Thursday, September 15, 2011

45. Familiar Beginnings

I've recently taken an interest in dinosaur hunting.  You may recall I did some a year or so ago (here and here), using Two Hour Wargames' "Adventures in the Lost Lands" rules.  While those were perfectly satisfactory, I am an inveterate rules-buyer.  I really enjoy reading different rulesets, and seeing the different mechanisms authors use to achieve basically the same end results.  For example, d6 vs d10 vs d20 vs 2d6; staggered turn sequences; written orders; solo options; and so on.  All of it is absolutely fascinating to me.

So I've been on a dinosaur-hunting-ruleset hunt.  I've just read through "Saurian Safari" and have "Tooth and Claw" on order.  I've also found several free rulesets, too.  I might go into more detail after I've had a chance to read through them.

One of the natural by-products of gaming, for me, is feeding that fascination with a particular topic through reading regular books.  For Colonialism, I've read more historical accounts of the British in the Sudan, the Zulu war, and Afghanistan in the last three years then I had my whole life previously.

I tend to get really interested in a subject, sometimes with only the slightest impetus, and it absolutely consumes me.  Right now, that subject is Lost World-type stories.  It all started with "Adventures in the Lost Lands," but it simmered below the surface for the last year, and it only really ignited with my last post about my Cavemen and Cavewomen.  While I was tracking down images of Raquel Welch in "One Million Years B.C." I was reminded of the great old movies that I had watched in my youth, and not again since then:  the aforementioned Raquel Welch film, but also "The Land That Time Forgot" from 1975 and its sequel "The People That Time Forgot."  (Interesting footnote:  Michael Moorcock is co-credited as screenwriter in "The Land....")

Reminiscing about the movies got me thinking about the books from which they originated.  I didn't recall that I had ever read them, so mere moments later I had Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World," Edgar Rice Burroughs's "The Land That Time Forgot," and Jules Verne's "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" all downloaded for FREE on my Kindle.  (I also then discovered that "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" is not a translation so much as it is a rewrite.  A truer original translation is to be found in the version called, "A Journey into the Interior of the Earth."  I've been reading both, side by side, one chapter at a time, and it's fascinating how the story is the same and yet different.  Alas, that's a topic for a whole 'nother time...)

The thing that struck me first, though, as I perused the beginnings of each book, were their similarities.  "Duh," I hear you say, "they're all about lost worlds."  True, but I mean something much more specific.
To wit:

"The Lost World," Chapter 1:  "But who--who in all this wide world could ever have imagined the incredible shape which that deed was to take, or the strange steps by which I was led to the doing of it?"

"The Land That Time Forgot," Chapter 1:  "It seems incredible that all that I have passed through--all those weird and terrifying experiences--should have been encompassed within so short a span as three brief months.  Rather might I have experienced a cosmic cycle, with all its changes and evolutions for that which I have seen with my own eyes in this brief interval of time--things that no other mortal eye had seen before, glimpses of a world past, a world dead, a world so long dead that even in the lowest Cambrian stratum no trace of it remains."

"A Journey to the Centre of the Earth," Chapter 1:  "Looking back to all that has occurred to me since that eventful day, I am scarcely able to believe in the reality of my adventures.  They were truly so wonderful that even now I am bewildered when I think of them."

"At the Earth's Core," Preface:  "In the first place please bear in mind that I do not expect you to believe this story."

Hm, well, they seemed more similar before I copied them all here.  It seemed to me they all began in the same way:  "I've had an amazing trip, and seen things no one will believe, and how could it only have taken X months?"

Memory is a funny thing.  The actual beginnings are sort of similar but not as much as I believed.

Oh well, they're still great fun to read!


  1. I suspect that, while not exactly "lost world stuff, some of H. Rider Haggard's novels would fit right in with your other reading.

    -- Jeff

  2. Acutally, I forgot to mention him. I "Kindled" 34 of his books several months ago, and have been wading through them (albeit slowly). But you're right, they do fit in quite well.