Why I Read It: I needed some vintage SF in my reading diet.
Where I got It: The library.
Who I Recommend This To: PG-rated adventure fans.
Narrator: Michael Prichard
Publisher: Tantor Media (2009)
Length: 8 hours 30 minutes
Series: Book 1 Professor Challenger
This book was first published in 1912. Keep that in mind because some of the themes and plot devices will be dated. Professor Challenger went tromping around the Amazon jungle and discovered some truly amazing things. He returns to London to pull interest together for another expedition. However, London society makes fun of his claims. Luckily, there are a few young-blooded men with too much time on their hands and they volunteer to help the Professor out. One of these men is newspaper reporter Edward Malone. He and Lord John Roxton and Professor Summerlee join forces, and bank accounts, to go off adventuring.
I love Sherlock Holmes movies and TV shows, but I never much cared for the written stories. I know, I should be wearing some sort of reader’s cone of shame. But there it is. So a friend told me that Doyle himself didn’t particularly care for the stories, but they paid the bills. She suggested I try some of his other works. This book is a great example of how good Doyle’s work can be. I loved the adventure, the unknown, the suspense. It was well done. While there are a few bits that date it (which I’ll discuss in the next paragraph), I still quite enjoyed it. Basically, it’s a bunch of nerdy science types getting together to go off into the unknown jungle and play with specimen jars. The biologist in me quivers in anticipation just thinking about it! Who wouldn’t want to go?
OK, so the dated bits. There’s only 1 female, and she is the love interest of Malone. He wants her, she’s not interested. I found their conversation very amusing. Yes, it is dated as in she wants a man who goes out into the world and grabs a bit of fame and fortune, and then she will consider being interested in him. But I liked that she wasn’t the teary type and she also didn’t go all swoony when he said he was going off to the unknown dark depths of a jungle on another continent to face who knows what beasties. And the second dated part is how all the white male science nerds treat anyone of color. Sigh….
There’s dinosaurs. I don’t think that is a spoiler because everyone knows that white folk have been hunting for dinos in the South American jungles for at least a century. But they have to assault this high plateau to go see them and verify that Professor Challenger wasn’t just blowing smoke back in London. And there’s more than one set of natives to be investigated….and perhaps flee from. Malone and Challenger stood out the most, character-wise, to me. Challenger had a chip on his shoulder since no one believed his claims. Malone was trying to prove something to himself, and maybe his unrequitted love. But over all, it was the adventure that I really loved. they were exploring the unknown in search of something ancient and thought long dead. And I think that is what will keep me coming back to the Professor Challenger series.
What I Liked: Spirit of adventure; historical SF literature for its own sake; the lone female wasn’t all swoony silly; lots of science nerds playing with their specimen jars; dinosaurs!
What I Disliked: Only 1 female role; anyone of color is in a servant role or playing ‘the savage’.
This month I am participating in two SF reading events: Vintage SF Month over at The Little Red Review and The 2014 Science Fiction Experience over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Make sure to head over to these two places for more SF goodness.