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John Carter of Mars : This Means War!

Updated on March 22, 2012

John Carter and Dejah Thoris: Could this be war??


"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..."

NOTE: Please take the survey below after reading this Hub...



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partake of notions of propriety and of conventionalities which to 21st century citizens of my home planet may seem outdated, even archaic.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 I can feel a pang of sympathy for Edward Cullen, whose somewhat outdated notions of dating and marriage, while viewed with endearment by some (including my daughter Tara, who owns the volume which I happened to glance at idly one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."

John Carter of Mars Poll

Do you consider yourself to be an Edgar Rice Burroughs "Fanboy" (or "Fangirl") ?

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Have you seen, or are you planning to see, "John Carter of Mars"?

See results

Have you read any of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars tales, such as "A Princess of Mars"?

See results

Do you fear that war between Mars (Barsoom) and Earth is eminent?

See results

Dejah Thoris told me this is a "link" to "Youtube", hopefully that will make sense to those reading this on Earth...


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    • Perry the Cat profile image

      Perry the Cat 

      6 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      Long ago I read all of the Burroughs books from Tarzan to Mars to the Moon. I loved them all but realized that I've forgotten too much to remember if the movie was accurate or not. So, I must read them again.

    • watcher by night profile imageAUTHOR

      watcher by night 

      6 years ago

      Janet, thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. I had prided myself that the "eerily authentic" sound of the piece came from having read and re-read many of Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom tales, but now your questions have planted a seed of doubt in my mind. Perhaps it was Dejah Thoris who wrote the piece, using me as a mere instrument!

      So, there will always be some uncertainty in my own mind. But to answer your question seriously, I have always had a partiality for writing from the 19th century and early 20th century, and so to me it often feels more natural to try to write in a manner similar to that used in those times, rather than in the way language is more typically used nowadays.

      Besides seeing the movie, have you also read the Barsoom books? What kinds of stories and books do you like to read?

      By the way, I too have recently been considering how exactly the residents of Barsoom have been responding to the "Mars" probes sent from Earth. Personally, I believe that Kars Komak would use his Lotharian skills in telepathic suggestion and materialization to surround each probe with a simulated panorama of a lifeless Mars.

      I wish you well in your chemical studies and hope that if you do crack the formula for the astral projection gas that you will share the secret! I have been desiring to awaken beneath the Moons of Mars for a long time.

    • Janet Mims profile image

      Janet Mims 

      6 years ago

      This is probably the third time I asked this, but how did you find the inspiration to write this piece? It sounds eerily authentic, as if John Carter himself had written it!

      Are you sure Deja Thoris didn't remotely control your mind to write this? I am serious! Where were you when you got the idea to write this? How did it come to you?

      I just came from seeing the movie, and I longed to hear more from John Carter and how he and his Queen are faring. I thought of all the Mars probe's that mysteriously have malfunctioned and wondered if John and Deja had a part in that.

      I really wish I could find the chemical components of the gas that caused John to pass out and astral project corporately to Mars. It was produced by a Yaqui witch renowned for her magic. I would love to try it and see if I too could astral project to Mars!

    • watcher by night profile imageAUTHOR

      watcher by night 

      6 years ago

      Perry, well met!

      Always good to make the acquaintance of one who admires the authentic & original ERB, which I strive to approximate. Please give my regards to your typist/mom.

    • Perry the Cat profile image

      Perry the Cat 

      6 years ago from Mouskin, Texas

      I admire your adherence to the original Burroughs. I'm also impressed by your self-description as it is exactly the same as my typist/mom. Darn nice to meet ya.


    • watcher by night profile imageAUTHOR

      watcher by night 

      6 years ago

      Jayfort, it's such a pleasure to meet a fellow admirer of such works. The prose style may seem dated to some, but never will to me. Growing up I spent as much time immersed in books by ERB and others as I did doing "normal" pastimes, so, in all honesty, the prose of Burroughs seems more natural to me than what I hear people saying on TV and radio nowadays. By the way, I took a look at some of your hubs and so even before your reply I had already realized the extent of your fandom. In 3 weeks time you have really written some great hubs on subjects that I happen to find interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of your writing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm a fan of ERB, EE "Doc" Smith, Heinlein, and others whose style of prose may seem dated to some, shall we say.

    • watcher by night profile imageAUTHOR

      watcher by night 

      6 years ago

      Jayfort, thanks for the kind words! So glad you stopped by. May I take it that you are a connoisseur of "interplanetary romances" ("romances" in the sense of "adventures"?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent Hub! Greatly enjoyed it!


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