Saturday, September 01, 2007

My Favorite Underground World!

Since I posted the last review about underground worlds, let me give you a brief tour of my favorite.

The above cover was on Pellucidar, the second book in Edgar Rice Burroughs's seven-book Pellucidar series. One of the books, Tarzan at the Earth's Core, also doubles as a Tarzan novel.

I was in ninth grade when I found it and read it, though the book had originally been published sixty years before. The 1970s were a great time to read Burroughs because nearly all of his books were in print.

The cover was painted by Frank Frazetta, and it drew me to the novel at once. The scene isn't quite in the novel, but it stayed in my mind for years.

In the original novel, At the Earth's Core, adventurer David Innes joins his good friend and mentor Professor Abner Perry on his latest scientific experiment. Perry had created a tunneling machine he called "the Iron Mole" that was supposed to bore down into the earth to discover what lay there.

Well into the journey, the Iron Mole goes out of control and burrows straight for the center of the earth. But, since this is a Burroughs novel, it isn't long until our heroes emerge into a new world filled with dinosaurs, mind-controlling Mahars (the pterodactyl-looking things), and more sheer adventure than you could shake a stick at.

The idea of a hollow earth has been around for a long time, as evidenced by David Standish's book. But no one filled it more richly than Edgar Rice Burroughs (though James Rollins gave it a great try in his novel, Subterranean).

Check out the map for interesting sites.

The original covers are a little more tame in the cheesecake department, but the action definitely looks more savage.

Back in the 1970s, Michael Moorcock wrote the screenplay for the movie based on Burroughs's book. The movie starred Doug McClure, who was my favorite character on The Virginian and S.E.A.R.C.H., but it really lacked. I'd love to see a remake these days. Burroughs's John Carter of Mars character is supposed to be done in a movie before long, so hopefully they'll get around to bringing this gem back to the silver screens in a new treatment.

The demand for more Pellucidar novels triggered the publication of a new one commissioned by the Burroughs estate. It was written by Eric John Holmes.

Lately, Pellucidar still hasn't left the minds of many. Artist Joe Jusko did a treatment on the original Pellucidar novel

that flipped the perspective Frank Frazetta used.

And a computer company has even been working on a Pellucidar game.

If you haven't read the books, you might give them a try. I loved them and occasionally still re-read them. There are parts of my youth that I refuse to give up. Frazetta and Burroughs are two of the very best.


DesLily said...

Frazetta and Boris Vallejo are the best two painters around.. though Frazetta does not paint anymore due to health. (his son can paint every bit as well but does rarely).. They have the eye for what is to be seen that's for sure.

Another artist that's good but not used all that much is Ken Kelly. You should check out his sight..

Their paintings made you stop and look at the book long enough to read the back cover and more than likely buy it!

Mel Odom said...

Thanks, Deslily. Actually, I'm familiar with his stuff, I think. I believe he did some of the Conan covers in a style that was much like Frazetta's.

But I loved that world and this artwork.

ERBzine said...

More on Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar at:

Bill Hillman
Official Edgar Rice Burroughs
Tribute Websites and Webzines: