Wednesday, 2 November 2011

At the Earth's Core: Background Information

At the Earth's Core is a science fiction novel written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1914. The book takes place in Burroughs world of Pellucidar and throughout portrays idea's of what lays under the Earth's crust - a lost pre-historic world. The novel discusses in detail the various 'wierd and wonderful' landscapes and creatures the two protagonist encounter, David Innes and Abner Perry. 
David Innes and his inventor friend, Abner Perry, set out on a trial run in Perry's invention, an iron mole, with hopes of locating new beds of anthracite coal. Once in motion, however, they are unable to change the prospector's course and travel five hundred miles toward the center of the Earth. Expecting to meet eternal fires, the two instead emerge into a new world.
Attacked by a dyryth, carried off by ape-men, and then captured by Sagoths, David and Abner’s weird adventures are nonstop. (

Chapter Summaries in detail (from
David revives Perry. They exit to observe a weird and beautiful landscape. Before them are tiny isles. Behind them is a primeval tropical forest. Perry says he is not so sure that they are on earth but in another world in the earth. The strangeness of the landscape haunts them: there is no horizon! The sun, three times normal size, is motionless in the center. Perry explains his theory, interrupted by an awe-inspiring roar. A colossal bear-like beast (dyrth) attacks. They climb the trees for safety but to his horror, David discovers that he must distract the animal for the old man to get to a larger tree. Abner safe, David must get away from the beast. He runs along the beach. A pack of some hundred wolf-like creatures surround the animal and Innes escapes. A company of man-like creatures with long slender tails urges on the dog pack. David races to the trees for refuge. One of the manlike creatures in the trees drag him to safety. Excited, they examined him. Then the agile creatures take David for a terrifying journey through the tree tops. He wonders about Perry and their intentions for him.

Once in their village, David discovers Perry is also a prisoner. Perry feels they have proved that the earth is hollow, which explains for the horizon. The sun is a luminous core in the exact center of a hollow globe. The creatures take them to a level plain and place them in the center. Thousands form a great ring around them. They bring on the wolf-dogs and turn them loose. As David throws a stone at the attacking animals, shrieks and howls rise from the circle of spectators. A party of gorilla-like creatures, armed with spears and hatchets and shields, have appeared upon the scene. The wolf-dogs and their captors flee leaving David and Abner to the gorilla-like creatures. The men are led into a great plain. Soon they are filled with hope and relief at the sight of a caravan of men and women. The people are half-naked and wild-looking but human. However, they soon see the humans are chained neck to neck in a long line with gorilla-men guards. Perry and David are added to the chain and the caravan marches across the sunbaked plain. If they fall, they are prodded with a sharp point. They note, however, that their companions do not stumble but are proudly erect. They are a noble looking race with well-proportioned features. Simply dressed, the women possess a single robe and the men, loin cloths. The gorilla-like men wear a tunic with artistic designs and have many ornaments of metal--silver predominating. They talk among themselves in a language that is different from that of their fellow captives. How far their monotonous march covers David has no conception. Their watches are gone and they live beneath a stationary sun with no way to compute time.

The warrior climbs into the canoe and the two become friends. The canoe is piloted to a nearby island. The man is Ja of the Mezops, a tribe of fishermen and warriors inhabiting the islands. Ja, the tribal king, takes David to his village. Ja tells David the Mezops and the Mahars have a truce. The temple of the Mahars is nearby. Ja takes David to a secret entrance hidden in the hollow wall encircling the enormous Mahar temple. Climbing 40 feet up, they have a protected but unobstructed view of the interior. The circular structure is a large tank of water with numerous artificial granite islands in the center, upon which sat several men and women. The outer edge has large boulders the Mahars use for their perches. There are also several thipidars (pterodactyls) accompanying the Mahars. Innes, horrified, sees the Mahars hypnotize the women, leading them into the water. As the women walk under water the Mahars slowly chew off their arms and other body parts. When the women were all consumed, the Mahars allowed the thipidars to dispose of the males. Indiscreetly leaning too far from the opening in the rocky wall, Innes loses his balance and falls into the water. Terrified, he remains submerged as long as possible. When he finally comes up for air, the temple is empty and Ja gone. He finds a way out then locates a safe place to collapse into a deep sleep.

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