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Volume 0745
 A Collector's Hypertexted and Annotated Storehouse of Encyclopedic Resources
John Coleman Burroughs: Back to the Stone Age - 7 b/w plates
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ERB commenced writing this fifth novel in the Pellucidar series in January 1935
WT: Back to the Stone Age: A Romance of the Inner World ~ MT: Seven Worlds to Conquer

Argosy Weekly: 1937 January 9, 16, 23, 30 ~ February 6, 13 as "Seven Worlds To Conquer"
    Emmett Watson: first issue cover ~ Samuel Cahan: one b/w interior per installment ~ ERB: foreword
ERB Inc. Tarzana: September 15, 1937 (hieroglyph on jacket)~ 318 pages ~ Print Run: 5,000 ~ Approximate word count: 80,000
    John Coleman Burroughs: wrap-around DJ and seven b/w interior plates
ERB Inc. and Grosset & Dunlap mixed edition
Ace paperback: November 1963 and two later reprints ~ 221 pages
    Roy G. Krenkel assisted by Frank Frazetta: cover and RGK title page
Canaveral Press: November 12, 1963 ~ 318 pages
    Sam Sigaloff: DJ based on JCB original ~ John Coleman Burroughs: seven b/w interiors ~ ERB photo on back cover
Ace paperback ~ 251 pages
    Frank Frazetta cover
Ballantine - Del Rey paperback ~ 230 pages
    David B. Mattingly cover
For detailed information, see Robert B. Zeuschner's
Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Bibliography (ERB, Inc., 2016).
Click on or call 214-405-6741 to order a copy.
Back to the Stone Age
Five hundred miles beneath the surface of the earth lies a world of eternal day and endless horizons, in which dinosaurs still roam and caveman hunt and terrors forgotten in the outer world still survive. Young Wilhelm Von Horst had been given up for lost. His comrades in the expedition had sailed to the surface without him, mourning the loss of their friend. But Von Horst had not died. His only companion a barbarian girl, he battles his way to safety through terrors inconceivable on the surface of the earth.

From ERBzine Illustrated Pulp Biblio: ERBzine 0220

Argosy: January 9, 1937- Seven Worlds to Conquer 1/6Argosy: January 16, 1937 - Seven Worlds to Conquer 2/6Argosy: January 23, 1937 - Seven Worlds to Conquer 3/6
Argosy: January 30, 1937 - Seven Worlds to Conquer 4/6Argosy: February 6, 1937 - Seven Worlds to Conquer 5/6Argosy: February 13 1937 - Seven Worlds to Conquer 6/6
Argosy - January 9, 16, 23, 30 & February 6, 13, 1937 as Seven Worlds to Conquer
Seven Worlds to Conquer
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Prologue from the pulp version ~ Probably written by the Argosy editors.

The tale of the pioneer flight of the giant Zeppelin O-220 has already been told. In the Log Book of Great Adventures, written deep in red, have been inscribed the perils and privations, the victories and defeats, of those gallant companions from this land of ours who braved the mysteries of Pellucidar.

Pellucidar—mocked by smug scientists who blind themselves to the proofs that our Earth is a hollow sphere, containing a habitable world within its interior! Pellucidar—scorned and derided by timid savants who fear to see beyond their own knotted brows, scoffing that here is no great opening at the frozen poles, that only two plus two makes four!

But there were men of broader vision, of deeper understanding, in that prize crew of the Zeppelin O-220; One was a tall man mighty shoulders who walked with a cat’s soft tread; as Lord Greystoke he was known in London, though the creatures of the tropic wild called him Tarzan of the Apes. A second was Jason Gridley, the American explorer who financed the expedition. And chief among the others who believed and dared recklessly was young Wilhelm von Horst—know as Bill to his classmates at Boston Tech—who was chief navigation assistant to Captain Zuppner. 

The blood of adventure ran strong in the veins of von Horst. From his Yankee mother—she was Prudence Snow of Plymouth—he inherited the uncomplaining hardihood and independence of those seafaring New Englanders who tamed the waves in crazy cockle-shells. From his handsome, swashbuckling father, attaché to the pre-war embassy at Washington, he inherited a proud name, a strong lithe body, a bulldog tenacity which had marked his career through European schools and his American college.

His blue eyes had gleamed as he sat in the observation cabin atop the great Zeppelin, signaling the course across the chaotic ice-fields of the North. Exaltation coursed in him as the mighty ship found the vast entrance into the bowels of the earth that science denied. He shouted aloud as his keen eyes picked out a glimpse of land ahead—solid land in a place where hidebound geographers insisted should be only polar floes and endless water.

With the others he watched the rim of the midnight sun disappear from view as the glow of Pellucidar’s central sun glimmered ahead. He watched the great stretch of barren land fall astern and a mighty forest appear beneath them. Here were wooded plains and slopes that spread on and on in the distance until the haze of eternity engulfed them. Von Horst had been among the leaders who scampered down the ladders when the huge ship finally wafted to a landing.

The lush grasses, the growing scent of Pellucidar…

Tarzan of the Apes was the first permitted to explore. He had disappeared in that tangle of giant greenery, and long hours passed without sight or sound of him. A frown of worry began to knot Jason Gridley’s forehead.

“We must search,” he decided. “Here is Muviro, headman of Greystoke’s Waziri warriors. These natives know jungle sign—they can trail him if anyone can. If someone would volunteer to accompany—“

Von Horst sprang forward, smiling as he saluted. “The pleasure is mine. I’d like nothing better…”

And so it was that two white men and ten black sons of Africa plunged into the strange unknown. A game trail led them to a large open area, scantily covered with brush. Here their hour of terror began, for they were caught up in a strange stampede of such creatures as the eye of civilized man had never seen. Great ox-like beasts and giant red deer, gigantic sloths and mastodon and mammoth — pursued by the fierce flesh-eating saber-tooths. Flight was the only chance of survival for the humans — but somewhere in the rush young von Horst, of all the party, disappeared.

Had he toppled beneath a crunching hoof? Was his crippled body prey to some slavering jaw? Jason Gridley could not tell though he searched to the utmost of his ability. Even Tarzan was baffled upon his return, for the trail was cold and dead by then.

“Von Horst was doubtless killed,” was the general verdict. “We must return—“

But Jason Gridley shook his head. “The rest of you go on,” he said. “I will remain in Pellucidar until I have solved the mystery.”



DJ and Original Art for Canaveral Edition
Sam Sigaloff Artist


Frontispiece by John Coleman Burroughs
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Scan of original art that appeared on p. 314 of Back To The Stone Age
"'La-Ja.' he whispered, and took her in his arms."

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Unpublished JCB art for Back To the Stone Age

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When we last left our intrepid heroes David Innes had been rescued from the clutches of those nasty Korsars and Tarzan and crew of the dirigible 0220 were heading back to the surface world but Jason Gridley refused to leave a man behind and vowed to stay in Pellucidar until missing crewman Wilhelm von Horst was found. That is how Tarzan at the Earth’s Core ended but for some bizarre reason at the end of this book we find out that Jason was apparently convinced by his crewmates to return with them to the surface and let David take of up the pledge to find von Horst. I have no idea why Burroughs thought this was a good idea as it makes Jason out to be a complete dick.

After a recap of how the search party got separated by a stampede and a horde of sabre-toothed tigers the book then follows its new main character Wilhelm von Horst. Things look bad for von Horst as he is alone and lost in the middle of a prehistoric world where almost everything is trying to kill him. He actually manages to run into the Tarzan’s Waziri warriors. The day is saved. Sadly von Horst is a bit of a moron, as once the Waziri take a nap in a cave leaving him on guard duty he decides to wander off and hunt up some grub. He is quickly lost again. Idiot thy name is von Horst.

This leads to one of the most interesting sections of the book where von Horst is snatched up by a Trodon, a pterodactyl like creature that has a type of marsupial pouch to stuff its prey in. He is flown to a large crater but just before being dumped in, the Trodon stings him in the back of the neck. The sting delivers a toxin that leaves our hero paralyzed from the neck down and left to be food for the soon to be hatched Trodon eggs. Von Horst finds himself lying next to a native by the name of Dangar who helps pass the time by teaching von Horst the local dialect all the while watching as Trodon eggs hatch and their progeny crawl out to eat the nearest paralyzed prey. The dread and horror of the situation is well realized as days go by as the row of “dinner guests” are gruesomely eaten alive until eventually Dangar is next on the menu.  As luck would have it, when von Horst was stung the stinger had to go through the thick leather collar of his jacket which limited the depth of the sting and the amount of poison administered to him. Just as a baby Trodon is about to snack on Dangar, von Horst gains enough mobility to reach his gun and kill the little bastard. With a little ingenuity von Horst rigs an escape from the crater and is able to rescue not only himself but the still paralyzed Dangar as well.

Von Horst and Dangar run into another native of Pellucidar by the name of Skruf with the standard Burroughs introduction by saving him from a nasty creature that was about to eat him. Skruf was out hunting tarags (sabre-toothed tigers) to pay a bride-price for the beautiful slave girl La-ja back at this village. Skruff tells von Horst and Dangar to come back to his village and that they will be treated as friends. When they are attacked by a tarag the cowardly Skruf runs and hides while von Horst and Dangar kill it. This does not prevent Skruf from taking credit for the kill when they reach his village or for betraying his friends and seeing them enslaved by his people. With a name like Skruf they really should have seen that coming.

Von Horst is able to pull off a Spartacus and leads a slave rebellion that also puts him into conflict with La-ja who when he orders her about during this slave revolt she takes umbrage to this as she is the daughter of a chieftain. She eventually forces von Horst to knock her unconscious just so he can get her to safety. This is the crux of this books love story; La-ja says she hates him and von Horst slowly falls deeper in love with her. Of course it is later revealed that she has been madly in love with him from the beginning, but back home there was giant of a man who had laid claim to her as mate and La-ja feared that von Horst would be killed if he went back with her. Ah, the perils of prehistoric love.

The other key element of this book, and certainly more interesting than the “Will they won’t they” love story, is when von Horst comes across a mammoth that had gotten trapped in a type of punji stick trap. Not able to see an animal suffer von Horst risks life and limb and approaches the massive beast and one by one pulls out the sharpened sticks from its padded feet. They become friends and travel together for a while and later when he is captured by the Mammoth Men it is this noble beast that saves him from captivity. All these exciting adventures and more conclude with von Horst being made chief of La-ja’s village and the eventual arrival of David Innes.

Once again we are treated to some wonderfully constructed races and creatures of Pellucidar; from the strange paralyzing Trodons to the bizarre animal headed bison-men. Originally released under the title “Seven Worlds to Conquer” as a six part serial in 1937 this installment in the series is a worthy entry if one can look passed the standard multiple kidnappings of this books damsel.

Roy Krenkel ACE coverFrank Frazetta ACE coverDavid B. Mattingly Ballantine cover
Back to the Stone Age
Frazetta and Krenkel Art (click)


ACE F-245 | 1963



Tandem UK EditionBack to the Stone Age
Tandem UK and Japanese Editions

Back to "Back to the Stone Age"

Jim Gerlach signing the Back to the Stone Age Special Editions

Behind the scenes evolution of the Gerlach BSA Project
By John Martin

Web Refs
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Clark A. Brady's Burroughs Cyclopedia
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