Friday, June 27, 2014

Journey to the Underground World by Lin Carter

Lost Worlds and Hollow Earth stories have been rendered in pulp by such awesome writers as Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Abraham Merritt, and many others. Some of these tales are famous, while others are nearly forgotten. Earle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason, wrote a superb story titled Rain Magic that owes as much to Doyle and Burroughs as anything that Lin Carter published. Doyle’s The Lost World and both The Land that Time Forgot and At the Earth’s Core by Burroughs join Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne as the best of that crowded bookshelf. Lin Carter grew up reading and admiring these authors so there is no mistaking the similarities to those writers from pulp’s golden age. Many of Carter’s novels are pastiches of these writers, yet still original and entertaining. I’ve not read every book that Lin Carter wrote, but I’ve read enough to know that I enjoyed them. Journey to the Underground World was published in 1979 and it’s exactly what it appears to be. This is Verne, Doyle and Burroughs reborn during a period when the public demand for exciting pulp style novels was at an all time high. For collectors, this is DAW # 362, when they still used the yellow logo and yellow spine. Eric Carstairs and Professor Potter delve beneath the earth’s surface to the fabled land of Zanthodon where dinosaurs and cavemen rule the land. Told in six sections split into 24 chapters, this is a pulp serial for a 1970s era audience. I liked it when I first read it, and I still like it. Chapter titles such as “Land of Monsters,” “The Sea that Time Forgot,” “Captives of the Cavemen,” and “Jungle Murder” all add a pulp flavor to the adventure. The action is plentiful and Carter’s imagination is equal to any of his forebears. Journey to the Underground World is juvenile nonsense that should easily bring back some fond memories.

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