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The Lost World and Other Stories by Sir…
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The Lost World and Other Stories (original 1952; edition 1928)

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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458722,714 (3.79)11
Member:Jargoneer
Title:The Lost World and Other Stories
Authors:Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Info:Wordsworth Editions Ltd (1995), Wordsworth Classics, Paperback, 461 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Scottish Literature, Fiction, Novel, Science Fiction

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The Lost World and Other Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1952)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
The name of this collection of stories should be something like "The Scientific Adventures of Professor Challenger as told by the reporter Ed Malone." All the stories are related in that they feature Professor George Challenger, an irascible, arrogant, rude, but brilliant scientist as the main protagonist (except in one story, where his daughter plays a more important role, and he comes in at the end). Each story deals with a scientific mystery. We are introduced to Professor Challenger in the first novelette, "The Lost World," in which he enlists a young reporter (Edward Malone, the narrator of all but one story), an adventurer-gentleman John Roxton, and a very skeptical professor Summerlee to join him in South America to find evidence of prehistoric creatures still living and thriving. If you've read his Sherlock Holmes stories, then you are already familiar with Doyle's style: his concise and elaborate descriptions, as well as Victorian sensibilities. The main character, Professor Challenger, while physically and emotionally the opposite of Holmes, has much in common with Doyle's more well-known character. They are both exceedingly sure of themselves, see themselves as above the common herd, and are, almost always, correct in their assumptions. It is an enjoyable Victorian adventure.

The next long short story, "The Poison Belt," deals with a terrestrial catastrophe. People around the world are behaving strangely, and whatever is causing it seems to spread from the south northward and from sea level to mountain tops. Professor Challenger believes the earth is passing through a celestial "poison belt", and that the human species will not survive. He has discovered that pure oxygen will help them survive a little longer, so the same group as the prior story, plus his wife, hole up with canisters of oxygen in his manor high above the town and watch from the window as the world dies around them. As people fall into comas before dying, horrible accidents occur, such as a train wreck, fires, etc. As the canisters empty and they have less and less time left to live, they each begin to think about death and the meaning of their lives. When they awaken the next morning, they find that they have passed through the poison belt and are the only ones left alive in the world, after which they drive into London and survey the havoc that the poison belt had caused.

The third long story "The Land of Mist" explores the spiritual world. Ed Malone, accompanied by the daughter of Professor Challenger (a character not in existence in either of the first two stories), attends seances in order to write a unbiased account of what happens there. To his surprise, Malone finds himself convinced of the reality of the spiritual world and the spirits that inhabit it, as does Challenger's daughter. Challenger, of course, will have none of it, especially as his daughter and Malone intend to marry. He agrees to see for himself, and is surprised by what he encounters. This story is the one that most lovers of Sherlock Holmes cannot abide. I had heard that Doyle was actually a believer in spiritualism, and in this story he footnotes certain scenes and relates them to actual events. At the end of the story one can only scratch one's head in wonder.
"The Disintegration Machine" is very short, and is more of a character study. In this story, Challenger, for the good of mankind, does something heinous. In the last story, "When the World Screamed" Challenger proves that the planet Earth is a living creature.
I enjoyed reading this collection, though the stories were not all of equal quality. It is unclear how much time elapsed between the stories. It would be nice if there were more information about when and where the stories were published. In the first two, Challenger has a wife, but no children, in the third, his wife is dead, but his daughter is old enough to marry--the last two stories don't mention either the wife or daughter, nor the fact that Malone had married the daughter in the third story.

Contains:
The Lost World
The Poison Belt
The Land of Mist
The Disintegration Machine
When the World Screamed ( )
  Marse | Apr 23, 2015 |
The Lost World is a great read and, on its own, would rate 5-stars. The other stories in this edition let it down slightly, with only The Poison Belt coming close. The Land Of Mist is interesting from the point of view of how Spiritualism was conducted at the time, but it's dragged down by its preaching and slow pace. The other two short stories are fine, but are not particularly memorable. The book is worth buying for The Lost World alone, however, so the other stories can be seen as interesting, if flawed, bonuses. ( )
  nwdavies | Aug 21, 2014 |
The Lost World

This still comes up well and is probably the author's most famous non-Sherlock Holmes story, the inspiration for many others, including Michael Crichton. It is very Jules Verne-esque, though I think Conan Doyle is the better writer. The story is told from the viewpoint of a young journalist Ed Malone. The characters are still rather cliched, but that doesn't detract from the sense of adventure and scientific wonder. Challenger is an amusing and mostly rather likeable central character. The main part of the novel does end rather abruptly, though with am amusing vindicatory postscript. 4.5/5

The Poison Belt

A corker of a post-apocalyptic story, though everything of course comes right in the final chapter. A real atmosphere of doom and horror here, with the central characters looking out at a dying world. Great stuff. 5/5

The Land of Mists

This overlong story has no real plot as such and serves merely as a vehicle for Conan Doyle's growing belief in spiritualism during his latter years. Various characters including the central figures around Professor Challenger (the same set as in the earlier stories, except that Professor Sumerlee and Mrs Challenger are dead, the latter's role supporting the Professor being replaced by a hitherto unmentioned daughter, Enid) are converted through a range of experiences to spiritualism, until eventually even the great man himself succumbs near the end. Some genuinely touching and chilling scenes that give food for thought, but this story has not aged well. 3/5

The Disintegration Machine

Very short story about the invention of a machine with dire consequences. Fairly predictable ending. Challenger seems almost Holmes-like in this. 3.5/5

When the World Screamed

I found this concluding story rather a disappointment. Although it is now quite common to conceptualise the Earth and its eco-system as analogous to a living organism, here it is taken very literally and unconvincingly. Unlike the other stories, it is told not from the point of view of the journalist Ed Malone, but from that of the engineer Peerless Jones. On a minor point, there is a passing reference here to Mrs Challenger, so this must take place before The Land of Mists (unless there is a second Mrs C, of course). 3/5

Overall 4/5 ( )
  john257hopper | May 31, 2011 |
The Lost World is a definite must for anyone interested in 19th Century science fiction. Forget Jurassic Park, this is where it started! Adventurers head off into deepest South Africa and comes across a high plateau (based on the huge Tapas mountain ranges?) where dinosaurs roam and humans are a much put upon race. Real 19th Century adventuring stuff, on a par with Quatermain. Another good read in this collection is 'The Poison Belt' when seemingly every living thing dies.... or do they? ( )
  ruthich | Jun 1, 2008 |
I enjoyed this story. It was easy to read and was quite fun at times. The only problem I had was the amount of exposition...not a fan. I enjoyed the ending quite a bit. Makes me hunger for adventure.

http://iamagirldork.livejournal.com/15050.html ( )
  iamagirldork | Jun 20, 2007 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sir Arthur Conan Doyleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gooden, PhilipEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schutte, E. F.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140437657, Mass Market Paperback)

Spurred on by the woman he loves, young journalist Edward Malone eagerly joins forces with irascible Professor Challenger on an expedition to South America. They are accompanied by Professor Summerlee, keen to expose his old rival as a fraud, and soldier-adventurer, Lord John Roxton. Their mission is to verify Challenger's claim of the existence of a mysterious Jurassic-age plateau untouched by human civilization that brings both wonder and terror in the form of prehistoric creatures, from fierce ape-men to grazing iguanodons and rookeries of pterodactyls. "The Lost World" (1912) is accompanied here by "The Poison Belt", a novella that reunites Challenger and his team of explorers in an apocalyptic adventure, and two fantasies, "The Terror of Blue John Gap" and "The Horror of the Heights".

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Spurred by the woman he loves, young journalist Edward Malone eagerly joins forces with irascible Professor Challenger on an expedition to South America. Their mission is to verify Professor Challenger's claim of the existence of a Lost World: a mysterious Jurassic-age plateau untouched by human civilization, which holds the promise of treasure and of terror.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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