The Lost Continent is one of the least-known of Burroughs’ thrilling science-fiction tales. In the year 2137, civilization has been in decline for nearly two centuries, and war-torn Europe is but a distant memory to the inhabitants of the isolated United States. But an American adventurer rediscovers the Old World, which has become a strange and savage land.
Written in 1915, it was originally called “Beyond Thirty” and first published in All Around Magazine in February 1916, but did not appear in book form in Burroughs’ lifetime. The work was retitled “The Lost Continent.”
In 2137, Pan-American Navy Lieutenant Jefferson Turck is commander of the aero-submarine Coldwater, tasked with patrolling the 30th meridian from Iceland to the Azores. Disaster strikes when the vessel’s anti-gravitation screens fail, dooming it to wallow upon the surface of the ocean, and the engines fail, leaving it adrift. As its wireless radio has failed as well, Turck cannot even summon help. While the crew attempts repairs Turck and three subordinates, Sinder, Taylor and Delcarte, go fishing in a small boat to reprovision the vessel. While they are out the Coldwater is successfully repaired and flies off, leaving the fishermen to their fate. It is implied that Turck’s second officer Alvarez, who has clashed with his superior, is behind both the original sabotage and subsequent abandonment.
Adrift, Turck and his companions are forced to make shore in forbidden England. They find it a wilderness inhabited by savages and overrun by lions descended from zoo animals. The British royal family has been reduced to the precarious leadership of a small tribe based near the ruins of London. While out hunting Turck rescues Victory, daughter of the king, from the henchmen of Buckingham, a local strongman who has killed her father. He tries to return her to her family, only to fall himself into Buckingham’s hands. The two escape and flee to London, where they find evidence that Great Britain had fallen fully two hundred years before; the Great War had destroyed the Old World’s civilization in less than a quarter century.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
By 1916, Edgar Rice Burroughs was already a popular and regular contributor to the pulp periodicals of the day. Though a late starter–his first work, the John Carter story “Under the Moons of Mars,” was serialized in “All-Story Magazine” in 1912, when Burroughs was 36–his output increased rapidly, to the point that by 1916, he had already seen the first three Carter works including A Princess of Mars and The Gods of Mars, the first two Tarzan titles, the first Pellucidar entry “At the Earth’s Core“, plus such various works as “The Eternal Savage,” “The Monster Men” and “The Cave Girl,” all printed in that same magazine. But despite his reputation at “All-Story,” he still managed to get his manuscript for “Beyond Thirty” rejected there. This short novel was written between July and August 1915, and ultimately appeared in the February 1916 issue of “All-Around Magazine.”