When Miriam Josefsohn visits the public library in Blue Thread, she borrows the newly published book by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World. She starts to read it on the streetcar home.
I knew I would enjoy the book. The first chapter was about a young woman who wasn’t ready to get married. Good for her!”
Later, when Miriam kazooms back 3,000 years to the steppes of Moab, she tells Serakh,
“This is straight out of The Lost World.”
To which Serakh answers…predictably,
“Do not feel troubled, Miriam. We are not lost.”
After Arthur Ignatious Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, he offered his readers Professor Challenger. The professor is into exploration in a big way, and he travels to a remote region of South America, a “lost world” of prehistoric creatures, including ape-like men. In Chapter One of The Lost World, the story’s narrator, a reporter named Edward Malone, proposes marriage to a woman who says she’s not the marrying type. Distraught, he goes on a dangerous expedition with the professor in hopes that his bravery will win the heart of the woman he loves. It does not. But there’s a ton of adventure in between.
The Lost World is filled with unacceptable stereotypes. Still, the idea of a secret stash of dinos has been popular for a century, and the story has been adapted over and over again.
I wanted to use The Lost World in Blue Thread, because Miriam liked “fantastical fiction,” which is what fantasy or science fiction was called then. And it almost could have happened this way—almost. I stretched the truth a bit. While the book was serialized and first published in England in 1912, the librarian in Portland would probably not have gotten a copy until at least 1913. But I couldn’t wait!
Here’s a snip from The Lost World, so you can get a taste of the book.
A dreadful thing has happened to us. Who could have foreseen it? I cannot foresee any end to our troubles. It may be that we are condemned to spend our whole lives in this strange, inaccessible place. I am still so confused that I can hardly think clearly of the facts of the present or of the chances of the future. To my astounded senses the one seems most terrible and the other as black as night.
No men have ever found themselves in a worse position; nor is there any use in disclosing to you our exact geographical situation and asking our friends for a relief party. Even if they could send one, our fate will in all human probability be decided long before it could arrive in South America.
We are, in truth, as far from any human aid as if we were [on] the moon.