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 Mars?
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
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
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 to work.
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
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