The Lost World & Other Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

by nickupton

The Lost World is the daring story of four explorers who go in search of dinosaurs on a hidden plateau in the Amazon.

Professor Challenger is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous literary creation after Sherlock Holmes and the Lost World is the most famous story in which he features. This classic tale of two scientists, an adventurer and a reporter traveling deep into the Amazon to find a "Lost World" where dinosaurs still roam still captures people's imaginations and has given rise to a host of similar tales.

In this volume "The Lost World" is the longest story but it is accompanied by four other tales in which Professor Challenger features to draw the reader into a world of science fiction.

Here I will feature this book, talk about the stories, the characters and rate each one. I hope that you enjoy reading my review and leave a comment at the end.

1. The Lost World

This is the classic tale of a voyage to discover creatures that were previously thought to be extinct, namely dinosaurs. Professor Challenger has been widely ridiculed for his claims to have found this Lost World inhabited by prehistoric creatures and all the experts have branded his Pterosaur relic as a fake. In response Professor Challenger gives a lecture which ends in a riot and an expedition to revisit the Lost World with one his greatest doubters, Professor Summerlee, an adventurer, Lord John Roxton, and a reporter, Edward Malone.

At first the expedition goes well and with Professor Challenger's ingenuity they manage to gain access to the Lost World where they find proof of hidden dinosaurs, primitive humans and perhaps the missing link. But, of course, things start to go wrong and the four adventurers are forced into extreme action to survive and get back to London with the proof they need to convince the world's scientific community that the Lost World is real.

2. The Poison Belt

This short novel again sees Professor Challenger making a discovery that everyone else in the scientific community scoffs at. This time he does not need to go anywhere to prove his theory as a poisonous atmosphere begins to engulf the world as planet Earth passes through some "bad ether" and people across the globe lose consciousness.

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The Professor's three friends from his previous adventure are summoned to his home with tanks of oxygen to watch the last moments of humanity only to get an unexpected reprieve.

3. The Land of Mist

This is a tale of how proof was supplied to Professor Challenger and others of the authenticity of Spiritualism, mediumship and sceances. Edward Malone makes some investigations into the subject and is convinced that these things are true and the rest of the tale is spent providing "evidence" to support it.

4. The Disintegration Machine

This short story sees Professor Challenger come face-to-face with an extraordinary scientist who has invented a weapon of mass destruction that cannot be resisted and who sells it to the highest bidder.

Professor Challenger and Edward Malone experience the machine first hand and then the Professor makes an enlightened decision.

5. The Day The World Screamed

Another short story which sees the Professor conducting a remarkable experiment to prove his theory that the Earth is a living organism. After years of excavation and boring he is ready to demonstrate to the public that he is once again correct, no matter how far fetched his theory seems.

The result is success for Professor Challenger but disaster for many.

Have You Read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World?

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Review 1: The Lost World

The Lost World is an enduring story which goes through three phases; before the adventure, the adventure and after the adventure, with all three told well with their own highlights. 

The beginning introduces the four main characters very nicely indeed. Edward Malone is first encountered attempting to impress a woman, whilst Professor Challenger is introduced through a series of rude and egotistic encounters which culminate in a riot in his lecture. Professor Summerlee and John Roxton are both introduced in ways which start to give an idea of their characters too and each of the four members of the expedition are different, if rather old-fashioned, types of men.

The meat of the story is set in the Amazon, finding and then exploring the Lost World. Readers will find all they want here from a dinosaur discovering mission with raids by meat eating dinosaurs and encounters with peaceful herbivores. The tension is racked up with the introduction of ape people who are something of a missing link, but rather than being peaceful they turn out to become terrifying adversaries. The reader is kept guessing as to how exactly the four friends will return to London and as to exactly what they carry out of the Lost World. 

After escaping the Lost World the story could fall into an anticlimax but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle creates a character in Professor Challenger who is a really arrogant showman who produces a grand finale to remember.

Overall, the Lost World is a very entertaining and interesting story which has serialized-style moments of excitement to keep the reader engrossed throughout and has a wonderful ending. The characters are all very memorable in their own way, well described and most of them develop as the story progresses. In Professor Challenger the reader meets one of the most original protagonists ever created.

The Characters

Professor Challenger - is an incredibly egostistical scientist who looks down on everybody around him, frequently pointing out how unintelligent they are. Throughout the story the Professor is rarely anything other than a rude, self-satisfied and high-tempered boor; a very memorable and unusual character.

Edward Malone -is a reporter who is mild-mannered but resourceful and proud. As the story moves along he becomes bolder and he has a surprise of his own with a twist at the end.

Professor Summerlee - is a stuffy old academic who is much more conventional than Challenger. Throughout the story he provides willingness to bicker with Professor Challenger at all times.

Sir John Roxton - is a typical old-fashioned explorer, keen to shoot anything that moves and prove his bravery. Some readers will find him hard to accept but it should be remembered that he is a character from over 100 years ago.

I would definitely recommend this story to science fiction lovers and, of course, to all those grown up little boys who have loved dinosaurs their whole life. Those who have enjoyed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories may well also enjoy this.

My Rating Of The Lost World: 8.5 out of 10

Review 2: The Poison Belt

This story is of interest as a sequel to the four adventurer's previous tale and is enjoyable to read in that light. The story is fairly simple and unoriginal - a Doomsday scenario - but it is dealt with from the perspective of the enlightened observing the process before the instinct of self-preservation kicks in.

The personalities of all four characters are preserved from the Lost World story, adding to the sequel feel of this story, but the reader learns more of the character of Professor Challenger with the introduction of his wife.

This story may be seen to parody the detachment that many scientists have from humanity in their experiments and developments but lacks the excitement of the previous story.

My Rating Of The Poison Belt: 6.5 out of 10.

Review 3: The Land of Mist

The Land of Mist is Conan Doyle's long, rambling attempt to convince his readership as to the authenticity of Spiritualism by "proving" it to Professor Challenger. The problem here is that the self-satisfied zealousness of the "enlightened" is obvious and it feels like the author is talking down to the reader as well as providing pathetic examples of "proof" throughout the story. 

Much of what is written in this story would be considered exceptionally hackneyed these days but may have been original when written. This insight into Conan Doyle's beliefs rather detracts from much of his other work in my opinion.

The story does contain some moments of interest to those who have seen entertainers such as Derren Brown as much of what is described can be explained in the terms of those type of shows.

Ultimately, this is a long, boring story which is not fun to read at all.

My Rating Of The Land Of Mist: 2 out of 10

Review 4: The Disintegration Machine

This is a very intriguing tale which delves into the morality of using science to produce weaponry that can cause mass destruction. Professor Challenger's usual bombast is tempered when he realizes that the disintegration machine actually works and threatens the existence of mankind. 

The reader is left to think out the repercussions that could occur should the machine fall into the "wrong" hands and what should be done. At the end Professor Challenger makes the decision that the weapon is best left undiscovered. Although some readers might wonder who is he to decide who should have access to such technology. An interesting tale in the light of nuclear proliferation and the attitude of some nations towards who should be allowed to possess them.

My Rating of The Disintegration Machine: 7 out of 10.

Review 5: The Day The World Screamed

The Day The World Screamed is a fairly linear short story which introduces Challenger's theory that world is a living organism and then his experiment to prove it by inflicting pain on the planet. There is no real development of the story, we know what is going to happen, more or less, but it is interesting nonetheless as Challenger's perception of the world is in keeping with Gaia theory. 

Professor Challenger is portrayed with his usual thorny character and Edward Malone reports in typical fashion although the friendship between the two men has grown since earlier stories. This is an easy, if unremarkable, read for those who want more of Professor Challenger.

My Rating of The Day The World Screamed: 5.5 out of 10.

The Lost World TV Series

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World inspired a TV series of the same name which lasted for three seasons, running between 1999 and 2002. It features characters of the same name as the book but introduces some other characters too.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World - Season Two

Season 2 of the TV series based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic adventure.

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World - Season Three

Season 3 of the TV series inspired by Professor Challenger's most famous adventure.

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Summary: Who Would Enjoy The Lost World & Other Stories

Overall I enjoyed this book with the exception of "The Land of Mist" and my suggestion would be to read all the other stories before reading that one last or not bothering with it at all. The Lost World is a classic story of adventure and prehistoric creatures and the stories "The Poison Belt", "The Disintegration Machine" & "The Day The World Screamed" make suitable Professor Challenger sequels.

Readers who have enjoyed H.G.Wells, Jules Verne and other adventures such as Robinson Crusoe are likely to enjoy this book and those who are fans of Sherlock Holmes should check this book out to discover Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's other memorable character.


If you have read The Professor Challenger stories and enjoyed them then you must check out Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous creation - Sherlock Holmes.

This super sleuth is another remarkable character with amazing powers of deduction which are displayed in over 50 short stories and 4 novels. These are stories you can read over and over again.

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes then you may also like this collection of stories featuring similar characters - Shadows of Sherlock Holmes.

Professor Challenger Vs Sherlock Holmes

Which of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's two famous characters do you like most?

Are you kidding? Sherlock Holmes rules.
nickupton on 06/06/2012

I liked Professor Challenger but Sherlock Holmes is so hard to beat.

The Valley of the Gwangi

Download this fun movie in which the Gwangi is captured in a hidden world and brought back for show.

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The Land that Time Forgot

One of the best stories to feature explorers finding a land full of prehistoric creatures. A great book.

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King Kong

The original movie of King Kong another beast found in a lost world by explorers.

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The Lost World has inspired many similar stories of discovery of strange creatures in hidden lands. Here are some of my favorites; The Valley of the Gwangi is a movie I loved as a boy in which cowboys find a hidden land and return with a dinosaur that escapes and wrecks the place; The Land That Time Forgot is a very similar novel to The Lost World and has been adapted into 2 movies. King Kong is the famous tale of a huge gorilla that is captured on a mysterious island and taken to New York where he goes crazy.

Updated: 04/27/2013, nickupton
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