How Bad Do You Want to Go
This article originally appeared in the
National Capital Panthans
Journal #142, July 2008 for the Dum-Dum
in Waterloo, Iowa.
by David Critchfield
Many of us fantasize about going to one of the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Have you ever had a dream like that? Have you imagined yourself fighting
for your life against the plant men and great white apes, back-to-back
with the Jeddak of Thark; or are you one that would rather be gazing into
the eyes of the most beautiful woman to ever breathe the thin air of dying
Pellucidar would be the location I'd choose; no surprise there for those
of you that know me, but why that place, and how long could a soft, middle-aged,
juggling geek survive in the savage world beneath the eternal noonday sun?
Would it at least be long enough to go straight to the Mountains of the
Thipdars and kidnap a hot babe from Zoram?
Never mind all that, the main problem is how to get there. In the seven-book
series, ERB describes three ways to travel to Pellucidar.
The first way to get to Pellucidar is by tunneling . Abner Perry invented
the iron mole, also known as the prospector. It made the journey there
twice, and unfortunately, it’s still there, a few hundred yards from the
Darel Az, and unavailable for my trip.
This steel cylinder is one hundred feet long, and jointed to turn and
twist through the rock. In the nose is a revolving drill driven by a very
powerful engine. Perry told David Innes that the invention of this engine
alone would be enough to make them extremely rich. It generated more power
by the cubic inch than other engines did by the cubic foot. That sounds
right to me. I visited a modern-day iron mole at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
This one was the same type that dug “Chunnel,” the tunnel beneath the English
Channel. Perry's prospector could tunnel at a rate of seven miles per hour
compared to the modern mole's MUCH slower eighteen feet per hour. If we
use this modern mole, it's going to take sixteen years to reach Pellucidar.
I might be too old then for that hot and savage Zoram lovely.
Perry's mole is unavailable, and modern technology won’t cut the mustard,
so let's consider the second way to get to Pellucidar: through the northern
polar opening. Jason Gridley's rescue mission used this method, flying
in on the O-220. Ah-gilak, or Old Man whose name was not Dolly Dorcas,
drifted through and into Pellucidar onboard the lifeboat of a wrecked whaler.
We are also pretty sure the ancestors of the Korsars, Pellucidar's colorful
pirates, came through the very same opening long ago.
In the book, Tanar of Pellucidar, Tanar, Stellar, Ja, Gura, and
Innes journeyed far north to elude the Korsars. The temperature cooled
as they began to leave the sun of Pellucidar behind, but warmed again,
and a new sun was visible in front of them. They turned back at the shores
of a gray sea. (Interestingly, on their return, they discovered the remains
of a hot air balloon.) So it looks like you can walk part of the way in,
once you get past that gray sea.
The northern polar opening, then, seems to be the best option discussed
so far. It has been used successfully a few times, and several modes of
transport are possible. In fact, the North Pole Inner Earth Expedition
(NPIEE) is slated to leave Murmansk, Russia the summer of 2009. You can
read more about this venture, and even sign
up to join the mission.
Okay, by now you may be wondering about that third way to get there.
Every schoolboy knows that murderers are resurrected in Pellucidar as Gorbuses
. Wait; is this lunatic suggesting wanton slaughter to achieve personal
ends? I guess it all depends on how bad you want to go there.
NOTE: Pictured above is a black and white
version of Jim Gurney’s cover of The Digging Leviathan by James
P. Blaylock, with “thought bubble” added by me. In this 1984 novel, two
opposing scientific teams struggle to reach Pellucidar, one by using the
device shown above, and the other by a diving bell.
I didn"t include the diving bell on Attachment 1 as a method used to
reach Pellucidar because the book ends before the team actually gets there.
Too, they could have ridden there on a shoebox, because it was really the
weird power of the boy, Giles Peach, which caused the unlikely science
A Listing of Non-ERB Methods Used to Go to Pellucidar
Compiled from the Pastiches, Comics, and Television
Submarine down through bottomless Loch Ness
Mysterious portal (used three times):
Tarzan in Savage Pellucidar (1975), a forty-eight page graphic novel
written by Mike Royer and drawn by Russ Manning
Volcano/cavern network (used twice):
Blood Money and Human Bondage (1978/79) - Marvel Comics
Tarzan and the New Atlantis (1999) – the UFS Sunday Tarzan strip
by artist Gray Morrow and writer Allan Gross
Tarzan Returns (August 28, 1996) - part 2 of the two-hour premiere
of the television series Tarzan the Epic Adventures (and R. A. Salvatore's
book, Tarzan the Epic Adventures (1996), based on the premiere)
Rope (used twice):
Tarzan at the Earth's Core (November 27, 1976) - episode
#12 of Filmation's Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
Tarzan: Pellucidar Once More (1995) – short story by Steve Nottingham
Matter transmitter - Mahars of Pellucidar (1976) – novel
by John Eric Holmes
Tarzan and the Hidden World (September 14, 2001) – episode
#17 of Walt Disney's animated Tarzan TV series
Tarzan and the Beast From Below (September 28, 2001) - episode #29
of Walt Disney's animated Tarzan TV series
Mind projection - Maureen Birnbaum at the Earth's Core
(1986) – short story by George Alec Effinger