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Literature / Amtor

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The first novel of the series.
Amtor, known on Earth as the planet Venus, is the setting of a Planetary Romance series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. The hero of the series is Earth-man Carson Napier, who travels to Amtor in the first novel of the series, Pirates of Venus.

Burroughs completed four novels in the series, each of which was published as a magazine serial before being collected in book form. He began work on a fifth in the early 1940s but abandoned it in favor of working as a war correspondent when the USA entered World War II. The completed first section of the novel was published as a short story after his death.

  1. Pirates of Venus (magazine 1932, book 1934)
  2. Lost on Venus (magazine 1933, book 1935)
  3. Carson of Venus (magazine 1938, book 1939)
  4. Escape on Venus (magazine 1941, book 1946)
  5. "The Wizard of Venus" (1964)

This series contains examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Carson in the early books; he is a novice with most Amtorian weapons and knows next to nothing about the various beasts he encounters, but manages to survive time and time again.
  • The Ageless: The people of Vepaja are ageless thanks to an anti-aging serum.
  • Alien Princess: Duare, Green-Skinned Space Babe, and Princess of Venus. She becomes the Love Interest of Carson Napier, an Earthling who made it to Venus by mistake. She also expresses dissatisfaction with her people's customs
  • Amazon Brigade: The women of the Samary people do all of the hunting and warfare, kill strange men on sight, and only (barely) tolerate their own men for procreation's sake. Samary men are smaller than their women and rely on them to provide food and protection.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: After spending the entire first novel denying any affection for him, Duare gives one to Carson at the end of Pirates of Venus when he is facing imminent capture and she is unwillingly being carried to safety by the last surviving angan. Once they are reunited in the following book, she insists that she didn't really mean it.
  • Artificial Zombie: Skor's experiments in Lost on Venus allows him to reanimate dead bodies to act as his subjects.
  • Badass Bookworm: Carson builds a spaceship capable of reaching Venus (originally intended to reach Mars) in the 1930’s with only a few years’ experience in rocketry at most and is able to speak Amtorian conversationally after about three weeks’ worth of tutelage. He is also a former stuntman, single-handedly kills a targo on his first outing into the forest, leads a successful slave uprising after being taken prisoner by the Thorists, and is able to tread water for hours after falling overboard in a storm.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: A subversion; the people of Havatoo are uncommonly beautiful and quite pleasant, but this is because they zealously weed out physical and psychological defects from the population. Carson is initially sentenced to death because they are afraid he might contaminate the gene pool generations down the line.
  • Bird People: The klangan (literally "bird men" in the Amtorian language).
  • Boarding Party: Carson's preferred modus operandi as a pirate is to get as close to his target as possible without arousing suspicion and then overwhelm the opposing crew with sheer weight in numbers. This is understandable as his first raid is as much a rescue mission to save Duare as anything else, and most subsequent raids are conducted to capture supplies and valuable prisoners from Thorist ships.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Carson tasks an angan with carrying Duare back to his ship to prevent her from being recaptured by the Thorists. However, because the angan was part of the group that kidnapped Duare from the ship in the first place, he is afraid of being killed by the vengeful crew and instead turns her back over to the Thorists.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The Thorists lock Carson in the Room of Seven Doors, a Cliché Storm of death traps, but nobody bothers to monitor the room from the outside to make sure any of them actually work, allowing Carson to find a means of escape.
  • Canon Welding: The series is explicitly part of The 'Verse Burroughs had previously established by welding together the Pellucidar, Tarzan, and John Carter of Mars series, all of which share the premise that Burroughs is acting as an intermediary for the accounts of the heroes. When Carson Napier visits to ask Burroughs to be his intermediary as well, Burroughs is receiving an update on the doings in Pellucidar from Jason Gridley.
  • Conlang: The series has quite a bit of Amtorian words mixed in with English, with Carson occasionally explaining the nuances of the language to the reader.
  • Cool Plane: The Anotar (literally “Bird-ship”), an airplane Carson builds in Lost on Venus using Amtorian technology. It is completely silent, never needs refueling, has retractable wheels and pontoons to land on both land and sea, seats four and can be flown from any of the four seats. During the siege of Sanara, it is converted into a bomber to attack Zani positions.
  • Damsel in Distress: Duare is almost constantly being captured and needing to be rescued by Carson.
    • Nalte also spends the good majority of her appearances either captured or evading capture.
  • Death Trap: The Room of Seven Doors is basically a this trope up to eleven: six of the seven doors lead to various different death traps, with even more traps inside the room to encourage the victim to try to make an escape. Among these include:
    • Fed to the Beast: One door leads to a chamber containing a beast known as a tharban.
    • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Another leads to a hallway with dozens of spikes that pop out of the walls when the victim steps on a spring mechanism on the floor.
    • Kill It with Fire: One door leads to a hallway where the victim gets roasted alive.
    • The Walls Are Closing In: With the added twist that the walls are designed to close so slowly as to be almost imperceptible, drawing out the victim's death as long as possible.
    • Snake Pit: The main room itself begins filling with dozens of giant snakes within minutes of Carson being locked inside.
  • Death World: Practically every creature Carson encounters is a vicious predator attempting to make a meal of him, and the entire planet is divided into numerous warring factions.
  • Direct Line to the Author: At the beginning of the series, Burroughs claims to be basing the stories on accounts received telepathically from Carson Napier on Venus (who oddly enough, rarely uses his psychic powers for anything other than giving Burroughs infodumps).
  • Door Roulette: The Room of Seven Doors in Lost on Venus. Only one of the room's doors led to safety; all the others were deathtraps. (Once the jailers brought you in and left, the lights went out and the floor spun for a while so you'd lose track of which was the safe door.) Food and drink were provided — most of it poisoned. Oh, and to discourage hesitation, after a while dangerous snakes started slithering in.
  • The Dreaded: Carson's plane becomes this simply because most Amtorians have no idea what the hell it is and refuse to go anywhere near it.
  • Exact Words: Skor's undead minions are twice fooled by Carson, Duare, and Nalte because they are too stupid to do anything other than follow his orders to the letter. First, they are told to find look for three people in hiding, but Carson in the girls fool them by sitting out in the open. The second time, after the undead discover the trio have been disguised as elderly people, the heroes simply ditch their disguises and walk right past them.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Carson’s trip to Mars is immediately derailed because he forgot to factor the Moon into his calculations, and is thrown off-course by its gravitational pull. He even lampshades it:
    "With all our careful calculation, with all our checking and rechecking, we had overlooked the obvious; we had not taken the Moon into consideration at all."
  • Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: Carson frequently likens the tharban to a lion.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Skor’s undead subjects openly state that they would prefer to return to the oblivion of death over the artificial life that Skor’s experiments gave them.
  • Gender-Blender Name: The men of the Samary tribes have effeminate-sounding names like Lula, Vyla, and Ellie. This is probably deliberate as the Samaryans seem to flip traditional gender roles (the women are warriors and hunters, while the men make sandals and loincloths). When Carson first meets Lula, Lula finds Carson to be a more feminine name (by Samary standards) than his own.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: After Carson inherits a considerable fortune from his mother (via his great-grandfather), he becomes a pilot and a Hollywood stuntman before travelling the world, learning rocketry in Germany and eventually deciding to build a rocket to carry him into space.
  • Giant Spider: The targo which are native to Venus. The Venusians gather their webs, called tarel, which has thousands of uses.
  • Girl in the Tower: Nalte in Lost on Venus.
  • Gladiator Games: The city of Havatoo hosts such games at least monthly, with an annual event known as the “Great War Game”: two teams of 100 men armed with swords and shields trying to capture each other’s queen as many times as possible in an hour, like some macabre game of capture the flag. When Carson questions how the normally pacifistic and cultured people of Havatoo can enjoy such spectacle, Ero Shan claims that the city’s lack of conflict necessitates the games to act as outlets for the citizen’s more primal urges.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Duare of Vepaja, the Venusian princess and Carson Napier's love interest.
  • Guile Hero: Carson is just as likely to solve his problems with his wits as he is with a weapon.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Carson, being the only blonde on the entire planet of Venus and the hero of the series.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Former slave Zog admits to Carson that he had more freedom as a slave with a benevolent master than as a supposedly free man under Thorist rule, and would willingly go back to being a slave if he could choose his master.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: When disguised as an Amtorian in Carson of Venus, Carson briefly adopts the alias of Homo Sapiens (Homo for short).
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: While hiding from Skor’s undead minions among a group of elderly living people, Carson, Duare, and Nalte use makeup to make themselves appear older. When the undead search the house they are in, they make no effort to hide and the undead (not being remotely intelligent) hardly pay attention to them as they’re so focused on looking for hidden persons.
  • Honor Before Reason: Arguably one of Carter's biggest flaws:
    • Despite being a novice with an Amtorian sword, Carson insists on engaging the captain of the Sovong in a swordfight rather than shoot him after he’d disarmed the captain of his pistol. Carson spends the entire fight on the defensive and only wins by pure luck.
    • Carson refuses to kill a barely conscious and completely helpless Skor, despite Skor being a foul necromancer.
    • Carson begins to get suspicious about the message Muso tasks him with delivering, but continues his assignment out of a sense of duty. Only when he learns that Muso has ties to Mephis, the leader of the Zani, does he finally see fit to read the message and discover Muso’s treachery.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Carson puts a man he just met in charge of single-handedly guarding a very valuable political prisoner. Even when Carson walks in on the pair of them behaving suspiciously, Carson gives the man the benefit of the doubt until the pair of them escape with Duare
  • Human Aliens: The people of Vepaja slightly resemble Middle-Easterns on Earth.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The River of Death, which separates Havatoo and Kormor. So named because of the Inevitable Waterfall just downstream of the two cities.
    • Kormor itself is sometimes referred to as the City of the Dead.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: The Vepajans consume an anti-aging serum that extends their lifespan and allows them to live indefinitely. Half their women are also infertile, and the other half is allowed to breed a limited number of children to avoid overpopulation.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Carson shoots a fleeing animal from the cockpit of his airplane with a pistol.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: When their efforts to cross the aptly-named River of Death in a crude raft fail, Nalte informs Carson that Skor mentioned a waterfall not far downstream from where they are. Subverted in that they manage to get ashore before they ever see the falls, though they are close enough to hear it.
  • Jack of All Trades: Before he leaves Earth, Carson has already worked as an aviator, stuntman, rocket engineer, and astronaut.
  • Language Equals Thought: Discussed; because the skies of Venus are perpetually cloudy, the Venusians have no concept of anything beyond their own atmosphere and thus no words to describe things like the sun, space, stars and planets. Carson finds it difficult to convince people that he is from another planet.
  • Martial Pacifist: Carson always gives his opponents the opportunity to surrender peacefully, and makes it a point of emphasis that he will not tolerate his men engaging in needless slaughter. He also refuses to kill an unarmed and unconscious man, even when he is completely justified in doing so.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The Samaryan people consist of brutish, Amazonian women and frail, timid men.
  • Meaningful Name: The name of the ship that Carson takes command of in Pirates of Venus is Sofal, which translates to "Killer", something that Carson notes is highly appropriate for a pirate ship.
    • Carson's plane from later in the series is called the Anotar, which translates to "bird ship".
  • Mighty Whitey: Carson Napier gets thrust into a "savage" environment and thrives.
  • Morton's Fork: Prisoners accused of treason by the Zanis are given the option to confess, in which case they are executed for teason. If not, they are executed for impeding justice.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Duare is certainly an In-Universe example. According to Carson, most people they meet are startled by her beauty.
  • Multicultural Alien Planet: Amtor is culturally diverse, with at least half a dozen different nations and cultures depicted.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The primary villains of Carson of Venus are the militaristic, dictatorial Zani Party, complete with an incompetent ally from a nearby city named Muso.
  • No Kill like Overkill: The Room of Seven Doors runs on this trope, given that six of the seven doors lead to death traps, six of the seven different foods and drinks in the room are poisoned, all of the furniture in the room is embedded with metal spikes, snakes are released into the room within minutes of the prisoner being locked inside, and there is a noose hanging from the ceiling in case the condemned would rather take their own life rather than deal with any of the unpleasant deaths that await them behind the doors.
  • Not Quite Dead: Kamlot is bitten by a targo on Carson’s first expedition to collect tarel and apparently dies. Carson carries his body through the trees and down to ground level for the better part of a day, digs a grave and is about to bury him when he notices that Kamlot is still breathing.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: An in-universe aversion; Carson’s captors take great pains in describing each of the Room of Seven Doors' various death traps contained within, particularly the fifth door, which leads to a room containing a tharban (an animal Carson had never before heard of), with one of the captors even commenting that he thinks it would be more terrifying if Carson knows what it is than if he remains ignorant.
  • Older Than They Look: Because the serum of longevity stops the natural aging process, everyone who takes it maintains the appearance of someone in their physical prime, even if they are several hundred years old.
  • Panthera Awesome: The tharban, an animal that Carson frequently compares to a lion.
  • Perma-Shave: The Venusians naturally don’t grow any facial hair. Carson accepts a salve from Danus that permanently removes his facial hair after seeing how negatively Duare reacts to the sight of a man with a beard.
  • Pirates: Pirates of Venus.
  • Planetary Romance
  • Ray Gun: Venusians have two types: those that shoot out "R-rays" (which destroy living tissue) and those that fire "T-rays" (which destroy everything except a few specific materials), with weapons ranging in size from handheld pistols to naval artillery pieces.
  • Rebellious Princess: Duare occasionally shows elements of this, admitting to Carson that she has grown tired of her people's customs forcing her to live in isolation from the rest of the world until she comes of age.
  • Significant Anagram: The main villains in Carson of Venus are the Zani Party.
  • Society of Immortals: The Vepajans become immortal thanks to a life-extending drug that slows down aging indefinitely.
  • Solar System Neighbors: The Amtorians.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Burroughs' earlier Planetary Romance series, John Carter of Mars. Whereas John Carter was a former soldier who ends up on Mars through no action of his own, Carson Napier is a Gentleman Adventurer that reached Venus with a rocket of his own design. Due to Mars' lower gravity, John is the World's Strongest Man on his adopted home on top of being a Master Swordsman, allowing him to cleave his way through hordes of enemies, whereas Carson is more of a Guile Hero with no superhuman abilities. Both men have eternal youth, but Carson aquired his from a Venusian doctor, while John's youth is never explained, as even he has no idea how old he is. Mars is a vast desert and implied to be a dying world, while Venus is covered with vast seas and lush forests. The Martians are shown to be aware of Earth and its inhabitants, while Venusians, living beneath a perpetually cloudy sky, have no concept of anything beyond their own atmosphere.
  • Stripperiffic: Any Amtorian (Venusian), male or female, will wear a belt and weapons harness (male), jewelry (female) and that's pretty much it. Even when they're going into battle.
  • Take a Third Option: Facing likely death in the Room of Seven Doors, Carson uses a noose suspended from the ceiling to climb up to the rafters, where he discovers a way out of the building he is being kept prisoner in.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: The Samaryan people consist of large Amazonian women and short, frail men.
  • Unintentional Backup Plan: Carson's original plan is to travel to Mars, but he immediately gets thrown off-course by the Moon's gravity and is flung other direction. By pure chance, he manages to land on Venus, which is home to a race of humanoid aliens not unlike what he was hoping to find on Mars.
  • Uriah Gambit: Muso, acting jong of Korva in Carson of Venus, is jealous of Taman, the next in line for the throne and a very popular figure with all classes within Sanara. Muso sens him on a dangerous assignment behind enemy lines, which Carson suspects was merely an attempt to take Taman out of the picture.'
  • Venus Is Wet: Amtor is an oceanic world with a tropical climate.
  • What Measure Is A Nonhuman: Most of the people of Amtor (Carson included) don't seem to think of the klangan as anything more than birds that can talk.

Alternative Title(s): Pirates Of Venus, Lost On Venus, Carson Of Venus, Escape On Venus