Sunday, February 7, 2021

The Forgotten Edgar Rice Burroughs Post Apocalypse Novel - The Lost Continent


I was looking for some inspiration because I've just been told that I've got a game to run on Saturday. I stumbled on this novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Because of the release of John Carter by Disney everyone has been talking about a Princess Of Mars.
 However as of late I've been looking at other novels & stories by ERB. I stumbled on this one quite by accident.

The year is 2137. Two hundred years ago -- in our time, more or less -- Eurasia fought a war to end all wars, a war that meant, for all intents and purposes, the end of the Old World. The Americans managed to retain their civilization -- but only by engaging by the most extreme form or isolationism imaginable for two centuries, now, no American has ventured east of the thirtieth parallel. "East for the East . . ." the slogan went, "The West for the West!" Until a terrible storm at sea forced American lieutenant Jefferson Turck to disobey the law, seeking safe harbor in England -- where he found that two centuries of isolation have desolated the land. The damaged ship found a Europe that is no longer an enemy -- a ruined land that is utterly unable to be an enemy -- or a friend.
The Lost Continent" (a.k.a. "Beyond Thirty") is very much an alternative history mixed with a post apocalypse premise. The premise behind this alternative history story is that the United States did not get involved in the "Great War" in Europe but instead followed its isolationist tendencies to such an extreme ("The East for the East...The West for the West") that no one from the United States has gone past 30 degrees or 175 degrees latitude for over 160 years, which means no one in America even knows who won the war.
 The novel reads like the HG Wells movie 
The Shape of Things to Come but this is ERB we're talking here. So of course there's action galore but its an anti war story. Written in 1916, it postulates a world where WW1 never ended. Instead, the combatants kept fighting for decades until they reduced themselves to the level of the stone age. Reflecting the American sentiment for non-involvement, the United States combines with the rest of the Americas to form the United Americas- a fortress of civilization barricaded against any contact with the world beyond the seas
 Wiki had this to say: 
The novel, set in the year 2137, was heavily influenced by the events of World War I. In the future world depicted in the novel, Europe has descended into barbarism while anisolationist and politically united Western Hemisphere remains sheltered from the destruction. The title Beyond Thirty refers to the 30th meridian west that inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere are forbidden to pass.

There's lots for an enterprising Dungeon Master to use here. The novel is a quick read & breezes through a ruined Europe that has all sorts of interesting developments. There are 2 possible routes that one can go here. 
The alternative history route ~ Grab your classical history books with plenty of photos let the players be aboard an  aero-submarine of the Pan-American Navy of their own. Let them explore the strange ruins, poke around in the various places of Europe & generally have a great time. Simply use Original D&D, Swords & Wizardry, or Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future & cut out the fantastic elements. 
Option number two use the Lost Continentant as a spring board for your imagination & use Swords & Wizardry, or Labyrinth Lord, & Mutant Future. Here you add in the magical elements & the mutant stuff. The war has forced Europe into a new fantasy age. The world has grown far more Moorcockian & the ages of Law are ending. 
                    There's lots to mine here. The novel features conventional guns, weird technology such as the aero-submarine Coldwater under the command of Captain Jefferson Turck of the Pan-American Navy, & a very strange twisted United States that none of the players will recognize.
 It worked for Star Trek & it can work for you!  The Omega Glory trod this post apocalypse landscape as well.  A summery of the Omega Glory can be found Here
Who knows what strange bio weapons are floating around in the air of Europe or what weird mutants might be lurking there ?
The novel reminded me of Michael Moorcock's HawkMoon without the weird factors that one finds in his books. The post apocalypse Europe is eerie & sort of haunting in a way. A place to visit for adventures but not one to live in at a long term capaign.

 The novel is really a blank Post Apocalypse canvas to do with as you please. There are infact several different places for support of this novel
ERBmania has the novel on line Here
The Ebook Here
A complete Summery Here

The novel is within the public domain & fully within rights to use. Have fun & watch the wild life! 

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