Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday Finds: “The Lost Continent”

Another in our growing line of vintage book covers we love.

The Lost Continent: The Story of Atlantis, by C.J. Cutliffe Hyne (Ballantine, 1972). Illustration by Dean Ellis.

Like many men (and not a few women), it seems, I went through a science-fiction phase during my teenage years. Although I was most drawn to stories with a harder, more realistic science edge, I bought and read books by pretty much everyone whose work looked interesting—from Larry Niven, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke to Alfred Bester, Vonda N. McIntyre, James Blish, David Brin, Walter Jon Williams, and Diane Duane. Of course, not long after that, I discovered and became enamored of crime and mystery fiction, which eventually pushed my interest in SF to the sidelines. But I still have on my bookshelves all of those science-fiction works I enjoyed in my youth, including one I now only barely remember reading, The Lost Continent, by British author C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne (1866-1944).

Because it’s been so long since I last enjoyed Hyne’s work, I defer to Wikipedia when it comes to background on this novel:
The Lost Continent: The Story of Atlantis is a fantasy novel by C.J. Cutcliffe Hyne. It is considered one of the classic fictional retellings of the story of the drowning of Atlantis, combining elements of the myth told by Plato with the earlier Greek myth concerning the survival of a universal flood and restoration of the human race by Deucalion.

The novel was published first in serial form in
Pearson’s Magazine in the issues for July–December 1899, and in hardcover book form by Hutchinson (London) and Harpers (New York) in 1900. There have been several editions since. Its importance in the history of fantasy literature was recognized by its reissuing by Ballantine Books as the forty-second volume of the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy series during February 1972. …

The novel uses the common nineteenth-century device of a “framing story” to set its narrative in context and augment its believability. The story proper was written supposedly by Deucalion, a warrior-priest of ancient Atlantis; the text having been partly destroyed inadvertently by one of its discoverers at the time of its finding, it is not entirely complete. Deucalion’s account describes his heroic but ultimately doomed battle to save Atlantis from destruction by its avaricious and selfish queen, Phorenice.
In his introduction to the 1972 Ballantine edition of this novel, SF/fantasy writer Lin Carter, who handled the editing of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series, notes that
Cutliffe Hyne wrote many other books—among them The Filibusters, The Trials of Commander McTurk, The Recipe for Diamonds, Honour of Thieves. He was quite well known in his day for his tales of the remarkable Captain Kettle, a tough, ruthless, Vandyke-bearded, and (in time, as the series went on) peg-legged little man whose bizarre exploits charmed readers on both sides of the Atlantic from his first adventure (which appeared in Pearson’s, February 1897 issue) to The Last Adventure of Captain Kettle (in the issue of February 1903).
The Lost Continent, however, remains his classic—a splendid tale of fantastic adventure, and enduring story that is, simply, the best of its kind.
Be that as it may, what likely attracted me to this paperback as much as anything else was its wraparound cover art (shown below).

The painter responsible here was Dean Ellis (1920-2009). Born in Detroit, Michigan, and later educated at Ohio’s Cleveland Institute of Art and Massachusetts’ Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, Ellis served in the Pacific theater during World War II, and then took jobs at art studios in Cleveland before relocating east in the late 1950s. A post about Ellis on the Web site of Denver, Colorado, bookseller Berserker Books offers more biographical material:
In 1950, Life magazine included Dean Ellis … in a list of the 19 most promising young American artists. In my estimation, I would have to say Ellis exceeded all of their expectations, and then some. While freelancing for nearly all of the major publishers in the science-fiction field, he painted scores of memorable book covers, practically dominating the genre during the 1970s. He also painted numerous portraits and fiction magazine illustrations, and he provided extensive advertising work for magazines like Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, [The] Saturday Evening Post, Reader’s Digest, and Life.

In the 1960s, under the guidance of legendary Bantam Books art director Len Leone, Ellis painted several impressive covers for a series of important Ray Bradbury paperbacks. The most famous of those paintings,
The Illustrated Man (1969), was recently sold at auction in 2014 by the Bradbury Estate for nearly $45,000. On average his works sell for between $200 to $6,000 dollars, depending upon size and subject matter.
I realize now that a number of the paperbacks in the SF section of my library are graced with Ellis-illustrated fronts. Several of those are also shown in the aforementioned Berserker Books post, including The Lost Ones, by Ian Cameron (1970); Icerigger, by Alan Dean Foster (1974); Reach for Tomorrow, by Arthur C. Clarke (1972); and Protector, by Larry Niven (1973). As this other post observes, “His paintings frequently portrayed vistas of outer space or breathtaking alien landscapes realistically rendered in saturated colors (often blues or greens) and exhibiting a clean, simple style.” You’ll find additional Ellis covers here and here. He is also credited with creating the dramatic front of a 1974 edition of Clarke’s Childhood’s End that I featured in an earlier Killer Covers post.

Ellis’ covers for 1973’s Protector and 1969’s The Illustrated Man.


Bill Crider said...

I still have my copy of THE LOST WORLD, too. I love that cover.

Anonymous said...

I actually read this about a year ago. (The Ballentine paperback had been sitting on my shelf since I bought it in 1976!) It's a lot of fun in a Rider Haggard-ish way.