In The Lost World, the first in a series of books to feature the bold Professor Challenger—a character many critics consider one of the most finely drawn in science fiction—Challenger and his party embark on an expedition to a remote Amazonian plateau where, as the good professor puts it, “the ordinary laws of Nature are suspended” and numerous prehistoric creatures and ape-men have survived. “Just as Sherlock Holmes set the standard—and in some sense established the formula—for the detective story . . . , so too has The Lost World set the standard and the formula for fantasy-adventure stories . . . ,” Michael Crichton writes in his Introduction. “The tone and techniques that Conan Doyle first refined in The Lost World have become standard narrative procedures in popular entertainment of the present day.”
Forget the Michael Crichton book (and Spielberg movie) that copied the title. This is the original: the terror-adventure tale of The Lost World. Writing not long after dinosaurs first invaded the popular imagination, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spins a yarn about an expedition of two scientists, a big-game hunter, and a journalist (the narrator) to a volcanic plateau high over the vast Amazon rain forest. The bickering of the professors (a type Doyle knew well from his medical training) serves as witty contrast to the wonders of flora and fauna they encounter, building toward a dramatic moonlit chase scene with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. And the character of Professor George E. Challenger is second only to Sherlock Holmes in the outrageous force of his personality: he's a big man with an even bigger ego, and if you can grit your teeth through his racist behavior toward Native Americans, he's a lot of fun.