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Literature / Beyond Thirty

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Beyond Thirty (a.k.a. The Lost Continent) is a short science fiction novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. It was written in 1915 and first published in All Around Magazine in February 1916, but did not appear in book form in Burroughs' lifetime. The work was re-titled The Lost Continent for the first mass-market paperback edition, published by Ace Books in October 1963; all subsequent editions bore the new title until the Bison Books edition of March 2001, which restored the original title.

By the year 2137 Europe has become a largely forgotten, savage wilderness. Fierce bands of hunters rove the crumbling ruins of once mighty, war-ravaged cities. On the other side of the Atlantic a prosperous Pan-American Federation has emerged, claiming all lands and seas between the 30th and 175th longitudes and forbidding contact with the rest of the world. All who cross beyond thirty are sentenced to death. Beyond Thirty is the story of Lieutenant Jefferson Turck and the crew of his aero-submarine, who through accident and sabotage are forced beyond the thirtieth longitude and embark on an epic quest to rediscover the legendary lands of the Old World.

Tropes in Beyond Thirty include:

  • Almost Kiss: While hiding from lions in the bushes, Turck and Victory's lips brush each other, exciting Turck.
  • Anti-Gravity: Beyond Thirty is set in the 22nd century, and the protagonist starts out traveling on an airship lofted by anti-gravity.
  • Cool Boat: The Coldwater; a Pan-American Navy "aero-sub" — a submarine capable of Anti-Gravity flight. It is a shame the hero is cut off from it after the first chapter.
  • The Empire: The Abyssinian Empire, a black super-state now ruling all of Africa, most of Europe, and the Arabian Peninsula. While the Abyssinians' technology is roughly equivalent to that of the nineteenth century, it is more than a match for the white savages populating Europe. The Abyssinians consider whites a lower order and take them as slaves.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): The primitive inhabitants of After the End Europe have lost all knowledge of their history. The inhabitants of Britain refer to their island as "Grubitten": a corruption of "Great Britain". Much of continental Europe has fallen to the Abyssinian Empire and the city of New Gondar has been constructed on the ruins of Berlin.
  • Lost World: A group of shipwrecked American mariners in the 22nd century explore the savage lost continent of Europe. In this future history (the story was published in 1915), World War I never ended because eventually no organized government was left to make peace. The United States never entered the war, and in fact made laws forbidding any ship to cross certain lines of longitude (hence the title).
  • Made a Slave: Turck and Victory fall separately into the hands of soldiers of the Abyssinian Empire, with Turck being sold as a slave to an Abyssinian colonel, and Victory being sent to Emperor's harem.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: A savage tribe is advanced enough to recognize paternity, but matrilineal because of this trope, and not being advanced enough to pull off any monogamous marriages.
  • Military Mashup Machine: Lieutenant Jefferson Turck is the captain of a Pan-American Navy "aero-sub" — a submarine capable of Anti-Gravity flight. Sadly, he doesn't have his vessel throughout most of the story, having been thrown overboard by a mutineer in the first chapter.
  • The Mutiny: While Lt. Turck and his three subordinates are out fishing the Coldwater is successfully repaired and flies off, leaving the fishermen to their fate. It is implied that Turck's second officer Alvarez, who has clashed with his superior, is behind both the original sabotage and subsequent abandonment.
  • Nubile Savage: Victory, even if she is royalty in her own culture, is a savage by the standards of the Americans. And, like all Edgar Rice Burroughs' heroines, she is absolutely stunning.
  • The Radio Dies First: At the start of the novel, disaster strikes when the Coldwater's anti-gravitation screens fail, dooming it to wallow upon the surface of the ocean, and the engines fail, leaving it adrift. As its wireless radio has failed as well, Turck cannot even summon help.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: In 2137, Pan-American Navy Lieutenant Jefferson Turck and his companions travel through the Lost World of Europe, and visit the ruins of many of Europe's great cities; destroyed 200 years earlier in a version of The Great War that lasted much longer and was much more destructive.
  • *Twang* Hello: Lieutenant Jefferson Turck discovers—in a very pointed fashion—that the forces of the Abyssinian Empire are much closer to him than he either thought or desires when an Abyssinian spear buries itself in a tree beside his head, centimetres from eye.
  • You Are Number 6: In the ruins of London, the marooned Americans acquire a guide named Thirty-Six, a captured warrior from the elephant country.