May 30, 2014

Reading Cutcliffe-Hynes’ The Lost Continent

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I started reading C. J. Cutcliffe-Hynes’ The Lost Continent yesterday, and I’m hooked. (It’s a free e-book at Feedbooks, link leads there).

So far I’m at the fourth chapter, and our hero Deucalion, whose account was discovered by a slumming adventurer playing at archaeologist, has just been ejected from the Viceroyalty of Yucatan and summoned to Atlantis by the new Empress Phorenike for mysterious reasons. He’s been attacked by a rival Atlantean fleet and barely escaped alive, and he’s about to meet the Empress at the point where wifey threatened massive violence if I didn’t stop reading and go to sleep!

Things I’ve liked so far:

  • Heck, it’s about Atlantis. I’m a sucker for lost-world adventures, if it’s not obvious to you by now!

  • Nice nod by the author to proper archaeological practice. In the framing story, the first narrator helps an archaeologist on a dig in the Canaries, for a share of the find. He accidentally unearths a book but damages it in the process. He gets dressed down for that by the professor.

  • The hero of the story, Deucalion, starts out in a foreboding situation that immediately tells us a lot about Atlantis. He’s at the ceremony celebrating the accession of a new Vicerory in Yucatan, who turns out to be replacing him on very sudden notice despite his good performance there.

    We get a very good sense of his emotions at this point, including his forebodings over why he was so suddenly deposed from office, and the tension is quickly increased by the revelation that the Empress wants him to return to Atlantis to help her in something. This is made even more interesting by the revelation that Empress Phorenike is basically a usurper.

  • Atlantean decadence is nicely shown in passing through the interaction of Deucalion and his replacement, his friend Tatho. Deucalion embodies an honest ‘working man’s’ ethic, while Tatho openly admits he has to use his post to make money, to support his plethora of wives, slaves, cooks et cetera.

The Lost Continent definitely looks like it’s going to give me a lot of ideas I can use for Atlantis Fallen. And despite its age – first published 1900 – it’s very readable, not turgidly crawling as some older fiction tends to be to our modern tastes. By the way the pulp magazine cover above is making me think of shooting a bunch of pulp-fantasy inspired glamour portraits … hmmm ….

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