A paradox, a paradox
We've heard in flocks.
But not quite like this paradox.
Edgar Rice Burroughs died in 1950. The first Hugo was awarded in 1953. Yet one year, a Burroughs story was nominated for a Hugo-- and I do not mean for a "retrospective" Hugo. It competed against a number of modern short stories. How did this come to pass?
In the early 1960s, in the midst of a "Burroughs boom" among book publishers, Burroughs's son Hulbert discovered an unpublished novella in a safe. The story was the fourth of a series of Pellucidar stories that appeared in _Amazing_ between 1941 and 1942. (The others were "The Return to Pellucidar," "Men of the Bronze Age," and "Tiger Girl.")
The new story, "Savage Pellucidar," was published for the first time in the October, 1963 issue of _Amazing_ to a certain amount of fanfare. It was nominated as one of the best pieces of short
fiction for the year. (And was beaten by Poul Anderson's "No Truce With Kings.")
The four stories were assembled into a "fixup" novel in 1963, _Savage Pellucidar_, the seventh and last Pellucidar book. I have a certain fondness for it because of its unusual publishing history. But honesty compels me to say at the outset that it is really not a very good novel. It features Abner Perry, David Innes, Dian the Beautiful, Hodon the Swift, O-aa the cave girl, and the cannibal who is _not_ named Dolly Dorcas as they bumble about from one aimless capture-and-escape episode to another. The villain, Fash, is a bit smarter. But not much. The traps he sets (and which the heroes fall into) wouldn't fool a normal nine year old child.
Sometimes Burroughs compensates for such faults by a kind of mythical, dreamlike dazzle to the setting. But myth is best done with a poker face, and _Savage Pellucidar_ is written strickly for laughs. It does not tap into the world of dreams, and it shows us little that is new about Pellucidar. There is a certain good cheer to the stories that is somewhat mitigating. (They were, after all, written just before World War II, and have the optimism of the day.) But _Savage Pellucidar_ remains the weakest book in the series.