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Barsoomian Brainstorming

wheloc

He's trying real hard to be one of the good guys.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I just read A Princess of Mars and I suppose I'll probably see the John Carter movie soon, so I've been thinking of martian plots, themes, and characters (with a focus, of course, on roleplaying in the setting).

  • Earthlings randomly get transported (astral project?) to mars sometimes (is this ever explained?). Do people from stranger places ever end up there?
  • Martains have some way of viewing planets all across the universe, and all planets with the right environment have humanoid life.
  • Gravity difference means earthlings are unusually strong and agile on mars, once they're used to it. Carter is good at fighting because he was a fighter on Earth, but others would presumably be good at other things.
  • Martains are telepathic and have machinery that's controlled by telepathy.
  • Earthlings and better then martians at telepathy, once they learn how.
  • Dangerous wildlife, but some of it will become loyal companions when treated with respect and affection.
  • Martains in general are convinced that they have no time for kindness, but many of them still respond positively to it.
  • Men don't kill women, and vice versa, so an army (or group of assassins) needs both if they're going to face (target) both.
  • Martian women get kidnapped ALL THE TIME.
  • There are two extra "rays" of light on mars, one that can be used for flight and another that can be converted to atmosphere.
  • Martains lay eggs with a loooong gestation peroid.
  • Martain live for a long time.
  • Some Earthlings also inexplicably live for a long time (is this ever explained?).
  • People that maintain the atmosphere machinery are exempt from usual war and politics, and have a sort of diplomatic immunity.
What else?
 

DarkDungeons

The GM Is Your Friend.
  • Earthlings randomly get transported (astral project?) to mars sometimes (is this ever explained?).


  • No, but it's physical transportation. Burroughs, as the narrator, describes John Carter relating the tale of one of the stories, I think it was Warlord of Mars (may have been Chessmen) to him in his study, wearing his metal harness from Barsoom.

    Do people from stranger places ever end up there?
    No, but Mars is filled with strange stuff all it's own, things other inhabitants have never seen.

    [*]Earthlings and better then martians at telepathy, once they learn how.
    Well, John Carter is, anyways, but he's special even compared to other earth men.

    [*]There are two extra "rays" of light on mars, one that can be used for flight and another that can be converted to atmosphere.
    I don't think they're meant to be light, but rays like x-rays or cosmic rays.

    [*]Some Earthlings also inexplicably live for a long time (is this ever explained?).
    No.

    What else?
    Well... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barsoom#Plot
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
X-rays, of course, are a form of light. Dunno if scientists knew that when he wrote.
 

DarkDungeons

The GM Is Your Friend.
X-rays, of course, are a form of light. Dunno if scientists knew that when he wrote.
More accurately, light and x-rays are both forms of electromagnetic radiation. Light is generally defined as EM radiation with a wavelength between approximately 400 nm and 700 nm, whereas X-Rays are between .01 and 10 nm

My point was that they're not visible rays. They're a form of EM radiation.
 
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wheloc

He's trying real hard to be one of the good guys.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I generally use "light" to refer to all electromagnetic radiation, and "visible light" to refer to the visible spectrum (not that anyone had any way of knowing this). Scientists knew (or at least strongly suspected) that x-rays were part of the EM spectrum when Burroughs was writing (though they might have been called "Rontgen rays"), but I don't know if Burroughs knew this. Regardless, here's a description of the atmosphere plant technicians amulet:

A Princess of Mars said:
...small collar of gold from which depended upon his chest a great ornament as large as a dinner plate set solid with huge diamonds, except for the exact center which was occupied by a strange stone, an inch in diameter, that scintillated nine different and distinct rays; the seven colors of our earthly prism and two beautiful rays which, to me, were new and nameless. I cannot describe them any more than you could describe red to a blind man. I only know that they were beautiful in the extreme
...which suggests to me that the rays were supposed to be "light" by either definition.
 

BigJackBrass

Two Separate Gorillas
Validated User
No, but it's physical transportation. Burroughs, as the narrator, describes John Carter relating the tale of one of the stories, I think it was Warlord of Mars (may have been Chessmen) to him in his study, wearing his metal harness from Barsoom.
These being pulp tales it's also contradictory, as A Princess of Mars implies that the transportation is not physical:

"And then the moonlight flooded the cave, and there before me lay my own body as it had been lying all these hours, with the eyes staring towards the open ledge and the hands resting limply upon the ground. I looked first at my lifeless clay there upon the floor of the cave and then down at myself in utter bewilderment; for there I lay clothed, and yet here I stood but naked as at the minute of my birth."

And this from the final chapter:

"Strange, stiff garments were upon my body - garments that cracked and powdered away from me as I rose to a sitting posture."

The suggestion is that Carter's body remains in the Arizona cave for an extended period of time, certainly some years and that the whole Martian experience is an "out of body" one, with his spiritual form taking on a physical presence once on Mars. It's not unreasonable to take it that, if the account is true, none of the Martian episode happened at all and instead Carter remained comatose and strangely preserved for years in the cave and imagined the whole thing. This assumes that you're only reading the first story, of course.

Really you can pick whichever explanation you prefer for the transfer and probably find justification for it at some point in the series :D Mind you, there are always going to be sticky points to consider. If it's a spiritual projection then why would gravity differences affect Carter? If it's a physical transportation then how is it done, how does the body survive the journey and why does it seem that Carter's physical form is still in the cave? My suggestion would be to keep an air of mystery around the details, just as ERB and other similar writers did: precise explanations aren't in the spirit of the stories.
 
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arjunstc

Registered User
Validated User
*spoiler alert*

The movie version has a "copy" of Carter on Mars, while his physical body remained on Earth in suspended animation. It is also stated that if his body on Earth is killed, his Martian copy will also die.
 

Inyssius

thermonuclear catsplosion
Validated User
No, but it's physical transportation. Burroughs, as the narrator, describes John Carter relating the tale of one of the stories, I think it was Warlord of Mars (may have been Chessmen) to him in his study, wearing his metal harness from Barsoom.
True, but not necessarily conclusive. At that time, he mentions that he had figured out the trick of it thanks to a conversation with Kar Komak, the imagined bowman. Which implies, but does not conclusively establish, that his method was based on the same process that created Kar Komak and everything else in Lothar.

Which is to say, based in psychic projection, not physical transportation, and rooted--at least, normally--in the mind of the projector. Kar Komak is unusual in that he was projected with such ferocious concentration that he became... well, as real as John Carter himself.

I suspect that the way John Carter has traveled between worlds is similar, that he seems dead on Earth because he had entirely divorced most of his mind from his body and projected it to Mars, where it understandably fell back on old habits and imagined a John Carter for itself to inhabit. That John Carter vanished from Mars at the end of the first book because it was no more than the construct of a disembodied mind. When the entirety of that mind went back to Earth, the construct simply ceased to be.

Likewise, when he went back to Earth in Chessmen, he pulled a similar trick, divorcing almost the entirety of the Martian John Carter's mind from the Martian John Carter's body and sending it to Earth, this time with the explicit intent of imagining a clothed John Carter to inhabit. At that time, I think there were three John Carters in the solar system; his original body on Earth (apparently dead, with very little mind left in it), a projection on Mars (apparently dead, with very little mind left in it), and a projection of that projection back on Earth again.

Presumably he could theoretically put less of his mind into the other selves he keeps imagining, and inhabit multiple worlds without leaving all these empty John Carters lying around (Kar Komak makes it clear that you can make a self-sustaining new person without launching your entire self out of your head), but he's new at this whole astral projection business. Cut him some slack. ;)

I haven't read any farther into the series than the beginning of Chessmen, though. Has anyone ever opened up the Earthly John Carter's tomb, only to find it empty? Because that would poke all sorts of holes in this theory.
 
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