Bill Hillman's
Weekly Online Fanzine
Volume 037

Compiled by Bill Hillman


2. OAK: CREATOR OF JAN by Albert E. Gechter
3. OAK Motes & Mots
4. A Short Story: A Vision of Venus

                                        by E. Hoffmann Price 

Article from D. Peter Ogden's ERBANIA #7, June 1959

E. Hoffmann Price
Mid-summer of 1926, I went to Chicago to meet Farnsworth Wright, who with Weird Tales had but recently moved from Indianapolis, Ind. The encounter is described in No. 2 of the late W. Paul Cook's The Ghost which contains Chapter 1., of my series, "The Book of the Dead." This is relevant only because Wright presently phoned Kline saying, "Come down as soon as you can. E. Hoffmann Price is here."

Tall, thin Wright towered over us all, reducing us in scale so that all other's heights seemed much alike, yet my recollection is that Kline was appreciably above my five foot seven plus a fraction. Though seven years and two days my senior - he was born July 1, 1891 and already showing signs of putting on weight, Otis and I had as to appearance, more likeness than difference - dark hair, ruddy -- olive complexion, full fashioned nose. One detail has escaped my memory: whether his eyes were blue-gray, or brown. His expression was open-faced, self assured, hearty and cordial; a man who knew his way around, meeting life and the world with confidence and loving both.

Characteristically, Otis invited us to dinner. Little time was lost in closing the editorial rooms at 450 East Ohio Street.

He took us in his Willys-Knight sedan to his home at 4333 Castello Avenue, which in those days was well away from Chicago's nightmarish downtown confusion. The front was deceptively self effacing and modest. Crossing the threshold was a dramatic step.

First "Curley" -- Mrs. Kline, smooth and lovely and soft-voiced and gracious, her youthful face seeming ever younger because of that exquisite silver-pearl, prematurely gray hair; "Jimmie" -- Ora Fay, the tiny, dainty blond daughter; Elinor, the more robust seeming brunette, and "Buster" -- Allan the son, colored very much like his father.

There was the dining room, and that long, long table I was to know so well, during the couple of years Otis and I were neighbors. And then, on the second floor, and overlooking the street, was the land of wonder; the first studio I'd ever entered. A glance at the titles of his library made me drool. By now, I knew that meeting this man was a significant event.

Prohibition, remember? That queer, warped and vicious expression of the American passion for minding other peoples' business, reforming other people, supervising their lives? Otis had not go around to taking cognizance of that lunatic law. Mrs. Kline came up the stairs to bring into the studio a tray on which was not a "A" bottle, but numerous bottles. Otis gestured in that lavish, lordly way the very memory of which has brightened the thirty two years which have marched past since our first meeting.

Every free man in those days had liquor, if only to show contempt of the fanatics who had enslaved the land -- but Otis had GOOD liquor. As good, in fact, as the dinner, which like all of Mrs. Kline's kitchen magic, was memorable.

How we managed without block and tackle to quit the dining table and get back to the studio is no longer clear, but we did. Turkish and domestic cigarettes; cigars; and, an assortment of new pipes, and an assortment of blends of tobacco. When I had finished my first pipe, Otis took it and carved my initials on the bowl and set it in the rack with the other guest-pipes, to await my return.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Kline came up with liqueurs - benedictine, chartreux, cacao and all the rest of the customary as well as the unusual things on the list. The Otis touch, the thinking in terms of a la carte.

In due course, Farnsworth Wright and the business manager of Weird Tales, Bill Sprenger, bailed out. I didn't. Otis made it clear that we still had much to discuss. Which we had.

Moslem customs. The Arabic language. The art and science of the sword.


"Time for a bottle and a cold joint," he remarked.

Whether she had been previously briefed, or was merely psychic was never clarified, but he had barely spoken when "Curley" came up the stairs with two bottles, a haunch of mutton and a leg of veal. And, genuine Mocha coffee. He was in the spice and extract business and thus knew the source of things.

We hewed cold joints and dipped our beaks into the 16-year-old Zinfandel which he had made, and had aged in the cellar. Once red the wine had from age become tawny brown and wonderful. The other bottle contained a younger wine, still red.

Then the swords ----

He had heard that I had been the lesser member of the West Point dueling sword team which won the intercollegiate championship in 1923. "No epees," he said, cheerily, "but maybe these sabres will do."

One had to humor such a perfect host.

"En garde!"

Right there in the crowded study.

I'm glad that the old master, Louis Vauthier, Cercle de l'Escrime de la Madeleine, wasn't there to see my performance. That man of iron would out of his generous heart forgiven me, but the sight would have hurt his feelings.

A master of the sword would have made an ape of Otis.

But Otis made a monkey of me.

The collegiate fencers, being well schooled, were predictable because their moves were conventional. Otis was unschooled, unpredictable, agile, aggressive, self assured. And swordplay, without mask or glove and in a crowded room, disconcerted me. All this, I later learned, came out of his planning The Swordsman of Mars -- he wanted a bit of a workout, and then, some atmosphere! Happily I did have sufficient presence of mind to compare the sabre with the tulwar and the scimitar, weapons which Otis did not have at hand. It was very much more comfortable, getting things back on and academic basis.

Presently, Otis went to the basement for more wine. We drank and we drank, until the rising sun reached into the study-library-armory. Then he drove me to the South Shore station, and the interurban train which took me twenty miles to Hammond, Ind., and the job that financed my playing at being a writer.

During our two years as neighbors, we had many such meetings. And when I was transferred to New Orleans, Otis joined me and Robert Spencer Carr and others of the Vieux Carre crowd for a week of festivity which did not noticeably interfere with the primary purpose of his trip ---- calling on customers, the principal one being a certain Mr. Brown, an ice-cream magnate who lived in a  palace at Rosa Court, just off Upper St. Charles Avenue. In business as in hospitality, Otis was large scale, somewhat bigger than life-size!

Finally, as is the way with business partnerships, there were differences. Otis sold out his interest, and devoted his full time to fiction. His output was no more than two or three serials (or equivalent lengths in hard cover format) annually, with of course shorter pieces. That I am in mid-1958 asked to write of a man whose fiction career ended in 1933 suggests that during his day as an author, he made a deep impression. Let me give an example:

Farnsworth Wright, telling me of one of the many crises which had promised to finish Weird Tales, said that but for the drawing power of several of the steady contributors, the magazine would never have pulled through. He did not give any one of this handful preeminence over the others, knowing how silly such discrimination would have been.

In effect, he said, "This one was not producing at the time, and That One hadn't quite arrived. But Otis had reached a new peak of popularity. We'd been through previous bad stretches, and knew just about how long a circulation slump would last. A six-parter would do it, and Otis gave me a synopsis, then set to work."

"Ordinarily, I will not feature a serial until the entire MSS is in my hands," Wright continued, "but this was an emergency. So, I published several parts before the final installments were done. Pneumonia almost did it! For Otis, and for us."

"The devil you say!"

Wright nodded. "You never heard? He never mentioned it?"

"This is all new."

"In hospital, Otis finished that yarn. How he did it, no one knows, least of all he himself. He was  like a zombi, functioning automatically. He lived through it and so did Weird Tales.

"It's a wonder they let him do it."

"They had nothing to say about it. Something drove Otis. He would not be stopped, and he was not stopped."

My best recollection is that the story was The Bride of Osiris.

[Ogden note: Looking through an index of Kline tales, The Bride of Osiris is listed as a 3 part serial. The only 6 part serials featured in Weird Tales were Tam, Son of Tiger and Buccaneers of Venus, both were published at the height of his career; but Buccaneers of Venus is reputed to have been refused by Argosy because they preferred to us Pirates of Venus instead. However, the real reason that Buccaneers of Venus appeared in Weird Tales instead of Argosy with the rest of his Venus novels, is probably due to the account above rendered by Mr. Price. On the other hand, it might have been Tam, Son of Tiger.]

Despite my having sold Weird Tales, Oriental Stories, and Magic Carpet a total of twenty yarns, during my amateur years, as a professional writer, in mid-1932, established two unpleasant facts. The first was that my fantasy sales had given me not even a dime's worth of prestige in the general pulp field. Second, I had to get acquainted with the long list of requirements as to treatment, pace, length and tabus. This was sharply in contrast to dealing with Farnsworth Wright, whose editorial policy was, "I have no editorial policy."

Otis coached me as to market requirements and proved his points by selling the MSS I had rewritten in response to his suggestions. He had so many editorial contacts that he could not satisfy the demand for his own work. It was easy and natural for him to offer stories by friends whose style and treatment he liked. Finally, since he could not produce a quantity of fiction sufficient to maintain his family in the way to which he had become accustomed, he turned from writing and began to major as author's representative. Unlike so many who loved to write, Otis was realistic. And, he was a superb salesman!

In the spring of 1933, it seemed that I had arrived as a fictioneer: three novelettes and two shorts sold in one week. This false dawn was followed by the darkness of a bad slump. Nosing my Model "A" Ford northward that autumn, I drove the thousand miles from New Orleans to Chicago, somewhat to humor my second wife, Wanda, and somewhat to confer with Otis. While she was visiting her and no doubt trying to decide what to do when our fiction business folded, I was Kline's guest for three weeks.

We discussed several collaborations. We teamed up and wrote an installment of a fantasy serial to which several others were to contribute, each author, one chapter. This was for an amateur publication. We called on several of the few editors who had not yet moved their offices to New York, the fiction capital. Each of these contacts finally paid off. Otis never doubted that I'd make the grade. Looking back, I marvel more now than I did then at his optimism. The years have made me appreciate, more and more his generous friendship, his fine hospitality and his gracious wife.

1933 was World's Fair in Chicago, "Century of Progress." Otis, having made the rounds of the exhibits relating to the Near East, took me for a tour of that portion of the fair. It is my impression, blurred and vague, that he either had, or was going to have, one of his stories used as the basis for a concession that featured the prehistoric world and primitive man. Though ever more deeply involved as a literary agent, he still assembled material against the day when he could afford the time to write fiction again.

Another discovery was Hassan's place, far down town, the social centre of a colony of Syrians, Egyptians, Hindu Moslems, Arabs from el Yemen, Turks and Persians and Armenians gathered there.

Otis  hailed each acquaintance in an appropriate Arabic dialect, from Syrian to Moghrebi. With one group we had coffee. With another, we smoked a narghileh, while Otis tried to get the words to a Turkish song, and to make musical notations. Then, as a gourmet, he got a recipe:

"Crush several cloves of garlic," Hassan said, "and fill the bowl with yoghurt. Ad some tahini (crushed sesame seed), a dash of red pepper, and whip it till it's like this----"

We liked the sample.

The man went on, "But don't eat it unless you can spend the next couple of days in the country. Your friends won't like you."

After a quarter of a century, I still recall Otis, ruddy, glowing with friendship and the joy of living; gesturing as he changed a stanza or two of that Turkis ballad. Only the chorus remains with me: "Yok, babajeem, YOK!"

And in another corner of Hassan's smoky loft, we sat in on dissertation on Moslem theology. Otis was a scholar as well as a bon vivant.

Depression or no, those were the days, and rich. I drove back to New Orleans for a fresh start. I did not know that never again would Otis and I drink to the sunrise, or see each other face to face.

Early 1934, Wanda and I headed for the Pacific coast. The final lap of the long trek was financed by one of those checks which Otis managed to collect from the receiver of a publisher who had gone through bankruptcy. This was not notable, except for one curious detail: the story had been sold for $100, payable on publication. The check Otis got was for $125! Whether a fluke, or a result of skillfully pressuring the receiver, I never learned.

The writing business began to pay off.

Otis sent me a synopsis, characterization sketches and "treatments" of several yarns he had long hoped to complete. One was a serial, Satans on Saturn, published in Argosy. Several were novelettes for the detective story magazines.

For me, collaboration is usually a losing deal. Working with Otis was one of the few exceptions. Out of appreciation of his good fellowship, I would happily have collaborated at a financial loss and still counted it a genuine gain, since those joint efforts enabled him to get into print in spite of the ever increasing demands of his literary agency. But the way things worked out, the foundation material which he supplied was so stimulating that I was able to grind out the finished copy at such a speed that splitting the check still left me with a good profit.

In addition to the domestic marketing, Otis, always a good promoter, became a specialist in foreign rights.

The final step was moving from Chicago to Short Beach, Conn., and opening an office in New York. Eventually, he sold the home I remembered so fondly. When I got the news, I had a feeling of sadness somewhat like that at the death of a friend. I wrote condolences, as it were, on the passing of 4333 Castello Avenue.

In 1944-45, Otis and I exchanged a good many letters regarding a proposed collaboration -- his idea and plan, of course. This was to be a story of Central Asia and Tibet, a blend of science and the outright supernatural, in which Shiva the Destroyer would appear, either off stage, or actually on the scene. Broken Wheel was the working title. We had never attempted a project quite as difficult.

Time and again, the deal was tabled. However, this seemingly impossible project was so intriguing that we brushed aside a proposed adventure novelette of the Caribbean area, a story that could readily have been completed and marketed.

Otis was leading his usual busy, high pressure life. The years since 1926 had been adding up; we lived zestfully as ever, but without the magnificent extremes of the old days. Because of a heart condition, there were diets and various restrictions. Meanwhile, he was "arriving"-- and where competitors had at first soothed themselves by damning with faint praise, and by polite disparagements, they ended by forgetting business rivalry, and recognizing him as a good operator, accepting him as a good friend and valued associate. His family was growing up. "Jimmie" was married, and starting a family of her own. There were snapshots from time to time, of him, and of the youngsters, now as old as I had been when Otis and I first met. Life in the new home was good.

And we'd finally get Broken Wheel turning smoothly.

But just what Otis and I could finally have devised concerning the greater and lesser gods was not to be decided. There came an airmail, telling me that Otis had died October 25, 1946. A heart attack finished him very swiftly, or was it a cerebral hemorrhage? All I know certainly is that death had taken a loyal and generous friend.

                                    ----E. Hoffman Price
                        A memoriam that appeared in D. Peter Ogden's
                        ERBANIA #7, June 1959

Weird Tales December 1927 - H. Price: Infidel's Daughter

                                          by Albert E. Gechter 

Many, many authors have written stories that were modeled after the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Of them all, however, the one author who came closest to duplicating the style and manner of Burroughs' stories and who achieved the greatest amount of popular success was the late Otis Adelbert Kline (1891-1946). So closely and carefully did he imitate the Burroughs' style that his work is extremely difficult to tell apart from the stories Burroughs himself wrote during the 1930's; except for the author's signatures, there is very little difference; both these men wrote for the same magazines and book publishers and were read and liked by the same readers. It is a tribute to Kline that he was able to pull this off so well; and it was of course, a compliment to Burroughs that Kline should want to imitate him, because Kline had already achieved a considerable amount of success as a writer of popular songs, movie scripts and all kinds of light fiction for magazines: detective, adventure, romance, western and so on. But beginning in 1923, he began to specialize in writing science-fantasy stories. His short story, The Thing of a Thousand Shapes, appeared in the first issue of WEIRD TALES magazine and was followed by many more similar stories of all lengths and for many different magazines.

Like Burroughs, Kline was originally from Chicago and enjoyed fishing hunting, hiking and other strenuous outdoor sports and activities, which may help to explain the adventurous quality of his fiction stories.

In 1929, he began his great series of stories written in imitation of Burroughs whose work he had long studied and admired. The first was the very long, very popular novel THE PLANET OF PERIL which was serialized in Argosy Weekly and published as a book by A.C. McClurg & Co., and reprinted by Grosset & Dunlap, Inc. MAZA OF THE MOON appeared six months later and was printed by the same magazine and book publishers. A year afterwards, THE PRINCE OF PERIL was published by Argosy and McClurg but has not been reprinted. In 1931 he wrote TAM, SON OF TIGER a long fantastic-adventure serial for WEIRD TALES. The following year his novel, THE BUCCANEERS OF VENUS was serialized in WEIRD TALES and in 1949 it was published as a book by the GRANDON COMPANY, both the serial and the book were illustrated by J. Allen St. John, the famous illustrator of the Burroughs' stories. In 1933 his best two novels, THE SWORDSMAN OF MARS and its sequel THE OUTLAWS OF MARS appeared in Argosy; the Grandon Company has announced its intention of eventually putting these stories within hard covers.

His greatest commercial success was probably the Jan stories. There were two of these. JAN OF THE JUNGLE was a six part serial in Argosy; it was filmed as a movie serial THE CALL OF THE SAVAGE by Universal Pictures starring Noah Beery, Jr. and Dorothy Short and in 1937 it appeared as a book CALL OF THE SAVAGE, published by Edward J. Clode, Inc. of New York. The sequel JAN IN INDIA was a three-part serial in Argosy. It is these Jan stories I want to discuss in this article. They are just like two more Tarzan novels, similarly, THE SWORDSMAN OF MARS and THE OUTLAW OF MARS are like two additional novels in the John Carter series and the Venus trilogy belong on the same shelf with Burroughs' own Venus books. That is how genuinely good they are!

It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that Jan of the Jungle, Harry Thorne of Mars and Robert Grandon of Venus are merely poor carbon copies of Tarzan, John Carter and Carson Napier, since they are genuine characters in their own right, each with his own individual personality. There was to be sure only one Burroughs, but Kline was a worthy disciple of the great Master of Fantasy; it is really too bad that he is no longer alive, because if he were still with us, he would have been the logical one to continue the adventures of the Burroughs' characters in a new series of sequels. Since both authors are now dead that can never happen and it is our misfortune that it cannot. For Kline's stories are so much like Burroughs', that if they bore the name of Burroughs, no one would doubt that Burroughs had written them. One might almost suppose that Kline was a pen-name for Burroughs, if we did not know better.

CALL OF THE SAVAGE is a very long novel and the action covers a period of years. The story begins in the little town of Citrus Crossing, on the edge of the Florida Everglades and not far from the Gulf of Mexico. Kline must have been familiar with Florida from his own personal experience because the local color and atmosphere, though lightly sketched in are quite convincing and extremely well done. The plot is set in motion by the bizarre, fiendish and elaborate scheme of revenge planned by the insane physician and explorer Dr. Bracken.

Many years ago Bracken had obtained the promise of the beautiful red-headed Georgia Adams to marry him, just before he had gone off on an African safari. When he returned he learned that during his absence she had married the handsome, dashing young millionaire Harry Trevor, and would soon give birth to their first child. This turned out to be a good looking red-haired boy who was eventually to become "Jan of the Jungle."

It happened this way. When the boy was one day old, Bracken kidnapped him from his parents and took him to his own home where he kept a menagerie of jungle animals from Africa and South America. Among these were Tichuk, a big, fierce male chimpanzee and Chicma a gentle female. Her mate Tichuk had just taken their own little one and killed it in a fit of rage. Bracken gives the human infant to Chicma to nurse and to raise in her cage. He becomes an ape-boy, with the body of a man and the soul of a jungle beast, speaking only the language of the apes and never seeing but one human being, Dr. Bracken, whom he hates. Bracken lets him out only for exercise and trains him to fight and kill, intending that one day Jan will murder his own mother.

But the plan fails. When Jan is seventeen years old, he and Chicma escape into the everglades, eluding the doctor and his pursuing bloodhounds and make their way to the coast. There they are sighted, surprised and captured by the crew of a Venezuelan schooner, who take them aboard their ship and put them in a cage. The ship crosses the Caribbean Sea, bound for Caracas. The skipper, Francesco Santos, plans to place Jan and Chicma on public exhibition as an African wild-man and his companion beast. Santos and his men are cruel and brutal to their captives, except for Borno, the second mate, a Haitian negro who treats them kindly, makes them wear jaguar-skin loincloths and teaches Jan to speak a little broken English.

But the vessel is wrecked in a hurricane off the Venezuelan coast and sinks; Santos and his crew escape in the life-boats but Borno, Jan and Chicma are left behind and compelled to reach shore as best they can. Cast away and lost in the Orinoco jungles, they are immediately attacked by ferocious hostile Indians armed with bows, knives, spears and blowguns. In the adventures that ensue, Jan and Chicma become separated from Borno and he drops out of the story. We never do learn what becomes of him.

Jan's ape-training stands him in good stead and he quickly becomes an accomplished jungle man, a South American counterpart of Africa's Tarzan; hunting jaguars and curassows, fighting fierce machete duels and swinging from vines and branches through the treetops. Finally he comes to the isolated rubber plantation of Don Fernando and Dona Isabella Suarez and their adopted daughter the lovely Senorita Ramona Suarez. Of course, unknown to her foster parents Ramona has meetings with Jan, teaches him to write and speak acceptable English and Spanish and naturally the two young people fall in love. By this time Jan is living in a tree house in the jungle not far from the Suarez plantation.

Meanwhile, the scheming Dr. Bracken has been searching for Jan and Chicma all over the Caribbean area and the South American continent but without success, until at last he is approached by Santos who offers to locate them for a price. Bracken decides to enlist the aid of the Trevor family in his search for Jan, always intending of course to double-cross them as soon as the lad is found. He tells Harry and Georgia Trevor that their son is alive and somewhere in Venezuela and that he thinks he knows where he may be found. The Trevors insist on his joining them in an expedition to the jungles of Venezuela at their expense, with Santos as their guide; and the next morning their private yacht, the Georgia A., sails from Tampa bound for South America.

Meanwhile the adventurous wanderings of Jan and Chicma have taken them into a fantastic land of prehistoric animals and men. Jan discovers Egyptian looking colossal idols and a ruined temple; passing through a cave hidden by a great waterfall, he comes upon an enormous secluded valley and enters upon a series of stirring and amazing adventures. First he is attacked by fierce, hairy beast-like cave men. He meets with a sabre tooth tiger. He is chased by white-skinned knights in gold plated armor mounted on the backs of triceratops. Captured by the black robed priests of Set, he is thrown into prison. There he meets and makes friends with a fellow captive, Koh Kan, Prince of Temukan, whose father rules a nation of yellow men and re men -- their customs resemble those of the Chinese but their religion is the same as the Aztec and Mayan Indians. Jan and Oh are sentenced to be sacrificed to the crocodile god, but Jan kills the monster and he and his friend make a daring escape, eluding ferocious dinosaurs and other primeval monstrosities. Trying to find and rescue Chicma, the two young men enter the hostile white nation's capital city and scale the palace wall but are captured again.

We gradually learn that this prehistoric world is the Empire of Sat and its white, yellow and red inhabitants with their high intricate and advanced Egyptian-Mongol-Aztec civilization are descendants of lost colonists from the sunken continents of Lemur, Um and Atlantis.

Jan is sentence to die as a gladiator in the arena at the next games to be held shortly. He must fight in turn a bearded white savage, a brontornis or thunder-bird (an enormous bird of prey) and lastly a sabre-toothed tiger. Naturally Jan overcomes the man with the greatest of ease but spares his life -- (he afterwards turns out to be Sir Henry Westgate, a missing English scholar and explorer suffering from temporary amnesia and living among the beast-men); magnificent fighter that he is, Jan slays the prehistoric bird, but the tiger gets away, springs into the stands and attacks the Emperor Mena and the Empress Nefertre, of course Jan rescues them and slays the runaway.

The emperor is so grateful he makes Jan and Chicma Warrior of Satnow and Captain of the Imperial Guard. Koh is set free and Chicma becomes a pampered palace pet.

There's lot more to the story, but you've got the general idea by now. Suffice is to say that Jan defeats a plot against the throne by the wicked priests of Set, his sweetheart Ramona turns out to be the long lost daughter of Mena and Nefertre; Santos and Bracken get their just desserts for their villainies and Jan and his parents are happily reunited.

As you have gathered by now this is a pretty tall tale, Burroughs fans are sure to gulp it down with sheer delight, improbabilities and all.

Much shorter but no less exciting is the sequel JAN IN INDIA.  This one shows the influence of Rudyard Kipling and Talbot Mundy in the detail of its setting and atmosphere, but the plot is still typical  of Burroughs.

The story begins six months after the conclusion of the previous tale. Mr. and Mrs. Trevor take their new found son Jan and his fiance Ramona and her foster parents the Suarez on a round the world cruise in their luxury yacht, the Georgia A. In Singapore they meet the Maharajah of Varuda, who is fascinated by the exotic beauty of Ramona.  He offers them the services of his servants, the Babu Chandra, Kumar and Kupta as guides when they reach their next port in India; accordingly the Trevors take these two Hindus along. One evening off the coast of Bengal, Jan and Ramona have a lover's quarrel, thier first; Jan is feeling very unhappy about it and that night he is standing at the rail when someone attacks him from behind and pushes him overboard into shark infested waters. It is half an hour before Jan's absence on board is noticed and by that time, it is supposed he has probably drowned or fallen victim to the sharks. At any rate search is impossible at night.

Next day, the Maharajah arrives on the scene in his own private vessel and offers to lead the search for Jan or his body. The Trevors and the Suarez go ashore with the Maharajah, the Babu and Kupta.

Meanwhile Jan is not dead, he recovered consciousness, fights a shark and swam to shore.  He plunged into the jungle, threw away most of his torn and wet clothing and made himself a loin-cloth. In short, he has again reverted to the primitive and is now once more an ape-man. He searches for the answer to the mystery of his enemies' identities and their motive in attempting to murder him. He arms himself and fights hostile savages, Bengal tigers and a rogue elephant and makes friend with an Hindu elephant boy.

Meanwhile the search party discover Jan's tracks on the beach and the Maharajah organizes an expedition into the jungle on elephant back.  Ramona is left behind in camp, while the Maharajah leads the Trevors and the Suarez on a wild goose chase; he is the meantime secretly ordered Kupta and his men to search the jungle independently for Jan and shoot him on sight. The camp is attacked and the servants massacred by Zafarulla Khan and his Panthan bandits from the Himalayas, who have been hired by the Maharajah. They carry Ramona off on horseback to the secret temple of Kali, the Hindu temple of death and destruction, where she is held captive. The Maharajah appears on the scene and tells her she must marry him, or Jan will be killed and she will be sacrificed to the black tiger, who is the living reincarnation of Kali.

It seems that the Maharajah is secretly a leader of the ducoits and thugs of India, criminal and religious fanatics who practice a forbidden ancient faith of robbery and assassination that has been outlawed by the British. Furthermore, he is conspiring against a neighboring  Moslem maharajah of a nearby Indian state who is his rival for power and supported by the British.

There is much plotting and counter plotting, shrewd detective work and hard fighting before the inevitable last minute rescue and fight-to-the-finish. JAN IN INDIA has never appeared in book form, due to it not being novel length, but it is well worth reading.

--Albert E. Gechter
An article appearing in D. Peter Ogden's ERBANIA #5 -- July 1958

Shaykh Ahamad & the Pious Companions in Oriental Stories, Summer 1931
        Oriental Stories ed. William H. Desmond, Diane & John Howard &
        Robert K. Weiner (Melrose Highlands, MA: Odyssey Publications,
        Nov 1975, $4.50, 128pp)

Steve [Fisher] gave a party one night.... I still remember vividly the scen when Otis Adelbert Kline, the science fiction writer, who had brought his mandolin with him, kept leaning his two hundred and fifty pounds against the very thin and slight Lurton Blassingame, and Blassingame, who enjoyed the nickname "Count" because of his dignified appearance and sober mien, kept trying to get away from Kline. I finally rescued him, then Otis started leaning against me.

       --Frank Gruber - "The Pulp Jungle" 1967 Sherbourne Press


A VISION OF VENUS by Otis Adelbert Kline

Dr. Morgan, scientist and psychologist, stared fixedly into the crystal globe before him, as he sat in the study of his strange mountain observatory.

For many years, he had been communicating with people on Mars and Venus by means of telepathy, and recording these communications.

Just now, he had established rapport with Lotan, a young plant hunter for the Imperial Government of Olba, the only nation on Venus which had aircraft. He was seeing with Lotan's eyes, hearing with his ears, precisely as if this earthly scientist were Lotan the Olban. The electrodes of his audio-photo thought recorder were clamped to his temples, and every thought, every sense impression of Lotan's was, for the time, Dr. Morgan's.

Lotan's little one-man flier was behaving badly. He had just come through a terrific storm in which he had lost his bearings. His navigating instruments were out of commission and his power mechanism was growing weaker. It would be necessary for him to land and make repairs, soon.

For many months he had sought the kadkor, that rare and valuable food fungus which had once been cultivated in Olba, but had been wiped out by a parasite. His sovereign had offered him the purple of nobility and a thousand kantols of land, if he would but bring him as many kadkor spores as would cover his thumb nail. But so far his quest had been fruitless.

Far below him the Ropok Ocean stretched its blue-green waters for miles in all directions -- a vast expanse of sea and sky that teemed with life of a thousand varieties. There were creatures of striking fantastic beauty and of terrifying ugliness. A number of large, white birds, with red-tipped wings and long, sharply curved beaks, skimmed the water in search of food. Hideous flying reptiles, some with wingspreads of more than sixty feet, soared quite near the flier, eyeing it curiously as if half minded to attack. They would scan the water until they saw such quarry as suited them, then, folding their webbed wings and dropping head first with terrific speed, would plunge beneath the waves, to emerge with their struggling prey and leisurely flap away.

The sea itself was even more crowded with life. And mightiest of all its creatures was the great ordzook, so immense that it could easily crush a large battleship with a single crunch of its huge jaws.

But these sights were no novelty to Lotan, the botanist. What he hoped to see, and that quickly, was land. Failing in this, he knew by the way the power mechanism was acting, that he would soon be compelled to settle to the surface of the Ropok probably to be devoured, ship and all, by some fearful marine monster.

Presently he caught sight of a tiny islet, and toward this he directed his limping ship with all the force of his will. For his little craft, which looked much like a small metal duck boat with a glass globe over the cockpit, was raised, lowered, or moved in any direction by a mechanism which amplified the power of telekinesis, that mysterious force emanating from the subjective mind, which enables earthly mediums to levitate ponderable objects without physical contact. It had no wings, rudder, propeller or gas chambers, and its only flying equipment, other than this remarkable mechanism, were two fore-and-aft safety parachutes, which would lower it gently in case the telekinetic power failed.

Normally the little craft could travel at a speed of five hundred miles an hour in the upper atmosphere, but now it glided very slowly, and moreover was settling toward the water alarmingly. Lotan exerted every iota of his mind power, and barely made the sloping, sandy beach when the mechanism failed completely.

As he sprang out of his little craft, Lotan's first care was for his power-mechanism. Fortunately the splicing of a wire which had snapped repaired the damage.

He looked about him. At his feet the sea was casting up bits of wreckage. It was evident that a ship had gone to pieces on the ref -- the work of the recent storm. The body of a drowned sailor came in on a comber. But it did not reach the shore, for a huge pair of jaws emerged from the water, snapped, and it was gone. In the brief interval he recognized the naval uniform of Tyrhana, the most powerful maritime nation of Venus.

Then his attention was attracted by something else -- tracks freshly made, leading from a large piece of wreckage across the soft sand and into the riotous tangle of vegetation that clothed the interior. They were small -- undoubtedly the tracks of a woman or boy.

Lotan followed, resolved to try to rescue this marooned fellow-being, before taking off.

He plunged into a jungle that would have appeared grotesque to earthly eyes. The primitive plants of Venus, which bear no fruits, flowers nor seeds, but reproduce solely by subdivision, spores or spawn, assume many strange and unusual forms and colors. Pushing through a fringe of jointed, reed-like growths that rattled like skeletons as he passed, he entered a dense fern-forest. Immense tree-ferns with rough trunks and palm-like leaf crowns, some of which were more than seventy feet in height, towered above many bushy varieties that were gigantic compared to the largest ferns of earthly jungles. Climbing ferns hung everywhere, like lianas. Creeping ferns made bright green patches on the ground. And dwarf, low-growing kinds barely raised their fronds above the violet-colored moss which carpeted the forest floor.

The trail was plain enough, as the little feet had sunk deeply into the moss and leaf-mould. It led over a fern-clothed rise to lower marshy ground, where fungus growths predominated. There were colossal toadstools, some of which reared their heads more than fifty feet above the ground, tremendous morels like titanic spear heads projecting from the earth, squat puff-balls that burst when touched, scattering clouds of tiny black spores, and grotesque funguses shaped like candelabra, corkscrews, organ pipes, stars, flued funnels and upraised human hands.

But Lotan gave no heed to these. To him they were quite commonplace. 

As he hurried along the trail, there suddenly came from the tangle ahead a horrible peal of demoniacal laughter. It was quickly echoed by a dozen others coming from various points in the fungoid forest. He dashed forward, gripping his weapons, for he recognized the cry of the hahoe, that terrible carnivore of the Venerian jungles. It had discovered a victim and was summoning its fellows.

Like all Venerian gentlemen, Lotan wore a tork and scarbo belted to his waist. The tork was a rapid-fire weapon about two feet long, of blued steel. It was shaped much like a carpenter's level, and fired by means of explosive gas, discharging needle-like glass projectiles filled with a potent poison that would instantly paralyze man or beast. The scarbo was a cutting, thrusting weapon with a blade like that of a scimitar and basket hilt.

As he abruptly emerged into a little clearing, he saw a slender, golden-haired girl who wore the silver and purple of nobility, clinging to the cap of a tall fungus. Below her, snarling, snapping and leaping upward, were a half dozen hahoes, huge brutes somewhat like hyenas, but twice as large as any hyena that ever walked the earth, and far more hideous. They had no hair, but were covered with rough scales of black color, and mottled and spots of golden orange. Each beast had three horns, one projecting form either temple and one standing out between the eyes. Two of them were gnawing at the stem of the fungus, and had mad such headway that it seemed likely to topple at any moment.

With a reassuring shout to the frightened girl, Lotan whipped out his scarbo, and elevating the muzzle of his tork, pressed the firing button. Horrid death-yells from the hahoes followed the spitting of the tork, as the deadly glass projectiles did their work. In less than a minute four of the brutes lay dead at the foot of the fungus, and the other two had fled.

But during that time, brief as it was, another flesh-eater of Venus, far more fearful than the hahoes, had seen the girl and marked her for its prey.

As Lotan looked upward, about to speak to the girl, she screamed in deadly terror, for a man-eating gnarsh had suddenly swooped downward from the clouds. Seizing her in its huge talons, it flapped swiftly away.

Lotan raised his tork, then lowered it with a cry of despair. For even though he might succeed in killing the flying monster without striking the girl, a fall from that dizzy height would mean sure death for her.

There was a bare possibility, however, that the gnarsh would not eat her until it reached its eyrie, which would be situated on some inaccessible mountain crag. As there were no mountains on the island, the monster would probably head for the mainland, and he could follow in his flier.

He accordingly turned, and dashed back to where his airship lay. Leaping into the cabin, he slammed the door. The little craft shot swiftly upward to a height of more than two thousand feet. Already the gnarsh was more than a mile away, flapping swiftly westward with its victim dangling limply.

Like an avenging arrow, the tiny craft hurtled after the flying monster. As he came up behind it, Lotan drew his scarbo, and opening the cabin door, leaned out.

Almost before the gnarsh knew of his presence, the botanist had flung an arm around the girl's slender waist. With two deft slashes of his keen blade, he cut the tendons that controlled the mighty talons. They relaxed, and with a choking cry of relief, he dragged her into the cabin. Turning his craft, he aimed his tork and sent a stream of deadly projectiles into the flying monster. Its membraneous wings crumpled, and it fell into the sea.

Unconscious of what he was doing, the plant-hunter kept his arm around the girl's waist -- held her close. He slammed the door, and turning, looked into her eyes. In them he read gratitude -- and something more that thrilled him immeasureably. With that brief look went the heart of Lotan. He was drawing her nearer, crushing her to him, unresisting, while the ship hurtled forward, when he remembered that she was of the nobility, and he only a botanist. The jewels that glittered on her garments would have ransomed a rogo [King]. And he was a poor man. He released her.

"You are of Tyrhana?" he asked.

"I am Mirim, daughter of Zand, Romojak [Admiral] of the Fleets of Tyrhana," he replied. "And you, my brave rescuer?"

"Lotan, plant hunter for His Imperial Majesty, Zinlo of Olba," he replied. "My navigating instruments are out of commission, but when we strike the shore line, which we are sure to do by proceeding westward, I can find the way to Tyrhana and take you home." 

"Home," she said, and there was a sob in her voice. "I have no home, now. My mother died when I was born. My father went down with his ship in the great storm that cast me on that terrible island. Now I return to the loneliness of a great castle filled with slaves." Burying her face in her hands, she burst into tears.

His arm encircled her grief-shaken body, and his hand stroked her soft, golden hair.

"Mirim, I --" he began, then stopped resolutely. The gulf between them was too great. Now if he had but found the kadkor and won the reward, he would be her equal -- could ask her hand in marriage. He gasped, as that which had been in the back of his mind, endeavoring to fight its way into his objective consciousness, suddenly occurred to him. He had seen the kadkor. It had been a kadkor that Mirim had climbed to escape from he hahoes. But in the excitement of the moment his mind had only registered the fact subjectively. Back there on that tiny islet, now several hundred kants away, was the object of his quest. but he did not know its bearings, and had not even a compass to guide him. He might search a lifetime and not find that islet again.

Presently the girl ceased her sobbing, sat up and began to adjust her disheveled garments. She detached her belt pouch and handed it to him.

"Will you empty this for me, please? she asked. "It came open and got filled with some horrid gray spores."

Lotan looked at the spores, and his heart gave a great leap of joy, for they were the spores of the kadkor, scraped from the gills of the fungus by her open belt pouch as the girl had been dragged aloft.

"I'll keep these, if you don't mind," he said, "for to me they are worth the purple, and a thousand kantols of land. Moreover, they give me the courage to say that which has lain in my heart since first I looked into your eyes. I love you, Mirim. Will you be my wife?"

"Take me, Lotan," was all she said, but her lips against his told him all. 

Copyright (c) the Literary Estate of Otis Adelbert Kline where applicable.
Inquiries for all rights and permissions should be directed to OAK agent David Anthony Kraft
Reproduction of any OAK material without permission and appropriate copyright notice is a violation.
Move Over To The OAK Gallery 
Where Cover Art For Many OAK Titles Is On Display

Navigation Chart For Our Otis Adelbert Kline Sites
ERBzin-e 36: Bios & Biblio
ERBzin-e 37: Articles & Story
ERBzin-e 54: Illustrated Biblio
ERBzin-e 442: Bio ~ Film

Navigator's Chart to the ERB COSMOS
Links to over 1,000 of our sites
Weekly Online Fanzine
Online Encyclopedia
To The Hillman ERB Cosmos

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
Some ERB Images and Tarzan© are Copyright ERB, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2002 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.