I believe I’ve come to the point in my life where I need never pick up another lost world pulp fantasy novel. Seriously, they’re all running together in my mind.
In Journey to the Underground World, Lin Carter is (as usual) channeling Edgar Rice Burroughs. In Carter’s version of an underground world, an adventurer named Eric Carstairs meets up with a paleontologist named Dr. Potter who thinks he knows how to find a legendary land under the earth. They fly a helicopter down a volcano and discover Zanthodon, a world where dinosaurs, wooly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers threaten the Neanderthals and Cro-magnons who also live there. There are creatures to fight, “savages” to outwit, and (of course) a beautiful maiden with a “lithe young body,” “perfect breasts,” “smooth thighs” and “supple flanks” to rescue.
The plot of Journey to the Underground World is fast-paced and sometimes exciting, though it differs little from similar stories of this type except perhaps that it has some things to say about the evils of racism. (This is notable since many of these types of books are Euro-centric in a very ugly way.)
Lin Carter maintains his bad habit of writing his stories in first person but showing us plotlines of the other characters when the point-of-view character isn’t present. This is confusing and sloppy but typical of Carter.
I liked Matt K. Baker, the narrator of Wildside Press’s audio version, but I can’t recommend Journey to the Underground World unless you’re new to the lost world genre — everyone should read a couple of them. But even then I’d suggest that you read Edgar Rice Burroughs instead.