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Lyle Zapato

The Lost Continent Of The Arctic

Lyle Zapato | 2014-07-15.6476 LMT | Lost Worlds | Elephants | Retro

At the dawn of the twentieth century, explorers had vanquished all the dragons from the map, leaving only the Poles as blanks to be filled. The Arctic, nearer to the majority of humanity than its antipode, had long been the subject of imaginative filling, playing host to paradisiacal lands of legend and rumor.


Mercator's map of the North Pole (1595)

The idea of an undiscovered Arctic continent is an old one. The ancient Greeks believed in Hyperborea, an idyllic land of eternal sunlight beyond the North Wind, populated by long-lived Hyperboreans. William Fairfield Warren in his book Paradise Found: The Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole (1885) placed Hyperborea -- and Atlantis, Eden, Mount Meru, Yggdrasil, and Avalon -- in the Arctic.

Up to the 1890s, Greenland was widely thought to be the peninsula of a much larger land that covered the Pole. On the periphery, phantom islands like Sannikov Land and Frisland dotted the Arctic of the mind. For centuries, cart­o­graph­ers, most notably Mercator, filled the otherwise empty tops of their maps with various places drawn from mythology and tales of sailors seeking the Northern Passages.

It's no surprise then modern explorers, emboldened by scientific and technological advances, took up the search for lands hidden in the northern ice -- and some claimed to have found them.

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Lyle Zapato

Burrowing Mammoths of Siberia

Lyle Zapato | 2013-01-01.6380 LMT | Elephants | Nature | Random Found Thing

Happy New Year! Here's a frozen mammoth stuck in a hillside that's been misidentified as a giant, burrowing rat:

This is from Strange Company: Wonder-Wings, Mullingongs, Colossi, etc. (1888) by Charles Frederick Holder.

Professor Holder was the inventor of big-game fishing and one of the founders of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade (which makes this topical for today, I guess, and gives me an excuse to post it), which he first suggested at a meeting of the Valley Hunt Club as a taunt at New Yorkers: "In New York, people are buried in the snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

If a float featuring a frozen mammoth stuck in a hillside rendered in flowers hasn't been featured in the parade yet, it should.

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Lyle Zapato

"In The Lair Of The Space Monsters"

Lyle Zapato | 2011-03-28.7910 LMT | Cephalopods | Sasquatch Issues | Retro | Entertainment

What do you get if you cross a Sasquatch with a Tree Octopus? Perhaps something like this:

Octopus-man holding human aloft by the top of his head using a tentacle

This illustration is from the short story "In The Lair Of The Space Monsters" by Frank Belknap Long, published in the pulp magazine Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror #6 (Dec. 1932). (The first three pages of the story, including the illustration, are missing from the linked Google Books preview.)

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Lyle Zapato

Book Review: Drome

Lyle Zapato | 2009-09-19.0440 LMT | Cephalopods | Cascadia | Lost Worlds | Entertainment | Retro
Cover: 'Drome' by John Martin Leahy
But why had they set out on a journey so strange and so hazardous -- through the land of the tree-octopi and the snake-cats, through that horrible, unearthly fungoid forest, and up and up, up into the caves of utter blackness, across that frightful chasm, up to the Tamahnowis Rocks, into the blaze of the sunshine, out onto the snow and ice on Mount Rainier?

Drome, written and illustrated by John Martin Leahy, is a pulp story about a strange underground world, home to a lost civilization that may be the progenitors of ancient Greek culture. It was originally serialized in the Jan.-May, 1927 issues of Weird Tales, and republished as a book in 1952. I'm reviewing the book, which I believe has some differences from the pulp original (a preface, footnotes, and some casual references in the main text to atom-bombs and television that don't seem particularly 1920s-ish.)

The story has two elements of interest to me: 1) it starts in Cascadia (the entrance to the underworld is on Mt. Rainier) with references to regional history and culture and 2) it mentions Cascadian tree octopuses, albeit of an unusual and deadly subterranean variety. So naturally I had to acquire an original copy for the ZPi library and review it.

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