Publisher: EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
"Science seeks knowledge! Let the knowledge lead us where it will, we still must seek it! To know once for all what we are, why we are, where we are, is that not in itself the greatest of all human aspirations?" - Professor G. E. Challenger, When the World Screamed Brilliant, belligerent and bearded in equal measure, incapable of suffering fools, or journalists, gladly, the greatest scientific mind of his generation - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor George Edward Challenger - returns in ten all-new tales of scientific adventure and wonder. He is the discoverer of The Lost World, the prophet of The Poison Belt, the destroyer of The Disintegration Machine, and the man who made the World Scream! Who can deliver mankind from the shackles of ignorance? Who else but that great self-proclaimed champion of science? We give you, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, the one, the only, Professor George Edward Challenger! This original anthology, from the authors and editors who brought you the Gaslight Sherlock Holmes series, sees Challenger and his stalwart company including the reporter Malone, big game hunter Lord John Roxton and the skeptical colleague Professor Summerlee, travel across space and witness the ravages of time, narrowly eluding a dinosaur's bite only to battle against the invasive red bloom of alien foliage, then plunge deep into the mysteries hidden within the Earth and reach out to the moon and into the heart of the unknown. Strap yourself in for chills, thrills and challenges to the unknown in exciting new worlds and lost places with literature's foremost scientific adventurer. "The whole matter is very fully and lucidly discussed in my forthcoming volume upon the earth, which I may describe with all due modesty as one of the epoch-making books of the world's history." - Professor G. E. Challenger, When the World Screamed
Reading this anthology was a lot like meeting someone and getting off to a really bad start, and then getting a chance to know that person through friends and coming to realize your first impressions were totally wrong.
Actually, it's not like that at all. That's exactly what this collection of short stories did to me for Professor Challenger. I remember hearing about this anthology when it was first being put together a couple years ago. Not the biggest Arthur Conan Doyle fan (as in, I simply haven't read a lot of his work), I had no idea who Challenger was. I downloaded a copy of "The Poison Belt" off Gutenberg and met this illustrious professor.
And I couldn't have been more wrong, but it took an anthology such as "Professor Challenger: Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places" to show me the error of my ways.
The anthology is edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec, a couple guys who know a thing or two about the work of Arthur Conan Doyle. It features 10 stories that place Challenger against an array of fantastic enemies, and involves characters culled straight from the Challenger stories and from the minds of the grandfathers of science fiction themselves -- including a fascinating take on the infamous Dr. Moreau.
More than that, though, these stories serve as a filter to allow the reader to see Challenger as those closest to him do. That insufferable brute of a man (with the mind of a genius) is also a loyal, understanding, and compassionate man. One who would just as soon toss you out a window as look at you... unless he calls you friend, in which case, he would move Heaven and earth for you. And this, to me, is what makes Prepolec and Campbell's vision of Challenger truly great.
I hope they come back and do another one of these anthologies. There is so much more for Challenger to do. I found myself thinking of the stories which could be mined from the collective world built in this anthology. A world of science, but also a world of dinosaurs, aliens, body thieves, lunar insect kingdoms, crypto zoology, time travel, genetic manipulation... and, of course, Nazis.
Also, I feel I owe Professor Challenger an apology. I simply didn't know him as well as his friends do, and now, after reading "Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places," I can see why they love him.