Friday, August 17, 2012

The Green Martians

Green Martians live in the desert areas of Barsoom. They assemble in great tribes which John Carter refers to as hordes, evoking the Mongols of his home world. Prominent Green Martian tribes include the Tharks, Thurds, Torquas, and Worhoons. Green Martian hordes roam the dry sea beds of the Red Planet, raiding other tribes as well as Red Martian settlements and cities. They make their homes in the abandoned cities of long forgotten Red Martian kingdoms.

The Green Martians have a double torso, with a total of four arms and two legs. Their head is fearsome; with two large tusks that curve upwards from their lower jaws. They have two antenna-like ears near the top of their heads. Males are up to 15' tall, and females are usually in the 8-10' range.

Green Martians reproduce by laying eggs, which then incubate for up to five years. A tribe will destroy an enemy horde's eggs with great relish whenever their rivals' incubators are discovered. For this reason, hordes often sequester their eggs within incubators in disguised locations, and then move on, checking back periodically to ensure the safety of their clutch of future offspring. Hatchlings are distributed to females to care for according to their ability. In this practice, as in many others, the Green Martians practice a primitive form of communism. This is one of the many reasons that the Red Martians both fear and despise the Green Martians, viewing them as barbarians without the capacity for  individualism, art, culture, or industry.

But take a closer look and you will see a deeper truth. It is the Red Martians who produce nothing new.  To be sure, they are beautiful, civilized, sensuous, and decadent. For this reason, they share many attributes with H.G. Wells' beautiful, childlike Eloi*.

While it is true that the Red Martians maintain Mars' atmosphere factories, as well as the vast canals and agricultural systems required to maintain their cities, these systems are in reality the creations of very distant ancestors from long-gone civilizations. All of these ancient creations would be impossible for the Red Martian to build today. It is likely these systems will gradually decline, which will leave the Red Martians in a very ecologically precarious situation. This decline is worsened by the fact that, the primary preoccupation of the Red Martians is the endless pursuit of war against both their own kind and other races. (And we don't deny that this is a Green Martian proclivity as well!)

In contrast though, the Green Martians have some things in common with the Morlocks. While the Green Martians are not captains of industry, they have developed a much greater mastery of their environment than the Red Martians have. They have learned how to survive in Mars' harsh wilderness environments. They have learned how to "repurpose" the ancient abandoned cities for the Red Martians for their own culture and survival. They fashion weapons and have even mastered some quite sophisticated ones - the radium rifles. It would be interesting to know whether they made these or secured them from raids or trade. Above all, the Green Martians have learned how to make make Barsoom their own. Once the canal systems fail, the Green Martians will survive for much longer on Mars than the Red Race will.

*I am grateful to Eleanor Arnason for making the Eloi vs. Morlock comparison with the Red vs. Green Martians in our panel on Planetary Romances at Diversicon 20. She also posited that the Green Martians will survive longer on Mars, due to their mastery of the environment.

Green Martian stats for Diaspora and Starblazer Adventures follow in the next posts.

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