A sub-genre of the fantasy or science fiction genres, the lost world involves the discovery of an unknown world out of time, place, or both. It began as a sub-genre of late-Victorian adventure romance and gained popularity into the 21st century.
Due to the remnants of lost civilizations being discovered around the world, such as the tombs of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, the semi-mythical stronghold of Troy, the jungle-shrouded pyramids of the Maya, and the cities and palaces of the empire of Assyria the genre rose in popularity. Between 1871 and the First World War, the number of published lost world narratives, dramatically increased. The genre also has similar themes to “mythical kingdoms”, such as El Dorado.
For example, the now famous Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1820), has long been hailed at the ultimate lost world novel, however, King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider haggard (1885) was considered the first-world narrative. This book was followed by The Man Who Would be King by Rudyard Kipling (1888) and The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle (1912). The name Shangri-La was first introduced by James Hilton in his novel, Lost Horizon in 1933, this meme has become synonymous with lost world narratives as the idealization of a lost world.
Topics within these narratives ranged from winged people on an isolated island surrounded by high cliffs, the hollow earth, surviving pockets of prehistoric species, and humans living alongside living dinosaurs. Today with most of the planet explored the narratives are turning to space.
Do you write or read lost world fiction?
Which one is your favorite?