Tarzan at the Earth's Core: (#13) Mass Market Paperback – Jan 12 1986
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"Before Jurassic Park there were Burroughs's jungles; before Princess Leia there was Jana, the Red Flower of Zoram; before the Dyson sphere there was Pellucidar; and before the Terminator there was Tarzan."--From Sean McMullen's introduction "[Burroughs's] stories are still as solid and imaginative as anything being published today. Perhaps, dare we say it, even more so."--Statesman Journal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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There are many similarities between this and Burrough's Barsoom series, and as such it is fairly predictable, but there are some differences as well. Once again there is an introduction which makes the case that this is a real story. Instead of an unexplained transportation to Mars, the journey to Pellucidar is done via an invention, a "subterranean prospector" which works far better and also far worse than intended. The hero, David Innes and his friend Perry who invented the "subterranean prospector" find themselves in a hostile world; they are captured and captured again finding themselves enslaved by the dominant species of the planet, the Mahars. The hero also finds a beautiful woman who he is destined to be with.
This novel isn't nearly as good as the start to the Pellucidar series as "A Princess of Mars" was for the Barsoom series. There are some rather racist descriptions, and the language difficulties are overcome too easily, though one has to also give credit for the Mahars as a unique and horrible species, though there again they have an Achilles heel which is rather absurd. Another weakness is the flow of time, which sometimes results in contradictions in the plot.Read more ›
Also recommended is Basil Copper's treatment of the descent-into-the-earth theme in his creepy novel The Great White Space, now unfortunately out of print.
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"At the Earth's Core" is another highly entertaining science fiction novel from ERB. Even though his format is formulaic, you're always assured of fast paced adventure in his novels. Not as groundbreaking as Tarzan or as strong as John Carter, The Pellucidar series is still a worthy addition to Burroughs body of work, and it gets an extra star for the nostalgia of being a personal childhood favorite.
Innes is being held in the dungeons of the Korsars, and Jason Gridley (inventor of the Gridley wave that allowed ERB to "receive" the Martian stories from John Carter, which accounts for the other major ERB series) persuades Tarzan to come along fr the fun. Gridley builds a zeppelin and uses it to descend into the land of Pellucidar (do not get me started on the physics involved in a lighter than air ship descending to the Earth's core. Once in Pellucidar Tarzan and Gridley have their separate adventures, and ERB seems to go out of his way to come up with new races of people (e.g., the Horibs) and prehistoric type creatures to beleaguer both of the book's heroes. The romance, of course, happens with Gridley, who meets Jana, the Red Flower of Zoram. Even everybody gets back together and they remember why they came to Pellucidar in the first place.
"Tarzan at the Earth's Core" is a solid ERB pulp fiction yarn all things considered. What makes it work is that Tarzan has some competition for the role of hero in the story. He is more of a major supporting character than the lead, because Gridley is the leader of the expedition and even disadvantaged in the jungles of Pellucidar, where Tarzan finds himself quite at home, even with that weird burning sun in the sky that never sets, manages to hold his own for the most part. Burroughs also includes the set up for the next Pellucidar novel, when Lieutenant Wilhelm Von Horst, the mate of the zeppelin, vanishes. Unfortunately he would have to wait until 1935 to be rescued in "Back to the Stone Age." Meanwhile, Tarzan would go back to his usual run of episodes back in Africa.
The Tarzan stories represent some of Burroughs' best work. The Pellucidar stories do not. Burroughs stretches credulity in all his stories, but he takes it to the limit in the Pellucidar stories. In the Pellucidar seriest Burroughs employs a preposterous concept (a hollow Earth with an inner world where time stands still) and adds insult to injury with highly improbable plot twists. This makes the quality of "Tarzan at the Earth's Core" all the more surprising. It stands as the absolute best Pellucidar story and one of the best Tarzan stories. Ironically it stands near the middle of both series.
David Innes, the hero of the Pellucidar stories, is in trouble. Jason Gridley, inventor of the Gridley Wave, hears the radio distress signal from the center of the Earth, and organizes a rescue party. Many stalwart adventurers, including Tarzan of the Apes, enlist in the expedition. Where Innes got to the Earth's core in a mechanical mole, Gridley's party travels there in an airship. Read the book to find out how they fly an airship to the center of the Earth and confront the many perils of the savage world they find.
Yes, Pellucidar lies in the center of the earth. Jules Verne's take on what lies beneath differs greatly; this one less "sci-fi" and more fun...like "Jurassic Park" fun.
I think the audience most likely to be enthralled here, is the one comprised of pre-teenage boys...yet anyone who loves a a good story well told will become a fan as well.
This is a tough book to stop reading...it's one of those that you want to see "what happens next." So much so I've already ordered as many other Pellucidar books as I could find...
A synopsis is unnecessary...it's already been nicely done here at the Review site. Just know that, in a fashion that reminds me of "The Princess Bride", the "mushy" parts dovetail nicely with the "adventure" parts. The relationship between Innes and Dian is interesting, non-stereotypical, and surprisingly modern.
I was already a fan of ERB's Tarzan books.
It seems I've added another series to my "must read/own" list.
I'm afraid to read "A Princess of Mars" (the Mars series)...or perhaps I should say my bank account is.