Floating fourth from a distant sun in the inky depths of a parallel universe was Barsoom, the Red Planet. Its five mighty oceans once stood tribute to the life giving rivers and springs that supported the lush flora of this world. At that time, the continents were devoid of any form of intelligent animal life except for a single source deep within the Valley Dor. All this was twenty million years ago, when the hope of Barsoom lay in the fruit of the Tree of Life.
“For countless ages the fruit of the Tree of Life underwent the gradual changes of evolution, passing by degrees from true plant life to a combination of plant and animal. In the first stages the fruit of the tree possessed only the power of independent muscular action, while the stem remained attached to the parent plant; later a brain developed in the fruit, so that hanging there by their long stems they thought and moved as individuals. Then with the development of perceptions came a comparison of them; judgments were reached and compared, and thus reason and the power to reason were born upon Barsoom.
“Ages passed. Many forms of life came and went upon the Tree of Life, but still all were attached to the parent plant by stems of various lengths. At length the fruit tree consisted in tiny plant men, such as we now see reproduced in such huge dimensions in the Valley Dor, but still hanging to the limbs and branches of the tree by the stems which grew out of the tops of their heads.
“The buds from which the plant men blossomed resembled large nuts about a foot in diameter, divided by double partition walls into four sections. In one section grew the plant man, in another a sixteen legged worm, in the third the progenitor of the white ape and in the fourth, the primaeval black man of Barsoom.
“When the bud burst the plant man remained dangling at the end of the stem, while the other three sections fell to the ground, where the efforts of their imprisoned occupants sent them hopping about in all directions.” (GM, VII)
From the descendants of these buds arose the Green Martian and the three principle races of Barsoom; the First Born, yellow Martians, and the white Martians. The peak of the Martian civilization was reached over one hundred thousand years ago when the sailing ships of the fair-skinned Martians ruled the planet’s five mighty oceans. A race of brave men and beautiful women, they prospered and their ancient empire stretched from pole to pole. Under the leadership of the white Martians, architecture, literature and the esoteric arts reached a pinnacle that has not been reclaimed..
A sophisticated race of builders, artists and merchants, the glory of the ancient Martians was lost forever. Their planet was dying, the atmosphere was thinning and the Red Planet’s oceans were slowly evaporating. The docks of their opulent cities were extended in a vain attempt to keep pace with the receding waters, but soon all the bays and most of the rivers were dry.
Although famine and disease took their toll, greater mortality arose from the conflict that arouse when the savage green hordes were no longer restrained by natural boundaries. Previous enemies now cooperated and they slowly developed the capacity to become oviparous as well as telepathic. “The result was a partial amalgamation of the blacks, whites and yellows, the result of which is seen in the splendid race of red men.” (GM, XII)
The handsome and cunning black race migrated to the tropical South Pole and prospered upon the loot of piracy. The yellow Martians established a secret kingdom in the planet’s frozen North Pole. The white race is nearly extinct, and their descendants, the evil therns, are a “race of mental giants and moral pygmies.” (GM, IV)
A soft, ochre moss now covers most of the surface of the Barsoom with the exception of the poles and the cultivated districts of the red men, which are inter-connected by a complex network of canals. The oxygen level of the Red Planet’s environment is maintained by the great atmosphere plant built by red Martian scientists many years ago. With the advent of the aerial battleship, the green Martian hordes have been confined to the dead sea bottoms and the ruins of ancient seaports.
Nights upon Barsoom are very cold as the thin atmosphere of the planet does little to retain heat. The twin moons brilliantly illuminate the night sky when they both appear; otherwise, the nights can be very dark. Dawn and dusk have a rapid onset and the days are hot. In the orange skies of the Red Planet there are few clouds. The landscape is smooth; there are occasional rolling hills and few peaks exceed 4,000 feet in height.
IMAGE is from Joe Jusko