The Swordsman of Mars by Otis Adelbert Kline

The Swordsman of Mars


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subjects: Science Fiction

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Harry Thorne, outcast scion of a wealthy East Coast family, seeks the greatest adventure of his life. He exchanges bodies with his look-alike, Martian Sheb Takkor, and is transported millions of years into the past to a Mars peopled with mighty warriors, beautiful women, and fearsome beasts. Sheb Takkor, a great swordsman in his own right, must fight his way across the deserts and jungles of ancient Mars to save the lovely Princess Thane and to defeat his arch-enemy Sel Han – or die trying!

190 pages, with a reading time of ~3.0 hours (47,728 words), and first published in 1933. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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“You have heard of telepathy, of course—in fact, Mr. Thorne, you experimented with it at one time.”

“How did you know that, doctor?”

“You wrote a letter about your experiments to the editor of a popular magazine. It was published under your own name two months ago.”

Thorne rubbed his brow. “That’s right, I did—been so busy I forgot all about it. But my results were negative.”

Dr. Morgan nodded. “So were mine, for nearly twenty years. It was a hobby when I was in practice, but since my retirement, I’ve devoted my full time to it. Let me brief you on the basics.

“Telepathy, the communication of thoughts or ideas from one mind to another without the use of any physical medium whatever, is not influenced or hampered by either time or space. That is fundamental, but I had to amend it. I failed to achieve anything until I succeeded in building a device which would pick up and amplify thought waves. And even then I would have failed had this machine not caught the waves projected by another machine which another man had built to amplify and project them.”

“You mean you can read minds by radio, as it were?” Thorne asked.

“To a very limited extent. If you had a projector in this room, and I had my receiver here, I could pick up any thoughts you sent me—but only those you consciously projected. I could not read your mind in the sense of picking up anything you did not want me to know.”

Thorne took a cigarette from the box on the table to his right and lit it. “Interesting,” he admitted, “but what has this to do with Mars?”

“I made only one amendment to that basic theory, Mr. Thorne. The rest of it holds true: the communication of thoughts or ideas from one mind to another is not influenced or hampered by time or space. The man who built the thought-projector is on Mars.”

“Men on Mars—you mean Martians, or human beings like us? Excuse me, doctor, but that is spreading it a bit thick. I’m well enough up on present-day studies of the planets … ”

“…to know that the existence of a human civilization on Mars today is hardly credible,” Morgan broke in. “You are quite right. None such exists.”

“Then how … ?”

“Space or time. I was incredulous, too, when I got in touch with someone who identified himself as a human being, one Lal Vak, a Martian scientist and psychologist. And I might add that Lal Vak found the idea of a human civilization on Earth a bit thick, too. But the explanation, fantastic as it may seem, is quite simple: Lal Vak is speaking to me from the Mars of some millions of years ago, when a human civilization did exist there.”

Morgan raised his hand. “Don’t interrupt now—hear me out. From that simple exchange of visual and auditory impressions which marked our first communications, we progressed until each one had learned the language of the other to a degree that enabled us to exchange abstract as well as concrete ideas.

“It was Lal Vak who suggested that if we could find a man on Earth and one on Mars whose bodies were similar enough to be doubles, their brain patterns might also be similar enough so that consciousness could be transferred between them. Thus, Earth of the 20th Century could be viewed through Martian eyes, while the (to us) ancient Mars culture—we cannot yet place it in time relative to Earth—could be seen at first hand by a man from Earth. First Lal Vak projected to me many thought images of Martians willing to make this exchange—so clearly that I was able to draw detailed pictures of them. But that was not enough. I could spend the rest of my life without finding any counterparts of these Martians here. The second thing Lal Vak did was to tell me how to make what we call a mind-compass, and gave me the brain-patterns of his volunteers. I followed his directions and fed the first brain-pattern into the mind-compass.”

Thorne leaned forward intently. “What happened?”

“Nothing. The needle rotated aimlessly. This meant that either there was no physical counterpart of this Martian now alive on earth, or any such double did not have a similar brain-pattern. I fed in the second and third patterns with the same result. But with the fourth pattern, the needle swung directly to a given point and remained there.” Morgan opened a drawer in the little table and took out some pencil sketches. “Recognize this man?” he asked, handing a sketch to Thorne.

“Your assistant—Boyd, you called him?”

“Correct. Under the influence of Lal Vak’s thoughts, I drew a picture of Frank Boyd. To shorten the story, I found him in an Alaskan mining camp. He was interested in the venture I proposed—he is now on Mars.”

“But—I just saw him … ”

“You saw the body of Frank Boyd, which is now inhabited by Sel Han, a Martian. On Mars, Sel Han’s body is occupied by Frank Boyd, an Earthman. But I made one terrible mistake.”

“What was that?”