Science Fiction Literature/Lost Worlds

The Lost Worlds subgenre of science fiction are those works that pertain to the discovery of lost civilizations or lost worlds. The genre grows directly out of the adventure story Lost World genre antecedents popular just before World War I, such as H. Rider Haggard's works and Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Land That Time Forgot, Tarzan and John Carter series. However, to cross the line into the science fiction genre, the story must at minimum take place in a projected future or make use of technology (usually to reach the lost world) not available to our civilization.

King Solomon's Mines comic cover
King Solomon's Mines comic cover

The quintessential example of this genre of fiction is most of Anne McCaffrey's work, particularly her meticulously envisioned Dragonrider series, which takes place on a planet known as Pern, which was colonized but then largely forgotten by a future Earth. McCaffrey's series centers on this lost world's struggles to survive a menace that visits them for fifty years of every 250, and the society that evolved to confront the challenge.

Other important authors who have created and expanded on lost worlds of their own include the following:

  • Arthur Conan Doyle - The Lost World
  • Jules Verne - The Mysterious Island
  • Alan Dean Foster - The Dig
  • Brian M. Stableford - lost worlds encountered by the Daedelus Mission
  • Gayle Greeno - Methuen
  • Ursula K. Le Guin - Hainish
  • Larry Niven - Argos, Smoke Ring, and Ymir
  • Jack Vance - Tschai, Cadwal
  • David Drake - Bellevue, Hafardine, Cantilucca
  • Joan D. Vinge - Tiamat
  • Robert L. Forward - Gargantua
  • Andre Norton - Pax / Astra