Posts Tagged With: Pellucidar

From Callisto to Deep Beneath the Earth

I have finally finished my review of the old-fashioned adventures of Lin Carter. First was the Conan-inspired Thongor. Then we flew to the Green Star, where a man trapped by his circumstances on Earth, founds himself in endless adventure in a distant star system. Now, in the Jandar of Callisto series, we follow Johnathan Dark to the moon of Jupiter, where rapid-fire, breathless adventures await.

This is one of Carter’s best, on par with Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars and Carson Napier of Venus epics. Escapist like the rest, but why do so many seek to escape into such books? Are the unhappy with reality? Perhaps, but some do so for fun or to relax. It’s no different then sports or television, though certainly more engaging then the latter. For others, it is more deeper (and maybe they don’t even realize this).

Maybe society, or jobs, or other people, have defined their lives or killed their souls. Carter’s books, and others like it, often start with some disaffected earthman being swept away to another world. There he finds his true self, his purpose, his Story.

Carter continues this thread in his Zanthodon books — his answer to Burroughs’ Pellucidar. In some ways, Carter’s is better — not as drawn out and more focused. The hero, Eric Carstairs finds himself in a lost world underneath the Sahara. There he also finds the beautiful Darya, woman of the bronze age. Darya is realized as a strong female character that stands above the stereotype of pulp fiction. Even she, though, is painted as a contrast to the controlling society miles above — free from what shifting winds there try to define women as.

So take the leap, fly to another world, or go deep below, and perhaps you’ll find that ember inside waiting to burst into fire and flame.


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The Original Lost World

Edgar Rice Burroughs will always be best known for creating Tarzan and yet this was only a small part of this prolific author’s legacy.

Decades before Jurassic Park or the endless “lost island with extinct creatures” films of Old Hollywood, Burroughs was one of the first with his The Land That Time Forgot and its two sequels.

In his trademark style, this swashbuckling, impending-death-on-every-other-page adventure inspires to this day much in fiction and film. His prose is from another era, yet readable and page-turning. Like many of his books, they are written in the first person, giving the story an even more immediate sense of urgency. Very over-the-top, not unlike modern thrillers, but much more straight forward in the storytelling. Modern writers sometimes want to show their skill by cramming in as many plots, subplots, gimmicks and twists as they can. Burroughs shows this isn’t really necessary. Sure, there are cliffhangers and surprises and layers of meaning, but why clutter a story up when one doesn’t have to?

As in most of his novels, there’s always a love interest for the hero to save. In these books, the heroes never fail to find a native girl that they first cannot imagine being with, only to risk it all for them by the end.

While not as epic and expansive as his John Carter of Mars series, the lost island of Caspak has probably inspired more that followed. The whole trilogy can be found in one volume here. This wasn’t Burroughs’ only foray into lost worlds, his exploration of Pellucidar under the Earth’s surface spanned many novels. Read the first two in The Hollow Earth.

Nearly a century after it was written, his lost world is still the standard all others are measured against.

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