The Amtor or Venus Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a science fantasy series consisting of four novels and one novelette. Most of the stories were first serialized in Argosy, an American pulp magazine. It is sometimes known as the Carson Napier of Venus Series, after their fictional main character, Carson Napier. Carson attempted a solo voyage to Mars, but, because of mistaken navigational calculations, he finds himself heading toward the planet Venus instead. The novels, part of the Sword and Planet subgenre of science fiction, follow earthman Napier's fantastic adventures after he crash-lands on Venus, called Amtor by its human-like inhabitants. Unlike Barsoom, the desert planet of Mars, these stories are set upon a waterworld. Most of the events of the series take place on the island of Vepaja, the kingdom of Korva on the island of Anlap, and the city-states of Havatoo and Kormor on the tropical continent north of Vepaja.
As is common in Burroughs' works, the hero is bold and daring, and quickly wins the heart of the Vepajan princess (or janjong) Duare, though class prejudices long inhibit her from expressing her love. Napier meets many varied peoples, including the Vepajans, refugees from an overthrown empire; the Thorists, thinly disguised communists who ran the Vepajans out of what is now the Thoran empire; pirates; the super-scientific eugenicists of Havatoo; the zombies of Kormor; the fascistic Zanis of Korva; and the hideous Cloud People.
In the course of his adventures within the series, Carson Napier becomes a pirate (twice), escapes from the dread Room of the Seven Doors, and is finally made a prince, or tanjong, of Korva after the overthrow of the Zanis. Napier also rescues princesses from incomparable dangers innumerable times.
Amtor is a verdant world shielded from the heat of the sun by a (nearly) perpetual cloud cover. The portion depicted, largely confined to the southern hemisphere's temperate zone (or Trabol, as it is known to its inhabitants), is primarily oceanic, but includes two continents and a number of large islands.
The main continent is Thora, extending also far into the tropical zone of Strabol and the arctic zone of Karbol -– possibly as far as the south pole. Several smaller land masses projecting into Trabol from Karbol appear to be peninsular extensions of Thora; these include Bombaj, Ator, Rovlap, Vodaro, and Vaxlap. Interspersed among these are the great islands of Ganfal, Malpi, Donuk, Movis, Nor, Anlap, Vepaja, Trambol, and Zanbo. The unnamed second continent is a largely tropical landmass north of Vepaja and west of Thora.
Amtorian vegetation, particularly on Vepaja, tends to be gigantic. Vepaja is notable for the enormous forests Napier first encounters upon his arrival, with trees reaching into the inner cloud envelope. Elsewhere, the geography of Amtor is more varied, and he also travels through a dismal pine forest, grassland plains, glacial valleys, and several mountain ranges.
Cartographers of Amtor's southern hemisphere believe their world is a flat disk, with the fiery equator as a point at the center, while the south pole is distributed around the edge. Amtorian maps therefore greatly distort the distances, sizes, and shapes of surface features.
The human natives of Amtor are generally inhospitable, often trying to murder Napier, kidnap his princess, or both. Their nations are rather loosely connected, partly because the geography is strewn with impassable mountains, impenetrable forests, and unnavigable seas (which Napier nevertheless passes, penetrates, and navigates), and partly because their maps are somewhat unusual. In spite of their relative isolation from each other, a worldwide language is current among all peoples. The level of culture runs the spectrum from savagery to advanced technology; some nations possess a longevity serum, atomic ray guns, and nuclear powered ships. Radio is unknown (the ships are reduced to communicating by flags), and there are no native aircraft; Napier designs and builds the first, based on Earth technology.
The other impediment to communication, Amtor's quirky cartography, stems from the inhabitants' bizarre cosmology, which at least in the southern hemisphere where Napier lands holds that the world is a flat disc floating on a burning sea, with a rim of ice and a center of fire. As the "rim" is actually the south pole, and the "center" the equator, Amtorians have an extraordinarily distorted view of their planet's surface, and their maps are warped accordingly. Due to the perpetual overcast, they have no celestial markers to correct their geographical mismeasurements, let alone on which to base the concepts of a solar system, other worlds, or the stars. The difference between the observed and theoretical versions of geography are reconciled by a pseudo-scientific "Theory of Relativity of Distance", which resolves the problem by multiplying by the square root of minus one. Napier finds it difficult to counter this rationale, noting that "You cannot argue with a man who can multiply by the square root of minus one." Such wry digs are typical of the series.
- Pirates of Venus (1934)
- Lost on Venus (1935)
- Carson of Venus (1939)
- Escape on Venus (1946)
- The Wizard of Venus (1964)
In 2011, the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate commissioned a sixth Amtor novel, Skies of Venus, from writer Neal Romanek.
When DC Comics had the rights to various Burroughs properties, they did an adaptation of Pirates of Venus (in Korak, Son of Tarzan #46-50,52-53, partially reprinted in Tarzan Family #60-65) and started an adaptation of Lost on Venus (in Korak #54-56 and Tarzan #230), with art by Michael Kaluta.
Later, Dark Horse Comics obtained the rights of the Burroughs properties, and published a 4-issue mini-series with Tarzan meeting Carson on Venus, which was later collected in a trade paperback.
In 2004 an option for the entire Venus series were secured by Angelic Entertainment, Inc. a film production company based in San Diego, California. They have since lost the option rights to this property. The entire Venus Series property is presently under option by Jupiter 9 Productions, which is developing the books as a series of features.
- The Edgar Rice Burroughs Summary Project
- Angelic Pictures POV Site
- Pirates of Venus Movie Site
- Unravelling Amtor: Following in the Footprints of Matching Mars
- Maps of Amtor
- James Sullos, the president of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.