Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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PELLUCIDAR: David Innes' Empire
Literature has long speculated that the interior of the earth is hollow and inhabited. Nowhere in these dusty tomes has a more realistic inner world been described that could rival Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar.
At The Earth's Core, first published in 1914, begins a seven novel saga that spanned Edgar Rice Burroughs' writing career, having a special distinction that the final chapter of Pellucidar was not published during the author's lifetime--and was in fact published fourteen years after his death. The Pellucidar Series is a favorite among Edgar Rice Burroughs fans because it contains all of the elements associated with the grand master of adventure.
For more information, see Servello's Pellucidar Glossary.
David Innes and his companion Abner Perry first enter Pellucidar via an ingenious and powerful mechanical mole of Perry's invention. After boring through the earth's crust the intrepid pair of inadvertant explorers encounter a world quite unexpected. The riches Perry had initially hoped to extract from the bowels of the earth could not compare to the extraordinary treasures and mysteries discovered, or equal the exciting lives and adventures they would live from that moment on.
The world at the earth's core, according to Burroughs, is a mirror reverse of the planet's surface. Pellucidar resides some five hundred miles beneath the outer crust--in effect where land exists on the earth's crust oceans lay in Pellucidar, thus giving rise to the incongruity of the smaller inner world having more land area than the outer world! Unlike the glowing fungus in Verne's centre of the earth, Burroughs' Pellucidar has a brilliant miniature sun hanging at the gravitational center of the earth. There is a stationary moon orbiting above a fixed location--the Pendant World. No night can exist in the in the land of the noonday sun and the only twilight found is in the shadow of the Pendant World. This eternal sunshine means time has little or no meaning to the inhabitants of Pellucidar or the weird and wonderful beasts within. There seems to be a timelessness to the land which makes it possible for gigantic dinosaurs to exist side by side with huge mammals and giant birds, creatures all long extinct in the outer world.
The Inner World
A riot of vegetation, including varieties of trees and ferns which passed with the dinosaurs on the surface, chokes large sections of the land masses. Huge snowcapped mountain ranges divide portions of the landscape and some areas are a tortured terrain of past volcanic activity. In the oceans of Pellucidar are immense floathing islands. The atmosphere is thick with cloud and moisture and sometime fraught with large and dangerous storms, but on clear days one can view the astonishing vista of the horizon curving upward! Oceans, mountains, rivers, all these titanic geographic features seem to hang above one's head!
Ed Burroughs always created worlds with great detail--the biology, flora and fauna, even the geology is plausible and correct (he was well-educated in this field). Pellucidar, the world, is nearly as large a character as the heroes and villans beneath the earth's crust, but the reader's enjoyment stems from the variety and inventiveness of the human and humanoid cultures that populate this strange world. There are humans just above the cave level, and more advanced primitive societies, as well as tribes of unusual creatures which are half-human and half-animal. Pellucidar has native Sagoths (a kind of intelligent ape) who serve the Mahars (intelligent flying reptiles). The inner world also has cultures from the outer world who entered through the polar openings. These interlopers have carved out large empires from the vast Pellucidarian landscape.
Pellucidar has one other distinction in all the ERB canon: it is the site of a cross-over story between the inner world of David Innes and the outer world of Tarzan of the Apes. In Tarzan At The Earth's Core Lord Greystoke arrives with Jason Gridley and others on a rescue mission, but even mighty Tarzan has his hands full surviving the perils of Pellucidar!
A short cover bibliography of the titles follows. Some links to J. Allen St. John interior images are available.
The Pellucidar Series
|At The Earth's Core
Innes and Perry use an iron mole to descend 500 miles into the earth to find a bizarre and primitive world.
Innes returns to the Inner World, seeking his mate and friends.
|Tanar of Pellucidar|
Tanar has a variety of adventures.
|Tarzan At The Earth's Core|
On a rescue mission to save David Innes, Tarzan becomes separated from the mission and has to deal with the terrors of Pelludicar alone.
|Back To The Stone Age|
Von Horst, a member of the Gridley mission, becomes lost and, by sheer determination and skill, manages to carve out a life for himself in the Inner World.
|The Land of Terror|
A series of inter-connected novelletes continues the tale of David Innes and Dian the Beautiful.
The final tales of Pellucidar, one of which was first published in 1964, nearly fifteen years after ERB's death.