At the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Published: 1914 in serial form, 1922 in novel form

Genre: classic speculative fiction (I don’t know if hollow Earth fiction is fantasy or science fiction, so I’m just going to go generic with speculative fiction). It is old enough you can read it for free from Project Gutenberg.

Length: 277 pages

Setting: mostly Pellucidar, the kingdom at the center of the Earth, early 1900s

Interest: A random book chosen off my Kindle because my Kindle was lighter to carry around Chicago than the other book I was reading.

Summary: The narrator comes across a man, named David Innes, in the Sahara Desert who claims to have ridden an “iron mole” to the center of the Earth and returned. Innes decided to go on the maiden run of the iron mole, built by Abner Perry. Unfortunately, they couldn’t turn the device and end up unexpectedly back in atmosphere – at the center of the earth. Perry and Innes spend the rest of their time in Pellucidar, the name of this place, getting in trouble and being saved by natives. The world is populated by dinosaurs and other large, prehistoric creatures. The dominant race is the Mahar, a flying reptile-like creature. The Mahar have enslaved the humans and Innes comes up with a plan to escape from the principle city of the Mahar and abolish their dominance. He also falls in love with one of the native women and works to win her love.

Final thoughts: An interesting book to read for historical reasons. When the book was written, scientists hadn’t figured out the composition of the Earth. An entire world hidden at the core of the Earth was possible, and of course it would be populated by extinct animals. The hollow Earth was only one of the many unlikely plot points, though, like the fact that Innes could talk to all the natives after a short time period, or the fact that evolution happened exactly the same in two different places.

I did like how the author dealt with time and a sense of direction in the story. Because the sun never moved in the sky, there was very little sense of time or what direction you were moving. I wonder if creatures evolved without night would still sleep. It does make you realize how much of our sense of direction is based off the sun and moon’s movements. If the celestial bodies were stationary, how do you visually determine direction? or time elapsed?

I could do without the paternalistic attitude toward women, though. Yes, I know it reflects the times, but I don’t have to like the tone. The worst was when Innes forces his lady-love to kiss him, an it turns out that was what she’d been waiting for. Uggh.

Title comes from: The setting for much of the story.

Reading challenges fulfilled: #58 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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