Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Lost World (Professor Challenger #1), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author), Glen McReady (narrator)

Naxos AudioBooks, February 2008 (original publication 1912)

In London, in 1907, Irishman Edward Malone is a journalist, and also has a certain reputation as an athlete. What he doesn't have, in the eyes of his beloved Gladys, is fame and a reputation for daring, romantic adventure. On these grounds, she utterly rejects him.

Malone is not yet ready to give up, though, and appeals to his editor for an assignment that will give him the scope for adventure and fame that Gladys wants the man she marries to have.

His editor sends him off to interview Professor Challenger, a naturalist who returned from South America with a wild tale no one believes, about impossible prehistoric beasts still alive there. Oh, and Challenger has assaulted those who disbelieve him too directly.

He survives his first meeting with Challenger, and at his invitation attends a public lecture being given by another naturalist, whom Challenger does not respect. Somehow, and really, don't skip this part; it's a lot of fun, Challenger, the famous big game hunter Lord John Roxton, another naturalist Challenger isn't on good terms with named Professor Summerlee, and Malone are soon off to South America with the official assignment of verifying Challenger's wild claims.

It's 1907. Every one of these characters, and their creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, is a man of the 19th century, and being good, decent, liberal-minded men of that era does not make them men of the first quarter of the 21st century. Be prepared for that. If you feel you're not going to be comfortable with rolling your eyes and remembering they're actually rather decent compared to the overall standard of their time, this might not be your book. If you can do it, though, this is a fun book.  Malone and his companions find a high, almost inaccessible mesa, with creatures long thought extinct, but also two uncontacted tribes.

I grew up in the mid-20th century. I learned to be polite to people who believed some of the nonsense these people believe, because they were my elders and, though my parents would never have been so disrespectful to their elders as to say so, they didn't know better.

That was losing ground as a useful excuse even then. I can't imagine today's Millennials have heard this excuse, and if they have, they surely haven't been taught to be polite about that nonsense.

This is a fun book, but I'm not sure it's a good thing that I can roll my eyes at the background racism and say that.

It's a fun book, but it's a period piece, and its worst flaws come directly from its period character. That makes it hard to recommend. Proceed with caution.

I bought this audiobook.