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Another Chapter in the
John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Series
John Coleman Burroughs'
Giant of Mars
This story was written by John Coleman Burroughs. It first appeared as a Big Little Book story in 1940. The text followed in the summary below was published in Amazing Stories Quarterly, Volume 1, no. 4 fall 1941. It was reprinted in Amazing Stories, January 1964. The first book edition of this tale was Canaveral Press, Inc., July 24, 1964. The first paperback edition was by Ballantine Books, April 1965.
The story was written in 14 short chapters.
Chapter One: Abduction
John Carter & Dejah Thoris ride a single thoat through the lonely Helium Forest to inspect their kingdom. They are attacked by an arbok, a tree reptile, and Dejah disappears. The thoat has been killed by a bullet from an atom gun, so Carter runs home to find a ransom note. He is to give up the iron works of Helium to Pew Mogel in three days or Dejah will lose her fingers. Kantos Kan and Tars Tarkas make plans for Dejah's rescue after quickly eliminating a spy who tries to kill Carter. Tars will go east; Carter will go west with Kantos Kan waiting at Helium with the entire air force on alert.
Chapter Two: The Search
John Carter was the leader of 24 fast, one-man scouts that scattered to cover all the territory in their district. At midnight Carter receives a message from Kantos Kan that Tars Tarkas has found Dejah in a deserted city on the banks of the Dead Sea at Korvas. Carter goes there to meet Tars at the main bridge as instructed where he is attacked by white apes. He escapes the apes but is picked up by a giant hand.
Chapter Three: Joog, the Giant
Joog, a 130-foot tall giant, carries John Carter to a ruined palace and puts him in a tower room. Carter hears a scream and wonders if it could be Dejah Thoris. He tries to move to an adjoining tower along a ledge while Joog sleeps at the foot of the tower, but the giant awakens and throws him back through the open window. Carter escapes from the room through a secret passage that takes him beneath the tower where he finds a strangely preserved red warrior, who turns to dust when he strikes his arm with his sword, and scores of beautiful women slaves similarly preserved. Carter is attacked by gigantic, three-legged Martian rats who stun him after a terrific half-hour battle and drag him down a tunnel.
Chapter Four: The City of Rats
John Carter is dragged by the rats to a huge underground cavern where the rats live in mud huts built on frameworks of human bones. He is brought before the King of Rats where thousands of rats perform a weird ring dance around mounds of human bones. Carter cuts the head off the King Rat and leaps 50 feet in the air to a stalactite, then escapes into a cave in the ceiling. Carter goes through a massive door into a gleaming white laboratory. Glass cages are filled with white apes with their heads swathed in bandages. A pit in the floor reveals red warriors with the tops of their heads neatly sliced off.
Chapter Five: Chamber of Horrors
John Carter finds a book, "Pew Mogel, His Life and Wonderful Works," but before he can look into it, he is instructed by a voice over a loudspeaker to go into a throne room where he meets a misshapen man, Pew Mogel. Pew has been observing Carter's progress by means of a television screen. Pew is a pupil and creation of Ras Thavas. He has a microcephalic head and is crafty but quite mad. He has no eyelids, so he can not blink. Pew Mogel shows Carter that Tars, Tarkas chained to a revolving pillar. They have both been trapped by a message from Pew. Pew Mogel's eye pops out, but he does not notice. He tells them he has created Joog from the flesh of 10,000 red men and white apes. He replaces his eye as he informs them he plans to transfer his brain into a more normal-looking body.
Chapter Six: Pew Mogel
Pew Mogel is one of Ras Thavas's synthetic men. He escaped from Morbus to set up his own laboratory and has plans to rule all of Barsoom. Pew has transferred the brains of red men criminals into the bodies of white apes to that they might escape detection. Joog is nearly indestructible because his tissues are rapidly self-repairing. He with the white ape-men make up the conquering army of Pew Mogel. Pew Mogel shows Carter Dejah Thoris chained to another revolving pillar. Her price of ransom is the Helium iron works, which he wants to make more weapons of war. John Carter leaps toward his mate, but is stopped by an invisible glass partition. Dejah is "tortured" by being kissed by a white ape. Pew tried to squeeze Carter between glass partitions, but he cuts his way out with his diamond ring. Pew then calls for Gore, a white ape.
Chapter Seven: The Flying Terror
Gore struggles with Carter but is kicked out a tower window to his death. Pew orders Joog to pick up Carter, so he is drawn through a window by a giant hand. He is taken to the arena and placed in a cage over a pit filled with water, then Tars and Dejah are brought by the giant and placed in similar cages on either side of him. Pew flies into the arena on a malagor. (A malagor is a huge, extinct Barsoomian bird recreated by Ras Thavas for his Hormads to ride in Synthetic Men of Mars.) Thousands of white apes that fill the arena mount malagors and circle above the caged trio. This is Pew's army. They are armed with small canons and sub-machine guns. Pew tells them they will soon be eaten by reptiles that swim in the pit below, then his army flies off toward Helium with Joog in tow carried in a sling by a hundred malagors.
Chapter Eight: The Reptile Pit
Carter learns from Tars that Pew has sent a false message to Kantos Kan drawing the airfleet of Helium away to the Great Toonolian Marshes a thousand miles away from the city. They are lowered into the water in the pit by a white ape, who promptly falls asleep. John Carter swings his cage back and forth until he can reach the sleeping guard and the key to the cages. After a brief struggle with the reptiles, they all escape. The undaunted trio fly on malagors to the City of Thark, inhabited by a hundred thousand green warriors over whom Tars Tarkas ruled. An army of green men mounted on thoats ride toward Helium at dawn of the following day led by Tars Tarkas himself. John and Dejah ride above them on a malagor.
Chapter Nine: Attack on Helium
Pew attacks Helium with all of his forces. Kantos Kan has taken the bait, so the fleet of Helium is gone, but a messenger has been sent on a malagor to bring them back. White apes fly over the city on their malagor dropping bombs on the nearly defenseless people. "Fifty thousand years of Martian learning and culture wrecked by a power-mad maniac -- himself the synthetic product of civilized man!" The next morning, the green men lead a desperate charge upon the city to save what might be left of it, when at the same moment the fleet of Helium appears. The green men on thoats have to fight the flying white apes as the fleet draws near, but just as it seems that they might be saved Joog appears holding a huge tree trunk in his mighty hand. In a steel howdah strapped to the top of Joog's helmet rides Pew Mogel. Twenty of Helium's ships are downed by a single blow of the giant.
Chapter Ten: Two Thousand Parachutes
The fleet regroups and spreads out to fight the giant, but his rapidly regenerating tissue is not affected by even thousands of bullet or ray wounds. "It is probable that he will live and grow forever unless something drastic is done to destroy him." Carter tells Tars to take his men into the mountains, then he flies to Kantos Kan and orders the fleet to retreat as well. Carter and Dejah have fought the entire battle together on the back of the malagor, which they now release. They need to re-form for a new attack. Carter orders up ten of the largest planes, each loaded with ten men and 200 parachutes.
Chapter Eleven: A Daring Plan
Carter is gone for 24 hours. When he gets back with the secretly prepared ships, Joog is still busy throwing boulders into the city. He tells Kantos Kan that when he sees the giant raise and lower his arms three times it will be time to carry out his orders. Carter bids a sad farewell to Dejah Thoris, then flies a speedy, one-man airship toward the giant.
Chapter Twelve: The Fate Of A Nation
Carter flies his ship down upon Pew Mogel's glass howdah from straight above and crashes through. Pew's left eye pops out, but he manages to sword fight with Carter, but not until he is able to give the signal to Kantos Kan. Looking out the window Pew gets a surprise.
Chapter Thirteen: Panic
The malagors panic when they see thousands of three-legged Martian rats descending in thousands of parachutes. The rats are their hereditary enemies. Tars attacks from the ground and the fleet of Helium commands the air now that the malagors have fled. Pew commands Joog to "Kill! Kill! Kill!" Carter cuts Pew's head off, but he still manages to swing his sword wildly and the head rolls around the floor. He can't be killed because he is a synthetic man. However, Pew's body walks out the open door, and Carter throws the head after it. Joog fights on, mowing down Carter's troops and planes. Finally, Carter gets the microphone that controls Joog's actions and commands him to stop. The white apes run for the mountains pursued by the green men and angry rats. John tells Joog to lie down, and he steps from the howdah. Then he tells Joog to "Go to Korvas." Joog snarls.
Chapter Fourteen: Adventure's End
Finally, Joog sighs and heads off for Korvas. Carter decides to set him free because he does not want more killing. Carter and his men got the rats into parachutes by knocking them out with smoke in their tunnels. They kept them unconscious with smoke until they released them in the air. There is a great feast in Helium for red men and green men alike. Tardos Mors gives a speech of thanks, and John Carter embraces Dejah Thoris under the moons of Mars.
The EndMaybe I'm not enough of a purist, but I rather enjoyed John Carter and the Giant of Mars. It may not have come from the pen of the Master, but it is certainly a good story in ERB's Wonder Realm. His son obviously knew what he was about in creating this clever, little fairy tale.
Jack Carter and the Giant
I'm not about to question the existence of three-legged rats on Barsoom. Maybe they are not exactly Ulsios, but they do give one pause as to their exact method of locomotion. Where is that third leg located on the body anyway? I picture them as hobbling about like broken mechanical toys wondering where God or Pew Mogel has gone wrong in his evolutionary plans. Kangaroos get around pretty well on two legs, so maybe they hop a lot. I think JCB was pulling our leg with this one.
Edgar Rice was given to exaggeration at times, and his son followed suit. Joog is a 130 foot tall giant -- much more than the one met by Jack The Giant Killer, who was only eighteen feet high.
Burroughs is fond of writing about giants. Tarzan himself is often described as a giant man, and the green men of Mars are giants compared with normal human beings. Tarzan is a giant when he first meets the Ant Men. I don't think that JCB was too far from his father's way of thinking when he wrote about Joog.
The entire story is a hoot: Pew Mogel riding around on the head of Joog in a howdah, truly acting like a Mogul on an elephant: the 2000 rats in parachutes scaring away the birds who carry an army of white apes. This is wonderful Oz stuff like so much of Burroughs in fact truly is. JCB didn't have recurring nightmares so far as we know, but he must have heard some great bedtime stories when he was a boy.
Unlike Odysseus, Carter treats the giant with some respect. Odysseus finds it necessary to put out the single eye of Polyphemos to escape from his cave, while in the Carter account it is the eye of Pew Mogel that keeps on falling out, so he is in effect the man with a single eye. Pew is slain, while Joog goes free. (For an interesting account of this theme I refer you to "Origins of the Sacred" by Dudley Young, who believes that the charges of cannibalism against Polyphemos are trumped up ones since he was clearly a shepherd who lived on milk before Odysseus came along.)
Joog doesn't loose his head like Pew Mogul. He just gets to go back home and wanders around in the dead city of Korvas, perhaps talking on the loudspeaker in Pew's throne room, wondering where the Wonderful Wizard has gone.
The giants in myths and fairy tales do usually like to eat people. The Cyclop in Homer's Odyssey did partake of man-meat, as Pope so aptly describes the gory feast:
" . . . his bloody hand Snatch'd two, unhappy! of my martial band; And dash'd like dogs against the stony floor: The pavement swims with brains and mingled gore. Torn limb from limb, he spreads his horrid feast, And fierce devours it like a mountain beast: He sucks the marrow, and the blood he drains, Nor entrails, flesh, nor solid bone remains."
In Jack and the Beanstalk we all recall the familiar refrain:
"Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Let him be alive, or let him be dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread."
I was a little taken aback that Joog did not want to eat anyone, but I suppose being created from the flesh of 10,000 red men and white apes does have its effects on normal giant behavior.
I suppose the City of Rats was gruesome enough for a Big Little Book in 1940. I know that my mother never read it to me. The rats do act like giants in that they have lots of human bones lying around. Jack the Giant Killer finds human skulls and bones all over the floor of Old Blunderbore's castle. King Rat loses his head to Jack Carter's sword, as does Pew Mogel. This is a particularly good way to finish off giants, as David in the 17th chapter of first Samuel knew when he lopped off Goliath's head after he knocked him out with a stone.
Like a good giant, Joog carried a club, or a tree trunk. No sub-machine guns for him. Jack the Giant Killer met the type:
"Though here you lodge with me this night, You shall not see the morning light; My club shall dash your brains out quite."
There are indeed mutilations galore in giant stories. Pew Mogel threatens to chop off Dejah Thoris's fingers, and the bandaged heads of the white apes tells of frightful operations. There is also the matter of giants dragging off their victims by the hair or hanging them by the hair in their castles, which occurs time and again in Jack The Giant Killer. Jack Carter is not treated this way, but he is cruelly grabbed by the hair and jerked into a cage by one of the white apes, so the theme is given its fair play.
The caged victim is also a theme in Jack The Giant Killer. He frees the captives, feeds them with the giant's own fare, and divides the giant's treasure among them. He has the advantage of an invisibility cloak that is used to good effect in another Martian tale mentioned below.
Many accounts of Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant-Killer may be found at:
This is a Project of the University of Southern Mississippi which contains a text and image archive containing several English versions of the fairy tales.
Chapter six, verse four, of Genesis in the Bible records that "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."
These "giants" were actually angels. One of them, Shemhazai, had two monstrous sons named Hiwa and Hiya whom daily ate a thousand camels, a thousand horses and a thousand oxen. These giants were called The Fallen Ones who later took to dining on human flesh. When God decided to wipe them out in Noah's flood, they were so tall that they stood above the waters, but they starved to death. This story is found in "The Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis" by Robert Graves and Raphael Patai.
The authors reckon that the Hebrews were encouraged to form legends about giants when they found megalithic monuments in Canaan. So too were formed Greek legends of giants by story-tellers ignorant of ramps, levers, and other Mycenaean engineering devices when they saw the walls of Tiryns, Mycenae and other ancient cities. This account seems rather disingenuous to me since it discounts the psychological meaning giants hold in the human psyche.
Another Talmudic source reveals that the giant sons of Shemhazai were named Og and Sihon, which may account for the naming of Joog. This Og escaped from Noah's flood by riding on the roof of the ark hidden under a gutter. (C.J. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, pages 460-1.) Og was also the King of Bashan and was later killed by Moses. Jung goes on to explain that Og and the unicorn are reminiscent of Behemoth and Leviathan -- personifications of the daemonic forces of nature. (Jung, 464).
So what is the meaning of the ubiquitous giant image in the realm of fairy tales? Bruno Bettelheim in his The Uses of Enchantment tells this mother's story.
" . . . she told him the tale of "Jack the Giant Killer. His response at the end of the story was: "There aren't any such things as giants, are there?" Before the mother could give her son the reassuring reply which was on her tongue -- and which would have destroyed the value of the story for him -- he continued, "But there are such things as grownups, and they're like giants." At the ripe old age of five, he understood the encouraging message of the story: although adults can be experienced as frightening giants, a little boy with cunning can get the better of them." (Bettelheim, 27).
Whatever Oedipal conflicts may be involved with JCB's version of the giant, Joog, they are somewhat mitigated by his final banishment to a dead city rather than the punishment meted out by Jack the Giant Killer, which most often involved decapitation and/or dismemberment.
A comparison of Joog and Ghron, the Spider of Ghasta in The Fighting Man of Mars might be made. Ghron was a giant who looked like a huge, black hairy ape. He lived in a black castle and was given to mutilation of his victims which involved torture and grilling. Like Jack, Hadron moves about with the use of an invisibility cloak, and he is held in an iron cage. Ghron is not punished for his wickedness, but Hadron's escape is effected in a hot air balloon filled with the heat from Ghron's smoking chimney.
Most stories about giants are closely linked with acts of dismemberment and a form of ritual cannibalism. The stories, at least in those by Burroughs, may be linked with a kind of ritual dance that leads to a change in the power structure among a given group of primitive creatures. Tarzan kills his ape father, Tublat, after a struggle over the dismembered ape (a Bolgani, which is a gorilla, the giant of the ape family) at the ring-dance of the Dum-Dum in chapter seven of Tarzan of the Apes.
Here Burroughs makes a bold statement concerning the Dum-Dum.
"From this primitive function has arisen, unquestionably, all the forms and ceremonials of modern church and state, for through all the countless ages, back beyond the last, uttermost ramparts of a dawning humanity our fierce, hairy forebears danced out the rites of the Dum-Dum to the sound of their earthen drums, beneath the bright light of a tropical moon in the depth of a mighty jungle which stands unchanged to-day as it stood on that long forgotten night in the dim, unthinkable vistas of the long dead past when our first shaggy ancestor swing from a swaying bough and dropped lightly upon the soft turf of the first meeting place."
From this statement one might believe that Burroughs had read Sigmund Freud's Totem and Taboo and ascribed to his theories of the primal horde. Dudley Young in his Origins of the Sacred, his search for the origins of human religion, also follows this line of reasoning, linking a dismemberment dance to the rise of the alpha-shaman -- the first priests.
So too, Frazer discovers in his The Golden Bough links between religion the burning of giant figures enclosed in wicker cages among the Druids during fire-festivals, which have continued to the present day in the spring and midsummer festivals of Europe. Frazer ascribes all of these cases as a primitive method of eliminating spells and witchcraft, which might be transformed in the case of the JCB story into the dark science of Pew Mogel, who performed unnatural experiments upon men and animals.
Frazer also notes that giants, or tall men in masks to represent demons, are employed by some primitive peoples in the initiation ceremonies of boys entering puberty. These boys are ritually killed and eaten, then return to their people as transformed men of the tribe. Thus, the fairy tale story of a giant even in the Big Little Book version of John Carter and the Giant of Mars, one presumably written for children, provides us with a story of coming of age.
~ Nkima ~ October 20, 2000
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