Dave's Reviews > At the Earth's Core

At the Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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's review
Aug 03, 2009

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bookshelves: fiction, speculative-fiction
Read in August, 2009

After starting his Barsoom and Tarzan series of adventures, Edgar Rice Burroughs (September 1st, 1875 – March 19, 1950), wrote “At the Earth’s Core” which was published in 1914. This kicked off his Pellucidar series, which is based on the idea that the Earth is hollow and there are creatures from our prehistoric times still alive and active, as well as more than a few horrific creatures, both intelligent and non-intelligent. As with many of Burrough’s ideas, that of a hollow Earth would inspire many other writers to write stories on a similar theme.

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. It is never quite clear just how Burrough’s saw this working, so while one can appreciate the attempt, the execution of the idea isn’t very well done.

As one has come to expect from Burrough’s, the adventure is entertaining, the characters are a bit two-dimensional, and the plot is fairly predictable. Thus, if one is looking for an entertaining mindless escape, this may work to fill that goal, but then again one would be better served by reading the Barsoom series which is much better done. There are crossovers between the Barsoom series and this one, as well as between the Tarzan series and this one, which makes it of interest as well.
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