Beyond was the great unknown. Even the geographies of my boyhood showed nothing beyond. We were taught of nothing beyond. Speculation was discouraged. For two hundred years the Eastern Hemisphere had been wiped from the maps and histories of Pan-America. Its mention in fiction, even, was forbidden.
Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ The Lost Continent, originally published as Beyond Thirty in 1916 (but written the previous year), is a slim adventure novel that I read a few years back, and is not one of the most famous of ERB’s creations.
Set in the 22nd Century, the novel takes place in a world in which the USA, and the whole American continent, broke all communications with Europe and Asia, where the nations of the Old World were locked in an endless war.
A law forbids American sea captains to go beyond latitude thirty across the Atlantic.
But of course the hero is forced by events to break the law, and he ends up exploring the barbaric, mystery-shrouded Lost Continents.
It’s a simple science fiction story, very much a product of its time, and it carries all the ERB trademarks – the dashing young hero forced to break the rules, the wild and independent barbarian princess (she’s the Queen of England, actually), wild beasts, ruins in the jungle…
The novel also features an “aero-submarine” – which sounds pretty cool.
It also sounds vaguely naive in its general set-up – and if it does include some tongue in cheek elements (the barbarian princess is called Victoria, the local bad guy is called Buckingham), it still sounds like a somewhat peeved look at those silly Europeans and their Great War thing.
And yet, it is a quick, fun read.
And I often wondered at the rest of the Old World, fallen and devastated by the war and by one century of barbarism – it would have been fun, hard ERB explored more of the setting.
A box of paperbacks resurfaced while I was looking for some Christmas tree ornaments, and inside I found my old copy.
So I decided to post about it.
Interested parties should not look further than Project Gutenberg to get an ebook copy of this little fun piece.