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Literature / Pellucidar

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Pellucidar is a series of seven novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, written and taking place in the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s. In this Verse, the Earth is hollow and there is another world on the inside, called Pellucidar, inhabited by dinosaurs and other monsters as well as primitive humans.

The complete series is composed of the following novels:

  • At the Earth's Core. Published in serial form in April, 1914. Book form published in July, 1922.
  • Pellucidar. Published in serial form in May, 1915. Book form published in September, 1923.
  • Tanar of Pellucidar. Published in serial form from March to August, 1929. Book form published in May, 1930.
  • Tarzan at the Earth's Core. Published in serial form from September, 1929 to March, 1930. Book form published in November, 1930.
  • Back to the Stone Age. Published in serial form from January to February, 1937. Book form published in September, 1937.
  • Land of Terror. First published in 1944. Unusually the book was its original form.
  • Savage Pellucidar. Collects four Pellucidar short stories. Three from 1941 and 1942, and one previously unpublished story. The collection was first published in 1962.

Several pastiche novels followed.

A loose film adaptation of At the Earth's Core was made in 1976 by Amicus Productions, which was riffed in the season 11 finale of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Pellucidar also appeared in the pilot for Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, which was based partly on Tarzan at the Earth's Core.

For the MST3000 episode, go here.

Tropes present in this work:

  • The Adventure Continues: The last line of the last novel has Abner planning to build a submarine.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: With a Hyaenodon, no less. Innes even calls it a dog!
  • Androcles' Lion: On more than one occasion, the protagonist of the moment aids a wild animal who later pops up to help him in return.
  • Artistic License Physics: Aside from the central premise, there's also the fact that some of the stories played with the notion of time as highly variable in a situation where there's no day-night sequence to measure it by. David Innes was once accidentally separated from his comrade and went through several weeks worth of adventures. When they were reunited, he discovered that since his friend hadn't needed to exert himself to anywhere near the extent David did, for him less than an hour had passed. Needless to say, in reality time would not function differently for the Pellucidans anymore than it does for someone locked in a windowless room with no clock or light source. One might as well think that destroying all rulers and meter sticks would change anyone's height.
  • Barbarous Barbary Bandits: The Korsars are descendants of a fleet of Barbary corsairs who fell into a portal to Hollow Earth, they've kept up their old traditions since then.
  • Beneath the Earth: The series takes place in a cavernous world five hundred miles below the surface of the Earth.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Mahars aren't evil; they simply lack any concept of sound, and so they don't understand the other creatures they treat as slaves are intelligent, communicating beings in their own right.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: See below under Love at First Sight.
  • Canon Welding: The fourth book, Tarzan at the Earth's Core, quite clearly defines the Tarzan and Pellucidar novels as part of the same continuity, with the usual heroes teaming up with Tarzan and his allies for a Crossover.
  • Cliffhanger: Tanar of Pellucidar ends with some of the surface-world protagonists vowing to mount an expedition to rescue Innes from a Korsar dungeon, which how Tarzan gets involved for one installment.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Thanks to the time period Burroughs couldn't actually write it, but he still manages to make very clear that Perry's reaction to his drill refusing to turn at the start of the adventure would make a sailor blush.
  • Contrived Coincidence: As is often the case in Burroughs' novels, if the heroes ever get separated, they always manage to reunite in the nick of time amid the endless monster-infested wilderness of Pellucidar.
  • Culture Clash: The stone-age inhabitants of the hollow earth often have trouble adjusting to the use of Abner's various inventions. Also, Innes and Dian's relationship gets off to a very bad start due to his not understanding her people's rituals.
  • Damsel in Distress: The heroine of every story in the series usually manages to get kidnapped or whisked away by somebody. That said, the heroes tend to get into trouble quite a bit as well.
  • Day in the Limelight: Back to the Stone Age details the adventures of Wilhelm von Horst after he gets separated from the rescue expedition in Tarzan at the Earth's Core.
  • Deadpan Snarker: David Innes.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Film-only. Dian decides there's No Place for Me There on the surface, and David leaves her behind.
  • Direct Line to the Author: In the first novel, Burroughs claims to have had the story of David Innes' adventure in Pellucidar direct from Innes, having met him during a safari in the Sahara desert some time afterward. Each of the sequels mentions that they've stayed in touch and Innes has been keeping him informed of subsequent events.
  • Dirty Coward: Hooja the Sly One never misses an opportunity save his own skin and stab Innes in the metaphorical back. Skruf in Back to the Stone Age is if anything even more craven and treacherous.
  • Drill Tank: The "iron mole".
  • Duel to the Death: David Innes versus Jubal the Ugly One in At The Earth's Core.
  • Dumb Dinos: Most of the dinosaurs come off this way, with the exception of the Mahars, who are sapient pterosaurs.
  • Endless Daytime: As Pellucidar is a Hollow World that has a sun at the centre, it is always noon no matter where you are. (Except in the Land of Awful Shadow.)
  • Frazetta Man: Sagoths, Ape Men, Beast Men...
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Abner Perry, inventor of the Drill Tank that takes him and David Innes to Pellucidar.
  • Hive Mind: The Mahars compose one.
  • Hollow World: The Earth is hollow.
  • I Owe You My Life: David Innes saves Ja of the Mezops in At The Earth's Core.
  • Living Dinosaurs: Pellucidar is occupied all sorts of dinosaurs and other creatures long extinct on the surface.
  • Lost World: Pellucidar itself, an underground world populated by dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts, including a variety of humans.
  • Love at First Sight: Innes and Dian, though in typical Burroughs fashion thanks to separations and misunderstandings they only admit it to each other at the very end of the first novel.
  • Made a Slave: David Innes is enslaved (briefly) by the Sagoths, joining Dian the Beautiful and others who are already in a slave train in At The Earth's Core.
  • The Magnificent:
    • Dian the Beautiful.
    • Dacor the Strong One, Ghak the Hairy One, Hooja the Sly One, Jubal the Ugly One... etc.
  • Mighty Whitey: The people from the surface who come to Pellucidar. Something of a variant, as there are other white people in Pellucidar; the surface dwellers are (generally) mighty because of their more technologically advanced culture.
    • Except for Tarzan. The Jungle Lord needs no technology to show the cavemen who's boss.
  • Nubile Savage: Dian the Beautiful. All of her people, too, the Tribe of Amoz. Also their neighbors, the people of Sari.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Korsars display shades of this, popping up to wreak havoc after Innes and his followers manage to defeat the Mahars, who were, as far as anyone knew, the highest evolved species in Pellucidar. (Justified in that Pellucidar has a whole lot more land-mass than the surface in which to hide entire empires.) Conversely, Innes and Perry are an example of this as far as the Mahar are concerned.
  • Pirate: The Korsars (corsairs) of Pellucidar.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Mahars, a race of sentient psychic pterosaurs, appear as the first major villainous race in the series.
  • Spiritual Successor: It's long been speculated that this series was an indirect inspiration for At the Mountains of Madness.

Alternative Title(s): At The Earths Core