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Edgar Rice Burroughs
Bison Books, 167 pages

Thomas Floyd
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago in 1875. He attended several schools during his youth, later moving to a cattle ranch out west in Idaho. After about a year or so, his parents packed him off to the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, then to the Michigan Military Academy at Orchard Lake, graduating in 1895. He joined the army and wound up in the Seventh United States Cavalry, stationed at Fort Grant, Arizona Territory. In 1899, he moved to Chicago to work at his father's American Battery Company. By 1911, he was working as a pencil sharpener wholesaler. One of his duties was to verify the placement of ads for his sharpeners in various magazines. These were all-fiction "pulp" magazines and he thought he could do that. "Tarzan of the Apes" appeared in the October 1912 issue of All-Story magazine.

Edgar Rice Burroughs Web Site
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Moon Maid
SF Site Review: Pirates of Venus
Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute Site
Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute Site
Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

In the previous book, At The Earth's Core, David Innes has been tricked. He ends up back on the surface of our own world, his beloved wife Dian replaced by a vile, winged-crocodile like Mahar. Determined to once again return to the underground world of Pellucidar and get his wife back, he turns his digging machine downward, to dig back through the hundred miles of Earth's crust, to land once more in Pellucidar. He finds himself lost, miles away from any recognizable landmark. Soon he encounters his old friend Perry, who tells him that Hooja the Sly One has told Dian that David has left their land for good, that he has another wife and that he never meant to take Dian with him. The empire that Innes built, peaceful and solid, is crushed by infighting and the determination of the Mahar people to do away with humanity for good. Innes and Perry set off on foot, well-armed, to find Dian, and then, to reforge Innes' empire.

Pellucidar is short partially because Edgar Rice Burroughs often skims over events.

"I shall not weary you with the repetition of the countless adventures of our long search. Encounters with wild beasts of gigantic size were of almost daily occurrence..."
Rather than being a negative -- how many times can you describe killing a wild beast? -- it works well with the story, giving you a sense that a great deal is happening, a lot of ground and time being covered, without having to suffer through it all. This method of writing works particularly well because of the framing Burroughs uses. In the beginning, we start not with Innes, but with the writer who set down Innes' previous story for our enjoyment, and a self-styled world wanderer who had found -- of all things -- a buried yet active telegraph key in the Sahara desert. They meet there and immediately the telegraph operator, Downes, finds out that they're talking to David Innes himself, and thus, through a telegraph wires suspended through the Earth's crust, they manage to get the whole of his story, "Practically in his own words." So it is little wonder that he, in his autobiographical narrative, is more than eager to skim the traveling and skip to the good stuff.

There is plenty of that. Pellucidar is a realm of incredible imagination. The horizon curves up, and, save for in one very special place, the sun is always high. Even further down, beneath the surface of Pellucidar, the winged Mahar live in intricate social groups, while above them human kind tries to rise above its -- literally -- stone age attitudes. The landscape is beautiful and exotic, and constantly changing. A favorite place for me was the Land of Awful Shadow, with its hauntingly beautiful pendant moon.

The story is never slow as Innes and his friends travel through these places, fighting savage animals and savage humans, often meeting up with friends at just the right time. Sometimes Innes' luck is too good. I find it hard to imagine Perry whipping up an ocean fleet out of hardly any materials with the ease you or I would cook a TV dinner, but it's so well conceived, so fast paced that your doubts disappear almost before you can conceive them.

This actual edition of Pellucidar has some high points. I found the forward, by Jack McDevitt and the afterward Phillip R. Burger to be quite illuminating, and the pictures were lovely. J. Allen St. John's style is wonderful, like Boris Vallejo with a Victorian feel.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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