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John Carter of Mars : This Means War!
John Carter and Dejah Thoris: Could this be war??
- 100th Anniversary of John Carter: Best Books Made Into Films: A Princess of Mars and Barsoom
Most known for his Tarzan series and the movies, animation, and television series that followed from them, Edgar Rice Burroughs was first a science fiction/futurist author at the beginning of the 20th century...
"I must tell you that there is a factual error in your hub, and that it threatens to plunge more than Mars headlong into the abyss of war..."
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GRIM TIDINGS FROM THE RED PLANET
FROM: John Carter, Warlord of Mars, Jeddak of Jedaks, etc. etc.
TO: Patty Inglish, M.S. Hubpages Elite, etc. etc.
RE: THERNS ARE NOT WHITE APES (vis a vis your hub, “100th Anniversary of John Carter: Best Books Made Into Films: A Princess of Mars and Barsoom”)
Dear Ms. English:
In venturing to broach a potentially delicate subject, I nevertheless would never presume to anything approaching a familiarity in addressing one who has garnered widespread praise and numerous accolades within the Hubpages universe. We each, you and I, have our respective spheres of influence, of that I am well aware, and I would have you know that I accord to you all honor and respect appropriate to one of your station and accomplishments.
Furthermore, having been away from Earth (except for occasional brief visits) since the latter part of the 19th century, my attitudes and modes of discourse no doubt partake of notions of propriety and of conventionalities which to 21st century citizens of my home planet may seem outdated, even archaic. Well, there it is; a Virginian I will always be, and my convictions of social propriety no less Virginian than I. I cannot apologize for not being other than what I always remember myself to have been, and yet I will express my sincere regrets if any hint of my (to me as natural as breathing) deeply ingrained deference to members of your fair gender should seem to you to smack of any hint of condescension or of evasion of, or maneuvering around, the actual issues at stake. I can feel a pang of sympathy for Edward Cullen, whose somewhat outdated notions of dating and marriage, while viewed with endearment by some (including my daughter Tara, who owns the volume which I happened to glance at idly one day, only to find that I could not put it down--hence my familiarity with the “Twilight” phenomenon), has elicited outraged expostulations from others.
I fear also I will seem overly free with parenthetical expressions to those whose “method and school in belles lettres” was, unlike my own, not inculcated more than a hundred years ago...
But I am “beating around the bush”, as the saying used to go, and so without further ado I will come to the point. And in so doing, I must stress that not a little is at stake. Indeed, the fate of at least one world may hang upon your response to this epistle.
As usual, it was through the Gridley Wave that the news reached us: Finally, after many years, a big screen movie adaptation was being made of the adventures of myself, my Princess and my Queen, and my many friends (and not a few enemies) upon Barsoom, the Red Planet. Naturally, this news generated a great deal of interest, and was the subject of much conversation and speculation among us all. But as bad luck and bad timing would have it, the heightened solar flare activity of recent days made reliable transmission with the Gridley Wave impossible
With the Gridley Wave hors de combat, much thought and effort was expended in trying to find a “work around” to get more news about the movie event. None of the ideas really bore fruit, however, until my darling, the incomparable Dejah Thoris, hit upon an ingenious scheme to put to use an ability she had originally developed upon a mere whim. As you may know, Barsoomian scientists have developed the optical telescope to a level of perfection as yet unmatched upon earth. Therefore, Dejah Thoris paid a visit to a close friend who works at the foremost observatory in Helium, and was able to bring into focus an outdoors cafe with a wi-fi hotspot. Normally, it is hard to get anything other than a severely oblique view of a computer monitor when observing Earth through our telescopes, but in the last few years the advent of cell phones and tablets which permit users to browse the “internet” (I believe that is the correct term) has permitted us to focus in with perfect clarity on any device which is held with the screen, or display, facing up towards the heavens. Dejah Thoris is much more well informed on the workings of the earthly “Information Highway” than I; moreover just as I have over the years improved my self-teleportation abilities to the point where I can at will cross through the immeasurable distances and fathomless cold of the vaccuum separating Earth and Barsoom whenever I wish, so Dejah Thoris has also improved her inborn abilities of Telepathy and mental persuasion to the point that she can (provided visual contact of a sensitive subject is maintained via the telescope) telepathically influence a psychically receptive human being upon the surface of Tellus. Indeed, a friend of the family, Ghek the Kaldane, taught Dejah Thoris certain techniques used by the Kaldanes in guiding the headless Rykors, which were of great benefit to her in learning to remotely control a human being upon Earth while herself at such far remove from the Earth.
In this manner, by subtly guiding the Earthling with her mental promptings (I have seen her do this, and her technique is as accomplished and certain as a Green Martian who uses telepathy to direct a Thoat across a battlefield thick with obstacles and enemies, without need of reins or bit to guide his steed), Dejah Thoris can direct the human to browse about the web, searching for the keywords that Dejah Thoris puts into his or her mind, and clicking on the links which Dejah Thoris suggests to the subject. I would interject here that if this seems to be an invasion of privacy to denizens of Earth, I suppose that we on Barsoom have a somewhat relaxed view of the matter, since here even death itself cannot conceal the thoughts of the average Martian from the mental gaze of our skilled Psychologists, whose telepathic abilities are super-refined and hyper-developed to a degree which must be witnessed to be believed. (Although I, strangely, am immune to all attempts at telepathic access to my inner thoughts.)
However, now is not the time, nor is this the place, for a lesson in the nuances of Martian telepathy. For those who wish to learn more, I have recorded not a few details in the written narratives of my various adventures which my nephew has had some small success in seeing established in published form, so I would refer those who thirst for additional knowledge to those pages.
Suffice it to say, that Dejah Thoris was able to once again successfully establish an hypnotic rapport with a human subject on Earth while viewed through the Martian telescope, and to direct the subject to browse the internet for news and information about the movie of which we were all so desirous of knowing more. Eventually, her searchings led her to a hub written by you, Patty Inglish, which is entitled “100th Anniversary of John Carter: Best Books Made Into Films: A Princess of Mars and Barsoom”.
Now, before going further, Ms. English, let me say what an honor it is for the first narrative of my adventures upon Mars to have been included by you in the category of “Best Books Made Into Films”! I heartily, though humbly, appreciate it. Yet, now the painful duty which I am all too aware I have been attempting to delay, may be put off no longer.
I must tell you that there is a factual error in your hub, and that it threatens to plunge more than Mars headlong into the abyss of war.
A mere factual error would normally have been of no moment-- but sometimes fate can arrange circumstances in such a way that the flapping of a Sith’s wings may spawn a sand-cyclone one-million haads away, it is said.
And what was this factual discrepancy? Well, first let me point out where it occurred: in your hub you make a statement that “the different races he [I, that is-- John Carter] discovers on Barsroom... include the Red Men, the two-torsoed Green Men (Tharks), and the White Apes (Therns). He [I, John Carter again] seems to get on with them all and introduces the author's readers to the idea of racial tolerance way back in 1912...”
There is, strictly speaking, more than one factual error in that statement. The first involves, ironically, a parenthetical expression-- ironic since parenthetical expressions were favored more in “my time” than in present-day Earthly writing, as I made reference to earlier. In describing the various races of Barsoom, you mention “the White Apes (Therns)”. Now, if fate had not dealt us such a strange hand, at this moment I would be telling you about this in order to share a good laugh over it. But such was not to be. For you see, the astronomer friend who was assisting Dejah Thoris is himself a Thern. And, idly glancing over Dejah Thoris’s incomparably lovely shoulder and catching a glimpse of what you had written, he became livid at the identification of White Apes as Therns and vice versa.
It is true that the Therns are white-skinned, and so stand out from the Red Men of Mars as much as I myself do, but they are not White Apes. Of course, I have in my own writings before stated that the huge Barsoomian White Ape does bear a sort of horrific parody of a resemblance to a human being. But the White Apes are not actually humans, but rather are dumb beasts of appallingly brutal ferocity, whereas the Therns are highly intelligent humans. It is true that at first my own relations with the Therns were not of the warmest variety, for it was I, with the help of my friend, Tars Tarkas the Thark, who exploded the millenia-old false religion which the Therns had perpetrated upon the other peoples of Barsoom. However, even on war-torn Barsoom, time has a way of healing wounds, and after nearly a hundred years-- which seems a short span on a world where 1000 years or more may be the natural life span-- I am happy to say that the Therns have become integrated fully into Martian society and that I count several of them as close friends.
And yet, the irony!
On this planet, where war holds sway, and where few, despite the natural lifespan of a thousand years, reach old age due to the attritions imposed by never ceasing armed strife, we tend to look askance at peace when it occurs. Perhaps not without reason.
For was it not peace that has led, however indirectly, to the present situation which I just last night likened (not without having to do some explaining of what I intended by the expression) to a “powder keg” while discussing it around the dinner table with Dejah Thoris, Carthoris, Tara, and the other members of our family circle and close friends?
Now several of my friends-- and even more to the point, allies-- who are Therns, are clamoring for a full-scale invasion of the Earth!
Lest anyone underestimate the actual and practical reality of such a threat, keep in mind the awful superiority which a Martian fighting force would hold upon Earth...
The unerring accuracy of Green Martian snipers, with their exploding radium bullets with which they can perform such execution upon Mars at ranges of up to 200 miles, would on Earth still be able to reach out to ranges of up to 20 miles.
The Martian flying ship, which does not depend upon petrochemical fuel, but rather exploits the ray of repulsion for buoyancy, or lift, and the magnetic field of the planet for propulsion, would have an insurmountable tactical and economic advantage over Earthly military technology.
Add to that the invisibility paint and disintegrating ray, the secrets of which, despite Tan Hadron’s best efforts, were eventually gleaned from three small shards, the only remnants of the Jhama developed by the mad genius Phor Tak, and, well--- I cannot help but think of another homely phrase from my past: “shooting fish in a barrel”.
And it must not be forgotten that the ranks of fighting Martians might very well be swelled by Earthly sympathizers: legions of dread Fanboys, those fanatic devotees of the cult of ERB, who will be little less enraged at the factual oversight than the Therns themselves.
Patty Inglish, MS, I am a warrior, and the fighting blood that flows in my veins has never made me loathe to enter into a fight in a just cause--before. But now, I blanch at the thought... the thought of waging war, even a just war, upon my own home planet of Earth. Yet, as Warlord of Mars, my duties come first above all, and my duties here, to my allies the Therns, are clear.
Therefore, I implore you, as one Earthling to another, though I live now upon Barsoom, and you dwell in the awesome reaches of cyberspace: please make a simple change to your hub, and avert a war which otherwise nothing can prevent.
Simply tell the world the truth: That Therns are not White Apes.
Tell the world, ere all is lost.
An ye do this, I shall hold myself eternally in your debt.
Yours Most Sincerely,
John Carter of Mars
A note from the Editor
We thought it only fair to mention that there was a time when Therns would perhaps not have been livid at being identified with White Apes. For is it not true that according to the religious beliefs once held by the Therns, it was possible that within the bodies of certain White Apes resided the souls of Therns who had died prematurely?
Now of course, the vast majority of Therns no longer practice that ancient religion, hence their sensitivity at being misidentified with the White Apes; it reminds them of the part they played in deluding other races of Barsoom, as well as the part played by the First Born in deluding the Therns themselves.
For the convenience of any readers curious for more details on the Thern's former views on immortality and transmigration of souls, I quote at length a noted authority upon the subject, Thuvia, Maid of Mars. In the following passage, Thuvia summarized the Thern's belief for the benefit of John Carter (and now our benefit also): ---Ed.
"The therns are mortal," she replied. "They die from the same causes as you or I might: those who do not live their allotted span of life, one thousand years, when by the authority of custom they may take their way in happiness through the long tunnel that leads to Issus.
"Those who die before are supposed to spend the balance of their allotted time in the image of a plant man, and it is for this reason that the plant men are held sacred by the therns, since they believe that each of these hideous creatures was formerly a thern."
"And should a plant man die?" I asked.
"Should he die before the expiration of the thousand years from the birth of the thern whose immortality abides within him then the soul passes into a great white ape, but should the ape die short of the exact hour that terminates the thousand years the soul is for ever lost and passes for all eternity into the carcass of the slimy and fearsome silians whose wriggling thousands seethe the silent sea beneath the hurtling moons when the sun has gone and strange shapes walk through the Valley Dor."