|Ace 1964, Frank Frazetta|
In this narrative, an American Navy lieutenant named Gullivar Jones finds himself somewhat magically-whisked away (via "magic carpet") to a fictional version of Mars (replete with oceans and vegetation) populated by two contrasting humanoid societies. When Jones first lands, he encounters the Hither folk, a frail, fairy-like race who spend most of their time avoiding work, getting drunk and generally having a festive time. In short order, he adapts to their lifestyle and becomes infatuated with a Hither woman named Heru (a Princess of the city Seth). However, Heru is soon kidnapped by the Thither folk, a "barbarian" people who levy severe taxes on the Hither folk and frequently take beautiful Hither women as tribute to their leader, King Ar-hap.
|Bison Frontiers of Imagination 2003, Thomas Floyd|
Jones soon goes on a quest across the Martian landscape in order to rescue his lost lover. On the way, he encounters exotic Martian beasts and various forms of lethal vegetation. Interestingly, he also begins to find common ground with the more "manly" Thither folk he encounters, although when he reaches Ar-hap's realm he doesn't hesitate to facilitate Princess Heru's release. Later in the final sequence, when Ar-hap's forces raid Seth in an effort to retrieve their King's stolen prize, Jones helps Heru escape once again, but he himself ends up in a much different relationship than the reader might expect considering the preceding events.
It may be interesting to compare Arnold's Hither and Thither folk with H.G. Wells' Eloi and Morlock races from The Time Machine, published ten years earlier. A satirical subtext might be sensed in Arnold's depiction of the two races, just as Wells' novel satirized the class struggle in England of his time (and Burroughs' Martian conflicts will later seem to evoke the struggle for dominance in North America between native Americans and European colonials).
|George Bell & Sons 1905|
- While on leave in New York City, a U.S. Navy lieutenant named Gullivar Jones walks into a dark alley and sees a strange little man fall out of a carpet hovering in the air. Discovering the man to have died in the fall, Jones takes the "oriental" rug back to his apartment for safekeeping. Bored and seeking adventure, on a whim he declares that he wishes he were on Mars. The carpet immediately rolls Jones up inside of its bulk and carries him out the window toward space.
- Jones is eventually thrown from the rug to land amidst a group of short, fragile-looking humanoids, somewhat "fairy-like" in appearance and build. When he shows ignorance of the language, a youth named An uses a form of mesmerism to instill in Jones a familiarity with the local language. After some more conversation, Jones is stunned to learn that he is indeed on the planet Mars.
- An (who turns out to be a female servant) leads Jones to a floating skiff where she intends to take Jones to the ivory city of Seth, located downstream. On the way, they run into the processional barge of Prince Hath, the ruler of Seth. During the encounter, Jones gets an opportunity to rescue the beautiful Princess Heru from drowning after she is knocked overboard.
- The next day, Jones learns that An's "Hither" folk's only enemies are the savage "Thither" folk (led by a ruler named King Ar-hap), who once possessed the lands they now occupy. Later, An and Jones return to the tents and markets beyond the palace and become intoxicated into a sense of laxity, joining the rest of the indolent (but good-natured) Martians.
- Some time later, Jones enters a contest against a "magician" who is able deflect javelins with his mind. Somehow, Jones is able to strike the magician with his hurled spear. As evening falls, Jones attends a ceremonial reading of the future overseen by Princess Heru. When Heru's white globe of prophecy turns dark red (signalling disaster and causing Heru great distress), Jones knocks down the mechanism, freeing her from her trance.
- Later in the palace, Jones spends some time with the Princess who is now infatuated with him. Jones asks Heru to read to him a book titled "The Secrets of the Gods", which describes the origin of the universe. However, when she stops at the sound of a dinner bell, he becomes annoyed and leaves the palace.
- After witnessing a funeral ritual in which the dead are sent floating down a river to an unknown destination, Jones attends a community wedding ceremony, where Princess Heru manages to arrange for Jones to be selected as her groom. Unfortunately, raiders from the barbarian Thither folk arrive to kidnap Heru for King Ar-hap. Although he tries to save her, Jones finds himself too drunk to stop them and is knocked out.
- Upon regaining consciousness the next day, Jones rushes to the harbor to intercept the barbarians before they can depart with Princess Heru. Outnumbered, he is knocked into the water. He eventually manages to tow himself to an unknown shore with the help of a mountain elk swimming by.
- That night, Jones observes a battle between two elephant-sized, rat-like creatures, but is fortunately himself unscathed. The next day, he discovers a small fishing encampment and poses as a "spirit" before an young female fisher. He learns that in order to seek out the "woodsmen" (Thither people) he must go further north.
- After a couple days of traveling, Jones reaches a Thither fishing village where he is shown how Martians grow their boats from plants, forcing them to grow inside pre-molded hull shapes.
- After he is given a canoe, Jones accidentally finds himself wandering onto the wintry, black river of the dead. Caught in the current and surrounded by ships of the recently-deceased, he and his craft are drawn into a lake, where he escapes to shore just as the river goes down a fall. In the surrounding cliffs, he sees the petrified remains of many dead Hither folk.
- While making camp in a cave, Jones is attacked by a resurrected Martian noble unexpectedly thawed out by his fire. After killing the Martian (and pocketing his gold-encrusted jawbone), he climbs down the waterfall and discovers a lower pit where he spies a Thither woodsman collecting trinkets of the dead. After a brief struggle, Jones convinces the woodsman thief that he is a thawed ice-spirit, and has him show the way back to the surface snow-fields.
- Together, the two travelers reach a woodsman village surrounded by desolation. A woodcutter friend leads him towards the path to King Ar-hap's realm, but on the way Jones nearly falls prey to a carnivorous plant.
- While spending a warm evening with the woodcutter, the man warns Jones of the palace of Queen Yang, whose suicide was accompanied by the execution of 1000 children. The next day, Jones heads off alone in the direction of King Ar-hap's palace. After a brief fight with an excitable spear-maker, Jones gets lost. After following the strange sounds of children weeping, he winds up in the abandoned Hither city which he had been warned away from earlier.
- After making his way into the forbidding city by following a procession of strange bluish lights, Jones spends the night in the ruined castle of Princess Yang. Fortunately, he only experiences strange dreams. The next day he departs the haunted grounds with Queen Yang's jeweled crown, intending to give it to Heru. He eventually finds his way to a port village where he gets further directions to Ar-hap's palace.
- Jones obtains passage on a ship which turns out to be carrying tribute from the Hither people to Ar-hap. Once he arrives, he meets Si, another of Ar-hap's Hither slaves who, like the other Thither people, believes Jones to be a spirit. While trying to come up with a plan to save Heru, a comet passes by Mars, causing a heat wave.
- During a confrontation, Ar-hap challenges Jones to prove his spirit power by retrieving the golden jawbone of a lost Hither king and the crown of Queen Yang through his spirit powers. Jones soon produces both items, but before he can gain possession of Heru, King Ar-hap is called away to attend to a ritual to "pray away" the approaching comet.
- In the ensuing days, the comet gets closer and closer until death seems inevitable. However, at the last second (just before Jones falls on his own sword), the comet veers away. During the following thunderstorm, Jones spirits Heru out to the nearest port and, despite a brief tussle with one of the guards, escapes out to sea with Heru.
- Although Jones and Heru are pursued by Ar-hap's soldiers, they manage to evade them with the help of the mist lying on the sea and with aid from a friendly rural couple Jones had befriended earlier. They soon arrive back in Seth.
- A celebration erupts when news of Heru's safe return spreads. The next day, another ceremony takes place with the crystal globe to divine the nature of Seth's future. Unfortunately, at that moment Ar-hap and his soldiers arrive and begin attacking the city. Jones helps Heru's servants escort her away to an escape canoe while Jones tries to rouse Prince Hath. After Hath is killed by an arrow, Jones flees back into the castle but becomes lost and ends up trapped in a storeroom. Fortunately, the storeroom also holds the rolled-up carpet which had brought him to Mars in the first place. Using another mental command, Jones makes the carpet take him back to New York (after which the rug disappears). Later, Jones reunites with his fiance Polly, who, despite her misgivings about Heru, urges Jones to publish his adventure in a book.
|New English Library 1977, Joe Petagno|