As UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh has run a reading campaign based on a particular book each year since 2007. We established caches based on those books at the time of the campaigns. In 2007, the book was Kidnapped and you can find the related cache here. In 2008, the book was Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and our related cache is here. There is also a multi-cache about Robert Louis Stevenson, author of both books here.
For 2009, the focus of the campaign is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. A new feature of this year’s campaign was that other places are joining in: both the City of Bristol and the County of Hampshire took part. You may find it helpful to read the book beforehand.
The Lost World is a classic “ripping yarn” published in 1913 and probably seemed splendidly over the top even to its contemporary Edwardian audience. Doyle himself rather sends the book up in his epigraph:
I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who’s half a man
Or the man who’s half a boy.
The Lost World itself is a strange plateau in the remote jungle of the Amazon basin, ringed by unclimbable cliffs, where prehistoric animals are said to have been preserved from evolutionary pressure. The story is the tale of an expedition to prove – or disprove – the claims of the irascible ProfessorChallenger that the place truly exists. Despite the reputation of the book as a tale about men meeting dinosaurs, only about a third of the story takes place on the plateau and there are as many “modern” animals and perils as prehistoric beasts for the explorers to deal with. And quite a bit of the story on the plateau is about its human, and almost human, inhabitants.
As you would expect of an Edwardian adventure story, there is a distinctly period feel. All the main characters are men. The only women who appear are the empty-headed Gladys Hungerton, who rejects the narrator’s suit and propels him into adventure; and Professor Challenger’s hard-done-by wife who is literally put on a pedestal – as a punishment for interfering in one of his quarrels. The heroic Lord John Roxton is an aristocratic sportsman of the old school, a prodigious slaughterer of rare animals whose heads adorn his walls. The expedition is accompanied into the jungle by “half-castes” (inevitably treacherous) and a black man (equally inevitably faithful and known as “Zambo”). And when the companions come into conflict with ape-men on the plateau, their response is righteous genocide: “…I have a score to settle with these monkey-folk, and if it ends by wiping them off the face of the earth I don’t see the earth need fret about it.”
But modern-day moralising is entirely beside the point. The purpose of the tale is escapist fantasy and adventurous derring-do. And this is your chance to take part. The Wherigo will lead you through the approach to the plateau and the adventures that await on the summit. If you survive to escape from the Lost World you will find a micro cache with co-ordinates for a bonus box that may contain something to help you prove your story to the sceptics at the London Zoological Institute.
Advice to Expeditions
Pack your cabin trunk, GPSr or phone, as well as your trusty rifle. Set sail for South America – or at any rate Holyrood Park. You can park at N55 57.219 W003 09.541 or N55 57.058 W003 10.234 (hourly charge on weekdays only). You will be asked to choose a character from the tale to play. The experience will be different depending on the character you choose; although the main flow of the story will be the same. Details of each of the four characters are given below. The whole game should take you between two and three hours.
The "soundtrack" is an important part of the experience of this Wherigo , so turn up the volume as far as it will go! Original music by Grand Funk Dynasty
Remember that you need to bring back proof that the plateau is populated by prehistoric creatures. Remember also that this expedition is horribly expensive. Can you pay the bills when (if!) you get back home? Check the map screen for locations. New possibilities may open up at any time. Walk "with purpose" as you approach a location. Sometimes approaching from the opposite direction may activate a location if it fails to open first time. The game includes automatic saves in each zone. Keep checking all the information available to you - go through the available screens to look at objects in view, assess what you have in your inventory, or what tasks are to be completed.
Go with Gladys Hungerton’s words ringing in your ears: “There are heroisms all around us waiting to be done”. Good Luck!
Professor Challenger. Bushy-browed, bearded and barrel-chested (if a bit short) the irascible George Edward Challenger is described by his wife as “a perfectly impossible person”. Convinced of his own genius, Challenger rubs everyone the wrong way and any discussion usually ends up in a fight. The scientific establishment of London pooh-poohs his claims to have found evidence of a hidden plateau in the remote South American jungle, where Jurassic creatures still roam….
Professor Summerlee. Precise, conservative, pipe-smoking professor of comparative anatomy who volunteers to test Challenger’s claims during a heated meeting of the Zoological Institute of London. How else than by travelling to the Lost World to see for himself? Despite his years and his thin, ascetic physique, Summerlee proves a resilient companion on the extraordinary journey…
Lord John Roxton. Aristocrat, Oxford Blue and all-round good egg, Roxton’s London flat holds an arsenal of hunting rifles and the heads of big game from around the globe. His skin burned brick-red by foreign suns, Roxton feels it his duty to travel with the expedition as he knows the country. Indeed, he rid the area of a half-caste slave runner during his last visit. Will Roxton’s South American connections be an unmixed blessing to his companions…?
Ed Malone. Edward Dunn Malone, reporter for the Daily Gazette, a potential rugby cap for Ireland and the rejected suitor of Miss Gladys Hungerton. Young Malone believes he can win Gladys’ heart by undertaking an extraordinary adventure. And – even without the compelling force of unrequited love – what reporter could miss the chance of a story like this….?
To download the cartridge click on the icon below.