho (yew) also has negative meanings of loss, discord and grief. In addition to being the symbol for passion, Ur (heather) can also mean futility.
There was also a complication in Blodwen's plan for them to be forever joined in the afterlife, Phra did not die. Phra had become immortal. (2) Although it seems unlikely that her ritual had anything to do with his immortality, it did successfully bind their souls. As a consequence because Phra did not die, Blodwen was never allowed entrance into the afterlife. It is perhaps fortunate that in addition to using the symbols to bind their souls, she also used symbols that called for renewal and rebirth. Had she not, Blodwen may have been consigned to an existence as a mere spirit forever bound to this immortal man; as it was she was sent on a journey of many life times as she was reincarnated numerous times.
We cannot be certain as to how the process worked, whether she reincarnated when Phra awakened, if her reincarnations triggered his awakenings, or if she was reincarnated in a cycle not necessarily tied to his sleep cycle and so had reincarnations when he was asleep. It does appear that when she was reincarnated and he was awake some confluence of events managed to get them together. Only in a few reincarnations did she seem to be aware that she was Blodwen and then most often not until she was dying. These awakened reincarnations seem to have coincided with Phra being consciously Phra and not suffering from his periodic bouts of amnesia.
The ancient Celts believed in a form of reincarnation in which people were reincarnated in their descendents. While this is possible, since Blodwen and Phra had children and since Blodwen's reincarnations were primarily in Britain, the lack of any familial link between many of these women and to Blodwen makes this seem a distant possibility. There is however one definite connection between the various incarnations of Blodwen that may have been overlooked or else attributed to Phra due to male gender bias. One of the main themes in Edwin Arnold's edited version of Phra's manuscript is the fact that Phra seems to awaken on the cusp of a monumental change in Britain's history. Phra had four major periods of consciousness, which correspond to times of a change of government or of a threat against Britain: 408-410 AD, corresponding to the fall of Romano-Britain; 1066, corresponding to the Norman Invasion; 1346, during the midst of the Hundred Years War and on the eve of the battle of Crecy; and 1586-1588, corresponding to trouble with the Spanish.
Yet one is prompted to ask why would Phra be "called" to defend Britain in these times of distress? Phra was British only by marriage, he had no real blood connection to the land. Yet his wife Blodwen did have a strong connection to Britain. She was a British Queen; although not queen of all of Britain, her connection to the land was strong. The connection between the blood royal is believed to be strong, and Blodwen's spell of binding may have bound her fate to Britain as well as to Phra. (3) The explanation may simply be that in each case that Phra awoke when Britain was threatened, but it may have been Blodwen who was called by Britain to defend it. She awoke to a semi-aware state, but it took Phra's arrival to fully awaken her. In other words, when Blodwen reincarnated while Phra slept, he awoke and was conscious of being Phra. When Phra was awake but in an amnesiac state, Blodwen would be reincarnated but would not be conscious of being Blodwen. They would, however, be drawn to one another, and when they met their passion and love would be instantaneous.
When Blodwen was awakened, so was Phra because of their binding. He was compelled to seek her. In each case that Phra awoke, he usually awoke in time to affect some great change in Britain's destiny. In 410, he had the chance to rally the defense of the Roman population against the Saxon invaders yet faltered. In 1066, he could have saved the life of King Harold and prevented the end of Saxon England yet did not achieve this goal. In 1346, he had the opportunity to prevent the loss of the French possessions of the Plantagenet Kings through his heroic example on the field of battle yet left the war before it was completed. In each case his failure was caused in part by Blodwen.
In 410 Numidea (Blodwen) fell into a raging torrent, and Phra opted to try to save her rather than continue with the Roman retreat. In 1066, he could have saved King Harold but was prevented by the circumstance of being sent away from the field of battle by a well-meaning hermit who sent him to get reinforcements. During the same period he also had the opportunity of placing his wife Editha (Blodwen) on the throne of England by leading a rebellion against the Norman conquerors, yet he opted to flee with his family rather than risk them. But this flight appeared not to have saved them either. In 1346, Phra was well on his way to rallying the English troops to a general victory against France after their victory at Crecy. However, fate and Blodwen once again got in the way. Blodwen's incarnation in this instance, Isobel Oswaldton, had accompanied Phra to France in the guise of Flamaucoer, a man-at-arms. When Isobel was killed defending Phra, he felt compelled to let her family know the tragedy that had befallen her. He returned to England but never made it to her family, once more entering a sleeping period. Time and again he failed to change Britain's fate.
In 1586, Blodwen realized that despite the great threat that the Spanish represented, she and Phra would not be needed, England had reached the pinnacle of her power and could emerge victorious without their aid. Yet their union was not to be a happy one for she died a young and violent death, apparently poisoned by a Spanish servitor.
There seems to be a cycle of love, loss, and failure connected with each of the Blodwen and Phra incidents. He was taken from her with a violent death, although the death was not permanent. After the cycle of reincarnation and death began, in each of her awakened incarnations she predeceased him, usually dying young and in a violent fashion. As Numidea she drowned in a raging torrent, as Editha she may have been cut down by Norman soldiers, as Isobel Oswaldton she died in battle, and finally as Elizabeth Faulkner she was poisoned.
This pattern was carried through in Blodwen's unawakened reincarnations as well, although to a lesser degree.
The unawakened reincarnations of Blodwen that can be identified are Igraine, Empress Matilda, Maid Marian, and Bertrade Montfort.
As Uther Phra felt a great passion for Igraine upon seeing her. Their passion resulted in a tryst that can be viewed as adulterous but considering that her husband died on the battlefield moments before they actually began, it was not technically adultery. Their passion was however short-lived because Igraine gave birth to a stillborn child whom Merlin buried. She became convinced that Uther had given their child to Merlin, and Igraine left his court. Despite their great love for one another, they remained apart. As Uther Phra was not as effective as he had been as Ambrosius Aurelius or as he would be as Arthur. The difference seems to be the presence of Igraine (Blodwen)
The Empress Matilda was the daughter of Henry I of England. Phra was at the time using the name Ferraut and was attached to the King's guard. He accompanied Matilda to Germany when Matilda was married off to the Holy Roman Emperor. Although there was an unspoken passion between Matilda and her guard, they kept their relationship platonic and professional. Ferraut had one recorded tryst with Judith of Swabia, the result of which was the future Emperor Frederic Barbarossa. After the Holy Roman Emperor died, Matilda was summoned back to her father's court. Matilda believed that as a widow she had the right to take Ferraut as her lover, which she did. Matilda's father married her off once again to the fourteen-year-old heir of the Anjou provinces of France. Theirs was not a happy marriage. Matilda continued her affair with Ferraut, considering him her true husband. The child Henry was actually that of Ferraut and Matilda, although the other two children were Geoffrey of Anjou's.
When Matilda's father died, she was the designated heir, but the barons balked at being ruled by a woman with a foreign husband; so they had her cousin Stephen crowned king instead. Matilda, Ferraut, and Geoffrey of Anjou spent years attempting to wrest the crown from Stephen and finally succeeded, only to have Stephen return and become king once more. Ferraut was wounded during the final phase of the civil war and disappeared.
As Maid Marian Blodwen did not meet Phra until some time after his identity as Robin of the Woods was established. She was already married at the time to one of the sheriffs of Nottingham, but when Marian and Robin encountered one another sparks flew and she left her husband. Marian's husband was killed shortly thereafter in single combat by Robin, and Marian was free to marry him. Although this episode in their lives was relatively stable, their relationship was beset by separation and turmoil because of their lives as outlaws. In the end Marian died from violence inflicted upon her during captivity from the Sheriff of Nottingham appointed in 1247. She predeceased Phra once again, although he shortly afterward fell into a comatose state due to wounds.
Blodwen's incarnation as Bertrade de Montfort was a brief one. As usual, when she and Phra met sparks flew; even though they remained unaware of their previous existences, the attraction was immediate. Their initial courtship was stormy and fraught with peril as Norman of Torn (Phra) fought against the king's forces and against Betrade's brother Simon de Montfort's forces, as seen in Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Outlaw of Torn. Eventually Norman was taken off the lists of the outlaws, and Bertrade and he were married. Their marriage was however short lived as she died in child birth the year after their marriage took place.
The pattern seems too specific to be mere coincidence. Almost in every case Blodwen dies an agonized death, but those in which her Blodwen persona seems to have been awakened the death is all the more tragic and violent. There are a few possible explanations for this. In her binding spell, by unwittingly using the ash symbol Blodwen invoked the god Gwydion. Her name might have caused Gwydion to play a mischievous trick upon her. (4)
Another possibility is that her cousin Dhuwallon played a role. Dhuwallon was a druid and he was also sacrificed, due in no small part to his attempt to rid himself of Phra and his rival Blodwen. Just prior to his death Dhuwallon may have laid a curse upon Phra and Blodwen so that any happiness they might have had in the afterlife would eventually turn to tragedy.
Another possibility is that their recurrent separation and the violent deaths of the various incarnations of Blodwen was an unforeseen price Blodwen had to pay to ensure the effectiveness of her ritual. They got to be together eternally, but only at the price of continually losing each other and suffering the pangs of death and separation.
After the death of the Blodwen in her Isobel Oswaldton incarnation, the dynamic between Phra and Blodwen began to change. Blodwen had noticed some distinct patterns in their recurrent incarnations that prevented them from achieving a lasting happiness or peace. The first of course was her pattern of violent death, the other was the periods of amnesia that both she and Phra experienced. On Phra's part this seemed to be the result of his inability on a psychological level to deal with the trauma that their pattern of love and tragic loss entailed. She also noticed from remembering her various incarnations that when Phra was not consciously Phra he was often stronger psychologically and often had a more dynamic personality. She may also have realized that it was her presence as an awakened Blodwen that triggered the weaker Phra personality to emerge from its shell. Even in his stronger personas her presence seemed to have a detrimental effect as he became less effective in her presence or made bad decisions, which led to lives of constant turbulence, although it may be more likely given her original personality that she believed he was less effective because she was not giving him her conscious guidance.
When she incarnated as Igraine and met Uther, Phra as Uther was less effective than Phra as Ambrosious Aurelius had been. By the time Igraine had left Uther, the damage had been done and it took several years before he regained his confidence to emerge as Arthur. Arthur was effective but ultimately failed because of Uther and Igraine's relationship as Igraine's daughter resented Arthur and trained her son to bring about his down fall.
As Sir Ferrault, the Empresses Matilda's bodyguard, Phra never achieved his full potential but was content to guard and wait upon Matilda. It was as if having lost Blodwen in previous incarnations he chose to use this lifetime to guard her from as much harm as he could.
Although he was successful in keeping her from harm, he was unable to secure her position as Queen of England and the struggle eventually cost him his life.
Although Phras existence as Robin of the Woods seems to have predated Blodwens reincarnation as the woman known as Maid Marian, her presence would be disruptive. Although Robin would fight for the often down trodden rights of the yeoman and underclass by absentee, corrupt, or uncaring aristocrats, he would never be able to coalesce this resistance into any lasting form as a body politic, a social change, or even a successful rebellion against a weak king.
As Robin Phra's life was spent mostly as an outlaw and so without any stability, except for his relationship with Marian. In this incarnation Marian does not seem to have borne any children, although as with all of the Robin Hood legends accounts that differ can undoubtedly be found.
Blodwen next reincarnated as Bertrade de Montfort, the daughter of Simon de Montfort, the second most powerful man in Britain. Phra's persona in this instance was an odd one; he had been convinced by the dastardly Jean de Vac that he was de Vac's son and had become the notorious Norman of Torn, an outlaw knight. Prior to having met Betrade, Phra as Norman had been well on his way in making his outlaw band the most powerful army in England and by this fact Norman was close to becoming the de facto King of England by eliminating both the King's forces and the rebel forces under Simon de Montfort. Having met Bertrade, Norman's loyalties became divided; he doubted the rightness of his path and lost his focus. Instead of becoming the preeminent power in England, a power that may have brought about some measure of social equality albeit under an autocratic rule, Norman of Torn allied himself with Simon de Montfort, weakening the power of the King. This would ultimately lead to Norman's downfall, as Prince Edward, the heir to the throne, would nurse a grudge against Norman, especially when it was revealed that Norman was the long lost Prince Richard. Prince Edward never believed this but kept his peace for his parents' sake.
In this incarnation Blodwen's time with Phra was very short; she died in childbirth a year after their marriage.
Although Norman continued to live and even achieved a measure of stability through having his name removed from the outlaw list and marriage to a nobleman's daughter, he would eventually be outlawed again and hunted down. The cause of his being outlawed again and the subsequent manhunt originated with his choice to fight on the side of Simon de Montfort because of Bertrade. So once again Blodwen had unwittingly caused harm to Phra.
Blodwen next reincarnated in Isolde de Oswaldton. During this incarnation Isolde eventually became aware of being Blodwen because Phra was consciously Phra. By this time the many incarnations of Blodwen each with their own special tale of love-won-and-love-lost-to-tragedy was bearing heavily on Phra's mind. Although he was drawn to Isolde almost from their first meeting, Phra convinced himself that he was in love with Isolde's older sister, the unattainable Alianora. He ignored Isolde's obvious instant attraction for him. When Alianora rejected his troth, Phra felt despair and decided to forget her by losing himself in glorious combat. He joined King Edward III's war against France as an unattached knight. He was joined in this quest by a young man named Flamaucoer, who became his boon companion.
Having distanced himself from the presence of Isolde, Phra realized that it was she he had loved and vowed to return to her and woo her once the war was finished. During the Battle of Crecy, Flamaucoer saved Phra by intercepting a lance charge meant for him. As Phra stripped off Flamaucoer's armor to tend to the wound, he discovered that Flamacoer was none other than Isolde in disguise.
She died and he realized that she had also been Blodwen, as had so many of his loves before that.
Phra requested of King Edward that he be allowed to return to England and tell Isolde's family what had become of her. King Edward granted this request but gave Phra the mission of also delivering a message to the queen.
Phra's ship foundered in a channel storm and he was nearly drowned. He climbed into a sea cavern for shelter. The cavern's roof collapsed under the fierce tides and sealed Phra inside the airtight chamber. The near drowning, the lack of oxygen, and the tragic loss of Blodwen caused Phra to once again fall into one of his sleep periods. (5)
Something odd happened after this. Phra experienced two of his awakened but amnesiac states, yet in neither one does he meet the reincarnated Blodwen. There are a few possible explanations for this. Blodwen's tragic and traumatic death may have affected her to the extent that she resisted being reincarnated because she did not want to go through the pain and agony once again. It may also be that she realized that their pattern of love won and love lost, of life and death, would continue unless a dramatic change happened to the cycle. Although it is possible that she might have realized that her presence was a root cause of Phra's continuing psychological problem of amnesia and ineffectual behavior, this seems to be improbable. What person really wishes to admit that their existence causes problems for their lover?
Another possibility is that Blodwen may have indeed reincarnated but that Phra refused to heed to the siren call of her reincarnated presence. Had he not been amnesiac, it is probable that he would not have been able to avoid being drawn to her, so close was the binding between Phra and Blodwen. But by convincing himself that he was not Phra, he found a way around the siren call. Why he did it is not too hard to guess. The tragic death of Blodwen as Isolde was a devastating blow to Phra, compounded with the realization that all of his lost tragic loves had been Blodwen made Phra wish to avoid any romantic entanglements at all.
To avoid meeting Blodwen in her reincarnated state, Phra left Britain for an extended time. He even went into one of his hibernative periods far from Britain in a cavern near Ephesus. Eventually, however, the draw back to Britain was too powerful to ignore, as was the draw towards Blodwen. After Phra in one of his temporary identities fought in the Battle of Flodden Field, he was drawn towards Southern England to the site that had been the village of Blodwen. The village was long gone and all that remained were the stone tombs of ancient chieftain. He did not know why he had traveled there but took shelter in a tomb for the night. Climbing inside he knocked a keystone loose and was trapped inside.
In 1586, Phra awoke and was conscious of his identity. This was his final awakening as Phra. Shortly after awakening, Phra was drawn to the incarnation of Blodwen. This was Elizabeth Faulknerthe daughter of Sir Adam Faulkner, a scholar who had spent much of his wealth on building a machine that would "run, walk and fly and haul and pull and hew wood and draw water." From Phra's description it seems to be some sort of basic internal combustion engine that could be altered to be used in many ways.
In his creation of the great engine Adam Faulkner had studied in many disciplines, including the occult and alchemy. Faulkner possessed a huge library filled with arcane books, scrolls, and objects from all over the world.
Faulkner's great creation turned out to be a calamitythe mechanical marvel had no guidance system and its ungoverned locomotion nearly killed Faulkner and Phra before Phra succeeded in wrecking enough of the machine's moving parts to bring it to a halt.
After this debacle, Faulkner returned to his study of ancient lore with the idea of replenishing his depleted fortune. The manuscript of a Brother Ambrose provided Faulkner with the location of a buried Roman fortune. Faulkner and Phra followed the instructions that led straight to an abandoned Roman villa. Phra recognized the place as belonging to Lady Electra. As Faulkner and Phra neared the hills where the villa was supposed to be located, they were greeted by a man wearing a cape, hood, and wide slouch hat. Faulkner paid the local man to guide them to a certain hill. Yet as Phra fell asleep in the presence of the cloaked and hooded figure with a shepherd's rook he saw a mysterious man who told Phra he had been waiting for him for centuries. He directed Phra to drink from a mysterious fountain before fading away. Faulkner seemed unaware of any of this mysterious behavior on the stranger's part.
Faulkner and Phra found the body of a Roman centurion whom Phra "recognized" as an old friend of his. After he and Faulkner returned to Faulkner's mansion with their finds, Phra was seized by a desire to revisit his past by writing his memoirs. He had also fallen in love with Elizabeth Faulkner, Adam's young daughter. Elizabeth was also quite intelligent and learned far beyond her years. Although there was no physical resemblance, Phra saw much of Blodwen in her.
Since he was unaware of them, Phra's memoirs naturally enough do not contain any information about his amnesiac wanderings. In writing his memoirs he glossed over any incongruities such as the disappearance of his tattoo, his instant facility with languages and cultures, his ability to blend into new social eras without raising eyebrows, and his martial training. Had his life occurred exactly as recorded in his memoir, he would have moved from being a bronze-age warrior to a man familiar with the arms of the 16th century almost in the blink of an eye (he spent a mere fifteen years "awake" as Phra during these many centuries).
The appearance of the mysterious figure who seemed to have spurred Phra's need to write his memoirs is intriguing, especially in the light that Faulkner did not perceive anything mysterious about this figure. The mysterious hooded figure told Phra to remember. Yet as the memories began to flow, Phra immediately began to organize and tailor them into a focused narrative. The hooded man was merely a local man; any mysterious behavior associated with him came from Phra's unconscious mind. Faulkner and Phra's search for the Roman villa was inspired by a manuscript from a Brother Ambrose. This name triggered memories in Phra that he did not realize he possessed, and this disturbed him. At the same time he was falling in love with Elizabeth Faulkner and realizing she was Blodwen. He knew or must have known that they were doomed to repeat their tragic cycle once more. He did not wish to lose her again. Without realizing it his unconscious mind provided him a possible way of breaking the cycle. (6)
The tragic cycle of life and love between Phra and Blodwen may have been a curse, or it may have been a price for her binding of their souls. Yet Phra merely acquiesced to the situation and did not attempt to find a solution to their dilemma. Although he was outwardly brave and at times heroic, at his core Phra shrank from confronting the emotional pain that resulted from the double traumas he associated with Blodwen. These were the pain and agony of death, which he equated with Blodwen because it was her people and their culture that had "killed" him in 68 B.C., and the emotional pain Blodwen's demise always caused him once she had perished and he lived on. Almost on every occasion when Phra was consciously aware of his identity, he would fall into hibernative state shortly after "Blodwen" had perished, and in most of these cases he was not seriously wounded. According to his memoirs, in 410 A.D. he expired from his exertions attempting to save Numidea, in 1072 he inexplicably fell into a coma after having escaped Norman soldiers, in 1366 he accidentally sealed himself in a tomb, coincidentally in Blodwen's old village.
What we believe the mysterious figure meant when he told Phra to remember was to remember all of his lives. The mysterious figure was a subconscious hallucination was triggered by the name Ambrose. This name had been used by Phra in the days of his first period when he was awake yet amnesiac, as Ambrosius Aurelius. This was also the name of Merlin as Merlin Ambrosius. The name Ambrosius means immortal. The hooded figure with the shepherd's crook unconsciously reminded Phra of Merlin, and so it was a memory figure of Merlin imposed upon the real form of the local shepherd that gave Phra the advice to remember. If Phra remembered all of his lives, those he was conscious of and those he was not, there was a chance that his accumulated knowledge and experience of the ages could instill in him a stronger character that might be different enough to cloud the tragic consequences of their curse and yet similar enough to remain bound to Blodwen.
Phra's conscious mind did not understand the message his unconscious mind was attempting to tell him or perhaps he understood it too well, and as Phra could not deal with the traumas of Blodwen's deaths he also could not deal with the idea that he had periods of amnesia. His sudden urge to write his memoirs may have been his psychological response to deal with that very notion. Writing his memoirs allowed him to order his memories as he needed them to be and by writing them they became truth.
Finally when Elizabeth Faulkner and he were poisoned, Phra convinced himself he would also die, rather than deal with the trauma of their love and death cycle any longer. So he went into one of his hibernative comas again. When he awoke a few years later, he was again amnesiac. He unconsciously sought Blodwen but could not locate her. His attempts to find her would take him all across the globe, yet he would never find her anywhere on Earth.
As seen, Phra's manner of dealing with his and Blodwen's cycle of love and death was to essentially be reactive to it and to avoid dealing with the trauma. Blodwen was, however, a more proactive person as seen in how she took charge of Phra's vessel and then took charge of Phra's life when she made him her consort. She also attempted to control their afterlives but was not entirely successful.
Blodwen's cycle of reincarnation contained wakened and unawakened incarnations, when she was aware of being Blodwen and also not aware of being Blodwen. These wakened and unawakened states appear to have coincided with Phra's self knowledge and amnesia. However in most of Blodwen's wakened states she did not realize she was Blodwen reincarnated until she was dying or else she died before she could attempt to change the cycle, as happened in her Isolde Oswaldton identity.
When Phra's past lives were unconsciously triggered, so were Elizabeth Faulkner's. Although Phra immediately suppressed any memories that threatened his self-created self-image, Elizabeth did not. She became aware that she was Blodwen, that she was destined to fall in love with Phra, and, if matters progressed as they always had, to die tragically. She resolved to revise her spell, or create a new one that would negate the tragic effects of the original binding spell, or remove the curse that Dhuwallon had placed upon them. Elizabeth Faulkner studied her father's occult and arcane tomes and developed a plan to drastically alter their eternal lives.
In the novel, Phra and Elizabeth Faulkner drink poisoned wine at their wedding feast. Elizabeth perishes almost immediately. Because of his greater stamina Phra is able to chase after Emanuel Marcena, the suspected poisoner. Phra then seals himself in a hidden chamber inside the Faulkner Mansion and puts the finishing touches on his memoirs before expiring.
A careful reading of the story however demonstrates that although Emanuel Marcena was jealous of the love affair between Phra and Elizabeth, there is only Phra's suspicion that Marcena had poisoned them. Marcena is never seen doing it and never admits to having done so. When Elizabeth falls dead, Phra's face lights upon Marcena's face and knows him to be guilty by his expression, however Marcena's expression could have been one of mere shock and horror. While it is true that he ran when Phra chased him, Phra had come at him screaming and drawing his sword, so Marcena's flight could also be seen as more of a defensive mechanism than one of guilt. Phra chased Marcena up a tower where he jumped to his death. Again, perhaps not a wise decision but not necessarily an admission of guilt. So if Marcena did not poison Phra and Elizabeth, who did? The answer seems to be Elizabeth.
For her plan to work she needed Phra and herself to die on the same day.
Using Faulkner's books and her own Druidic sorcery, Elizabeth concocted a spell that would grant her a thousand years of life. We do not know how Elizabeth went about creating her spell, we do not know what sources she used, what materials were involved or the language or wording she used. Given some access to the Faulkner estate and having some knowledge of what books were on hand in Adam Faulkner's library, we can make a few conjectures. Although we personally believe that only two of these are the likeliest explanations, lacking solid evidence we shall merely provide the possibilities that our research has uncovered. Our learned colleagues are free to accept or reject any or all of these theories or postulate their own.
Upon dying she wished that in her next incarnation that she could live as long as Phra even if it took her away from her beloved Britain. Her mind's wish carried her to a world where she lived as long as Phra but was separate from him.
From 1600 to 1866 Phra's amnesiac personality stabilized and coalesced into a new personality, a strong personality that combined the best elements of Phra's persona. He became psychologically healed in Blodwen's absence. Why was this? Because Blodwen was gone and he did not suffer the trauma of losing her.
Even though he only remembered her on a deep subconscious level, Phra was still compelled to search for her, and he did search for her without finding her.
After 1600 Phra no longer lived predominantly in Britain. He experienced a severe wanderlust as his unconscious need to find Blodwen manifested. Although Blodwen did not realize it when she was doing the binding between herself and Phra, the head trauma that Phra had suffered and had caused his death he also unconsciously equated with her. Every time Blodwen manifested and drew his Phra personality out, it also triggered a severe psychological instability.
It was during those periods when she was unaware of her reincarnation and he was amnesiac that his personality stabilized. The longer he was away from her, the better he became; yet because he kept manifesting as Phra and she would die tragically, he would undergo psychological set backs and the healing process would have to begin anew.
All the Phra personas prior to 1600 were tied to Britain in a significant way; they did not tend to wander. This is because Blodwen was tied to Britain generally; all her reincarnations happened in Britain. Once Phra became John Carter, he roamed the world since Blodwen had reincarnated as Dejah Thoris, a woman on a far distant world. Unable to find Blodwen in England, John Carter wandered the globe looking for her. The John Carter persona was stable and long-lasting. This was because he had not yet met his Blodwen. All the women John Carter was involved with after Elizabeth Faulkner and prior to Dejah Thoris were not Blodwen. As John Carter he knew love and passion and sometimes wedded contentment, but he did not know the great love that he immediately felt when he saw Dejah Thoris.
Blodwen's reincarnation as Dejah Thoris solved a number of problems for them. It gave Phra enough time to establish the John Carter persona and to learn the mental and spiritual disciplines he needed to maintain his mental stability. Next, since Dejah Thoris is long-livedan immortal of a sortit would take a lot more to kill her, so she wouldn't die of disease, etc. Finally, because John Carter is a tulpa on Barsoom, he can "die" but remain John Carter, which he was unable to do as Phraeach time he "died" as Phra, he came back with another identity. This ability to "die" but live means that Blodwen/Dejah Thoris and Phra/John Carter have found a way around the cycle of love and death that appears to have been the price they had to pay for his immortality and her reincarnations.
In 1866 when Phra as John Carter lay dying or rather slipping into one of his coma-like states, he knew he had unfinished business and so unconsciously created the tulpa. In the tulpa form he saw a flash of red in the sky, and his life was forever changed.
My attention was quickly riveted by a large red star close to the distant horizon. As I gazed upon it I felt a spell of overpowering fascinationit was Mars, the god of war, and for me, the fighting man, it had always held the power of irresistible enchantment. As I gazed at it on that far-gone night it seemed to call across the unthinkable void, to lure me to it, to draw me as the lodestone attracts a particle of iron. My longing was beyond the power of opposition. (emphasis added)
The phrases italicized here seem to support the theory that he was drawn to Blodwen who was reincarnated Dejah Thoris even across the unthinkable void.
Burroughs describes these emotions that John Carter felt as martial ones stirred by the God of War, as exemplified by the sight of the planet Mars. While it is true that John Carter was a warrior, he was not a mindless slaughtering madman with such devotion to war as he seems to display here. Doubtless, the emotions he felt were real, but perhaps a bit of Burroughs was creeping into the narrative. Burroughs was a man who romanticized war until he actually witnessed one. This attraction to war sounds like it comes from someone whom never lived through one.
If Carter was not talking about war, then what was he talking about? He was naturally talking about Blodwen, his love for Blodwen and his soul binding with her that called him to Barsoom.
Why suddenly after all of these years?
It was the flash of red in the night sky! Phra had first noticed Blodwen because of her bright red hair when she was captive of pirates. He had been so immediately enamored of her that he had bought her. Although Phra was buried under the stronger John Carter persona, the red flash may have triggered a buried memory-flash of Blodwen, this and the fact that she was located on this spot of red was enough to draw him to her.
Granted he may have seen Mars plenty of times before this without triggering the Blodwen memory, yet this time he was dying or believed he was dying, and it may be that in his tulpa form he was more receptive to psychic activity and felt the presence of Blodwen through the trackless void of space. Since his physical form was stuck on Earth, his tulpa form was free to fly to her.
John Carter landed in the middle of the trackless deserts of the dried up oceans of Barsoom, amidst the haunts of the Green Men. It is probably no coincidence he was placed where he was when he was. He was placed in the exact location where he would meet Dejah Thoris and woo her and win her according to the customs of Barsoom.
It is unknown if Dejah Thoris realized she was Blodwen from the onset of their relationship but preferred the "John Carter" version of Phra or if she, like John Carter, gradually came to know the truth of their undying love.
Although their lives together have not been without tumult and near tragedy, their love has remained constant.
In Gods of Mars, when John Carter discovered Carthoris was his son, his first thought was to inquiry as to the health of Dejah Thoris. Carthoris stated that Dejah Thoris knew with a certainty that John Carter despite having disappeared for ten years (having been returned to his corporeal form when his tulpa died) was not dead and that he would one day return to her. She stated that his first words to anyone who knew of them would be to ask about her. This perhaps is evidence that she knew of their eternal, binding love that brought her back from the arms of death time and time again and that brought him to her arms time and time again, even through the vacuum of space.
1. Although many accounts of the Druids are filled with their use of human sacrifice, these source materials are often Roman or Christian who have a biased view. Druids seem only to have carried out human sacrifice against convicted criminals.
2. As shown in the extensively researched in Transcending Death: An Examination of Immortality by Dr. Peter Torres, immortals seem to need to experience death, however minor, before they become immortal. It seems to be part of each of the variant forms of immortality, even though the various forms of immortality seem to be unrelated. Examples besides Phra would be the Highlander type immortals that must experience death before they are quickened and never age beyond their age at death. Vampires, even though they become vampires by various methods, in almost all cases they must die prior to their vampirism being initiated. Although vampires are undead, this can be argued to be a form of immortality. Tarzan's original transformation by the witch-doctor was unpleasant and may have brought him closer to death than Burroughs reported. Flint the Immortal fell in battle with a spear in his heart and he became immortal. Novelist Alfred Bester recognized this phenomenon and in his novel The Computer Connection, which is set in a fictional future, used some very real immortals as characters, although effectively disguised. His immortals were connected to one another through their shared experiences. Each suffered a tragic situation that should have killed them. One of Bester's characters Ned Curzon had a hobby of attempting to grant worthy individuals the gift of immortality. To do this he arranged for the worthy candidates to experience painful and tormented deaths. In almost every case Curzon's attempts however were failures.
3. An extreme example of the connection between the land and the king can be seen in the Arthurian legends, most dramatically in the motif of the wasteland, as in the film Excalibur where the land becomes sick and wasted because the king is sick and wasted.
4. In Welsh mythology, Gwydion is the uncle (and by some accounts also the father) of Dylan, who is a sea god and the Spirit of Darkness, and of Llew Llaw, the Spirit of Light. Gwydion is a mighty wizard, able to change shapes at will, and a bard with wonderful ability to recite poetry and ancient lore. His most famous magical exploit was to turn a pile of fungus into twelve greyhounds, twelve stallions, and twelve golden shieldstemporarilywhich he swaps for wonderful new creatures called swine, just arrived from the underworld. This trickery starts a big war and gets Gwydion in trouble with his uncle Math, who is an even more powerful wizard. Later Gwydion makes many trips to the underworld to retrieve creatures for the benefit of humanity: the deer, the dog, and the lapwing. Gwydion is the druid of the gods, which presumably means he looks after their trees. He is hostile to the niggardly gods of the underworld who hoard Fertility, which they keep buried under the earth until he, as beneficent trickster, uses his warm sunrays to free it. He is credited with originating April Fool's Day when, on the first day of April, he conjured up magical armies to trick his sister Arianrhod. Gwydion had links to the underworld, and the route taken by the deads' souls was named Caer Gwydion, now called the Milky Way. Gwydion told Math of Arianrhod's imposition upon Lleu, and together they contrived to make a woman from flower blossoms, called Blodeuedd. She committed adultery and planned to murder her husband, Lleu. At the moment when Lleu was struck, he turned into an eagle and flew off. Gwydion tracked him down and found him starving in a forest treetop. Gwydion nursed his nephew back to health and avenged Lleu by converting Blodeuedd into an owl. The coincidence of the similarity of Blodwen's name to Blodeudd's may have prompted Gwydion to mischievously curse her reincarnations.
5. This account differs from the original tale edited by Edwin Arnold and published as The Wonderful Adventures of Phra the Phoenician. In the novel Phra's ship founders and he swims to shore, coincidentally landing on shore at the place where he landed some thousand years before. Seeking shelter in a tomb that closed behind him, he fell into one of his sleeps. For the explanation for this discrepancy, please see John Carter: Torn From Phoenician Dreams or The Lives and Times of John Carter by Power and Coogan.
6. See The Lives and Times of John Carter by Power and Coogan
7. Arnold's search for the mysterious Arabian carpet and the tale he would find are discussed in the forthcoming article "Gullivar of Mars IS Ulysses Paxton!" by Dennis E. Power and Dr. Peter Coogan
Arnold, Edwin, The Wondrous Adventures of Phra the Phoenician, New York: A.L Burt
Burroughs, Edgar Rice, A Princess of Mars. 1912. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
---. The Outlaw of Torn. 1914. New York: Ace Books, 1968.
Celtic Oghams, 31-Aug.-1999 <http://web2.iadfw.net/davegers/oghams.htm>
Coogan, Peter. "John Carter is Phra the Phoenician!" The Wold Newton Universe. Ed. Win Eckert. 2001. <http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Articles5.htm#PHRA.>
Davis, Karen "Gwydion" Encyclopedia Mythica, 2002 <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/gwydion.html>
Eckert, Win Scott. The Worlds of ERB Timeline. 11 Dec. 2001. <http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Tarzan_Chron.pdf
Farmer, Philip Jose. "The Arms of Tarzan." Burroughs Bulletin. 22 (1971). The Wold Newton Universe. Ed. Win Eckert. 2001. <http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Farmer_articles.htm#ARMS. >
---. Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972.
Geoffrey of Monmouth. History of the Kings of Britain. Trans. Sebastian Evans, revised by Charles W. Dunn. New York: Dutton, 1958.
Hughes, David. "The Age of Arthur." David Hughes Website. <http://hometown.aol.com/rdavidh218/kingarthur.html.>
"Monarchs of Great Britain." Britannia .2001. <http://www.britannia.com/history/h6f.html.>
NicEilidh, Hester. "The Legend of Robin Hood." Hester's House. 2002. <http://hesternic.tripod.com/robinhood.htm>
Roy, John Flint. A Guide to Barsoom: The Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs. New York: Ballantine, 1976.
Turner, Ben. Robin Hood. 30 Apr. 2002. <http://www.benturner.com/robinhood>
It was with the greatest of pleasure and academic interest that I read the latest report on Wold-Newtonism by Dr. Art Bollmann, The True Story Behind the Defenders of the Earth. As always, Dr. Bollmann's work was superb. I do, however, think it did not go far enough. So I have taken it on myself to further research the situation, and have come across certain data that, I feel, will further expand and explain the events behind Dr. Bollmann's research.
I do not wish, by doing this, to imply that my colleague Dr. Bollmann's research was in any way inferior or slapdash. Having read almost all of his work over the years, I can honestly say that Bollmann's work is, and always has been, thorough, painstaking, and, to the best of his knowledge, complete. BUT--even professors of Wold-Newtonianism are human: there are sources they either do not know of, cannot access, or, simply, cannot believe. This is little wonder--in a world where, as we are discovering, the square-cube law can be occasionally overturned, giant apes roam the jungles, and small alien invasions seem to happen every week, some stories that are said to have occurred to our sources of study often seem to have no other course than be completely fictitious.
And, indeed, some are. But, as Dr. Bollmann's work shows, even a silly 1970s cartoon such as POPEYE AND THE MAN WHO HATED LAUGHTER had its germ in a very dangerous situation almost forty years before. He simply didnt go far enough in his research. Based on his notes, which he kindly lent to me, however, I feel that I not only can further explain some puzzling discrepancies in his paper, but also, if not pinpoint an actual year of occurrence, then at least roughly show WHEN the actions of the true events take place.
Furthermore, through sources I am not allowed to disclose, I intend to show that the animated series DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH had--or rather has--its origin in this time, but, unlike Dr. Bollmann's apparent belief, MIGHT ACTUALLY OCCUR. For those who doubt any man can predict the future, I refer you to the work of Dr. Jess Nevins, and his statements of the future lives of the entity known only as Mr. Am. It IS possible. Whether or not it WILL occur, with the constant flux between alternate futures, is, however, another story.
But to the subject at hand. As mentioned in his article, the true story behind the Defenders of the Earth got its start with the hijacking of the ocean liner the Hilary by the mysterious Dr. Morbid Grimsley. On this ship were various people, many of which would, incredibly, find semi-fictitious comic strips built around their lives at one time or another.
One might think that, due to the very nature of these guests--inspirations for comic strips--that there was some sort of reunion going on. But there is no evidence that these people knew about each other or even met while on the liner--if they did, they certainly would have some things to talk about! Besides, there were literally hundreds of passengers on the ship at the time; to have them all encounter one another would be unlikely. It seems to have been a case of amazing coincidence; just as the presence of such luminaries as Sherlock Holmes, a young Indiana Jones, and, if research is right, the alien time-traveler known only as the Doctor on the Titanic at the same time was. Still, let us review these special passengers:
1). KING KLINE II OF ID, better known as the Little King. Although forgotten today, in the 1930s King Kline was considered a beloved character in America, which, despite its democracy, has always been fascinated by royalty. Although his kingdom, Id (1), was of almost no importance at the time (and eventually was subsumed into Yugoslavia, if I recall correctly), King Kline, a deeply eccentric man, was nonetheless beloved for his kindness and generosity--as well as his odd whimsy and childlikeness. He was known, for example, to wash the dishes in the swimming pool when the Royal Dishwasher quit. According to Dr. Bollmann, it was believed by the Italians that the Royal Family of Id owned the Spear of Destiny, purportedly the spear that pierced Christs side during the Crucifixion. They didnt.
2) CONNER BRIGGS, or Jiggs to give him his more well-known moniker. A self-made millionaire, Briggs was an important figure in Irish-American communities. He also possessed a VERY social-climbing wife, Maggie, while he himself never forgot where he came from, preferring to eat corn beef and cabbage to caviar and seeing his old friends at the pub. A friend, George McManus, heard about his frequent attempts at sneaking out and created a comic strip about him, Bringing Up Father, in 1913. Briggs was not amused. Neither was Maggie.
3) SNUFFY SMITH, a crude, uneducated backwoodsman from Tennessee, yet an acquaintance of famous race-horse owner Barney Google. Having won the cruise in a sweepstakes, Smith and his wife Louisa--along with Barney Google--were making their first cruise (2).
4) DAGWOOD AND BLONDIE BUMSTEAD--the couple Chic Young made famous in 1930. (3).
5) GEORGE AND GRACIE ALLEN--the world-famous entertainers. Little needs to be said about these two. Dr. Bollmann also mentions that Gracie had a cousin along who would inspire the legend of Sad Sack.
6) POPEYE--in point of fact the most important person ON that ship, although you would never know it from the appearance of the plug-ugly sailor. Popeyes presence, as well as the truth of his mysterious relationship with the mystery-man known only as the Shadow, will be dealt with later in this article.
7) THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS--Hans and Fritz; Dr. Bollmann says these are the sons of the original Fritz Katzenjammer, whom Rudolph Dirks wrote about starting in 1897. More about these two later.
Oh, yes--some sources indicate the presence of New York millionaire LAMONT CRANSTON on board as well, but as he apparently spent the entire experience seasick in his cabin, we can write him off as having any effect on the events whatsoever.
According to the original story, once the Hilary, had been hijacked, a group consisting of adventurers Mandrake the Magician, the Phantom, Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon, and young Tim Tyler set out to rescue them. Dr. Bollmann's researches claim that, while Mandrake, Flash, and the Phantom were indeed involved, the presence of Canyon and Tyler were fictitious. Their parts were, in fact, played out by adventurers Terry Lee and Pat Ryan. I agree--to an extent. While Steve Canyon was indeed NOT part of the team, he was not, as Bollmann states, totally fictitious. There was a real Steve Canyon. BUT--as any historian of comic strips know, Canyons exploits werent recorded until 1947--far AFTER the events of the Hilary. Canyon wasnt there simply because he hadnt started adventuring yet! He was alive, of course, but nowhere near the Atlantic when these events took place.
Tim Tyler, however, poses a problem. Although at first I agreed with Dr. Bollmann's assertion that Tyler was totally fictional, the more I researched the more I realized something was amiss with the witnesses recollections of events. As I looked into the situation, I began to realize that the descriptions of the boy involved in the rescue--believed to be Terry Lee--did not quite match up all the time, although they were very similar. And there were occasional reports of a dark-haired youth--not adult, as Pat Ryan was--who was seen with one of the varied descriptions. This would tally with the identity of Spud, Tylers dark-haired companion, who was only a few years older than he. But Bollmann was correct--FDR recruited Pat Ryan into the fold (Terry came WITH him; FDR wasnt enthused about putting a boy in danger), not Tim Tyler. So what was I to make of this?
With further research, I have come to a theory--BOTH Lee and Tyler were involved with events. Due to the similarity of their ages and blond hair, witnesses mixed the two up--especially plausible when you consider two of them were the daffy Gracie Allen and Dagwood Bumstead. But how was this possible? I feel that it all comes down to the timing of the events--but first, there are a few other things to deal with.
To begin with, we must discuss the activities and involvement of Mandrake, the Phantom, and Flash Gordon. According to Dr. Bollmann, Flash had returned to Earth from the Rogue Planet crisis, and, it is intimated, was involved in the downplaying of events into belief they were a hoax. But further recorded
exploits of Flash, if they are to be believed, show him remaining on Mongo. How do we reconcile this?
It is my belief that Flash DID, temporarily, return to Earth after the first overthrow of Ming--to marry Dale Arden officially in the beliefs of her own church. According to rumor, the famed adventurer Jungle Jim Bradley even witnessed this event, although I have yet to confirm it. (4) Apparently, Zarkovs rocket was able to make more than one trip back and forth to Mongo while the planets were in relative range of each other; afterwards, Flash probably made his home on Mongo. More research needs to be done on this, however.
Dr. Bollmann also states that Mandrake had, at one time, been posing as another jungle explorer, Congo Bill, and it was at this time, during an adventure with the 19th Phantom, that he met his partner Lothar. This is so--but not the intimation that there was no real Congo Bill. The actual Bill had returned temporarily to the States, letting Mandrake pose as him for whatever reasons were actually behind the imposture. Dr. Bollmann states the stories of Congorilla, which came much later when Bills adventures had become totally fictional, were based off this exploit. I see no reason to doubt this, much as I love the idea of a magic ring that transfers a human mind into a gorilla body (5).
It was this encounter that lead, through a statement of Roosevelt, for this group to dub themselves, facetiously, The Defenders of the Earth. In fact, they liked it so much most of them (Lee and Ryan bowing out) decided to keep in contact over the years, to see if they could assist each other in their cases if necessary. Flash, of course, returned to Mongo by all reports, and was lost to them for many years. But--as my sources indicate--Mandrake and the Phantom(s) kept in touch over the years. Did they have any other adventures as a team during that time? Were there other adventures of the Defenders of the Earth? We know that Mandrake and the Phantom often teamed together when
necessary. Perhaps there was a whole slew of adventures of the Defenders that were never recorded--Americas version of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. We will never know.
But, this is where the Future Defenders of the Earth come in. If my sources are correct, sometime about 2015, a descendent of the original Flash will return to Earth with his son , Rick (6), and warn that Ming--possibly the original, possibly a descendant--is returning. The Phantom active then--who
MUST be the father of the 2040 Phantom--will then team up with Mandrake and Lothar (who have kept themselves young through Mandrakes mysticism; what happened to the magicians wife Narda is unknown) and the Gordons to stop him. Amazingly, however, two others will be there--Lothars son, L.J., and Jedda, the daughter of the Phantom (7)!
But we know from other sources that the Phantoms son will take over the role, in 2040! We can only presume that, on the birth of the new Kit Walker, Jeddas claim to future Phantomdom went out the window. Or, possibly, she died, as she was never mentioned in the recorded (to be recorded?) exploits of the 2040 Phantom. We shall never know.
At any rate, we must return to the 1930s, and the hijacking of the Hilary. As said before, the famed Popeye the Sailor was on hand for the adventure--and, if records are correct, his arch-enemy Brutus was working with Grimsley to steal the boat! But theres a problem here--readers of Popeyes recorded adventures will know that Brutus was never named Brutus--he was originally named Bluto, and had, in fact, only shown up in one adventure of Popeye! It was not until he was adopted for the cartoon series--totally fictional--as the regular villain that he entered the public eye--and he was never called Brutus until the 1960s (8).
The true story, of course, is that Blutos hiring as a thug by Grimsley was a total coincidence. But we can imagine Bluto was more than happy to launch in once he found out his old enemy was on the ship. It just worked out in that funny way things in the Wold-Newton Universe seem to do.
Another oddity about the story is that Mandrake apparently summoned up a hypnotic illusion of the legendary Prince Valiant to fight Bluto. This seems to have been based on a real event (9). Bluto was apparently threatening some of the hostages with a sword (why he didnt have a gun is unclear) and
Mandrake, feeling amused, hypnotized him into thinking Prince Valiant was there to keep him busy in a duel while he moved the hostages to safety.
And a quick word on Popeyes relations with the Shadow--my sources tell me that the sailor man was NOT a full-time agent, but rather a courier used when the situation demanded it. The rough-and-tumble Popeye was simply too argumentative and aggressive to make a good agent; the Shadow used him mainly as a paid message-deliverer. But he got the job done, so the Shadow kept him
on as an occasional. The rest of the time, like Lee and Ryan, he was a free agent. Popeye may never have known who he was working for; as long as the money was good, he was good for it.
But of course Grimsley couldnt have just up and hijacked an entire ship by his lonesome. And the truth was, he didnt. That was where the Katzenjammers came in.
For Im sorry to say that Hans and Fritz were completely and totally committed National Socialists; they were being used as spies in America and were the ones operating as Grimsleys agents on board the Hilary. To cover their tracks, they pretended to be captives along with the others and apparently got away with it, but their true purpose was to help Grimsley grab the object of his quest. Poor Mama! Even the original Hans and Fritz werent THAT bad. Later, it seems, a shadowy member of the Defenders did, indeed, learn the truth and, according to the report, there wasnt much left to do autopsies on.
And the object of the game? Dr. Bollmann states it was a green railroad lantern. If this hint is what Im thinking it is, I am afraid Bollmann is slightly incorrect. If Im right, then this item was in fact a CHINESE
lantern; it would not be shaped into a railroad lantern until much later. But that is for another article. It seems unlikely the Nazis would go to so much trouble and expense to kidnap an entire boat just for the sake of some lantern--surely it would have been easier for the Katzenjammers just to steal it--but Grimsley intended to hold as many of the hostages for ransom as he could, just to earn a little extra pocket change. The Little King, and possibly Jiggs, would have been either killed or taken to Germany for political gain. Burns and Allen, of course, as famous entertainers, could have been held for ransom (although Burns Jewishness may have ended up costing him his life if the Defenders hadnt involved themselves), and possibly even the Bumsteads could, technically, be held for ransom once Grimsley discovered who they were. Whether or not Dagwoods father would actually have paid to free
his disowned son and despised daughter-in-law is another story. As for the rest of the hostages, not famous and just plain folk as most of them such as Smith were--well, perhaps were better off not knowing what the plans were. Rumor has it that the Miskatonic-taught Grimsley was in touch with more than just the Nazis .
And so we come to the end--the actual time all this took place. Once again, while I cannot pinpoint an exact date, I feel I can come very close to a year, based off these simple dating records:
The Phantoms recorded adventures began in 1936, Mandrakes in 1934. Flash Gordons recorded exploits also began being published in 1934. The adventures of Terry Lee and Pat Ryan began to be published in October, 1934.
The adventures of Tim Tyler began being recorded in 1928. BUT--in 1932, he and Spud moved to Africa, where they became members of something called The Ivory Patrol, a jungle policing group. The Phantom, on the other hand, was in charge of something called The Jungle Patrol which had much the same function. Ivory Patrol. Jungle Patrol. Were they the same organization, just disguised? Did the Phantom witness one of Tylers African adventures and recommend him for his own organization? While at first I debated about Tyler and his companion acting as stowaways, the timing I have come up with doesnt work. So my theory is that Tyler and Spud were on the Hilary, possibly on assignment, more probably on a short vacation (as the ship was moving from Europe to America, rather than Africa). Knowing two of his officers were on the ship being held hostage would certainly have been incentive for the Phantom to get involved, even beyond his familys vow to fight piracy of all sorts.
A further clue comes from the marriage of Blondie Boopadoop and Dagwood Bumstead--recorded on February 17, 1933. While this probably wasnt the actual date, it gives up a rough idea of when the marriage did take place--in the early years of the 1930s. And it is well-known Bumstead was the son of a millionaire cut off without a cent due to his marriage to Blondie. But wouldnt Bumstead have still had a little money on him--after all, they did move into rather a nice house and have two kids later. I think this trip was actually the Bumsteads honeymoon rather than a vacation; they were blowing what little they had to stick it to Dagwoods daddy.(10)
So what does that leave us with? 1936, 1934, 1934, 1934, 1932, and 1933. And, of course, both Hitler and Roosevelt were elected to the various leaderships of their countries in 1933--a good, round average of the years mentioned above. It certainly couldnt have taken any time sooner. So I am
going to state that the true events of Popeye and the Man Who Hated Laughter probably happened at the earliest in the year 1933. It certainly couldnt have happened any later than 1936. That leaves us, then, with a three-year period, 1933-36, in which these events, and the founding of the Defenders of the Earth, could have taken place. Perhaps further research will specify an exact date.
1). Try as I might, I cannot find any kingdom in any atlas from the time known as Id. According to Dr. Bollmann, this is the same country that comic historian Johnny Hart writes about in his comic strip The Wizard of Id--albeit this original King Kline, a tyrant, lived sometime during the Middle Ages. I suspect that Id is NOT the countrys real name, and whatever it was has now been lost in the mist of history.
2). Barney, according to Dr. Bollmann, mysteriously disappeared en route to the ship. For those with a nasty, conspiratorial state of mind, be assured that Google had just wandered away into a crap game and missed the boat.
3). I have been unable to verify Dr. Bollmann's claims that Blondie Boopadoops cousin is Betty Boop. Seeing as how it is very unlikely that Blondie would actually have had such a ridiculous surname; I suspect her real last name was more foreign and Young simply altered it into a similar-sounding name that emphasized her personality. If Betty and Blondie ARE cousins, however, and the cartoons based on her are even half-true, Betty may have met Popeye herself at one point--see the cartoon Popeye the Sailor Man for details (the rest of the Popeye cartoons are, however, as we noted above, totally fictitious).
4). The Flash Gordon radio show apparently led into the Jungle Jim radio show when Jim attended Flashs wedding on Earth.
5). Possibly the events of The Whispering Gorilla and its sequel, where a mans brain was placed into a gorillas body, may have also inspired these tales. Hey--at least it wasnt Bwana Beast.
6). According to the cartoon based on these sources, Dale Arden was killed and turned into a computerized artificial intelligence. This is untrue. This Flash had married a native Mongoite, who was Ricks mother. It was SHE who became the computer that advised the Defenders.
7). Mandrake, too, had a young apprentice, but he was not related, serving as the boys guardian.
8). Much later he returned to the comic strip, but by then it was mostly a gag-a-day thing instead of continuity adventure. I view these reports of Popeyes activities as mainly fictitious.
9). It is a manner of keen disagreement whether Prince Valiant was an actual living person or not in the Wold-Newton Universe. Research has shown, however, that there was obviously someone who inspired the legend; whether or not all the adventures ascribed to him are true or not is another story.
10). It should be noted that, despite appearances in the comic strip and movies (and television programs) based on his activities, Dagwood Bumstead wasnt QUITE the dunderhead presented. He certainly was not the brightest bulb in the light store, to be sure, but if even half of some of the work incidents portrayed in the comics were true--especially falling asleep on the job--Bumstead would have been fired (especially working for a man like J.C. Dithers, who did indeed tend to get into fistfights with his employees). Bumstead, for all his stupidity in other matters, actually did possess a decent head for figures, and was able to support his wife and two children fairly comfortably for years. Chic Young simply took a few funny incidents that had happened early in Bumsteads adjustment to the working world and created endless variations on the theme for years. And since Blondie is still going quite strong based on them, who are we to argue with success?
1). Bollmann, Art. The True Story Behind the Defenders of the Earth.
2). Goulart, Ron (ed). The Encyclopedia of American Comics: From 1897 to the
Present. Facts on File, New York, 1990.
Part Four in a series of articles by Coogan and Power about the life and influences of John Carter
Arnold made inquires about the sale of items from the Faulkner estate, but this turned up little information A decade later, however, some new evidence came to light, and it was made known to him that several of the items from the Faulkner estate had been sold in New York. Some of these items were of Middle Eastern origin; knowing of Phra's Phoenician antecedents, Arnold was intuitively certain that Phra was connected to these items. Using his father's diplomatic connections, Arnold discovered that a man answering to Phra's description had purchased a home on the Hudson in 1878. In 1900 the estate was owned by a young Virginian who knew nothing about Phra and was rather reticent to talk about the original owner of the estate, his uncle, who had passed away in 1886.
While in New York Arnold began investigating his other lead, the provenance of the Middle Eastern items sold by the Faulkner estate. He found a merchant in New York who had possessed the rug previously owned by the Faulkner estate. The merchant had bought it in 1880. It was sold to an elderly man in 1881. The rug merchant then heard that a colleague of his had purchased a rug with the same design in 1899. Arnold visited the merchant who had bought the rug in 1899. He remembered the transaction very well. He had bought this rug from a young man with a haunted look who had spun him a fantastic yarn of its origins. The merchant had paid top dollar for the unique rug, but the rug had disappeared off of his shelves several days later. The rug merchant recounted to Arnold the tale that the young man had told him, that the rug had carried him to the planet Mars, that he had found a decadent race of white people who were preyed upon by savage beasts and copper skinned warlike men. The white people worshiped the goddess Isis and traveled down river to the land of the dead. After a fantastic battle when all seemed lost, the rug had magically returned him to Earth. The merchant also stated he had felt sorry for the young man because not only did he seem out of sorts but also looked down on his luck. When the rug disappeared, the merchant tried to contact the man who had sold him the rug; the merchant had wisely had insisted upon a receipt. The man was an officer in the United States Marines. The Marines told the merchant that Ulysses Pierpont was no longer an officer in the Marines but refused to divulge any more information. (2)
Using his father's diplomatic contacts, Edwin Arnold was able to discover more about Ulysses Pierpont. He was related to the Pierponts of Virginia, he had been a medical officer in the Marines and had disappeared in 1895 while on leave in New York. Pierpont had been court-martialed for going Absent Without Leave in 1899. The Marine Corps contact even allowed Edwin Arnold read a copy of Ulysses Pierpont's statement of defense. The military prosecutor argued that Ulysses Pierpont had fallen victim to dipsomania and that his tale of travel to Mars was a fantasy that attempted to use the events of the so-called War of the Worlds as a smokescreen to cover his actions. The prosecutor's charge of dipsomania had been made because Ulysses had been arrested for public drunkenness in New York City and his identity as a military deserter had been established.
Edwin Arnold took copious notes, but a military censor had crossed out quite a bit of his material. Arnold still remained uncertain however if this man was Phra.
Edwin Arnold was disappointed that he had not found Phra, but he used the material he had gathered on this trip to write another book.
Edwin Arnold used the tale of the Ulysses' trip to Mars from the court-martial statement and corroborated by the tale Arnold had heard from the rug merchant as the basis of his new novel. To fill the void, Arnold borrowed from H.G. Wells (3). Because his protagonist was supposedly a living person, he chose a different name for the character. Since Ulysses had been a sailor who had traveled to many exotic lands and encountered exotic animals and strange beings, Arnold wanted a name that would evoke that same spirit; he chose Gullivar because Lemuel Gulliver had also been a sailor who had sailed to exotic lands and encountered exotic animals and strange beings. Lemuel Gulliver was also a surgeon as Ulysses Pierpont was supposed to be. (4)
As Arnold was writing Gullivar of Mars, he became suddenly convinced that Pierpont, the mysterious man in the Hudson River estate, which was not far from NYC, and Phra were all the same person. Arnold once again visited M.N. Carter and alluded that he "knew" his uncle had traveled to Mars.
Carter's nephew was more amused than shocked at Arnold's exclamation and insisted on comparing stories, with Arnold going first. Arnold told him what little sense he could make out of the merchant's story and the court-martial testimony of Ulysses Pierpont.
Arnold was careful not to reveal the true name of the naval officer but rather called him Gullivar like his character to disguise his true name. Arnold's tale told how the young officer accidentally acquired a magic carpet and wished himself to Mars. Once on Mars he landed inside a city near a great sea where the citizens had fair skin and fair hair. Arnold's account related how the fair skinned people whom he called the Hither people lived lives of hedonistic pleasure, immersing themselves in deep philosophy and also giving themselves over to narcotic oblivion and sexual excess. Yet they managed to produce gold, grain, and a rare type of silk. Since the Thither people would rather die than fight, they were "taxed" by a group of copper-skinned barbarians whom Arnold called the Thither folk. Among their yearly tribute was a maiden that was to be given to the Thither king. The young Earthman became infatuated with Heru, whom he knew was to be this year's tribute.
Part of Heru's function as the chosen maiden was to gaze into a crystal ball and see the future for the upcoming year. This crystal ball was in a temple in the center of the city, surrounded by a circular representation of the solar system. One of the Gullivar's companions told him that the result of the prediction was invariably the same. However this time it began with a view of Mars as if seen from above the planet. It showed a sphere that grew red and finally engulfed the entire crystal in a great red light that seemed to give off a great heat. Feeling that Heru was in danger Gullivar jumped to her rescue, and in doing so knocked the crystal ball from its pedestal. (5)
"Gullivar" spent some time learning the religious aspect of the Martians who worshipped a goddess Arnold called Isis. Gullivar also became seduced into participating in the hedonistic pleasures of the Hither society. When the time came for Heru to be taken by the Thither king, Gullivar attempted to stop the abduction. He was overwhelmed by the Thither men and knocked unconscious. He awoke set adrift on the River of Death in a sacrificial barge.
The young man used the silken wrappings on his barge to lasso a swimming stag and was towed to shore. He took cover in a forest but had his sleep disturbed by giant bats swooping down into the forest to mate and feed. (6) Shortly thereafter he saw two rats as large as elephants fight and watched the victor devour his victim.
He traveled down river seeking to find the home of the Thither men, getting directions and supplies from islands along his way. He saw many strange fauna and flora such as a honey producing flower, a plant that resembled a human being, and a plant that produced huge boat-shaped gourds, which were the primary vessels for the island people.
From the River of Death Gullivar entered a polar sea, where all the vessels of the dead eventually drifted. Gullivar found a frozen wasteland where thousands upon thousands of corpses were preserved by the cold. Among these were a well preserved older man with a golden crown and a jaw piece also made of gold. Gullivar took the golden crown, believing he might need to exchange it for currency. The barren plain abruptly ended in a towering mountain range. The polar sea butted up against this huge range of mountains. The sea entered the mountains through a chasm, which Gullivar barely avoided being drawn into. In this cold wasteland he met an old man who set him on the correct path to the Thither kingdom, which he was able to reach by circumventing the mountain range.
Gullivar traveled out of the frozen wasteland and into a more temperate region. Once again he encountered several odd animals and plants, including one plant that could drain the blood from a small ape in a manner of moments.
Passing through several smaller river towns, tributaries of the River of Death and through an area where the forests were thick as night, he encountered a ruined Hither city. This he had been told was the ruined city of Queen Yang who had killed herself and a thousand babies when the Thither took the land. The ruins were supposed to be haunted by the spirits of the dead. Finding the skeleton of Queen Yang, Gullivar took her circlet with him, believing that Heru had the right to wear the Queen's crown.
Gullivar arrived at a Thither canal city and discovered that the soldiers escorting Heru had recently passed through and were on their way to the capital. Gullivar followed quickly after her. He described how the temperature was rising, which the Martians claimed was unusual. A second sun was appearing in the sky. Arnold speculated that Mars had somehow captured an asteroid in its orbit and the large body was circling the planet in a decaying orbit, bringing heat and climatic changes.
Gullivar arranged to get an audience with Ar-Hap the King of Thither. According to Arnold, Gullivar was seen to have died by Ar-Hap and his soldiers, and so his presence there was thought to be that of Gullivar's spirit. Ar-Hap gave to Gullivar the task of going to the frozen north, finding the crown of a frozen king and returning in five minutes. As luck, fate or sheer coincidence would have it Gullivar had taken this golden circlet from the head of the frozen king earlier. Ar-Hap was stunned at the presentation of the king's crown and ordered Gullivar to also travel to the city of Queen Yang, take some of her treasure and return in five minutes in order to get the girl. Gullivar successfully won this game. However Ar-Pad would not allow Gullivar to leave until Gullivar had prayed away the comet.
The falling asteroid caused a horrific droughts, which brought every sort of animal out of the woods, sleek panthers with lolling tongues; russet-red wood dogs; bears and sloths from the dark arcades of the remote forests, . mighty boars, who came from the river marshes Even the wolves came off the hills apes sat sad and listless, and on the roof-ridges storks were dying the toucans and Martian parrots hung limp and fashionless..
The drought passed after the asteroid landed. Torrential rains followed the drought. Gullivar took advantage of the debilitated condition of the Thither to rescue Heru. She and he traveled back to the Hither city.
Shortly after their return, Ar-Pad surrounded the city and sacked it. In the melee, Gullivar was separated from Heru. Although he fought valiantly against the Thither, Gullivar's strength eventually flagged and he took refuge in a building and barricaded himself inside. When all seemed lost, he found the magic carpet curled up in a corner. He wished himself back in New York.
Although Matthew Carter initially displayed skepticism and no interest in Arnold's inquiries, once Arnold had given out his tale, Carter believed he could discuss John Carter's story with Arnold freely, especially once Arnold explained about Phra. Given this information Carter gladly shared John Carter's story with Arnold because he felt safe in doing so given that Arnold already knew about Barsoom and Arnold was able to add to Matthew Carter's knowledge of Barsoom.
So Matthew Carter shared John Carter's story with Arnold, which was one reason why Gullivar Of Mars ended up with so many parallels with The Gods of Mars.
Carter's nephew told Arnold that John Carter had traveled to Mars in an astral body not a magic carpet, and that, except for human beings, Martian wildlife bore little resemblance to Earth animals. There was a river of death and a goddess Issus that John Carter had encountered, but many of the incidents and the flora and fauna mentioned were not in John Carter's account. Arnold coldly thanked Carter's nephew for his time, certain the man was playing a prank.
Arnold had by then written out the basic elements of Gullivar's story and was reluctant to rewrite the entire tale. He was also rather disappointed that that the ecology of Mars and the actual customs and culture of Mars did not denote the higher elements of human behavior. Matthew Carter told Arnold that he had been fitfully editing the manuscripts of John Carter with the intent of publishing them. Carter's ambition was to be a writer although he admitted to not having the patience to learn grammatical mechanics or the necessary discipline to keep at one project with any regularity. This information solidified Arnolds conviction to publish his account of Ulysses Pierponts voyage to Mars as fiction. He remained uncertain if Phra was Ulysses Pierpont or John Carter, although he leaned towards the latter. As a nod to this belief he used some of the elements of John Carters experiences in the Valley Dor and its nearby environs as shadings of Gullivars trip.
Arnold finished writing his Martian novel. He chose the name Gullivar Jones for his main character, Gullivar for the correspondences mentioned above and Jones because it was a generic everyman type name. His researches into the background of Pierpont had discovered that a Jones family was also related to the Pierponts. It was also a tweak at John Carter's nephew, since Jones means "Son of John." (7) After finishing Gullivar of Mars Arnold discontinued his search for Phra and returned to his writing career. His novels became less filled with adventure elements and to some reviewers less interesting.
In 1925 Edgar Rice Burroughs received a letter from a man named Ulysses Paxton who like John Carter transported to Mars at the moment of death. His version was as follows.
was in the Fall of nineteen seventeen at an officers'
that I first became acquainted with John Carter, War Lord of Barsoom,
through the pages of your novel "A Princess of Mars." The story made a
profound impression upon me and while my better judgment assured me
that it was but a highly imaginative piece of fiction, a suggestion of
the verity of it pervaded my inner consciousness to such an extent that
I found myself dreaming of Mars and John Carter, of Dejah Thoris, of
Tars Tarkas and of Woola as if they had been entities of my own
experience rather than the figments of your imagination.
true that in those days of strenuous preparation there
time for dreaming, yet there were brief moments before sleep claimed me
at night and these were my dreams. Such dreams! Always of Mars, and
during my waking hours at night my eyes always sought out the Red
Planet when he was above the horizon and clung there seeking a solution
of the seemingly unfathomable riddle he has presented to the Earthman
the thing became an obsession. I know it clung to me all
my training camp days, and at night, on the deck of the transport, I
would be on my back gazing up into the red eye of the god of battle--
my god--and wishing that, like John Carter, I might be drawn across
the great void to the haven of my desire.
Later as Paxton was in the trenches, his position was shelled. Paxton's men were wiped out and he was severely injured.
look was enough, I sank back in an agony of mental and
anguish--my legs had been blown away from midway between the hips and
knees. For some reason I was not bleeding excessively, yet I know that
I had lost a great deal of blood and that I was gradually losing enough
to put me out of my misery in a short time if I were not soon found;
and as I lay there on my back, tortured with pain, I prayed that they
would not come in time, for I shrank more from the thought of going
maimed through life than I shrank from the thought of death.
my eyes suddenly focused upon the bright red eye of Mars
there surged through me a sudden wave of hope. I stretched out my arms
towards Mars, I did not seem to question or to doubt for an instant as
I prayed to the god of my vocation to reach forth and succor me. I
knew that he would do it, my faith was complete, and yet so great was
the mental effort that I made to throw off the hideous bonds of my
mutilated flesh that I felt a momentary qualm of nausea and then a
sharp click as of the snapping of a steel wire, and suddenly I stood
naked upon two good legs looking down upon the bloody, distorted thing
that had been I. Just for an instant did I stand thus before I turned
my eyes aloft again to my star of destiny and with outstretched arms
stand there in the cold of that French night--waiting.
I felt myself drawn with the speed of thought through the
trackless wastes of interplanetary space. There was an instant of
extreme cold and utter darkness (8)
He arrived on Barsoom whole and hale and almost immediately stopped an old man from being bludgeoned to death. The old man was Ras Thavas, the greatest surgeon and scientist on Barsoom. Thavas trained Paxton, who rapidly learned Barsoomian and also in a matter of months learned to be a surgeon with greater skills than most surgeons on Earth possessed at this time.
You may be wondering how we arrived at the title of this piece. Given that John Carter, as shown in Power and Coogan's "John Carter: Torn from Phoenician Dreams" and "The Lives and Times of John Carter," had studied mental disciplines for years to achieve his creation of a tulpa, it strains credibility that an untrained dying soldier duplicated Carter's remarkable feat. In truth we do not know what the background of "Paxton" may have been, Burroughs is curiously silent about this. This in itself is a bit odd since he usually gives quite a bit of background on his characters' antecedents. So while it is possible that Paxton did have some type of Tibetan training and so was able to create a tulpa, this does seem however to be unlikely. Our researches have uncovered another possibility although this means of transportation to Mars will also be decried to be just as unlikely by some.
The reconstruction of the following events has been pieced together from the researches of Edwin Arnold, from the remaining documents of the testimony of the court martial records of Lt. Commander Ulysses Pierpont of the United States Marine Corps, (obtained through the Freedom of Information Act), and from the notes of Matthew Nicholas Carter. A shorter version of the following was also transmitted to Jason Gridley's grandson Jay Gridley via the Gridley Wave in 1992.
In 1895 a young man named Ulysses Pierpont, a medical officer in the United States Marine Corps, was on leave in New York attempting to convince his superiors to give him a promotion. He had been courting a young girl named Polly Brown, but his suit had been rejected and so he was a bit depressed. As he crossed a street in a New York City slum, he suddenly encountered a man dressed in some odd clothing riding a flying carpet.(9) The carpet deposited the man with violent force upon the ground. The man was off balance; he fell and broke his neck. Pierpont hailed a cab and took the man a hospital, but the man was dead on arrival. Pierpont liked the design on the old carpet and decided to take it with him when he returned to his ship.
In his apartment he wished he were anywhere but on this red-tape ridden world. He wished he were on the planet Mars. For some reason the carpet whisked him to Barsoom. His adventures there bore only a moderate resemblance to those depicted by Edwin Arnold in Lt. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation. Landing near the Mountains of Otz, he discovered a race of blond-haired white-skinned people who may have been offshoots or perhaps precursors of the Therns. They had a fatalistic religion that allowed them to be attacked periodically by the white apes and plant men in the region, not unlike the relationship between the Therns and the First Born "pirates" depicted by Burroughs in Gods of Mars. They also seemed to have retained some of the ancient mental powers of the ancient Orovars, as still practiced by the citizens of Lothar. One of these Ha-Thern was able to instantly imprint upon his brain the Martian language. Although this may have been a plot device by Arnold to propel the plot along faster and may have taken Ulysses several weeks to learn the Barsoomian language.
Ulysses soon learned the language and the customs. He discovered that this was a decadent society given over to drug use and hedonistic behavior. They would rather die than fight. They paid tribute to a city of copper-skinned men in the west, named the Thathor, which was also the name of their city. This tribute was in the manner of gold, clothing, and captives. The copper-skinned men apparently did not occupy and enslave the city for many reasons; because the means of producing the silks they prized were located near the Ha-Thern City, travel to the Ha-Thern city was extremely dangerous and the copper-skinned king was wary of letting his men occupy the decadent city for fear his men would become as weak and decadent as they.(10)
Ulysses became infatuated with a young woman named Heru who taught him much of the Ha-Thern's culture and history including their worship of the Goddess Issus.(11)
Heru was slated to be taken to the Thathor people in the next tribute. Ulysses refused to allow this, but Ar-pad, King of the Thathor, had chosen her especially. When she refused to go, Ar-Pad's men kidnapped her. Ulysses attempted to stop them and killed one of the Thathor warriors during his rescue attempt but was knocked senseless. His erstwhile hosts placed him on a raft and set him adrift on the River of Death. Ulysses had much travail in the next two years as he tracked Heru.
Although Arnold's Gullivar of Mars provides clues as to what may have transpired, his account is garbled, contains much "filler" material, and has many incidents out of sequential order. Armed with his Marine cutlass Ulysses traveled down river and stopped at a few villages along the way, getting directions and assistance as he traveled. He encountered creatures that appear to have been native to the Temperate Zone near the Mountains of Otz but that did not make into the accounts written by Burroughs. Arnold's earth names for these creatures is a bit misleading, but no more so than the thoat being described as the Martian horse or the ulsio as the Martian rat. They filled the same ecological niches as the Earth creatures. Ulysses encountered the Martian fox, panther, a black ape, and a type of bat. Alas we have no description of these creatures.
Ulysses finally won his way to Thathor. Because he was seen to have died and known to have been sent down the River of Death from which there was no return, Ulysses was looked upon as a spirit. Rather than fight his way against overwhelming odds, he attempted to trick Ar-Hap into giving Heru's freedom and escape unharmed. To prove that he was a spirit, Ar-Pad wished for Ulysses to guide him to a lost city where an ancient queen, whom Arnold calls Yang, had ruled and where her treasure lay. Queen Yang had been the last legitimate Queen of the Ha-Thern Kingdom that had once encompassed the region currently occupied by the Thathor. Queen Yang had slain a thousand children and then herself when the Thathor had conquered her land. This horrific act had kept even the brutal Thathor from using this city. Arnold was not told that the Barsoomians were oviparous so his account made it seem as though Queen Yang had slain infants. It appears that she destroyed the city incubators rather than let the eggs of the Ha-Thern fall into the hands of the Thathor. As coincidence would have it, Ulysses had in fact passed this ruined city on his way to Thathor.
He agreed to this task. Ulysses, Ar-Pad, and a few of his followers set off for the city of Queen Yang. However, their journey was interrupted by the appearance of a comet, which turned out to be a falling star that grew larger as it approached Mars. This meteorite turned out to be something else entirely. Arnold claims that the meteorite or comet passed too close to Mars, making the atmosphere super heated and causing immediate droughts and oxygen deprivation. It is unknown whether he was not aware of the true events or balked at borrowing yet again from H.G. Wells, as he did in his depictions of the Hither and Thither people.
It is from this moment that our narrative seriously diverges from Arnold as we reveal events that Arnold probably did not know about. It also possible that although he may have known a small number of the following events but due to his agreement with Matthew Carter he did not divulge them. These events were also never recorded by "Burroughs" for reasons that are not quite clear. They would have in fact gone unreported if it had not been for our research into the Lost Translations. These were manuscripts written by Carthoris in Heliumite and brought to Earth by John Carter in the late fifties. Jules Carter, the son of Matthew Carter, had been taught the written language of Helium by John Carter and desired for a project that would allow him to fully master the language. Yet due to other projects this translation was not completed until the mid-nineties..
Jules made a fair translation of one of the manuscripts that would later become the unauthorized novel, Tarzan on Mars. Using the translation notes of the Tarzan on Mars manuscript, a man using the name Barton Werper, claimed he could translate the other manuscript. He had been hired by Marvel Comics to help with their authorized version of the John Carter of Mars series. Werper, whose claim to fame was a series of unauthorized Tarzan novels based on the exploits of Richard Lansing, Lord Greystoke, failed to properly translate the manuscript and therefore the John Carter of Mars comic book stories are filled with inaccuracies, which Dr. Peter Coogan has undertaken the task of correcting. See the forthcoming Lost in Translation article.
For the purposes of this article we will examine the first and second annuals of the John Carter of Mars comics series. Although this may seem to be anodd tangent to take, we hope to demonstrate their connection to the story at hand.
The first annual seems to be a revised version of Llana of Gathol
The second annual appears to be a compilation of Mastermind of Mars and Chessmen of Mars.
From textual evidence in the series we know Carter is writing these events in the far future, after Kantos Kan and the warrior Grogg have died, probably in the late 50's after Carter had returned from Sasoom and successfully stopped the Morgor invasion.(12)
Marv Wolfman, the author of the comics series, claims that the events of the comic series take place in the missing nine-year gap in A Princess of Mars, yet in issue 15 a small piece entitled Tales of Barsoom clearly takes place after the events of Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars since Carter recounts the origins of Barsoom as told to him by Xoder of the First Born. Therefore even though Wolfman has placed these events in the nine-year gap, the events may not have actually taken place in this time period. This is especially true of the annuals, which were unrelated to the comic's ongoing storylines. The first annual can be placed after the events of Warlord of Mars because John Carter is familiar with the Therns, according to his own statement.
These two incidents, which were the basis for the annuals, were fragments and/or partial translations that enabled Wolfman and Mantlo to get a sense of a story but not much of one. Wolfman and Mantlo filled the huge gaps in the translated texts by using material written previously by Burroughs. With a greater understanding of the Heliumite written language these fragments can now more accurately translated.
So far as the historical record is concerned, one would be hard pressed to find any "evidence" of an earlier meeting between Gullivar/Ulysses and John Carter than just the small scene from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume II, No. 1.
After reading Marvel Comics' John Carter, Warlord of Mars Annual 1, we began to wonder if perhaps this story showed, albeit in dramatically altered fashion, the first meeting between Gullivar/Ulysses and John Carter.
In the John Carter of Mars Annual 1 the story is a purported retelling of "The Ancient Dead" from the connected novellas entitled Llana of Gathol; however, there are important differences. Llana of Gathol does not make an appearance in the annual. Pan Dan Chee worships a long dead queen named S-Lara, as opposed to falling in love with Llana as he does in the novel. As John Carter falls asleep from being drugged by an old man in the pits, he hallucinates and sees the old man turn into a monster with tentacles, a completely different series of events from those involving the ancient Lum Tar O in Llana. Upon awakening John Carter kills the old man and all the dead are freed of his spell. Later on John Carter sees the entire city of Horz surrounded by water. It is as if those who were preserved alive have pulled him back to a time when Barsoom had oceans. When the reawakened Jeddak calls for Issus to take them back, a tidal wave overruns the newly reborn city and returns it to its previous ruined state. All of the reawakened people perish, as does Pan Dan Chee. Since we know that that the actual adventures of Carter and Pan Dan Chee occur quite differently and since Pan Dan Chee would woo and win Llana this entire episode can be seen to be fictionalized.
Excising all of the bits of Burroughs' "The Ancient Dead," we are left with a bare bones story of John Carter meeting a white-skinned warrior whose name begins with P. There is the worship and quest to find a long dead queen, there is a monster with tentacles, and a city that is surrounded by water, seemingly impossible on the desert planet.
This then is the story that should have been told in the John Carter Warrior of Mars, Annual 1.
Wishing to explore Barsoom circa 1896, John Carter set off in a lone flier. He had decided to explore the unknown polar regions near the Mountains of Otz, in the hundred mile valley expanse that circumscribes the mountains.
In one of the temperate regions near the South Pole but prior to the ice fields he sees a group of red men fighting a group of green men. His flier is damaged by a shot from one of the green men's radium rifles and he lands near the ongoing battle. He notices that among the red men is a white man dressed in Earth clothing, albeit ragged. He joins the fray and helps drive away the green men. The red men make certain that the green men are killed to the last man; they do not wish the green men to know the whereabouts of their city.
The green men had been drawn to this region because they had seen a falling star land nearby. They found that this temperate region supported forests, wildlife, agriculture, and cities that the green hordes had known nothing about. The green hordes and everyone else stayed away from the temperate regions because of superstitious beliefs.
The red men are the Thathor, as is their city. The young white man is Ulysses Pierpont, who had come to Mars via a magic carpet. Ar-Hap the Jeddak of the Thathor wished to kill John Carter but Ulysses Pierpont refused to allow it, threatening to not guide the Thathor to the city of Queen Yang, an ancient queen whom Ar-Hap was obsessed with. Tradition says Queen Yang killed herself and a thousand babies with her when the red men of Thathor took her land. Ulysses had agreed to lead Ar-Hap to the city of Queen Yang in order to save the life of Princess Heru of the Ha-Thern people.
Ar-Hap agreed that John Carter could accompany them, but once they found the city of Yang he planned to have Carter killed so that the Warlord could not take back the whereabouts of Thathor to the barbarian red Martians.
A few days after they had seen the falling star the Thathor began to feel great heat. This heat was coming from the forests, which had been set afire. The great heat that dried up rivers, incinerated plant and animal life and baked the Martian soil was from a heat ray. Eventually they discovered the cause was a giant walking tripod that shot heat rays. This tripod's mission may have been to destroy the natural resources and so drive the human population into more condensed areas for easy herding. There were other tripods, however, since the falling star was one of the two main ships that landed on Barsoom. This secondary ship may have been off course or deliberately sent to this area to create another advantageous launching site.
The meteorite that fell in the Thathor region turned out to be a Sarmak capsule.(13)
John Carter, Ulysses Pierpont, and the Thathor fought against the tripods. Since the Ha-Thern and Thathor people lacked the radium pistols and other advanced weaponry available in other parts of Barsoom, they took heavy losses. They could damage the tripods with their primitive weapons, but more would be built in a few days. This war of attrition went on for a couple of months. The Ha-Thern city was devastated, as were most of the towns and villages between Ha-Thern and Thathor. Most of the Thathor population was killed off but so were the Sarmak; denied the blood of animals or humans, they could not bud and so procreate.
In the final battle against this landing site most of the remaining Thathor were killed. The city of Thathor was destroyed in a flood caused by the destruction of a dam. Eventually the Sarmak in the Thathor region were winnowed down to a single Sarmak using a single tripod. John Carter and Ulysses used the dead green men's radium guns to damage the tripod. Due to a lack of ammunition, they had saved these weapons for the time when they could be used most advantageously. The tripod went to ground, retreating underground into a pit that had been built out of its impact crater. Using a diversionary attack with a massed cavalry charge on thoats, Ulysses and Carter were able to get close enough to the alien vessel to gain entrance and confront the thing in its home den. They were attacked by a human being it had in thrall, an old man who may have been the woodsman Ulysses met prior to going to the Thathor city.
Ulysses rammed his naval cutlass into the Sarmak's giant head. (14)
While John Carter and Ulysses had continued to fight the wounded monster with several Thathor volunteers, Ar-Hap and the remnants of his people fled to the lands of the Ha-Thern. Since their city had been destroyed, the Thathor decided to conquer and occupy Setha, the Ha-Thern city. Ar-Hap had taken Heru with him. After John Carter and Ulysses had finished off the Sarmak, Ulysses went after Heru and Ar-Hap.
John Carter needed to fly to Helium to make certain that more of these creatures had not come to Barsoom. So they parted their ways.
When John Carter confronted the dying Sarmak it did what Barsoomians had not been able to do; it read his mind, gleaning his identity, his love for Dejah Thoris, and the location of Helium. It sent this information telepathically to the nearest Sarmak.
John Carter returned to Helium but heard of no other incidents. Unbeknownst to him the Sarmak were still building up their launching base. A few months after John Carter had returned to Helium, however, they sent a party of red men thralls to kidnap Dejah Thoris and possibly John Carter as well as punishment for thwarting their plans and to learn firsthand how he had destroyed their secondary landing site.
This leads into the events of "Mars: The Home Front" and explains why Dejah Thoris was targeted for abduction.
"Mars: The Home Front" begins with John Carter visiting his nephew at a fishing cabin, apparently in Virginia. Carter has brought Woola with him to see if he could physically transport another being through space.
He says that he is going to tell his nephew of a tale of bloody conflict that recently engulfed all of Barsoom.
In Helium Kantos Kan and John Carter discovered that Dejah Thoris has been abducted by a group of red men from an unknown location. Several of the Heliumite guard had been killed as had many of the strange warriors. The red warriors had escaped in a flier and abandoned a flier whose compliment had been killed. Kantos Kan and John Carter used the directional compass in the strange flier to follow the strangers to the city they had originated from.
They found a city that seemed quite new, in its center was a large round pit lined with steel.
A group of red men confronted Kantos and John Carter. Although they were ready to defend themselves from attack, a paralysis ray struck Carter and Kan. They were then thrown into a cell with another prisoner. He was Bas-ok of the city of Gathol. He told them they were the prisoners of the Sarmak. The red men were the slaves of the Sarmak. The Sarmak resembled disembodied heads, with huge and piercing eyes, a ragged, dripping mouth, and a mass of twisting tentacles. Bas-ok said he had heard of the kaldane of Bantoom who are as to the Sarmak as the sorak is to the Banth. The Sarmak drink blood.
Bas-ok told them that the loud explosions they heard were cannons, such as the one in the center of the town where the Sarmak were sending vessels to Jasoom.
When the slaves of the Sarmak returned to take Carter to the Sarmak to be ingested, Carter and Kantos Kan overpowered them. Kantos Kan was sent to warn helium of the Sarmak threat...
This tale, like the "Musgrave Version," is more of a teaser than an actual satisfying story. (15)
"Mars the Home Front" ends with, "The remainder of John Carter's astonishing tale will have to wait another day, the story of his search for Dejah Thoris, the treachery of Bas-ok and how the men of Gathol paid dearly for it, the rescue of Dejah Thoris and her reunion with her husband, their desperate escape from the prison compound, John Carter's perilous and courageous fight in the cannon control center, his destruction of the cylinder launching devise after the tenth launching, the arrival of the navy of Helium, as well as the combined forces of the Warhoon, Tharks, the black First Born and red men from many cities and nations, and finally the ultimate battle and victory."
On the outset the tale told in John Carter of Mars Annual #2, by Bill Mantlo, seems to be a combination of Chessmen of Mars and Mastermind of Mars.
As with Wolfman in the previous annual, Mantlo had a very fragmented translation to work from and with Werper's help padded the story with material from previous Burroughs works.
The annual's tale as written: A gale drives John Carter's ship off course; he falls from his ship and is saved by his equilibrimotor but lands in Bantoom, an unknown region of Barsoom. He spots some headless humans crawling about on all fours. He sees these headless humans feed themselves through a hole in their necks. Carter sees a man with a hideous head whipping the headless humans.
In strolls a gorgeous red Martian couple. Carter believes them to be captives and vows to help them escape. Feeling hungry, he walks outside of the city to the forest beyond. While eating he sees a red Martian warrior being attacked by a she-banth and rescues him. The red Martian warrior turns out to be a kaldane on a rykor.
After defeating the she banth and throwing the corpse to a pride of banths, Carter leaps into the trees and safety, or so he thinks. In the trees is a white ape. The white ape, however, has the power of speech. The white ape knows John Carter. His name is Tal Tarag. The kaldane's name is Aard. Aard had been exiled from Bantoom by King Taak for the crime of falling in love with a fellow Kaldane named Saar. (16)
Taak wished for Saar and another's brain to be implanted in the bodies of a man and a woman of the Red Martians so they could go among the red Martians and spy. Ras Thavas (who is portrayed as being a kaldane himself, but this is simply erroneous) carried out the operation
Tal Tarag's body was the male red Martian body used for this operation. Ras Thavas then implanted Tal Tarag's brain into the body of a white ape. The female body came from Vala Dia, Tal Tarag's beloved. Tal Tarag hid Vala Dia's real brain in the recesses of Ras Thavas' lab and escaped. John Carter decides to join Tal Tarag and Aard's quest to right these grievous wrongs.
Eventually they gather in the chamber of Taak, the King of the Bantoom. Taak is a huge Kaldane, nearly as tall as a white ape. It takes mental control over Aard and kills him. Taak reveals that Thavas' implantation of kaldane brains into red Martian bodies has wrought a new mutation. The red Martian body developed into a new form of kaldane and rykor. The brains could never be removed from the heads they had been transplanted into. Tal Tarag would never get his body back nor would Vala Dia.
Tal Tarag attacks Taak and they kill one another.
John Carter leaves Bantoom vowing to return one day and also to seek out Ras Thavas and wreak vengeance.
After re-reading "Mars: The Home Front" one finds some lacunae that could be explained by the events of the John Carter of Mars Annual #2
The true story behind the annual is as follows.
The treachery of Bas-ok plays a crucial role in the Sarmak War. In "Mars the Home Front," Bas-ok mentioned knowing about the kaldane. His treachery may have revolved around this fact.
We pick the tale up at up at the Sarmak headquarters where John Carter has just escaped from their holding cell. Kantos Kan was sent away in a flier to warn Helium and other nations of the Sarmak threat. John Carter stayed behind to rescue his Princess. He searched for her and freed other prisoners who had not yet been enthralled by the Sarmak.
Bas-ok had not accompanied John Carter but rather upon having achieved his freedom struck out on his own. He was summarily recaptured. Bargaining his life for knowledge, he offered to betray his city if the Sarmak would allow him to rule the enthralled city of Gathol. Gathol was well defended so stealth had to be used to capture the city.
The Sarmak were especially interested in Gathol because of its mines, which contained high qualities of gold and platinum, metals used in their machines. There might have been another elements in the Gatholian mines that the Sarmak were also interested in. Bas-ok revealed the existence of the kaldane to the Sarmak. They were immediately intrigued since this might be an off shoot of an earlier attempt to colonize Barsoom or the result of parallel evolution.
In Bantoom one of the Sarmak named Taak seized control of all of the kaldane hives through his superior mental power. In the comic Taak is portrayed as a kaldane king. Although the kaldane kings were large, they were not as large as Taak seemed to be. Taak appears have been about the size of a Sarmak, which H.G. Wells describes as approximately that of a bear.
One of the red Martian thralls told Bas-ok and his Sarmak captors how to infiltrate Gathol and cripple its defenses. Another captured thrall told of Ras Thavas, the great surgeon of Barsoom and his ability to transfer brains. Bas-ok came up with the plan to transfer kaldane brains into red Martian bodies. Because of their physical similarity to the Sarmaks the enthralled kaldane brains remained under Sarmak control even at a great distance. Bas-ok and a few others abducted Ras Thavas and brought him to Bantoom. Bas-ok then returned to Gathol and convinced some friends of his to travel to the lost city he had discovered. These friends of Bas-ok were Tal Tarag and his ladylove Vala Dia.
Thavas transferred kaldane brains into the captured bodies of Tal Tarag and Vala Dia. One of the kaldane brains was Saar's. The annual's love story between the kaldanes Saar and Aard oddly enough appears to have had some basis in fact. Aard and Saar were slated to be destroyed because of their defective nature. Apparently they were of a new type of kaldane that had begun to feel emotion and also identified with a humanoid gender. This may have occurred from keeping one rykor mount for an extended amount of time, the symbiotic relationship affected both parties and humanoid hormones affected the kaldane bodies. Ghek of a later time would also be one of these defectives. (17)
Although this part is missing from both the annual and Burroughs' narratives, there were several of these kaldane brain transplants who infiltrated key parts of Gathol and managed to hand it over to the Sarmak. The royal family fled when all was lost and fought an unequal battle against the Sarmak conquerors while Gathol's people were forced to work in the mines and also become fodder for the Sarmak and kaldane, who ate human flesh.
As this was going on, John Carter rescued Dejah Thoris, fought his way into the cannon control center, and destroyed the launching mechanisms. The cannon was then destroyed. This was accomplished by the escaped prisoners dropping radium bombs on it from stolen fliers. Having destroyed the launching facility and killed the force of Sarmak at the launch site, the fighters set off for Gathol, having heard rumors of its enslavement.
John Carter's bombardment of the Sarmak launch cannon set off a chain reaction, which resulted in a huge atomic explosion at the Sarmak launch site. The shockwave affected John Carter's flier (this was the gale shown at the beginning of annual two) John Carter fell from the flier and was tossed through the thick wind. He landed miles from the flier and walked in the wrong direction. He ended up in Bantoom.
Although Ras Thavas is portrayed as a bit of a villain in the annual, he had actually transplanted the brain of Tal Tarag into a white ape not for amusement as portrayed but rather to create a one man army with a motivation to destroy the Sarmak. Ras Thavas hated the Sarmak for treating him in so cavalier a manner. It should be remembered that this Ras Thavas was the arrogant old man who had not yet transplanted his brain into the body of a younger man or had been convinced to use his knowledge for the benefit of mankind rather than selfish greed. This would occur about two decades hence, as portrayed in Mastermind of Mars. He allowed Tal Tarag to escape and also arranged for Aard to escape. Meanwhile he carried out his unwilling work for the Sarmak.
John Carter met up with Tal Tarag and Aard as depicted. He aided them in fighting their way to the lair of Taak. The mutation resulting from the combination of the kaldane brain and human body does seem to have actually occurred, due to some plastic factor in the kaldane DNA. Ras Thavas would later use the DNA of kaldanes, because of its ability to adhere to other genetic structures, when he created his hormads. This would ultimately lead to a near apocalypse. (18)
Taak killed Aard, and Tal Tarag died killing Taak as shown in the annual. John Carter knew that he could not take on this whole city of kaldanes still under Sarmak control, and so he made a strategic retreat. He headed for the city of Gathol.
With John Carter's help, the royal family of Gathol and many of its loyal retainers and warriors wrested control from Bas-ok and his Sarmak overseers. Gathol's navy flew towards Helium where they were met halfway by Helium's navy. Unfortunately and tragically Dejah Thoris' flier never made it to Helium. Despite a search it was not found. (In League of Extraordinary Gentlemen II Vol. 1, Gullivar/Ulysses remarked to Carter that he was sorry about the Princess. This is probably what he meant).
Once more we pick up the story of Ulysses, a.k.a. Gullivar. While Ulysses and John Carter were destroying the Sarmak landing force in the region of Thathor, Ar-Hap and many of his warriors had fled the area of Thathor and swept into Ha-Thern. Ar-Hap conquered, occupied, and enslaved the docile Ha-Therns, using brutal methods at the slightest resistance. Ulysses followed behind Ar-Hap. As he should have done earlier, Ulysses confronted Ar-Hap in single combat and became the jeddak of the combined populations. This took between several months and about a year and transpired while John Carter was destroying the Sarmak cannon and freeing Bantoom and Gathol from slavery.
After the launching cannons were destroyed, the remaining Sarmak were marooned on Barsoom and so turned their efforts to actual conquest rather than just using the planet as a staging ground for launching their fleet to the more vibrant Earth.
Ulysses Pierpont joined forces with Carter, but most of the combined armies of the Ha-Thern and Thathor were destroyed in the war. (Although LOEG II shows Gullivar, Carter, and some others winning the war against the Sarmak, with help from C.S. Lewis' Martians, the Sorn, prior to the Martians launching to Earth, this does not seem to be the case. (19) In "Mars the Home Front" Carter stopped the Sarmak after the launches had begun but before the invasion force was completely sent.)
The combined armies of Barsoom, the First Born, the Okarians, the Thark, the Warhoon, the Ha-Therns, and the Thathor destroyed the Sarmak. The kaldane/human transplants were destroyed by Ras Thavas. (20)
After the Sarmak War was finished, Dejah Thoris eventually turned up alive.
Having heard of the devastation of the Thathor and Ha-Thern army from some Ha-Thern deserters, Heru was certain Ulysses had gone to his death. Heru placed herself on a raft and floated down the River of Death. Although the Cult of Issus had been discredited some ten years before, some die-hard adherents still clung to the belief. (21). When Ulysses followed her to the Valley of Dor, he was too late. He had braved the Mountains of Otz, the white apes, and the plantmen only to discover Heru dead at the hands, or rather the feet, of a plantman who had drained her of blood. He killed the plantman and sat down in despair. He wished to be back in New York. From out of nowhere the magic carpet appeared, wrapped itself about him, and carried him to his Earth home.
This of course differs quite a bit from Arnold's account in Lt. Gullivar Jones. Arnold was not cognizant of the differences because he never actually met Ulysses, who would have been reluctant to talk of it anyway.
Upon his return to Earth, Ulysses sold the carpet to a rug dealer for some quick cash. He quickly discovered that he was in serious trouble; he was considered a deserter. His wild story could not be substantiated, and the supposed magic carpet had disappeared from the shelves of the carpet dealer.
Ulysses Pierpont was court-martialed and sent to military prison for four years, exiting in 1902. His medical license, however, was not lifted, and he began practicing medicine in the Midwest under another name. His own name was rather notorious, or so he supposed. He used the name of some of his relatives, the Paxtons.(22)
In 1917 at the outbreak of the Great War, Ulysses Paxton enlisted in the United States Army as a surgeon. He was awarded the rank of Captain. He of course made no mention of his previous record.
While in camp he became acquainted with the romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs describing John Carter's adventures on Barsoom. In the military prison he had almost convinced himself that his earlier voyage there had been a dream or a nightmare or perhaps, as the military prosecutor had claimed, the results of alcoholic hallucination.
Paxton was severely wounded in a shelling and was covered in body parts from other members of his unit. His wounds were extensive and included damage to his head, chest, and legs, although his legs were not blown off as he later believed. Seeing the red orb of Mars in the sky, Paxton wished to be there. A carpet suddenly appeared, wrapped itself around him, and carried him to Barsoom. The carpet dropped him at the feet of Barsoom's greatest surgeon and disappeared.(23) The great surgeon was on the ground groping for his spectacles and did not see how Paxton arrived. A maniacal naked man rushed at the old man with a club. Although he was dying, Paxton picked up a nearby sword and lifted it high enough to run the attacker through the gullet.
The great surgeon, Ras Thavas, repaired Paxton's injuries. He was curious because of Paxton's coloring and grateful for Paxton's intervention in preventing his death. Had Paxton died, however, Thavas would have used his body parts as raw materials for his work, which was providing new organs and limbs to those who could afford his services. Thavas repaired Paxton's legs by grafting skin over the burnt sections, he repaired Paxton's damaged spleen and liver and even repaired the damage to Paxton's brain by grafting on new brain tissue. The injury and the new brain tissue, however, resulted in Paxton losing much of his memory about his previous life, including his previous visit to Barsoom and his conscious knowledge of the Martian language. Unable to recall how he had arrived on Barsoom, Paxton became convinced he had died on Earth and had duplicated John Carter's feat of transporting himself by will alone. If this were the case, however, Barsoom would be populated not only by many Earth soldiers enamoured of Burroughs' tales, but also by many adolescent boys pining for a Barsoomian princess and adventure.
Under Ras Thavas' tutelage, Ulysses Paxton quickly learned the Barsoomian language and also rapidly learned the arts of medicine. Paxton learned the practice of medicine and surgery quite rapidly considering he supposedly had no previous training in this area. Actually he was relearning forgotten skills and knowledge, and so his progress is a bit more understandable.
The events of Ulysses Paxton's life after his training by Ras Thavas proceed just as Burroughs related. It would be years before his long-term memory began returning and he remembered his previous visit to Barsoom and his part in repelling the Sarmak invasion. This account was later transcribed by Jason Gridley's grandson in the mid-nineties.
1. As explained in the articles "John Carter: Torn from Phoenician Dreams" and "The Lives and Times of John Carter."
2. The novel Lt. Gullivar Jones states that Gullivar Jones was an officer in the United States Navy. This was in part a bit of disinformation placed there by Edwin Arnold to obscure the trail of the true person Gullivar Jones was based on. Gullivar's, or rather Ulysses', true branch of the service was disclosed in Creatures on the Loose Vol. 1, No. 16. Marvel Comics March, 1972. written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Gil Kane. After two issues the rest of the six-issue run was written by George Alec Effinger. Although many changes were made by the comic version of Gullivar of Mars that were at great variance with even Arnold's version, the writers often sneaked in tidbits of true information. George Alec Effinger's source for Barsoomian lore may have also been at fault. This seems to be one Maureen Birnbaum, a time and space traveling debutante whose grasp of historical events was not always that firm. Muffy gave Effinger the manuscript that became "Mars: The Home Front," although the account had been originally transcribed by Matthew Carter. That it remained unfinished reflects Matthew Carter's discipline as a writer. "Mars the Home Front" is in War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches, Kevin Anderson editor. This tale is accurate so far as editorial concerns would allow.
3. Lupoff and others have remarked on how much the Hither and Thither people of Gullivar of Mars resemble the Eloi and Morlocks from H.G. Wells' The Time Machine
4. Lemuel Gulliver was, of course, the protagonist of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. What connection, if any, exists between the Gulliver family and Ulysses Pierpont are unknown. The Pierponts were an old Virginia family; this led Arnold to the Carters of Virginia and thence back to New York to John Carter's Hudson home.
5. In the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume II, No. 1, the Hither are supposed to possess a ray cannon, although a search of the text does not seem to turn one up. Perhaps Alan Moore obtain the idea of the ray cannon from this passage, although in reality the globe was predicting the future including the imminent arrival of a meteorite and the great heat that accompanied it. Another erroneous depiction in this series was that of Gullivar flying across the Martian sands upon his carpet as if it were a flat airplane. The carpet had to be activated by a wish and it wrapped the rider up inside it like a sausage in a skin. Further he did not have possession of it while on Mars.
6. These giant bats were also depicted in "The Amazons of Mars," the third annual of John Carter, Warlord of Mars from Marvel Comics.
7. Little did Arnold know that M.N. Carter was in fact John Carter's son, although M.N. Carter himself was unaware of this fact at the time of their meeting. See Peter Coogan's "Burroughing Beneath the Page" (forthcoming).
8. "A Letter," Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Mastermind of Mars.
9. It is unknown from what dimensional realms this carpet had taken this former passenger.
10. Arnold refers to the two peoples as the Hither and Thither people. Since he actually did not know that much about the true customs and origins of these people, he borrowed heavily from H.G. Wells. The Time Machine.
11. Arnold calls this goddess Isis.
12. See "Lost in Translation" by Dr. Peter Coogan and Dennis E. Power (forthcoming) for more details
13. The Sarmak are the Martian creatures from H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. Although some accounts state that the Sarmak were native to Barsoom and were related to the same root species from which arose the Kaldanes and the Plantmen, other accounts differ and state they were alien to Barsoom. If this alien origin is true, then perhaps the Kaldanes and Plantmen were also alien in origin, despite what the legends of the First Born and the Kaldane state. This large asteroid or meteorite appears to have been the Mothership of the Sarmak. The Sarmak are like locusts, leapfrogging from planet to planet, solar system to solar system, stripping planets of life and sustenance. When traveling extremely long distances the Sarmak combine their vessels into a single sphere, when traveling relatively short distances from planet to planet in a solar system they launch single vessels. Upon entering the atmosphere of Barsoom the Sarmak ship divided into two sections. One section landed near the south pole the other not too distant from Toonal.
14. Although Arnold does not even have a character who resembles John Carter, or Burroughs never mentions the Sarmak some accounts have Ulysses, a.k.a. Gullivar Jones, working side by side with John Carter during the Sarmak incident. See The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2, No. 1 comics mini-series written by Alan Moore, with art by Kevin O'Neill, America's Best Comics, 2002. And also "Mars: The Home Front" by George Alec Effinger in the anthology War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches, Kevin J. Anderson, ed.
15. "The Musgrave Version" was a tale edited by George Alec Effinger that purported to be the first meeting between Sherlock Holmes and Fu Manchu. See Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, DAW, 1995 Mike Resnick and Martin H Greenberg (eds.) Most of the action in the Musgrave Version takes place "off page" and is alluded to as occurring in a forthcoming tale that never materialized. As seen in the previous footnote, George Alec Effinger also edited "Mars the Home Front" and was the author for several issues of the Gullivar of Mars storyline in Marvel Comics' Creatures on the Loose.
16. Aard calls Saar "her" but it could be that even though Kaldanes as a species are bisexual that they identify with one gender. This choice is reflected and reinforced by the sex of the rykor they ride
17. Ghek, one of the main characters of Chessmen of Mars, was considered to be defective because he liked the sound of music and also felt friendship towards Tara of Helium.
18. The events of Ras Thavas' experimentation and the near destruction of Barsoom are recounted in The Synthetic Men of Mars.
19. The appearance of the Sorn are rather problematic since their presence on Barsoom and their participation in the Sarmak War is at odds with the Utopian society of Malacandra as depicted by C. S. Lewis. The three species of Malacandra do not know conflict or war; rather they live together in harmony under the guidance of an Archangel. Moore's use of the Martians from the C. S. Lewis series seems to be more out of a desire to be inclusive of several types of Martian literature than their actual presence in that reality.
20.. Yet not all of the Sarmak had perished. They hid in fertile valleys and proved to be a persistent menace. One traveler named Tercer traveled from Earth to Mars in 1924 using a modified plane. This is described in "Our Distant Cousins" from The Travel Tales of Mr. Jorkens by Lord Dunsany. Landing upon Mars he discovered a facility where human beings were being kept like poultry behind wire cages. He shot and killed one of the Sarmak guards after it had wrung the neck of a small girl and boy. Tercer's description of the Martians is very close to Gullivar's description of the Ha-Thern. Tercer's description of the region in which he visited also has marked similarities to the account related by Arnold. The population of the Ha-Thern may have survived the earlier assaults by the Thathor and Sarmak only to be rounded up by some surviving Sarmak and used as chattel. After killing the Sarmak Tercer had to quickly return to his plane and took off once again. Tercer's account was related to Mr. Jorkens and his biographer several years after the incident took place. How Tercer managed to cross the dimensional barrier and travel to Barsoom in a modified plane is unknown. Evidence that he traveled through dimensions can be seen by his account of his return trip. Slightly off course due to his hasty departure from Mars he landed on a swampy area on an asteroid. The asteroid had a breathable atmosphere yet its gravitational pull was so slight that he was able to lift his one ton plane and carry it for several miles to a dry place for him to take off. He also found elephants the size of mice and attempted to capture one. Part of Tercer's tale of his trip to Mars may have found its way into the Marvel Comics version of Gullivar of Mars, in this quite transformed version, Gullivar's hair turns stark white from the result of his passage to Mars, as does Tercer's in his tale.
Seven years after his return to earth, he received a radio message from the Sarmak directed at him, challenging him to return. This would have been approximately 1931. Tercer returned to Mars in an improved ship, loaded with weapons. Jorkens and his biographer received a message that simply said "Victory, Victory." This is recounted in "The Slugly Beast" from Mr. Jorkens Remembers Africa by Lord Dunsany. They assumed that it came from Tercer. However it may not have been Tercer that sent the message. He may have been in fact captured by the Sarmak and forced to work for them. Using his technical expertise, the labor of the Ha-Thern, and the limited mineral resources of the area, the Sarmak might have been able to been able to build some tripod, traveling spheres and a launching cannon in the next seven years. In 1938, their smaller invasion force landed in the East Coast of the United States and was fairly quickly defeated by the United States Army.
Tercer may have used the distraction of the launch to stage a rebellion that succeeded in damaging the launch cannon. The rebellion may have resulted in the destruction of Tercer and the remnants of the Ha-Thern or the rebellion may have been aided with support from Helium, whose scientists had remained vigilant for signs of further Sarmak activity.
The Sarmak remained quiet for several years. They launched one more invasion attempt in 1952. This time they took advantage of the ongoing war between Sasoom and Barsoom and they had more powerful weapons. After their failed attempt in 1938 the remaining Sarmak once again used enthralled captives as spies. They learned of the powerful devices of the scientists Fal Silvas, Gar Nal, and Phor Tak. They used every effort to capture the slaves and assistants of these scientists. They managed to capture a few along with a couple of working models of the various devices of these scientists. They were able to reverse engineer a powerful disintegrating/heat beam and force fields for their new invasion of Earth. Although this invasion did manage to cause some damage to California, especially the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, they were defeated by germ warfare.
21. The false religion and horrid deception that was the Cult of Issus had been discredited by John Carter and several of his family and friends in The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars, which occurred circa 1886- 1888. The strength of the grip of the Issusian religion on the people of Barsoom can be seen in the devotion of the Jeddak and people of the city of Kaol to this religion in Gods of Mars.
22. For a bit on the Paxton family history please visit The Paxton House website http://www.glenmaurypark.com/paxton/history_paxton.htm
23. How can the magical carpet be understood? Its activation via a wish enables us to divine its nature. The magic carpet was actually a Djinn. The Djinn were spirits of great power, considered to be demons by many Arabic scholars. Their powers may be supernatural in origin or the Djinn may merely be powerful creatures with the ability to manipulate time, space, energy, and matter within limits. Whatever the source of their power, the end result seems like magic. During the reign of Solomon many of the Djinn were imprisoned, their forms conjoined to objects such as lamps, rings, or carpets (for an example of one such Djinn attached to a carpet, see the X-Files episode "Je Souhaite."). The particular Djinn inhabiting the carpet that Ulysses came into possession of must have been limited to granting wishes made in great pain or emotional anguish. Since Djinn are mischievous spirits and often malevolent, this requirement may have been part of this particular Djinn's set of instructions for the hope that a person in great pain or emotional anguish would make a stupid wish that the Djinn could use to cause great suffering to the wisher. The carpet seems to have accompanied the person who was the recipient of its wishes until all three wishes had been granted, hanging about in a limbo state but manifesting when needed. There was a bit of malevolence involved in each of the outcomes of Ulysses' wishes. The first time he was transported to Barsoom it was to a decadent city that he considered at odds with his notions of civilized behavior. The second time he was returned to Earth after an absence of several years, which ruined his reputation and his military career and landed him in prison. The last time he was transported dying to rest at the feet of the greatest surgeon on Barsoom who was seconds away from being killed himself.
Partial evidence for the carpet being a djinn may be seen in the Marvel Comics Creatures on the Loose No. 19, "Gullivar of Mars. " The six-issue mini series depicts the story of Gullivar of Mars by Edwin Arnold in a very loose fashion. Gullivar's travels were updated to the 1970's and he is said to have fought in Viet Nam. He was whisked away to Mars on a magical carpet that had originally been ridden upon by a creature named Lupov who seemed to possess magical powers.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice. The Master Mind of Mars. New York: Dover Publications, 1962.
Effinger, George Alec. "Mars: The Home Front." War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches. Ed. Kevin Anderson. New York: Bantam, 1996.
Dunsany, Edward John. Mr. Jorkens Remembers Africa. London: W. Heinemann, 1934.
---- Travel Tales of Mr. Jorkens. London: W. Heinemann, 1931.
John Carter, Warlord of Mars Annual. 1. Marvel Comics. 1977.
John Carter, Warlord of Mars Annual. 2. Marvel Comics 1978.
Lewis, C. S. Out of the Silent Planet, Avon Books
Lupoff, Richard. Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure. New York: Ace Books, 1968
Moore, Alan. League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Volume 2, No. 1. America's Best Comics. 2002.
Red Wolf Web Design. "Red Wolf's X-Files Episode Guide." Red Wolf Web Design. 10 Oct. 2002. http://www.redwolf.com.au/xfiles/index.html.
Roy, John Flint. A Guide to Barsoom. New York: Ballentine, 1976
We are all familiar with Cordwainer Birds landmark anthologies, Menacing Glimpses and Wider Menacing Glimpses. In the 1960s, Bird published some of the most controversial works by some of the biggest names in speculative fiction, permanently changing the contours of the field. The biggest and last volume in the series, Final Menacing Glimpses has been delayed for decades. Many of us had given up hope of ever seeing it, and have wished that Mr. Bird would spend less time feuding with the producers of Galaxy Quest and more time proofreading and writing introductions.
But now, after several decades Winton House has finally brought forth the final volume. FMG is, of necessity something of a period piece, since most of the stories were written decades ago. We cannot help but be saddened by the fact that many of the writer in this volume are now dead, but we are glad to have this volume of stories, which, for the most part, put most current literature to shame. In light of the fact that the majority of these authors are dead, it would be both depressing and repetitive to continually use the honorific the late. We trust the reader to know who is alive and dead.
The volume begins with a personal introduction by Isaac Asimov. Asimov recounts his long running feud/friendship with Bird, and reveals that his novel, Murder at the ABA was based on an actual murder case that Bird solved. (Bird is referred to as Darius Just in the novel. We are perplexed, however, about Asimovs story regarding Bird and a talking dog. We suspect that Dr. A may be pulling our leg.
His own story in this volume, however, is also an exercise in documentary fiction as Asimov recounts as actual mystery that he solved in the presence of a club called the Black Widowers.
Pure fantasy follows, with the only known speculative fiction work by mainstream titan T.S. Garp. The Bear Men of Ursus Five deals with some ferocious looking but oddly domestic aliens. Or are they domestic
Noted western writer Matt Helm also works outside his groove, in a story about a government spy. Frankly, this one lacks credibility, and we hope Mr. Helm sticks to horse operas. Write what you know, Matt.
Likewise, R. Questor, a writer unknown to me, has written a story from the p.o.v. of an android in I, Robot. The story is unconvincing, and almost as bad as the title.
Things pick up as Peter J. Frigate offers up a story about the afterlife written in the style of Finnegans Wake. Highly entertaining, if a bit farfetched.
Mr. Birds own story, Redjac and Back is a special treat, as he completes an unfinished fragment by Robert Blake, the horror writer who died under mysterious circumstances in the 1930s. The story concerns an alien entity that is responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders, and a number of others. This entity is almost captured by an undercover police officer with a cockatoo, but instead the alien frames the policeman for laundering money.
Simon Moon, the well known sixties activist, has supplied what may be his only short story. A broad sexual farce about an U.S. President who faces impeachment because of an affair with an intern, it is alternately hilarious and disgusting, yet compelling. We have a feeling that this will cause many raised eyebrows among Mr. Moons current colleagues on the New York Stock Exchange.
Ellery Queen offers a classic whodunit set in space and burdened with an unreliable narrator. Mr. Bird affirms that this was actually written by Queen, and not by Kilgore Trout, his occasional ghostwriter.
There are other gems in this volume, including a humorous story of first contact by Luke Devereaux, an early poem by Gallinger. Most interestingly, a short story by Brady X. Donaldson anticipates some of the themes he would later explore in his posthumous masterwork.
Two stories, however, stand out as the volumes major contribution. The first, of course, is a long novella by Alan Watts. Watts, of course, was the recipient of the first Grandmaster of Fantasy Award. An immigrant from England, he was familiar with the spiritualist scene of London, and drew upon it for a series of terrifyingly convincing stories for Weird Tales and Campbells Unknown. For a while he even wrote the successful hero-pulp the Green Lama. Of course, he soon broke out of the pulps and attracted considerable attention for a series of historical novels set in the Far East.
The rise of the New Wave seemed to attract him back to science fiction, and during the sixties, he wrote a series of sf novels that won the praise of figures as disparate as Pynchon, both Burroughs and Jerry Brown . His novella, Stranger In A World I Never Made offers a vision of a new society that may well be as relevant today as it was when originally written.
Wolders Live in Vain by Kilgore Trout closes the volume, and offers the most menacing glimpse of all. Trout imagines a parallel universe in which computers have linked every household, providing instant communication. In this world, such famous historical figures as Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes and Doc Savage are actually fictional characters. (In a sly in-joke, Trout actually postulates that Cordwainer Bird as a fictional character as well.) However, a group of fans on the "Internet" begin playing a game in which they pretend that these characters are real. Although we only know them through their computer messages, many of these characters are well drawn, and emerge as real people. (Fans of the Masked Savage will get a chuckle at the name of one of these Wolders.)
This game hits a snagging point when the players cannot decide whether to pretend that comic book characters are real. Oddly enough, they have fierce, vicious arguments about this topic, on a weekly basis, for years and years. Trout is at his most Swiftian in describing these battles, creating characters that are at once incredibly thin-skinned and incredibly confrontational. One particular fight, between a stubborn English professor and an equally stubborn research scientist, is obviously intended to illustrate C.P. Snows thesis about the two cultures.
This story, and the entire volume, is highly recommended.
This piece was written with the idea in mind that Cordwainer Bird, the WNU version of Harlan Ellison, must have edited an anthology in the WNU that resembles Ellisons landmark Dangerous Visions anthology.
On one hand, there is nothing more annoying than someone who feels compelled to explain all of his own jokes. On the other hand, it can be equally annoying to read a piece that contains nothing but obscure references. Ill split the difference, and explain some but not all of them.
In addition to Ellison, Robert Bloch and Theodore Sturgeon both contributed to DV and both have analogs in the WNU. Bloch and Ellison collaborated on two stories about Jack the Ripper, so it makes sense the Blake and Bird should collaborate on a story about the Redjac entity. Kilgore Trout was based partially on Theodore Sturgeon. Since Sturgeon ghosted books for Frederic Danny and Manfred B. Lee (the creators of Ellery Queen) it makes sense to me that Trout must have written for the actual author Ellery Queen in the WNU.
Alan Watts was a figure in the 1960s counterculture. I speculate that his WNU counterpart might have used his knowledge of Eastern religion to become a popular author.
For my most obscure references, Luke Devereaux is from Fredric Browns Martians Go Home. The poet Gallagher is from Zelaznys A Rose for Ecclesiastes. Brady X. Donaldson is from PJFs Fathers In the Basement. Simon Moon is not an author (insofar as we know) but is a recurring character in the work of Robert Anton Wilson.
Nobody knows the true identity of the Masked Savage.
This afterward is in the tradition of the numerous afterwards to every entry in Dangerous Visions.
All rights reserved. The text of this article is © 2003-2004 by the author, Art Bollmann. No copying or reproduction of this article or any portions thereof in any form whatsoever is permitted without prior written permission and consent of the author.