Book Review: At the Earth’s Core

The adventure fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs is part of my literary DNA.  At the Earth’s Core is absolutely peak Burroughs.  A rough and tumble dude and his brainy old buddy get in a piece of superscience and go off on an adventure.  Things go funny and they end up stuck in a world within our world.

This plays on themes Burroughs clearly liked to explore.  Stuck in the new world, they meet various factions and find lots of weird monsters.  Here we have a world where life is following a similar path to that of the surface world, but is at a different point.

The requisite tribe of pretty people with that one woman who our hero has an immediate connection with…but there are lots of complications.  He meets some friendly, some not.  And then there’s the alien monsters.  This time it’s lizard/bird folk who dominate the inner world, using their ape-men henchmen.  You know, that old story.  There’s lots of weird world-building, plenty of darning-do, and some thrilling heroics.

Burroughs is a great pulp writer.  He keeps the action rolling, creates cool scenes and “set-pieces.”  He’s also one of the best when it comes to first person storytelling.  A lot of writers think they can pull it off, a lot fewer can.  Burroughs was top tier with it.

Unfortunately, Edgar Rice Burroughs was very much a man of his time and his stories often feature variations on some pretty racist ideas of the time.  This book keeps it mostly low-key, thankfully.  At least this time around the hero isn’t a former Confederate.

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