24 October, 2013

Non-Holmes Doyle, hmmm

Arthur Conan Doyle

It is curious how completely Conan Doyle's reputation has been attached to his creation Sherlock Holmes; so strong is the tie between the two of them that one just about forgets that he did anything else, let alone wrote much else; often the only other thing he is remembered for is his interest in spiritualism and being taken in by photographs of fairies at the bottom of the garden. In fact, though, i know he wrote more; i read at least one of his Medieval adventures about ten or fifteen years ago, and i was aware, vaguely, of Professor Challenger through the influence on subsequent generations of science fiction authors. This was, though, the first of Doyle's SF that i have read.

Professor Challenger is almost a character out of a farce, he is so much the easily offended intellectual, sublimely confident in himself (with some justification, it must be said), always ready to resort to physical violence to back up his mental powers. Doyle has provided him with a challenge sufficient to his abilities in the lost world plateau in the middle of South America somewhere, where remnants from past aeons of Earth's history are living together in some imitation of harmony. This lost world is clearly the precursor to any number of other isolated environments where a series of characters can explore and interact with no reference to the outside world, from Burroughs' Barsoom (not to mention the jungles of his Tarzan) to Lewis's Malacandra and Niven's Ring.

I am glad that i bought this edition, which contains all three Professor Challenger novels, as well as the two short stories Conan Doyle wrote, as i shall return to it in the future and read the rest; The Lost World is obviously a success for me.

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