Rachel's Random Recommendation #3: Doyle
ALL THINGS DOYLE
The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Carroll & Graf, 2003) by John Dickson Carr; The Lost World and Other Thrilling Tales (Penguin Classics, 2001), ed. Philip Gooden
When I say "Doyle," you think "Sherlock Holmes," right? Welllll, let me tell you something- Sir Arthur would have been quite angry with you. You see (according to Carr's biography), Doyle thought of himself more as a writer of historical fiction than of detective stories, which he wrote almost as an afterthought at times. The fact that Sherlock Holmes took England and America by storm actually surprised him. Doyle was actually most proud of historical novels like Micah Clarke (1889) and The White Company (1891). Crazy interesting, right?! Well, if you've ever wondered about Doyle's love life (kind of steamy), his decision to become a doctor and a writer, and his strong views on the Boer Wars, Carr's biography is for you.
Besides Sherlock Holmes, you might have thought of Professor Challenger when you saw Arthur's handsome picture on this post. If so, then you've read/heard of The Lost World. Yes- Doyle's Lost World is the same kind of thing as Crichton's novel (i.e. dinosaurs, danger, explorers running like hell, etc. etc.). Wonder where Crichton got the idea!! Anyway, I recommend this Penguin Classics version because it includes The Lost World (1912), The Poison Belt (1913), The Terror of Blue John Gap (1910), and The Horror of the Heights (1913). The Lost World, as I said before, is about dinosaurs- specifically, a piece of isolated wilderness somewhere in South America where dinosaurs were able to keep on keepin' on, despite all their brethren dying out because of the asteroid or whatever. It's pretty crazy, but The Poison Belt is even CRAZIER- suddenly, out of nowhere, everyone on Earth (except for a few people, including Professor C., of course), collapse, seemingly dead. It's up to the few non-prone people to figure out what happened. Yeah...seriously...you have to read it. Even as you shake your head in disbelief at the bizarro-nature of the story, you'll have to give Arthur some credit for his imagination. The other two tales are pretty funky, too.
Now go forth and read you some Doyle. He's worth it.
(Here's a link to the super super super official website.)