The Complete Space Adventure Books of Otis Adelbert Kline – All 8 Novels in One Edition - Otis Adelbert Kline - ebook

The Complete Space Adventure Books of Otis Adelbert Kline – All 8 Novels in One Edition ebook

Otis Adelbert Kline



This unique collection of "The Complete Space Adventure Books of Otis Adelbert Kline – All 8 Novels in One Edition" has been designed and formatted to the highest digital standards. Otis Adelbert Kline was an adventure and science-fiction novelist, best known for his interplanetary adventure novels set on Venus and Mars, which instantly became science-fiction classics. Introduction Writing the Fantastic Story The Venus Trilogy The Planet of Peril The Prince of Peril The Port of Peril The Mars Series The Swordsman of Mars The Outlaws of Mars Other Tales Maza of the Moon The Man from the Moon A Vision of Venus

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Otis Adelbert Kline

The Complete Space Adventure Books of Otis Adelbert Kline – All 8 Novels in One Edition

The Complete Venus Trilogy, The Swordsman of Mars, The Outlaws of Mars, Maza of the Moon...

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ISBN 978-80-272-2421-0

Table of Contents

The Venus Trilogy
The Mars Series
Other Tales


Table of Contents


Table of Contents

WRITING, with me, is a semi-subjective process. I mean by this that I find it necessary, at times, to wait for that temperamental and elusive entity, my Muse, to cooperate with me. Every day I try to write, and I mean try. But some days I produce only a few hundred words fit for nothing but filing in the wastebasket. And on the other hand I have, in a single day, produced six or seven thousand words of marketable copy.

So this, the problem of successfully wooing the Muse, is the one which I find most difficult of solution. I have a profound admiration for writers who can sit down at their desks, day after day, and, without fail, bat out two or three thousand words of good, salable material in two or three hours. Most of them will tell you this is the result of practice—of continuous trying. But I’ve been trying for ten years, and selling stories for eight, and today my Muse is as obstinate and capricious as ever.

Although I had previously written songs, plays, and moving picture scenarios, my first inspiration for writing fiction, strange as it may seem, came from reading books on psychology. And that reading was the result of some previous incidents in my life, so perhaps I had better begin a little farther back.

When I graduated from high school, I decided that I would launch on a musical career, and gave up my plans for going to college. I became a professional songwriter. I also tried my hand at plays and moving picture scenarios, and wrote vaudeville sketches and even plots for burlesque shows. I later became a music publisher. But it was a hard life, with much night work, plugging songs in theatres, dance halls, and cafes, and I tired of it, in spite of the fascination the element of chance gave to the work.

Putting out songs was like playing poker; no one could predict a hit with certainty.

I decided on a business career, and went to a business college. Shortly after this, I got a job, and at twenty-two I married. No chance, then, to go to college. But going to college had been a sort of tradition in our family. I had to work every day to keep the well-known and justly unpopular wolf from breaking down the door. But my evenings were my own. I decided to use them for the improvement of what I optimistically called my mind.

I would take one subject at a time, and study. But where should I begin? I recalled that a certain ancient philosopher had once said there are but three things in the universe—mind, force, and matter. Mind controls force, and force moves matter. It was easy to decide which of these things was the more important, so I began by studying psychology—a science which, by the way, is in its infancy—no farther advanced today than were the physical sciences a century ago.

Having read practically everything there was on the subject over a period of years, I began to have some theories about psychic phenomena, myself. I started a ponderous scientific treatise, but didn’t carry it far. This medium limited my imagination too much. Then I wrote a novelette, The Thing of a Thousand Shapes, in which some of my ideas and theories were incorporated. It was turned down by most of the leading magazines in 1922, but early in 1923 a magazine was made to order for the story—Weird Tales. It was accepted, and published in the first issue. This was before the word “ectoplasm” was used in connection with psychic phenomena. A German writer, whose translated work I had read, had coined the word “teleplasm,” but this did not seem precisely the right term, so I coined the word “psychoplasm.” I notice that it is being used today by some writers of occult stories.

I had finished writing the above novelette early in 1921, and decided to try my hand at a novel. I wanted to write an interplanetary story, and I believe the reason for this lay in the following incidents.

As soon as I was able to understand, my father, who was interested in all the sciences, and especially in astronomy, had begun pointing out to me the planets that were visible to the naked eye; had told me what was known of their masses, densities, surfaces, atmospheres, motions, and satellites; and that there was a possibility that some of them were inhabited by living beings. He taught me how to find the Big and Little Dippers, and thus locate the North Star, that I might make the heavens serve as a compass for me, by night as well as by day. He pointed out that beautiful and mysterious constellation, The Pleiades, which inspired the lines in the Book of Job: “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bonds of Orion?”

He told me of the vast distances which, according to the computations of scientists, lay between our world and these twinkling celestial bodies—that the stars were suns, some smaller than our own, and others so large that if they were hollow, our entire Solar System could operate inside them without danger of the planet farthest from the sun striking the shell. He told me of the nebulae, which might be giant universes in the making, and that beyond the known limits of our own universe it was possible that there were countless others, stretching on into infinity.

My childish imagination had been fired by these things, and I had read voraciously such books on the subject of astronomy as were available in my father’s well-stocked library. He supplemented and encouraged this reading by many interesting discussions, in which a favorite subject for speculation was the possibility that planets, other than our own, were inhabited.

Geology, archaeology, and ethnology were also brought into our discussions. We lived in northern Illinois, which had in some distant geological epoch been the bottom of an ocean, and took pleasure in collecting such fossil remains as were available. Dad and I could become very much excited over bits of coral, and fossil marine animals.

Then there were Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall, and others, with their interesting theories. There was the great mystery of man’s advent on this earth, which religion explained in one manner and science in another. We discussed these, and a third possibility, an idea of my father’s, that some of our ancient civilizations might have been originated by people who came here from other planets—the science of space-navigation forgotten by their descendants, but the tradition of their celestial advent persisting in their written and oral traditions. That such traditions did persist was beyond dispute. Whence came these traditions that were not confined to related civilizations, but were preserved by widely separated peoples?

It was with this background that I began my first novel in 1921—a tale of adventures on the planet Venus. I called it Grandon of Terra, but the name was later changed to The Planet of Peril.

The problem of how to get my hero to Venus bothered me not at all, for I had been reading about the marvelous powers of the subjective mind: of telepathy, that mysterious means of communication between minds which needs no physical media for its transmission, and which seems independent of time, space, and matter. I haven’t the space to enlarge on this here, but can refer you to the thousands of cases recorded by the British Society for Psychical Research, if you are interested. There was also the many cases of so-called astral projection, recorded by the above society in a volume called Phantasms of the Living. My hero, therefore, reached Venus by the simple (try it) expedient of exchanging bodies with a young man on that planet who was his physical twin. He reported his adventures on Venus to an earthly scientist, Dr. Morgan, by telepathy.

Cloud-wrapped Venus is supposed to be in a stage similar to our own carboniferous era. I, therefore, clothed my hypothetical Venus with the flora of such an era—ferns, cycads, and thallophytes of many kinds, including algae, fungi, and lichens of strange and eerie form.

Through the fern jungles and fungoid forests stalked gigantic reptiles, imaginary creatures, but analogous to those ponderous prehistoric Saurians that roved the earth when our coal and petroleum beds were having their inception. There were Herbivora devouring the primitive plants, and fierce Carnivora that devoured the Herbivora and each other, and disputed the supremacy of man. Air and water teemed with active life and sudden dealt—life feeding on death and death snuffing out life.

There were men in various stages of evolutionary development—men without eyes, living in lightless caverns, who had degenerated to a physical and mental condition little better than that of Batrachia. There were monkey-men swinging through the branches and lianas of the fern forests, blood-sucking bat-men living in caves in a volcanic crater—a veritable planetary inferno, and gigantic termites of tremendous mental development that had enslaved a race of primitive human beings.

There were mighty empires, whose armies warred with strange and terrible weapons, and airships which flew at tremendous speed propelled by mechanisms which amplified the power of mind over matter—telekinesis.

After writing and rewriting, polishing and re-polishing, I sent the story out— a bulky script, ninety-thousand words long. At that time there but two possible American markets for that type of story, Science and Invention and Argosy-All Story, but I had not been watching the Munsey publication and did not know it used this sort of thing. I submitted the story, first, to Science and Invention. It was turned down because of the paucity of mechanical science.

When Weird Tales came into being, I tried it on this magazine. Edwin Baird, the editor liked it, but finally, after holding it several months, rejected it because of its length. He suggested that I try Argosy-All Story, but I didn’t do it then. I let it lie around for a long time. Every once in a while I would dig it out of the file and read it over. Each time, I found new places to polish. I was writing and selling a number of other stories in the interval— occult, weird, mystery, detective, adventure, and Western. I also collaborated with my brother, Allen S. Kline, on a novel set in the South American Jungle, called The Secret Kingdom. This was later published in Amazing Stories.

One day I was talking to Baird, and he asked me what I had done with my fantastic novel. He said I was foolish not to try Argosy-All Story. I accordingly recopied my pencil-marked version, and sent it on. Good old Bob Davis, dean of American editors, held it so long I had some hope: that he was going to buy it. But it came back, eventually, with a long, friendly letter asking to see more of my work. I later learned that he had just bought the first of Ralph Milne Farley’s famous radio stories, the scene of which was on the planet Venus, and whose settings, therefore, were somewhat similar to mine.

After that, I spent enough money on express and postage to buy a good overcoat, sending the story around the country, and out of it.

Finally, Mr. Joseph Bray then book-buyer, and now president of A.C. McClurg & Company, told me he would publish it if I would first get it serialized in a magazine. I had turned down a couple of low-priced offers for serialization, but I started over the list again. A.H. Bittner, the new editor of Argosy, who has been building circulation for that magazine since he took over the editorial chair, bought the story. A month later, Mr. Bray accepted it for publication as a novel.

The Planet of Peril brought many enthusiastic fan letters to Argosy. I received a number of complimentary letters from people all over the country who had read it in magazine or book form. I was overwhelmed with requests for autographs, and all that sort of thing. A baby in Battle Creek, Michigan, was named after me. It was encouraging.

Last September, Grosset & Dunlap reprinted the book in the popular edition. In a bulletin to their salesmen they recently reported that, despite the fact that they had not made any special effort to push it, and that it was a first novel, it was enjoying a continuous and persistent resale—something unusual for a first novel. They suggested that their salesmen remember this item when calling on the trade. This, also, was encouraging.

Since then, Argosy has serialized and McClurg has published in book form two more novels — Maza of the Moon and The Prince of Peril, the latter a companion story to The Planet of Peril.

Right now I’m working night and day on a new novel for spring publication, in order to make a deadline date set by my publisher. Also, I’ve reached the length limit set by The Writer’s editor, so that will be all for this time.

The Venus Trilogy

Table of Contents


Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19

Chapter 1

Table of Contents

Robert Ellsmore Grandon stifled a yawn with difficulty as the curtain went down on the first act of Don Giovanni and wondered what was the matter. It wasn’t that opera bored him, or that tonight’s performance was inferior; in fact, what he had been able to give his attention to struck him as being among the best performances he had seen. But something was distracting him, something he could not put his finger on; and the effort to keep his attention on the music and the performers was tiring him. Perhaps it was just one of those days, he thought.

He was tired of life at twenty-four, he, decided—tired and disillusioned and somehow trapped. After his spell of military service, he’d broken away from family obligations and expectations to join revolutionaries in Cuba. The struggle there had seemed important, worth risking his neck for; but he’d seen, much earlier than some others, that the new regime was just a change of masters. He’d gotten out while getting out was easy and returned to take up the career in, insurance administration that his uncle wanted him to take —the uncle who had paid his college expenses. Now, Robert and Vincent Grandon would prepare for the position that. Uncle Arthur would be leaving in a few years. It would be a good career for both young men; for while only one could step into Arthur Grandon’s shoes, the second spot would be no less desirable.

Very likely, with full effort, he could make the top—but his cousin had the extra measure of devotion to the business that Robert Grandon simply couldn’t bring. Robert Ellsmore Grandon yearned for action, adventure, romance—something that seemed to be gone in this world of the Twentieth Century.

He made his way to the bar thinking that he’d chuck it all in a moment for a chance to think and act for himself, for a chance to accomplish something worth while according to his own lights. Yes—insurance was worthwhile, he thought as he sat at the bar and beckoned to Louis, but not worth his while.

Louis looked his way, nodded, and started to mix a Gibson for him. The bartender had a curious grin on his face as he set the glass down. “Did you get the message, Mr. Grandon?”

Robert Grandon blinked. “What message?”

“Didn’t you see the papers today?”

Grandon shook his head. “Just glanced at them. What’s up?”

Louis went back and bent down, to return with the Times, folded to a certain page, and placed it on the bar before him. To Grandon’s astonishment, he saw a sketch of himself staring him in the face.

“Had you planned in advance to come tonight, Mr. Grandon?”

Grandon looked up with a puzzled expression on his face. “No—now that you mention it, I hadn’t. I was going to ask a friend to come with me next Friday night. Came down this morning to see about tickets, and decided that I’d come tonight alone, when I found that there was a good seat available…Don’t know why, now that I think of it.”

Louis’ face wore a strange smile. “Read that ad, Mr. Grandon. Maybe you are the one.”

Grandon picked up the paper. The heading read, “I Want You!” There was no caption under the sketch; beneath it, the text said: “I do not know your name, or anything about you, except that you are in the city. I want to perform an experiment, and you may be the man I need. If you are, you will know by these tokens.

“You will feel an urge to go to a certain place tonight which you may or may not have been planning to go to, and you will want to get there around 8 p.m. Starting at 8:30 p.m., every half hour, I will send you a message. You may not hear it the first or second time, but you may feel distracted. If you are the man I want, it will seem as if a voice is speaking to you. It will be a voice in your mind; it will say `Doctor Morgan’ and direct you to go to a particular spot. There a man will be waiting for you; he will ask you a question which I shall also tell you of when I communicate with you. Please give him a hearing before you decide.”

“Looks as if you’ve gotten the first part of it, Mr. Grandon. You hadn’t expected to come tonight, but here you are.”

Grandon put the newspaper down. It had been just about half an hour after the performance started that he’d begun to feel distracted and a little irritated.

Louis said, “It’s two minutes of nine, Mr. Grandon. Maybe you’ll get the message this time.”

Grandon sipped the Gibson, with his eyes on the clock. He tried to relax, to let himself open to whatever thoughts might come into his head. He’d heard of experiments in telepathy, and while he didn’t find parapsychology too convincing, he had no strong bias against it. In fact, he’d thought that it might be fascinating if this sort of thing could be so. Here would be a new frontier if…

It wasn’t exactly a whisper, but there was a softness about a voice he now seemed to hear yet not to hear. It said, “Doctor Morgan.” Grandon sat up straight. Again it came: “Doctor Morgan.” A third time; then the voice said, “Go to the telephone booths in the lobby. A man wearing a tuxedo with a green lapel pin will offer you a cigarette.”

The voice ceased. Grandon waited a moment or two, but there was nothing more.

“Did you get it, Mr. Grandon?” asked Louis eagerly.

Grandon finished his Gibson and put a bill down on the bar. “Could be,” he said. “I have a pretty good imagination, you know. Think I’ll wait another half hour and see.”

He left the bar. Either this was or it wasn’t. If it was, then he might as well follow up now as wait another half hour. If it wasn’t, it didn’t make any difference; he couldn’t possibly pay any attention to the opera now, no matter who was singing.

He made his way to the phone booths in the lobby and looked around, oblivious to the feminine eyes that turned to glance at his broad shoulders and curly black hair. No one fitting the description he’d received was in sight. He waited a moment and began to feel foolish.

Just imagination, he decided a little sadly. Well, there was time for a cigarette before he had to get back to his seat. He was reaching for his case when a pleasant voice at his right said, “Try one of mine, won’t you?”

Grandon turned and looked into the smiling eyes of a man about his own age. A man wearing a tuxedo with a green lapel pin. He accepted with thanks.

“Excellent performance, don’t you think?” volunteered the smiling one, lighting a cigarette himself which he had, unnoticed by Grandon in his confusion, taken from the side of the case opposite the one which he had extended a moment before.

“I suppose so—ah—why, yes, of course…”

Grandon was beginning to feel unaccountably drowsy.

Suddenly he slumped forward, and would have fallen on his face, but for the quick assistance of the friendly young man. A moment later he lost consciousness.

An attendant came running up. “What’s the matter with your friend?” he asked.

“Fainted dead away. It’s his heart; he’s had spells like this quite often lately. Help me get him outdoors.”

The two of them carried Grandon outside, followed by the more curious bystanders. When he reached the sidewalk, the young man waved to the driver of a car parked on the other side of the street. It immediately swung across and drew up to the curb.

“Let’s put him in the car,” said the young roan. “I’m used to this —a spin on Michigan Boulevard will revive him. Just needs fresh air. His doctor has told me how to handle him.”

They lifted Grandon into the car and the driver put the top down. The young man handed a crisp bill to the attendant and got into the car, which drove away.

Chapter 2

Table of Contents

When Grandon regained consciousness he was lying on a cot in a dimly lighted room. He looked about him in bewilderment as he saw four bare concrete walls, a heavy oak door studded with many large bolts, and a small window fitted with powerful iron bars more than an inch in diameter.

There was a chair and a small table with a lamp on it next to the cot. On the table, Grandon saw a sheet of paper. He rolled over and picked it up, switching on the lamp.

“Dear Mr. Grandon,” he read, “I must admit and apologize for technically kidnapping you; but I hope to be able to persuade you shortly that this was both necessary and to your advantage. Now I must ask you to be patient for a little while; I shall see you soon. The drug you were given should be wearing off by evening—you were kidnapped last night—and I can assure you that it will have no harmful after-effects, physical or mental.” The paper was signed, “Dr. Morgan.”

Grandon arose and tottered unsteadily toward the door. It was evidently locked from the outside, for he could not rattle it. He went to the window and peered out. Night had fallen, and a myriad of twinkling stars looked down at him from a clear sky. Not a tree, house, or earthly object of any kind was visible. There was only the starry sky above and the black void below.

He heard the sound of talking, and wheeled about as a bolt slid back and the door opened. Two men entered. The foremost was tall and of large structure; his forehead was high and bulged outward, so that his shaggy eyebrows, which grew together above the bridge of his aquiline nose, half-concealed his eyes. He wore a painted, closely-cropped beard, in which a few gray hairs proclaimed him as middle-aged. Behind him was the young man who had given him the drugged cigarette in the lobby of the opera house.

The young man advanced and extended his hand. “How are you feeling now, Mr. Grandon?” he asked. “Ah, you seem surprised that we know your name. That will be explained to you. I should have introduced myself sooner. My name is Harry Thorne. Allow me to present Doctor Morgan.”

The big man held out his hand and said in a booming bass voice, “This is a pleasure I have long anticipated, Mr. Grandon.”

It was nothing like the voice he had heard in his mind, and yet it was the same voice. Grandon realized that at once; and his curiosity, added to the feeling of confidence in these men’s intentions toward him that the note had imparted, washed away any resentment he might feel at their methods. He clasped the doctor’s muscular hand and muttered an acknowledgment.

“And now,” said Morgan, “if you will accompany us to dinner, we shall start the explanation due you. Afterwards, I shall ask you to read two interesting manuscripts before we talk further; they will tell you far more, and prepare you far better, for the experiment I have in mind than a lecture from me.”

In Dr. Morgan’s drawing room, where night had given way to day while Robert Ellsmore Grandon read two novel-length manuscripts, Dr. Morgan— who had entered just as Grandon was finishing the last chapter of the second box of neatly-typed pages—smiled at his guest quizzically. “What do you think of them?” he asked.

Grandon shook his head. “If I hadn’t had the experience of the past day or so, I’d think they were just good stories and nothing more. Even so, they sound fantastic:

“They are,” Morgan agreed. “But nonetheless true. To summarize briefly, I started experimenting with telepathy ten years ago, and finally succeeded in building a device which would pick up and amplify thought waves.”

“And thought waves, you found,” said Grandon, “are not limited by space or time. So you picked up the waves projected by another man who had built a similar device to project them—only this man was on Mars.”

“But not the present-day Mars—the Mars of some millions of years ago, when a high human civilization did exist there.”

“And you and this Martian scientist, Lal Vak, found that persons who are nearly doubles in physical appearance may have similar brain-patterns— enough alike so that consciousness may be exchanged between them. Your first experiment involved such an exchange between an Earthman named Harry Thorne and a Martian named Borgen Takkor. The man you now call Harry Thorne was born on Mars as Borgen Takkor, while the true Harry Thorne is now living on Mars —and leading a most adventurous and satisfying career from the account I just read.”

Dr. Morgan nodded. “He and his princess have had many adventures together beyond those related in the first manuscript. To us, of course, both have been dead millions of years. But it is possible for me to tune in on their lives at any point where Harry was transmitting to me. He has never regretted his choice.”

“Then”, went on Grandon, “you got in touch with a Venusian named Vorn Vangal, who is a contemporary of Lal Vak and Borgen Takkor. With his help you constructed a space-time vehicle through which your nephew, Jerry Morgan, was able to go to Mars in the flesh. And he, too, made out pretty well.”

Morgan nodded. “Yes. I sent Jerry to Mars that way, and hoped that I’d be able to send someone to Venus the same way. But my telekinetic control failed in some way on the return trip, and I never recovered the ship I built for Jerry. Vorn Vangal said he would build one on Venus and send it to Earth for me, so that I could visit him, but I do not know when this will be possible. It may be soon; it may not be for some years.” Morgan smiled. “And I’m not too patient a man. I know that it is possible for me to get an account of Venus as seen by Earthmen’s eyes—the Venus that was, in relation to the Mars that was—just as I learned about Mars in those two manuscripts you’ve read. So I asked Vorn Vangal if he could send me the brain waves of two Venusians, to see if I could find their counterparts here on Earth. Then Harry urged me to try to see if there was a Venusian with whom he could change personalities—so I sent his picture and brain-wave pattern to Vorn Vangal.”

“I see. And Vorn Vangal sent you the picture and brainwave pattern of a Venusian who was—me.”

“Yes. You’ll recall that Lal Vak had shown one how to construct a mind- compass, which would indicate whether there were any living persons here on Earth whose brainwaves corresponded with those of the Martians whose pictures he sent me. This would not only aid in my finding such people here on Earth, it would also protect me from disappointment on coming across someone who looked right, but whose brain-pattern did not match closely enough for an exchange of personalities, after all.”

“Has that happened?” Grandon asked.

“Only once. But now it’s all arranged for Harry; and I hope you’ll be interested in going to Venus, too.”

Grandon smiled. “After reading those two accounts of conditions on Mars, I certainly am. Of course, I suppose it’s nothing like Venus.”

“There are differences, of course, but the civilizations are on a somewhat similar level. The planet is known as Zarovia, and your physical counterpart is a gentleman who has been enslaved by an Amazon ruler—a princess with no thought save of her own pleasure. He finds it impossible to escape from bondage, and is therefore willing to make the exchange. Mr. Thorne’s bodily duplicate is a prince of a realm on the opposite side of the planet from that occupied by the slave. The prince has been petted and pampered and shielded from all danger, and longs for adventure; he is willing to exchange bodies for a time with Mr. Thorne. Well, what do you say? Are you willing to make the trip?” Grandon smiled.

“You know, Doctor, I’m a little surprised. You investigated the Earth- born Harry Thorne very carefully, because you’d made a bad choice and sent a criminal to Mars ahead of him. You knew your nephew thoroughly because you were in telepathic communication with him for years though he didn’t know it then. But what do you know about me?”

“Touché!” chuckled Morgan. “I forgot to tell you. I’ve gone a good ways beyond telepathic projection in the last few years. When I contacted your mind, I also got a very full picture of your character and personality— no intimate details, but sufficient to assure me that you were the sort of man I wanted. And that you were very likely to go along with me if the way could be cleared for you…But suppose you tell me of any inhibiting factors; I think they can be cleared up.”

Robert Ellsmore Grandon recounted his personal situation briefly, and Morgan nodded. “Yes,” he said. “This checks with the information I’ve gathered on Mr. Arthur Grandon since you arrived here. He’s sincerely devoted to you, you know. I don’t believe he’ll stand in the way if he knows you want to go on some caper of your own and by your own choice. Suppose you phone him long distance now. Here’s what I suggest you tell him…”

“You were right, Doctor,” Grandon said after bidding his uncle farewell. “Uncle Arthur agrees that Vincent is better suited to handle the firm than I. He just wanted me to try for awhile and see—says he half expected something like this when I disappeared and was concerned lest I forget to let him know.”

“Then we need waste no more time, Mr. Grandon.”

“But—my body will remain here while my personality goes to Venus. What happens to it?”

“You need have no fear about that. The man who comes to inhabit it —forgotten about him, haven’t you?—will naturally be careful of it; for if he loses it there will be no return for him, either to this world or his own.”

“What do we have to do in order to exchange bodies? And how will you keep in touch with me?”

“I will, at regular intervals, establish telepathic rapport with you and Thorne while you are asleep. You will know nothing of these telepathic communications—which will be as detailed as those you read last night —unless I see fit to convey a message to you which will probably come in the form of a dream, so vivid that you will remember every detail. If you wish to communicate with me for any reason whatever, I will learn of it when I establish rapport with you.”

Grandon sighed. “I’m ready. Want me to lie down and look into a mirror the way Harry Thorne did when you sent him to Mars?”

“Right. And the present Harry Thorne will follow you in a few hours —you may meet on Venus, though it isn’t too likely.” He set up the mirror, painted with alternate circles of red and black, as Grandon reposed on the sofa. “Now think of Venus, far off in time and space—millions of miles, millions of years away…”

Chapter 3

Table of Contents

Robert Ellsmore Grandon, was awakened from a sound sleep by a shaft of brilliant sunlight which shone through the mica-paneled window of the quarry- slaves’ sleeping quarters. He blinked, turned uneasily, then sat up. His muscles appeared stiff and bruised and his back smarted and burned. He noticed that his sole articles of apparel consisted of a scarlet breech-cloth and a pair of sandals of strange design. His skin was browned; his hands were rough and callused. His face was covered with a thick, black beard, and his hair was matted and unkempt.

He rose stiffly and walked to the window, hoping for a clear view of a Zarovian landscape, but he was disappointed, for in front of his window there stretched a solid wall of black marble cliffs. The only visible vegetation consisted of a few pink toadstool-like growths which grew from niches in the rock, some over twelve feet in height.

He turned and glanced at his room-mates. Fifty men were quartered in the sleeping shed. The bedding consisted of a coarse, dried moss, which made an exceptionally resilient couch. The men were attired like Grandon, except that their breech-clouts were gray instead of scarlet. Their skins were sun-burned like his own, and marked with scars and open wounds.

Grandon was startled by a hollow booming sound, and someone on the outside opened a large door at the center of the shed. Instantly every man sprang to his feet, and he saw that they were forming in single file to march through the door. He joined the procession, which was heading for a large building in the midst of a group of sheds similar to the one he had occupied, and saw that the sound emanated from a large cylinder of iron suspended from a steel beam in front of the building, and beaten by a man who wielded a large club wrapped with thongs.

Heavily-armed guards stood at intervals of about fifty feet on either side of their pathway. Each guard carried a tall spear with a broad blade about four feet long; a sword with a basket hilt, its blade rather like that of a scimitar, hung from the left side of the belt.

From the right depended a weapon which was utterly strange to Grandon. It was about two feet long, oblong like a carpenter’s level, and apparently composed of blued steel. A rivet passed completely through it about four inches from the end, holding it firmly to the belt, although it could be tilted at any angle, and its wearer could point it in any direction by turning his body.

Grandon had yet to learn the efficiency of this weapon, the tork, which fired needlelike glass projectiles filled with a potent poison that paralyzed man and beast alike almost as soon as it penetrated, and had a range as great as the most powerful of rifles. These tiny bullets were propelled by a highly explosive gas, ignited by an electric spark at the touch of a button.

The gas was compressed in a chamber at the rear of the tork, while the glass missiles were held in a magazine near the muzzle. After a shot was fired, the weapon would automatically reload, a bullet sliding into place in front while just the right charge of gas was released in the chamber behind it. Each tork, held a thousand rounds of ammunition.

The slaves passed through the building where each man had his ration doled out to him: a bowl of stewed mushrooms and a steaming cup of a beverage which Grandon found to be very much like a strong wine.

As he followed his companions, Grandon noticed that each man stopped before a small shrine and stood for a moment with head bowed low and hand extended toward it, palm downward. When he reached the shrine, he stopped as the others had done, then gave a gasp of amazement at a life-size painting of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

She wore a robe of scarlet, ornamented with gold and precious stones, and a jeweled band of platinum imprisoned a mass of golden curls which were piled on top of her head after a style different from anything he had ever seen. She was seated on a massive golden throne with cushions of scarlet, across the arms of which rested a scarbo—a sword like those carried by the guards, but with a hilt of gold studded with rubies.

Could this be the Amazon ruler of whom Dr. Morgan had spoken?

A sharp exclamation brought him to his senses; he turned and saw an overseer advancing with whip upraised. Quickly bowing as the others had done, he ran forward to join his fellow slaves.

Once outside the building, the men seated themselves on the ground in little scattered groups for their morning meal. Grandon joined a company of those who had occupied the same dormitory with him.

He could not take part in the general conversation because the language was unintelligible to him—yet the words sounded strangely familiar. A recollection of their meaning was stored in the brain cells of the body which had become his, but the ego, which was Grandon could not interpret them. He kept silent and listened.

The meal finished, the slaves were herded to the quarries by their drivers. Each driver, who had charge of ten slaves, wore both tork and scarbo in his belt and carried a whip, the five lashes of which were woven from some coarse fiber and interwoven with short pieces of a brittle, nettle-like moss, which broke off in the skin of the victim, inflicting pain like that of a thousand bee stings.

Grandon managed to keep pace with his fellow slaves. The intense heat of the sun would have made labor in the open impossible, had it not been constantly tempered by the floating clouds of vapor, ever present in the dense, moist Zarovian atmosphere.

The marble was being removed from the hillside in large rectangular blocks, by thousands of slaves working on a series of terraces, each of which was the height of one of the blocks. The crews were so distributed that the terraced hillside constantly retained the same general contour.

Grandon’s crew worked on the bottom terrace all morning, but were ordered to the top in the afternoon to reinforce the laborers in that section who, for some reason, had not kept up their quota. He and a fellow slave were removing one of the heavy blocks by means of levers when his end slipped and fell on another block, breaking off a large fragment. The driver raised his whip and struck Grandon a stinging blow across the shoulders.

Quickly wheeling, Grandon landed a tremendous right hook on the point of the man’s jaw. It was a clean knock-out. Another driver came running with whip upraised, but Grandon bowled him over with a marble fragment and ran through the group of startled slaves toward the brow of the hill. Some one raised the alarm and a half dozen torks were immediately pointed toward the fugitive. Several slaves fell, struck by the missiles intended for him, as he disappeared over the hilltop.

Before him stretched a dense, waving forest of tree ferns into which he plunged without slackening his speed, his pursuers close behind. As he dodged in and out among the tree trunks he could hear their halloos growing fainter and fainter; finally no sound was audible except the rustling of the countless, wind-shaken fern leaves.

He slackened his pace and, after proceeding about a mile, farther, stopped and looked about him.

Huge tree ferns with rough trunks and foliage growing out of the tops like that of palm trees, some of them over seventy feet in height, towered above the shorter, more bushy varieties which were themselves giants. Then there were climbing ferns hanging in tangled masses, creeping ferns and dwarf, low-growing kinds, barely raising their fronds above the thick carpet of moss which everywhere covered the forest floor.

Grandon noticed that the ground slanted slightly toward his right, and intuition told him that this might lead to a valley and water. He changed his course accordingly. He hoped also to find some fruits, berries or nuts with which to satisfy his hunger.

As he trudged wearily forward, sunset was succeeded by twilight, and before he realized it, the black, moonless Zarovian night had spread its impenetrable mantle about him.

Suddenly, from out the darkness behind him, came a peal of horrible, demoniac laughter.

As he wheeled, two glowing phosphorescent orbs were slowly advancing as if something were creeping or slinking toward him. Then, without warning, the hideous noise was repeated at his left.

He turned to face another pair of menacing eyes, then leaped for the trunk of the nearest tree-fern and climbed it barely in time to escape the snapping jaws that yawned beneath him.

Not until he had reached the leaf-crown, fifty feet above the ground, did he pause or look downward. Then he saw, not two, but a dozen pairs of eyes glancing toward him, while peal after peal of the nerve-racking laughter smote his ears.

Time dragged along. What manner of things were these? Evidently they were unable to climb, or they would have followed him ere this. The fact that they did not leave, even after several more hours had elapsed, made it evident that they expected to get him.

He had been hearing a peculiar crunching sound some time before he located it and guessed the terrible truth.

They were gnawing through the base of the tree trunk!

When morning came, it looked as if Grandon’s luck was running out. He’d made a desperate leap when the first tree started to fall and landed on another. The beasts followed and started to work on his new refuge. He’d found what felt like a coarse thick rope, and recognized it as the stem of one of the large climbing ferns he’d seen the day before. That led him to the crown of another tree twice the size of the one he left. But now the beasts had felled that one and were patiently gnawing at his. third refuge.

Now he could see them below—twelve of the most fearsome creatures he’d ever seen. They looked like hyenas, but were twice as large, their bodies covered with thick scales, black and mottled with orange spots. Each beast had three horns, one projecting from either temple, and one sprouting out between the eyes. Six of them were gnawing at the base of his tree while the other six rested. Apparently they were working in shifts.

Then he saw a man about two hundred yards away, walking with his eyes on the ground as if following a trail. He was armed with scarbo, tork, and knife, and carried a long bundle strapped to his back. Someone sent out to trail the fugitive slave, no doubt, Grandon thought. Well, he’d have a surprise soon.

A moment later, one of the beasts scented the newcomer, and uttered the laugh with which Grandon was now familiar. All work on Grandon’s tree stopped and the pack charged the stranger.

Now the Earthman witnessed the power of the tork. The leader of the pack fell a full fifty feet from his quarry; seven more met a similar fate in as many seconds. The rest turned and fled. Then the man drew his knife and coolly and deliberately cut the throat of each animal. He glanced at the two fallen trees, then walked over to the one in which Grandon was perched.

“Come down, Robert Grandon,” he said, in English.

Grandon was so surprised he nearly fell out of the tree.

“Who are you,” he asked, “and where did you learn my language?”

“Come down and I will explain.”

“You might come up,” suggested Grandon. “I don’t fancy the climate down there. I suppose you have instructions to bring me back dead or alive. I won’t go back alive.”

“You are mistaken, Robert Grandon. I have come to your aid. To prove this, I need only mention that I have communicated with Dr. Morgan of your planet for several years. Now will you come?”

Grandon slid down the rough tree trunk. When he reached the ground, the stranger advanced. “Permit me to introduce myself. I am Vorn Vangal, and my home is in the distant country of Olba.”

“How do you do, Mr. Vangal,” replied Grandon, extending his hand.

Vorn Vangal looked puzzled. “What is it you wish?”

“Why—nothing at all. I forgot that our custom of shaking hands might be unknown here.”

“I have never heard of it,” said Vangal. “I hope you will pardon the ignorance which kept me from returning your proffered salute. Show me how you do it, please.”

Grandon explained, and for the first time in the history of that planet, two men shook hands on Zarovia.

“A very pretty custom,” Vangal said. “I shall introduce it in Olba on my return. I will explain the various forms of salutes used on Zarovia. When one is presented to a stranger he merely bows slightly and acknowledges with words. Two intimate friends on meeting sometimes press their foreheads together. Then there are the military salutes, the salutes to royalty, et cetera. For instance, the reigning Torrogina of Reabon—or princess as you would call her—would be saluted thus.” He made a low bow and extended his hand as Grandon had seen the slaves do the day before in front of the shrine.

“In the company with my fellow slaves, I bowed thus before a picture of a beautiful young woman yesterday,” said Grandon. “Can it be that this is the Amazon princess of whom Dr. Morgan spoke?”

“She can be none other than Vernia, Princess of Reabon, who has ruled that country since the death of her father, Margo, who made Reabon the largest and mightiest empire in all Zarovia.”

“I should like to meet her,” said Grandon.

“To say that you should like to meet her is equivalent to saying that you should like to die. Thaddor, Prince of Uxpo, whose body you now inhabit on Zarovia, had the temerity to make love to her. She sentenced him to work in the quarries for life; and to run away after such sentence has been passed is equivalent to signing your own death warrant, in Reabon.”

“Nevertheless, I hope some day to meet her. By the way, friend Vangal, I suspect that you have food and drink in that long bundle you are carrying, and I have tasted neither since yesterday morning.”

“Can it be possible?” ejaculated Vangal. “But of course! You are not familiar with the fern forests of Zarovia. No one carries food or drink in these forests, for both are about him in abundance.”

He drew his knife and cut a branch from the bush-fern under which they were standing. “Here. Taste water as pure and delicious as may be found in all Zarovia.”

Grandon put the end of the branch to his lips and drank greedily, while Vangal gathered several large spore-pods and split them open with his knife.

“I shall have to teach you the woodcraft of Zarovia before I leave you,” said Vangal. “But come, we must go as far as possible from this vicinity at once, or the soldiers of the Torrogina may find us.”

“I am puzzled to know how it happened that you found me before the Reabonians,” said Grandon.

“Because I followed your trail, while they merely ran about in the forest, guessing at what direction you had taken. The men of Reabon know nothing of following a trail, which is as an open book to my people of Olba. But here, I have brought you weapons and trappings.” Vangal unrolled the long bundle. “Fasten this belt about your waist and cross the straps over your shoulders, so. Now let us be off.”

The two swung away through the forest glades, Grandon armed like his companion with tork, scarbo and knife. As they walked side by side, Vangal explained the use of the tork, and showed Grandon how to insert the extra clips of bullets and gas which were in his belt.

“What do you call those strange creatures that treed me last night, and why did you cut their throats after you had already dispatched them with bullets?” inquired Grandon.

“They are called hahoes, so named because of their peculiar cries, and are mostly eaters of carrion, although they will seek and bring down fresh meat when driven to do so by hunger. I cut their throats because the poison in the tork bullets paralyzes temporarily, but does not kill. I prefer to use this kind rather than those bullets which carry deadly poison.”

The sun was high in the heavens when they reached the bank of a small stream. Here the character of the vegetation changed considerably, for while large tree-ferns were still in evidence here and there, as well as the smaller varieties, there were huge fungus growths unlike anything Grandon had previously encountered. Colossal toadstools, some of which reared their heads for fifty feet in the air, grew all about in an endless variety of forms and colors.

“We are now more than twenty miles from the marble quarries and in an excellent place for a camp,” said Vangal. “I will help you build a shelter and remain with you for a week to teach you Zarovian woodcraft, and patoa. At the end of that time I must journey to the other side of the planet, in order to assist your friend, Harry Thorne.”

“What is patoa?” asked Grandon.

“It is the universal language of Zarovia,” replied Vangal. “While every nation has its own language, we have, in addition, patoa, which is taught to the children of every country from infancy. When you have mastered this tongue, you will have the means of conversing with any intelligent being you nay meet.”

The rest of the day was spent in building Grandon’s new abode.

Chapter 4

Table of Contents

After they had eaten on the following morning, Vorn Vangal said: “No doubt you are anxious to know something about this country, and the person you represent on Zarovia. The wild, mountainous kingdom of Uxpo, of which these forests are a part, is situated at the extreme southern limit of the empire of Reabon. Uxpo, together with seven other kingdoms, was originally conquered by the famous emperor, Margo, and its fierce, previously unbeaten mountaineer people reduced to slavery.

“Upon Margo’s death, three years ago, the people of Uxpo entertained high hopes of freedom. They had learned that the emperor’s daughter, Vernia, a mere slip of a girl, had succeeded to the throne; they revolted and, almost overnight, slew every soldier, officer and agent of the empire. Their old king had been executed by Margo at the time of the invasion, but his elder son, Lugi, was placed on the throne.

“Two days afterward a courier brought news that the princess Vernia was coming at the head of a hundred thousand soldiers. Lugi assembled his five thousand mountaineers and went forth. The army of Uxpo was annihilated, and Lugi was executed for treason. Once more the fierce Uxponians bowed their necks to the yoke of the conqueror.

“Lugi had a young brother named Thaddor—your double. This youth was of a mild and gentle disposition, and it was for this reason, perhaps, that Vernia spared his life and allowed him the privilege of her court.

“Prince Thaddor, however, fell madly in love with her. He had always found women susceptible to him; so when one evening he attempted to make love to her, he was little prepared for the storm of anger which followed, and his being condemned to labor in the quarries for life.

“For some time I had been searching for a man dissatisfied with life on this planet, to accompany our Prince of Olba on the journey to your world. I heard of Prince Thaddor’s predicament, and experienced little difficulty in persuading him. When Dr. Morgan reported that you were about to make the journey I immediately came hither in order to be of assistance to you. On learning of your escape, I trailed you to the tree in which you had been driven by the hahoes. The rest you know.”

Vangal stayed with Grandon for a week, teaching him patoa and woodcraft, and the use of the tork, and scarbo. On the evening of the seventh day he stated that the time had arrived for him to return.

“No doubt you are anxious to be back among your friends,” remarked Grandon. “Is the journey a long one?”

“Olba is on the opposite side of the planet; roughly, about twelve thousand of your Earth miles from here.”

“And you will go all that distance afoot?”

“Hardly. My airship is concealed in a ravine only a short distance from here. In one day’s time I shall be home. By leaving here in the evening I shall arrive there in the morning, for it is morning in Olba when it is evening in Reabon,”

“What motive power do you use?”

“Ali, my friend, I regret that I am not at liberty to divulge that, for Olba is the only country on the planet in which airships are made or, used. The factories and the secrets of manufacture are the exclusive property of the government, and have been since the first airship was invented, nearly four centuries ago.

“My people are not given to conquest. In the airship they have a potent means of defense from their warlike neighbors. If the Reabonians, for example, knew the secret, they would long ago have subjugated most of the other Zarovian nations.”

Together the men walked to the ravine where the airship was concealed. Grandon beheld what looked like a small metal duck-boat with a curved glass dome over the tiny cockpit. The airship was about ten feet long and three wide, and without planes, wings, propeller, or rudder.

Vangal noted the look of surprise on the face of his companion.

“You seem puzzled,” he said, smiling slightly. “It will do no harm for me to explain something of this craft’s general principles, so long as I do not betray the actual secret of motive power.”

Immediately in front of the glass dome you will notice a small, round bulge in the deck. Under that bulge is a delicate mechanism which it is impossible to remove or take apart without breaking a small vial of acid that will instantly destroy it. This mechanism is the motive power of the craft, so you can readily see that it would be quite impossible for an enemy to learn our secret by capturing one of our ships.

“You have heard of telekinesis—the power with which your terrestrial mediums sometimes cause tables and other ponderable objects to rise and hang suspended, or move about in the air without physical aid. My people have been familiar with this wonderful power of the mind for many centuries; this mechanism responds to, and amplifies telekinesis to a remarkable degree. By mind power I am able to cause the craft to rise and hang suspended at almost any altitude, or to move in any direction, backward, forward, or sidewise. For emergency use, in the event of the failure of the motive power, there are two parachutes, one under the small round lid at either end of the craft. By pressing a button I cause the lids to fly back and the parachutes to project from the holes and open almost instantly.”

“A most astounding and wonderful invention,” exclaimed Grandon.

“Perhaps some day you will visit Olba, and when you do, Vorn Vangal will see that you are provided with a suitable craft as long as you stay in the country—for none but a government official or employee may take one of these airships over the border. It is growing late, and I must begin my journey,” Vangal continued, opening the door in the rear of the dome and stepping inside. “Farewell, my friend. I admonish you to hurry hone at once. I see you have not brought your tork or scarbo with you. That is unwise. From now on, never travel without them. On Zarovia you are in constant danger from attack by man or beast. Farewell, and may you soon be firmly seated on the throne of Uxpo.”

Grandon warmly clasped the hand of his departing friend, and a feeling of indefinable sadness came over him as he watched the tiny craft rise noiselessly and smoothly to a height of perhaps a thousand feet, then dart away, to be lost to view in a few seconds.

As he stood looking in the direction Vangal had taken, he was startled by the sound of a stealthy footfall behind him. He wheeled, but his eyes could not penetrate the shadows, for night had come on with its characteristic suddenness. At the sound of a second footfall he turned and dashed off through the forest, only to find himself amid a group of warriors with leveled torks.

Chapter 5

Table of Contents

Despite the fact that the audience chamber of the imperial palace of Reabon was crowded with people, the silence was intense for the scarlet curtains which surrounded the massive throne had been drawn back, signifying the approach of the Torrogina.