Forgotten Book: The Lost Continent (Beyond Thirty) by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1915, 1955)

The Lost Continent isn't exactly a Burroughs masterpiece.

The Lost Continent isn’t exactly a Burroughs masterpiece.

By Scott A. Cupp

This is the 189th in my series of Forgotten Books.

Somehow in 189 review essays, I have never tackled a book by Edgar Rice Burroughs. ERB was one of the first writers I read regularly, though the titles I had access to were pretty random. When I lived in Iowa Park, Texas (1962 – 1967), the local library was pretty small but they had some ERB, some Tom Swift (the original series) and a smattering of other stuff. So, I read some Venus books, some Pellucidar and other titles, though no Tarzan. They had none of those.

When I got to San Antonio in 1967, the school had a book fair and I saw a copy of Thuvia, Maid of Mars with the Roy Krenkel cover and I fell in love with that series. Mars was Heaven, to quote Mr. Bradbury. So I read a lot of Burroughs. But as a collector I never had many ERB titles. The good ones were already too expensive. I had copies of them all, just no collectible first editions.

In college, I ran across the Fantasy Press edition of Beyond Thirty and The Maneater, a collection of two short novels which had not been reprinted from their early pulp days. I kept that book for many years, but it is now long gone.

I read it back in the 70’s, when I purchased the Fantasy Press edition, and thought it was OK. Not Africa-, Mars-, Venus- or Pellucidar-comparable, but OK. So when I found a UK paperback of Beyond Thirty — now retitled The Lost Continent and with an odd cover — for 50 cents recently, I picked it up with the idea of making it a Forgotten Book.

The novel was written in 1915, just three years after A Princess of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes and was directly affected by World War I. It tells the story of Lt. Jefferson Turck of the Pan American Navy and is set in 2137. Some 200 years earlier, a great war in Europe caused the Western Hemisphere (and its one giant nation Pan America) to declare the rest of the world off limits. Pan America controlled from meridian 30° West to 175° West. The Navy patrolled these coordinates. Lt. Turck is patrolling from Iceland to the Azores in his flying submarine, which can travel in the air or below the waves, when the craft suffers an engine failure as well as a wireless failure. A giant storm pushes the ship into those forbidden zones. Entry into the zone is punishable by death, regardless of the circumstances.

Faced with this likelihood, the ship stops for repairs and Turck goes out fishing with three men. During the fishing trip, his boat is separated from the ship and the four men find themselves left behind.

Not wanting to travel across the Atlantic in a small motorized ship, they decide to try for Europe, specifically England. When they arrive they find themselves hunted by Tigers, but their weapons are sufficient to keep the beasts away. Soon they are near London, where they find lions abounding, and they rescue a young maiden from a semi-human tribesman. The girl turns out to be Victory, the Queen of England! She is in trouble as Buckingham, a member of her tribe, has killed her father the King and wants to marry her so he can become King himself. Buckingham does not like Turck and soon captures him and offers him as a sacrifice to the lions.

With Victory’s help he escapes and she joins the four men as they explore continental Europe. Turck falls in love with Victory and is surprised when she and one of the crewmen desert the remainder of the party and leave them stranded. Here they encounter an army of Abyssinians who are well trained and organized. Turck alone is captured and taken to the local commander, who makes him his personal manservant, which irks Turck since he has never been a servant to a black man before. Whites are inferior to the Abyssinians, and he is treated poorly.

Soon the Emperor Menelek XIV visits, and when presented with captured slaves, immediately picks out Victory as his next paramour. Turck does not like this and has to find a way to rescue her.

Our hero eventually wins out and is reunited with her, the remainder of the crew and makes it back to his world, where things have changed and he is now a hero rather than a condemned traitor.

All in all, it’s an OK read, but not nearly as good as others from this time period. The final 20 pages is extremely rushed, and events which should have taken chapters are shunted off in two sentences. It is lesser Burroughs and it is not hard to see why it took 40 years to be collected. It also suffers from an attitude against the non-white races that I found pretty blatant and jarring to current sensibilities, which is not surprising given some of the charges leveled against his Tarzan books from the same period.

If you’ve read all the other ERB, you should read it. But if you have not, don’t go out of your way to locate it.

Series organizer Patti Abbott usually hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.

Forgotten Films: Tarzan and the Trappers (1958)

Who can resist the promise of "wild jungle action?"

By Scott A. Cupp

This is the 163rd in my series of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films

Welcome back, my friends. It seems like forever since I got to tell you about films and shows you did not want to remember.

I have been incredibly busy. Since the last posting, I accepted a new job, visited Alpine, Texas, where the job is located, placed an offer on a house, gave my own house some serious cleaning so it could be shown to potential buyers, loaded up 250+ boxes of books, movies and the like and got them into the garage (with some much needed and appreciated help from close friends), had the rear window of my one year old car destroyed by hail because said boxes were in the garage, drove to Austin with a taped up window during a rain storm to prevent having to wait a month for replacement, attended a work conference in Corpus Christi and moved into a dorm apartment in Alpine while waiting for the house to sell so we can buy the other house.

Get your programs right here! You can’t tell the score without a program!

As a result of all the scrambling, watching films and reading books have not been high on my priority list! But now things are settling down. Still need to sell the house and buy the new one and move stuff out here, but all that is doable. Consequently I have told Sanford that I should be back on a more reliable schedule of providing these little columns. We shall see.

This week I decided to watch an old Tarzan movie starring Gordon Scott. I had never seen many of his outings as the jungle lord, but I thought he looked the part and acted semi-literate as opposed to the Johnny Weissmuller monosyllabic Tarzan, whom I watched and enjoyed as a kid.

This “film” was made in 1958 and released in Iran (if we can believe IMDB) but was not shown in the U.S. until 1966. I put the quotes around film because this is a conglomeration of three television pilots later re-edited into a very episodic release. The pilots were presented to the three networks at that time and no one chose to bite, so producer Sol Lesser tried to recoup some of the money.

The plot is pretty standard TV fare – white hunters invading tribal lands and killing or capturing animals for zoos and trophies. Tarzan stop bad men. Then, the brother of the bad man wants to hunt down Tarzan with the help of an evil guide looking for the treasures of a lost civilization. City found; no treasure. Bad guys stopped.

As a holdover from the Weissmuller days, we have a lovely Jane (Eve Brent), who does little, and a son, Boy (Rickie Sorensen), who provides some young interest and is always available as a potential captive/hostage. Cheetah the chimp (billed as Chetah) is possibly the best actor in the group, particularly in the final half of the film. Scatman Crothers makes an appearance under the name Sherman Crothers as Tyana, one of the tribal chiefs.

I watched this because I recently saw the preview for the new Tarzan film due this year. (Previews for that look good, so I will be watching.) And also because I have a signed Gordon Scott photo of him as Tarzan. (Thank you Barry and Terry for that wonderful gift so many years ago!) While Scott, who made six Tarzan movies between 1955 and 1960, is better than some of the many actors who played the role, he’s not particularly memorable in this outing.

So, be warned this isn’t a spectacular Tarzan film. Watch at your own risk. As always, your mileage may vary depending on your nerdiness. Ungawah!

Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.


Forgotten Book: Magnus, Robot fighter 4000 A.D., by Russ Manning (2015)

Magnus goes toe-to-toe with a robot oppressor. Because, after all, he's the Robot Fighter.

By Scott A. Cupp

This is the 166th in my series of Forgotten Books.

Sorry for missing you all last week. I had many things going on and nothing specific to review, so rather than trying to fake it, I decided to pass. This week I had another book, but I have not finished reading it, so I went with something fast and furious.

When I was younger I loved comics and bought them. I bought a lot of comics. They were mainly DC and Marvel but not all. I loved Classics Illustrated books and bought more than a few of them. I was there at the beginning of the Silver Age of comics and had a number of those early key issues. But I was limited by whatever passed through the revolving rack at my local 7-11 or TG&Y. Marvel and DC controlled a lot of those slots. Occasionally, though, another company would land a few. I looked at Harvey comics and the rare Gold Key and Dell. I would see the rare Tarzan, Dr. Solar or Space Family Robinson — and even rarer was Magnus, Robot Fighter.

Magnus is a comic I would have loved. It was science fiction. It was Russ Manning, whom I loved for his work on Sea Devils, a comic I cherish to this day, and his work on Tarzan. But I never saw enough of these to make an impression. If the choice was an odd issue of Magnus or an issue of The Avengers, the superheroes were going to win.

So, let’s talk a little about this title. Magnus is a young man, raised by the robot 1A to be a free-thinker and to fight for the rights of people. Mankind has developed a number of different robot types and taken up a life of leisure. The robots have attained some sentience and have begun to start repressing any thoughts of individuality and rebellion. Mankind has to do whatever the robots tell them or suffer the consequences.

At the time this comic started up in 1962, Russ Manning approached the editors at Gold Key with the idea of a future science fiction Tarzan. A young man raised by a robot rather than an ape. He fights against despotic robots rather than some of the great apes. Manning had been doing the Tarzan newspaper strip for a while and he had the stories and ideas down pat.

Magnus has a transmitter in his head that allows him to receive robot transmissions. In his first issue, he incites a riot and meets up with Leeja Clane, a beautiful woman with ideas of her own and a wardrobe that was amazing to my pre-teen eyes. Magnus has been trained in martial arts and can damage a robot with his bare hands. Pretty heady stuff in the pre-Bruce Lee days.

Issue one introduces the main characters of Magnus, Leeja and 1A. Leeja’s father, Senator Clane, is introduced in Issue 2, and he aids in the war against robot oppression. The stories have some, but not a lot of originality. Issue 2 introduces a robot Magnus that fools some. Issue 3 has alien invaders; Issue 4 has an underwater menace. With Issue 5 there is the “immortal robot” that has tyrannical aspirations. Issue 6, we have a concentration camp/brainwashing issue and Issue 7 features the return of Xyrkol, the alien from Issue 3.

These are comics and the stories are not great, but some of the ideas are. And the art is always fun.

Dark Horse re-issued Magnus in two formats. There was a nice hardback edition at about $50, and later, there were some paperback ones at $20. I had the first hardback collection prior to my big book sale in 2007, so now I have the paperback collections. The art is in color, and there are seven issues here, encompassing 204 pages plus a few pages of extras. I think it’s a great value.

And, of course, depending on your love of the character, Russ Manning, Gold Key comics and other factors, your mileage will definitely vary.

Is this as impactful as the first seven issues of Spider-Man? Oh, absolutely not. Or how about The Defenders? Yeah, I like this better than that one. And, if the idea of a futuristic Tarzan in robotland doesn’t appeal to you, I can only ask that you do a self examination and figure out what is wrong with you. Or, maybe me.

Have a great week, and remember Thanksgiving will be here very soon. Enjoy the season no matter how you celebrate.

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.