Out of Time’s Abyss: Edgar Rice Burroughs – Book Review

KrenkelOutofTimesAbyss-e1324626623166When we last saw our intrepid heroes Bowen Tyler and Lys La Rue had married and sailed away aboard the rescue ship Toreador while Tom Billings, who had come to Caspak to find Tyler, had to remain behind to be with Ajor the Caspakian native girl that he fell in love with.

Out of Time’s Abyss was first published in 1918 in Blue Book Magazine and finishes off the Caspak Trilogy. Though this book is follows The People That Time Forgot most of it takes place before the events of that book and contain characters from The Land That Time Forgot that went missing towards the end of that installment. The hero of this book is Bradley (whether this is his first or last name we will never know) and while Tyler had gone out hunting Bradley and a small group men went off exploring and this story begins with them heading back to Camp Dinosaur unaware that Tyler has run off to rescue Lys from some randy natives or that the submarine had been taken over by Von Schoenvort and his German cohorts, who after shelling Camp Dinosaur left Caspak for Germany and thus marooning everyone to the mercies of this primitive world.

Unfortunately for Bradley and company the occasional hungry dinosaur or ravaging cave bear is the least of their worries as each night they are plagued by winged visitors that a couple of the more superstitious men believe to be banshees, harbingers of death. When two of the men, who appeared to be singled out by these winged men, end up dead shortly after things look grim. Those who have read The People That Time Forgot of course know these beings to be the Weiroo, the winged men of Caspak that snatch the Galu women because they cannot produce female offspring of their own. The remaining men make it back safely to Camp Dinosaur, all those that is except Bradley who is snatched by a Weiroo during his shift on guard duty.

The evil creature takes Bradley to the island of Oo-oh, set in Caspak’s inland sea, and it is there that we meet this episodes love interest in the form of the beautiful Co-Tan who is a Galu, the other highly evolved species of humans in Caspak. In the previous book we learned a bit about the strange biological system of Caspak where individuals seem to evolve up the evolutionary ladder over time, but it is from Co-Tan that we finally find out the mystery behind there being no children. Women of Caspak bathe in these warm pools and while there they discharge tadpoles that then flow into the rivers until they reach the warm southern waters of Caspak, it’s there that their metamorphosis and their long seven cycle life begins. From tiny tadpole to eventually the intelligent Neolithic Galu, it’s magical!

Bradley does much sneaking around secret passages and killing vile murderous winged bastards that get in his way, all the while trying to escape the this mad city, but eventually he and Co-Tan make it out of the city and down to the coast where they live happily for months. And like most of Burroughs protagonists he is thick as a the proverbial brick when it comes to realizing he is in love, so poor Co-Tan has to cook and clean while this idiot blindly plans for a way to get her back to her people when she has already chosen him as “Her Man.”

With some “help” from some captured Weiroo Bradley and Co-Tan eventually make it back to the mainland and strangely enough run into Von Schoenvort and the surviving Germans whose escape from Caprona wasn’t as long as they had hoped. The Germans had captured the remaining sailors of Tyler’s men but though outnumbered Bradley attacks then wins, he succeeds in this seemingly suicidal endeavor mainly because Von Schoenvort was a real asshole even to his own men and thus most of his people didn’t put up much of a fight. Everyone boards the submarine and proceed to once again look for Bowen Tyler.

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Out of Time’s Abyss wraps up the Caspak trilogy rather well. Bradley and company eventually find Co-Tan’s people and with them is Ajor and Tom Billings. It is a joyous meeting but with a dark shadow as Ajor tells Co-Tan that her father, the High Chief, will never let her leave Caspak with Bradley as she is like Ajor a fully evolved Galu who are able to give birth naturally and thus critical to her peoples evolution. Bradley offers to give a “tour” of the Submarine to Ajor, Co-Tan and Billings and when everyone is on board they just motor away. “Fuck you, yah Primitive Screwheads!” U-33 eventually catches up with the Toreador and we are treated to another merry reunion as all our heroes sail off into the sunset.

This isn’t as solid of a story as The Land That Time Forgot or The People That Time Forgot as it seems almost like a very long deleted scene. Bradley’s adventures among the Weiroo aren’t terrible but also not all that original or exciting and Co-Tan is just Ajor with a different name. The book’s saving grace is the final revelation of the biology of Caspak, and it is quite fascinating, and at least we do get a proper conclusion to everyone’s story.

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We were certainly never going to see Amicus Productions make this book into a movie, even if they hadn’t gone out of business, as their budgets would never have allowed for a city of winged people.  One can only hope that some day another studio will take a crack at this book series, an HBO series with nice production values would be sweet, but until then we will always have these fun books to look back on.

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