|(NOT an image of David Innes)|
When I talked about the fourth novel in this series, Tarzan at the Earth's Core, I managed to avoid saying just what I was thinking, which was that in many ways, Burroughs' use of Tarzan in itself signified Burroughs' admission that this series had failed imaginatively. This was an author who'd succeeded in imagining a wildly complicated world inside the Earth, ignoring everything we knew by that point about gravity and evolution and other large-scale scientific theories, all in pursuit of a ripping yarn; introducing Tarzan into this imagined world signalled (to me, at least) that Burroughs didn't trust the series enough to let it develop on its own.
The fifth novel, though, Back to the Stone Age, was a throwback that revealed Burroughs working at his best, so I had some hopes that Savage Pellucidar might have accidentally have survived the confidence crash represented by Tarzan. Sadly, it doesn't, and this book is basically a train wreck, but it's not entirely Burroughs' fault. That's just what happens when an "editor" takes four linked short stories written at different times, and knits them together without much of a cover story, or indeed much of a feel for prose. Read this novel at your own risk, I'd say, but if your expectations are low, and if you persist, you just might find yourself enjoying it more than you should.
|What's that on her back?|
Burroughs also relies even more heavily here on the coincidence trope than he did in the other novels, with people bumping into others they know all over the surface of Pellucidar, thousands of miles from home. Indeed, he pushes everything to something near its logical limit, something near absurdity, and in the end this is only a novel -- and also a novel can be a whole world. If you can just let what passes for logic roll along and carry you, then you'll find that Savage Pellucidar is the most Pellucidarian book of the whole series, in the best sense as well as the worst.
With Savage Pellucidar in my rearview mirror, now I've only got the sixth novel in the series to go, Land of Terror. Since Land of Terror was apparently rejected by all of Burroughs' usual publishers, well, I'm a little anxious about that one, but I'll press on.