Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Leigh Brackett's Black Amazon of Mars & Castles & Crusades The Castle Keeper's Guide Commentary

When it comes to Mars I turn to Leigh Brackett with a side of Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is going to be a Mars a more then slightly twisted Mars. Mars comes across as sort of Western planetary frontier to be tamed. The inner worlds are the 'new frontier' while the outer worlds out from the meteor belt are older, decadent, & very alien.
If we start using the Castle & Crusades  Castle Keeper's Guide to begin to flesh out the Martian landscape via Brackett & Burroughs something very interesting comes up. Humans are at a distinct disadvantage. 

Everyone talks about 'orcs' being one of the most dangerous races in D&D & its various incarnations. Green Martians make orcs look like Mary Poppins. Both Burroughs & Brackett's Mars is an ecological nightmare. There is never going to be any peace on the planet. Green Martians are highly adaptable, intelligent, & take to technology easily. They are also egg layers & vicious bastards with a code of honor similar to the Samurai of ancient Japan. That's where the similarities end. These are completely alien creatures to humanity.

 Green martian on his thoat.
Extract from an art by James Allen St. John
 from Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice BurroughsMcClurg, 1920.

Mars is a world  encourages such grand scale genocide for the sake of species survival & prosperity on the surface of the planet. We see this in Brackett's 'Black Amazon' of Mars has two such species in utter elemental contrast to one another. If we go with the fact that Burroughs yellow Martians exist along side of the 'Shining Ones'. Then perhaps this is a situation similar to what we find in Martin's Game of Thrones. Ancient alien kings of the world of Mars held at bay for the survival of the humanoids but still given reverence out of fear & for their wisdom.

Edgar Rice Burroughs A Princess of Mars describes hordes & tribes  of Green Martians pillaging their way across the surface of the planet. Could the Yellow Martian peoples have been paying homage to the 'Shining Ones' all this time for keeping these invading hordes at bay.
While Brackett doesn't give any origin for the 'Shining Ones' I would venture to guess that their alien origin is tied with the 'outer worlds' of the solar system. The 'Shining Ones' seem like their straight outta Clark Ashton Smith's Mars as well. These aliens feel like they'd fit right into the ancient war between  
The Aihai & the Yombis. These are invasive species of the Mythos whom mars tests with its genocidal ecology. We see this time & again in the world of plants & given particulars of  Vulthoom the plantlike 'Old One' of Mars this is no surprise. 
  • Dweller in the Gulf, The (1933)
  • Mnemoka (1955) Fragment
  • Vaults of Yoh-Vombis, The (1931)
  • Vulthoom (1935)
  • Seedling of Mars or The Planet Entity
  • Mars is a place of   decadence & utter ecological warfare. The fact is that I think that the human colonists of Mars would have completely & utterly under estimated the Green Martians. The Wiki entry for A Princess of Mars describes them; "The Green Martians are 15 feet tall, Burroughs wrote, adding from John Carter's observation of newly hatched children,
    They are nomadic, warlike, and barbaric; do not form families; have discarded concepts of friendship and affection (presumably in the name of survival); and enjoy torture. Their social structure is communal and rigidly hierarchical, with various levels of chiefs. The highest rank is the all-powerful Jeddak, who reaches this position through combat. They are tribal, and war among one another.[2][44] They are primitive, intellectually backwards, and have no art or written language. Any advanced technology they possess is stolen from the Red Martians. They inhabit the ancient ruined cities of Barsoom."
    So what if the Green Martians exterminated the ancient Martians because the cycle of Vulthoom the plantlike 'Old One' of Mars  got into a complete ecological disaster instead of its usual cycle of death & rebirth? 
    What might happen if there was an event that utterly caused them to go on a planetary wide campaign of destruction? A new invasive species called to Mars perhaps by the Great Old One?

    Brackett's 'Black Amazon' of Mars
     Available Right Here 

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