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Volume 5795

Playing Around in and with Pellucidar
By John Martin

John Coleman Burroughs, ERB Inc. EditionDavid B. Mattingly cover

Humor in Savage World Often Takes Subtle Turn

  The name of the book is "Land of Terror," not "Land of Humor," but the aforesaid volume and the one after, "Savage Pellucidar," despite their frightening titles, probably contain more intentionally humorous remarks and situations than do, on the average, any of the preceding five books in the inner world series.

  Humor always plays a role in any Edgar Rice Burroughs story, but it seems that ERB exercised his gift of making people smile even more in his later years.

  One might read through the earlier books and come away with the impression that inner world dwellers don't do a whole lot of laughing. But David Innes corrects this impression in "Land of Terror," describing one kind of humor, at least:

  "Possibly because they didn't like him, the men of the tribe made U-Val the butt of crude jokes because of his profitless attention to O-Ra; and I may say that Stone Age humor is often raw. However, much of it has come down intact for perhaps a million years to the present day on the outer crust. I recognized in many of the paleolithic jokes old friends with which I had been well acquainted back in Hartford, Connecticut." (Land of Terror, 25)

  Yes, there is humor in the Pellucidar series, though not all of it comes at us directly. Some of it comes through the way ERB tells it, and some is there between the lines in things ERB doesn't say.

  Take subjects on which ERB is silent, for instance. In the first book, we read of David and Abner Perry's capture by monkey men: "When they had examined me for a few moments one of them discovered that my clothing was not a part of me, with the result that garment by garment they tore it from me amidst peals of the wildest laughter." (Earth's Core, 2)

  When David is taken to the monkey man "camp," he finds Abner Perry also captured and also naked. Before the men can do much more than laugh at each other's condition, they are snatched again by the monkey men and taken to an arena, where they are to be killed for sport. But fate intervenes in the person of Sagoths, who charge the arena, capture David and Abner, and immediately add them to a chain of human prisoners.

  It is there they meet fellow captives, including David's future mate, Dian the Beautiful. David and Abner seem to fit easily into the group, learning the language and customs of Pellucidar. What ERB doesn't say, though, is if and when and how David and Abner ever got any clothes again! It appears they were put on the chain naked, where David nonchalantly makes the acquaintance of his beautiful bride-to-be. It seems to me that David should have been just a wee bit self-conscious about his nude condition, but ERB makes nary a comment about it.

  ERB comes right out and makes lots of humorous statements, though. One such is David's encounter with a cave bear on a snow-swept mountain: "I was going up for a fur coat. He was coming down for breakfast. Each realized that here was the very thing he sought." (Pellucidar, 2)

  There's a lot of intentional and double-edge humor in "Back to the Stone Age." On the one hand, we can laugh at the outer-crust jokes Von Horst cracks. On the other hand, we can smile at La-Ja's failure to "get" the jokes.

  But I found a bit of, perhaps, unintentional humor in chapter 9.

  La-Ja, talking about finding her way in Pellucidar, says, "When one does not know and cannot follow one's head, then one should always turn to the left and follow one's heart." But a few pages later, La-Ja must have forgotten her own advice. They come to some branch tunnels in a cave and she wonders which one to take. Von Horst has forgotten her advice, too, because he then says, "Let's start with the one farthest on our right. It may be as good a guess as any, and at best it's only a guess, no matter which one we decide on."

  Then there is the little cave near where Hodon is held prisoner in "Savage Pellucidar." (I:2)

  Hodon would like to get out on the ledge to examine the possibilities of escape. He asks another prisoner if they are allowed on the ledge. "If you have a good reason," is the reply, "you will be allowed to go to the little cave at the far end of the ledge."

  "I have a good reason," Hodon responds. He goes to the mouth of the cave, speaks to a guard, and is given permission to go to the little cave.

  Just what is this little cave anyway, and what would be the "good reason" for going there. The unwritten answer seems is the "bathroom cave."

  There are many other things that bring smiles in the Pellucidar series. One final one: When O-aa wades ashore to be greeted by the religious people of Tanga-Tanga, they think she is the goddess "Noada" and it is their duty to cover their eyes in the presence of Noada. O-aa, who knows nothing of religion, can imagine only one reason for people covering their eyes: So, she "glanced down to see if she had lost her loin-cloth, and was relieved to find that she had not." (SP 2:4)

Trivial Pursuit: The Inner World Edition

(No word yet on when this edition of the popular board game will hit Toys R Us.)

1. Who dumped Rana for Kleeto?
A. Zuppner of the zeppelin
B. Zor of Zoram
C. Zurk the Zurt
D. None of Zee above

3. What question are we specifically told you never ask a Sarian?
A. What's your sign?
B. What time is it?
C. Are you afraid?
D. Is there a Santa Claus?

3. The "buried people" are also known as:
A. Coripies
B. Gorbuses
C. Horibs
D. Terribs

4. Which of the following was on Abner Perry's drawing board?
A. Camera
C. Submarine
D. Flushing toilet

5. Jana's sister is:
A. Lana
B. Rana
C. Vanna
D. Chiquita Banana

6. Who, in Pellucidar, could give an order to "strike up the band?"
A. The Korsars
B. The Mahars
C. Lolo-Loloans & Tanga-tangans
D. Abner Perry

7. The prime minister of the Empire of Pellucidar is:
A. Ghak the Hairy One
B. Abner Perry
C. Dacor the Strong One
D. Ah-Gilak

8. Which group is religious?
A. The Ja-rus
B. The Jukans
C. The Jakoks
D. The Juloks

9. Abner Perry is the narrator of:
A. Pellucidar
B. Tanar of Pellucidar
C. Savage Pellucidar
D. Beyond the Farthest Star

10. Gr-Gr-Gr is:
A. Noise made by stuttering cave bear
B. Grum's wedding song
C. Mate of Mamth
D. Ruler of Brute-Men

For non-Pellucidar experts, the answers can be found by scrolling down...

1. B (LT-15)
2. C (SP-I:7)
3. A (TP-5)
4. A (SP-IV:1)
5. A (TEC-7)
6. B (AEC-6)
7. B (P-3)
8. B (LT-6)
9. B
10. D (P-8)

When, at First, He Doesn’t Succeed…

  "What is that thing, Abner?" asked David Innes of his crochety old inventor friend.

  "It's a television set, David," he beamed. "I just invented it. And we're just in time to watch the Super Bowl."

  "What's a Super Bowl?" asked David, completing forgetting to ask the preliminary question of "What does a television set do?"

  "You'll see, David," said Perry. "Now you and Ghak sit there. Dian is at the fire pit making sandwiches, and I'll just turn this on...."

  Perry clicked the switch and after a couple of minutes of snow there appeared a picture bright and clear.

  David and Ghak looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Dian came in with the sandwiches and said, "Oh Goodie, look what's on!"

  "Abner!" roared David in exaasperation. "Your TV set only gets figure skating!"

 The Pellucidar Series

At the Earth's Core
Read the eText Edition 
Read the Original Pulp Magazine Version
Read the e-Text Edition
Tanar of Pellucidar
Read the e-Text Edition
Tarzan at the Earth's Core
Read the e-Text Edition
Back to the Stone Age
Read the e-Text Edition
Land of Terror
Read the e-Text Edition
Savage Pellucidar
Read the e-Text Edition
Official Pellucidar Website

A Pilgrimage to Pellucidar By John Martin

ERBzine 5788:
Pellucidar Poetry
ERBzine 5789:
Pellucidar Personalities
ERBzine 5790:
Pellucidar Presuppositions
ERBzine 5791:
Pellucidar Possibilities
ERBzine 5792:
Pellucidar Passions
ERBzine 5793:
Pellucidar Pitch-Black
ERBzine 5794:
Pellucidar Paranormal
ERBzine 5795:
Pellucidar Playing Around
ERBzine 5796
Pellucidar Polar Portal
ERBzine 5797:
Pellucidar Pastiche
Back to Pellucidar Contents

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