Archive for the 'Adventure fiction' category

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Maracot Deep

Nov 12 2008 Published by under Adventure fiction, Weird fiction

One of the fun things about my blogging is that I keep turning up relatively unknown works by famous authors which, although not on par with their classics, give fascinating insights into the authors' views.  They're usually quite entertaining, as well!

Soon after reading John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes, I stumbled across yet another book about the interaction of mankind with the denizens of the deepest oceans: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Maracot Deep (1929).

Doyle, though certainly best known for his stories about Sherlock Holmes, was no stranger to a good adventure or horror story.  The Lost World (1912), for instance, dealt with an expedition to a remote South American plateau where dinosaurs and other monsters still dwell.

The Maracot Deep, however, is set in the other great frontier of that era: the deepest parts of the ocean.  It is one of Doyle's weaker novels, and is extremely short, but is a fun read and is one of the last truly 'speculative' novels about the undersea world.

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Bertram Mitford's The Sign of the Spider

Oct 30 2008 Published by under Adventure fiction, Horror

It's hard to find out information about author Bertram Mitford (1855-1914).  Even Wikipedia doesn't have information about him, instead redirecting to another Bertram Mitford who wrote about Japan.  He was, like H. Rider Haggard, a writer of adventure stories set in the wilds of Africa, though certainly not as well known (Haggard wrote King Solomon's Mines and She, the latter of which I've blogged about before).  Valancourt Books, which has not led me wrong yet, has been valiantly reprinting much of Mitford's work.  I decided to give The Sign of the Spider (1896) a read:

I was, quite frankly, blown away.  According to the book notes, Mitford has been dismissed as an imitator of Haggard.  I found The Sign of the Spider to be a much more compelling, and even deep, read than any of the Haggard work I've read so far.  A summary and some observations follow.

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H. Rider Haggard's She

Jul 29 2008 Published by under Adventure fiction, Fantasy fiction

Before Indiana Jones, there was Allan Quatermain, elephant hunter and adventurer/explorer of Africa. Quatermain was the creation of H. Ridger Haggard (1856-1925), and was featured in the novels King Solomon's Mines and Allan Quatermain. Haggard's work was informed by his own experiences working for the British government in one of their South African colonies, and his works are still in print to this day, though not as widely read as they once were.

I recently finished reading Haggard's other famous adventure/romance, She (1887), in preparation for another lengthy survey of weird fiction, and I thought I'd share some thoughts on the novel.

The "She" of the title refers to a legendary white queen of an isolated African tribe, though her full title is, "She who must be obeyed" (she's also named Ayesha, but that's not nearly as impressive sounding). The novel tells the tale of a trio of adventurers who risk life and limb to travel in search of her.

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