East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Looking for a lost world

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An unexpected post, with some musings and some ideas – basically me talking to myself by way of the blog.

Fact is, I’ve more or less successfully pitched “a story with dinosaurs” to a publisher, and I’m working on an outline for a short novel (say, about 45K words) more or less in the Lost World genre.
Quoth Wikipedia…

The lost world is a subgenre of the fantasy or science fiction genres that involves the discovery of a new world out of time, place, or both. It began as a subgenre of the late-Victorian adventure romance and remains popular into the 21st century.

… and I am a fan of the subgenre – H. Rider-Haggard, E.R. Burroughs, all the way down to Xenozoic Tales and Indiana Jones.
And yes, why not, babes and dinosaurs1.


And yet, pulling a contemporary lost world adventure is not that easy – the idea of a pocket of Mesozoic hidden somewhere on an island, or in the heart of Africa or South America, is no longer feasible in the time of Google Earth.
Or is it.

Early this year I proposed a lost-world-themed plot for the next Indiana Jones movie – and I really think the 1970s are the farthest in time we can still hope to imagine a believable lost world.
In the ’80s, with the resurgence of cold war and the massive use of spy satellites, hiding the dinosaurs would become pretty difficult.

So – would it be better, easier and more apropriate to try and set my story in a somewhat historical setting?
In the Victorian era, in Roman times (this would be great), in the 1930s, or maybe in the time of the Wild West…


A contemporary setting offers diferent perks, but in terms of locations only a few options remain – deep cave systems like the Niubizi Tian Keng in China, or beneath the ice of Antartica, the ever popular tepui mesas and sima sinkholes in South America.
Echoes of Pellucidar, or Zanthodon.

Right now, the location and the time-frame are my main concerns.
Once the when and where are set, the rest will come easily.
Drop the heroes in the lost world.
Provide menaces both natural and man-made.
Include an over the top villain (Nazis are always a guarantee in these cases).
Send in the dinosaurs.
Nice and smooth.

So, while I keep working on my other stories (no rest for the wicked), I’ll be racking my brain for a nice way to do a lost world, and maybe try and do something new and different with the subgenre.

Also, I’ll go through a few novels, to try and catch the vibe.
Then, I’ll start discussing details with my prospect publisher.
Let’s see what happens.

  1. and this is, I realize, not politicaly correct in the least – but it is meant with affection for both the babes and the dinosaurs. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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