And Jandar of Callisto is pretty shameless. Published in 1972, this novel tells the story of Jonathan Dark, who, while exploring the ruined city of Arangkhôr in Cambodia, is transported to Callisto, the moon of Jupiter, known to its inhabitants as Thanator. If this sounds familiar, it should and not just because it mimics Edgar Rice Burroughs's stories of Barsoom. Also in 1972, Carter wrote another novel, Under the Green Star, which tells the story of a different Westerner who travels to the Far East and uncovers the means to travel to another world. Like both Burroughs and Under the Green Star, Jandar of Callisto is told in the first person by its protagonist, supposedly by means of a manuscript that came into Carter's hands and that he has dutifully transcribed and published so that the world may learn of Dark's remarkable adventures beyond the Earth:
That the most far-reaching and momentous historical events often spring from minute and seemingly inconsequential accidents is a fact which I can attest from my own experience.As I'll readily admit, there's scarcely an original idea in Jandar of Callisto. Yet, as you read the above passage, I hope you got some sense of the gusto with which Carter spins his tale. There's an adolescent seriousness to it that creeps up to but never quite crosses the line into parody that I find charming. Others might reasonably disagree and I won't attempt to argue the point, since, at earlier times in my own life, I too might have felt Jandar of Callisto risible rather than delightful. But if you're looking for some light reading (the book is just a little over 200 pages long) that recalls Burroughs and his better imitators, you could do far worse than this novel. If nothing else, Carter ably demonstrates how to do pastiche well and, as such, Jandar of Callisto makes a great study for referees everywhere.
For the past four months now-insofar as I have been able to measure the passage of time-I have dwelt on an alien world, surrounded by a thousand foes, struggling and battling my way through innumerable perils to win a place beside the most beautiful woman in two worlds.
As I sit, painfully and slowly setting down these words with a quill pen and homemade ink on a sheet of rough parchment, I cannot help but wonder at the obscure vanity which prompts me to record the tale of my incredible adventures-a tale which began in a lost city deep in the impenetrable jungles of southeast Asia and which ventures from there across the incredible distance of three hundred and ninety million miles of infinite space to the surface of a weird and alien planet. A tale, furthermore, which I deem it most unlikely any other human eye will ever read.
Yet I write on, driven by some inexplicable urge to set down an account of the marvels and mysteries which I alone of all men ever born on earth have experienced. And when at last this narrative is completed, I will set it within the Gate in the hopes that, being composed entirely of organic matter, paper and ink as well, it may somehow be transported across the immeasurable gulf of interplanetary space to the distant world of my birth, to which I shall never return.
In the night sky, at certain seasons when the Inner Moons are on the other side of our primary and the starry skies are clear, I can (I fancy) see the earth. A remote and insignificant spark of blue fire it seems from this distance; a tiny point of light lost amid the blackness of the infinite void. Can it truly be that I was born and lived my first twenty-four years on that blue spark-or was that life but a dream, and have I spent all of my days upon this weird world of Thanator? It is a question for the philosophers to settle, and I am but a simple warrior.