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Armchair Fiction’s Lost World-Lost Race series

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, May 15, 2017 in Pulps, Reprints, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Armchair Fiction’s Lost World-Lost Race series

'Forgotten Worlds'Some may be familiar with Sinister Cinema, a company that has for years made various “B movies” available on VHS and now DVD. In 2010 they expanded with their Armchair Fiction series of reprints.

First it was classic science fiction, fantasy, and horror done in double novel format, similar to that used in the old Ace Double series, which they’ve just put our their 200th volume in their D series (and started the new E series). They expanded to Mystery-Crime Double novels (the B series) and have a few other series such as Masters of Science-Fiction (the M series), Horror Gems and Science Fiction Gems (the G series), as well as Science-Fiction Classics (the C series), which are single novels or collections. What they reprint is stuff that appeared either in pulp magazines or early paperbacks, and sometimes earlier works.

One of their more recent sub-series is their “Lost World-Lost Race” series which consists so far with:

  • Atlantida, Pierre Benoit, #B-5
  • Forgotten Worlds, Howard Browne, #B-6
  • The Lost World, Arthur Conan Doyle, #B-7
  • Citadel of Fear, Francis Stevens, #B-8
  • A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder, James de Mille, #B-9
  • The Purple Sapphire, John Taine, #B-24
  • The Metal Monster, A. Merritt, #B-25
  • The Yellow God, H. Rider Haggard, #B-26
  • Under the Andes, Rex Stout, #B-27
  • Land of the Changing Sun, Will N. Harben, #B-30
  • She, H. Rider Haggard, #B-31
  • Journey into Limbo, Scott Michel, #B-32
  • The Lost Continent, C.J. Cutliffe Hyne, #B-33
  • Two Thousand Miles Below, Charles W. Diffen, #B-34

It’s a very eclectic series. There are works that are probably well known and available elsewhere (The Lost World, She, and a couple of others). There are a few that are less known to most (Atlantida, The Metal Monster, and a couple of others). And there are some that I as a long-time SF fan had not heard of.

Atlantida (sometimes L’Atlantida) concerns a lost group of Atlantians living in the remote Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Their queen seduces a series of lovers, whom she preserves in a series of niches. While similar to Haggard’s She, the author was not influenced by that work. There have been a few movie versions of it.

Howard Browne’s Forgotten World has a WWII Spitfire pilot get thrown back to a past of lost civilizations.

Doyle’s The Lost World is fairly well known, having been made into several movies. One of his works with Professor Challenger, it concerns a lost plateau in South Africa where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures still live.

The Citadel of Fear is Francis Stevens’ (actually Gertrude Bennett‘s) first novel, of a lost Aztec city found during WWI (it was written in 1918). She is credited with creating the genre of “dark fantasy” and influencing authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Merritt.

De Mille’s A Strange Manuscript is the author’s best-known work, actually published posthumously. It anticipated several lost world works, with its main character finding a land of prehistoric creatures and people living in Antarctica, sustained by volcanic heat. He sends out the message that is found by others. The interest of this work is the utopian society he finds, which is how I first learned of it.

The Purple Sapphire is the first work by John Taine (actually a pseudonym used by Eric Temple Bell, a mathematician for his fiction writing), and one of several that Armchair Fiction has reprinted. Here, a group of people looking in India for a kidnapped daughter of a general, find a lost civilization in the Himalayas. It was reprinted in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1948, and this edition reprinted the Virgil Finley illustrations used there.

'The Metal Monster'I have previously posted on A. Merritt. The Metal Monster is a sort-of sequel to his well-known Moon Pool (also reprinted by AF, but not in this series), and has Dr. Walter T. Goodwin on a trans-Himalayan expedition where he finds a lost valley inhabited by Persians led there by Alexander the Great, and a city inhabited by animated metal things.

H. Rider Haggard gets two entries in the series: The Yellow God and She. She is his most well-known work after King Solomon’s Mines; it introduces the immortal She who rules over a mysterious lost civilization in Africa. There have been a few movie versions of it as well. The Yellow God is a similar work, but with a different adventurer finding a different lost civilization ruled by a different sinister queen.

Rex Stout is best known as the author of detective Nero Wolfe, wrote Under the Andes long before that, one of his first. Here explorers find a lost civilization of Incas.

Land of the Changing Sun is a very early work (1894) by Will Harpen, who was fairly successful with a lot of different works in the early 20th century and today is pretty much forgotten. This, his only science fiction work, has a group of travelers taken to the interior of the world, where they find a utopian society existing under an artificial sun.

Mainly a writer of crime fiction, Scott Michel’s Journey into Limbo is his only science fiction work, of two castaways on a mysterious island.

The Lost Continent is C.J. Cutliffe Hyne’s most well-known work. It’s been reprinted many times since its 1899 appearance in Pearson’s. Told by a warrior-priest of Atlantis, it’s about of the doomed attempt to save it from destruction.

Two Thousand Miles Below has miners working on a dead volcano release something from the interior of the world that wants to take over the surface.

Be sure to check out this series, as well as their other works. A lot of overlooked classics in what they are putting out.

One Comment

  1. I recently got Haggard’s “Yellow God” on my Amazon kindle.