Item description for The People of the Pole by Brian Stableford Charles Derennes...
During an expedition to the North Pole, French aeronauts Jean-Louis de Venasque and Jacques Ceintras stumble upon an alien society of technologically-advanced reptilian humanoids living in a secret enclave that has been isolated from the world for millions of years. Charles Derennes (1882-1930) was one of the pioneers of French science fiction who followed in the footsteps of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. He penned this remarkable Lost World novel in 1907, five years before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic. "The most original component of The People of the Pole is that Derennes, unlike Verne or Doyle, makes the assumption that progressive biological evolution would have continued, to the extent that the iguanodons isolated in the remote past would have developed a quasi-humanoid form, along with high intelligence and sophisticated technological capability." Brian Stableford.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.8" Width: 5" Height: 0.6" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2008
Publisher Hollywood Comics
ISBN 193454339X ISBN13 9781934543399
Availability 83 units. Availability accurate as of Jan 20, 2017 02:12.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The People of the Pole?
A classic SF tale! Jul 4, 2008
I received this novel from Black Coat Press, a small publisher that prints English-language translations of classics of French popular literature. As a result, Black Coat gets to dig into the long forgotten science fiction titles from way back when (back in the days of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells). The People of the Pole is such a novel.
Hailing from the early 1900s, Charles Derennes' short masterpiece is a lost world novel that preceded the more well known lost world classic by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (by five years, mind you). Written in 1907, The People of the Pole follows Jean-Louis de Venasque and his companion Jacques Ceintras as they prepare for a journey to the North Pole. Ceintras is a somewhat eccentric, and slightly mentally unstable, inventor who has a brilliant plan to build a dirigible (remember, this was written before airplanes were a true consideration) that can be used to explore the North Pole, where people have tried and failed to get to before. But he doesn't have the funds to do so: Jean does. Intrigued by the thrill of the adventure, Jean decides to go along with it. Before long the dirigible is made and Jean has learned that his companion is not all right in the head. But once they set off for the North Pole and finally arrive there, he will learn an even more valuable lesson: that the world up north is not what he expected and is populated by intelligent creatures that aren't quite human.
Given that this novel was written in an older time, I had to treat it as if I wasn't reading a typical scifi novel. The language present within Derennes' work is a lost language, somewhat forgotten now that we have become so mondernized and the structure and means of writing have changed (for good and bad, of course). Jean is the voice through which we hear the entire story, and put together in a way that seems rather popular in French literature. The story itself is framed by a separate story: a group of people are examining the contents of a "message in a bottle" and trying to determine if it's an elaborate hoax or a reality. Did Jean really find this lost land? Who was the insane one: Jean or Ceintras? This is really a brilliant trick. It adds a certain flare of realism to the overall story by making it seem as though it actually happened, or at least that Jean's writings really existed and that the journey itself was real. And by the end we're left with an open invitation for more.
The pacing of the story was what I would have expected from a piece of its age. It focuses very much on the characters (their reactions to the environment and to themselves). The strain between Jean and Ceintras is probably the most fascinating part of the story for me. Seeing one character descend into madness while the other desperately tries to maintain sanity and stop said mad character was rather interesting, especially when seeing how Derennes ended the novel with Jean's writings put into question. The language of the story is important to mention. This is not the simplistic prose you might be expecting. While there's nothing wrong with simpler prose styles, it is important to note that Derennes is writing in a time when such styles were not common. If you are not a fan prose styles of the early 1900s, then this isn't a book for you. If you are, or are curious about the roots of scifi, then you should give this a read.
It's hard to complain about a novel that is over 100 years old. I can't say that any complaints I might have are even valid. When reading something this old, you have to go into it with the right head. You can't read it like you would read any novel written today, because the way it is written and how the characters interact are entirely different (for the most part). That being said, I would hazard to say that the story only lacks in that it doesn't have enough of a glimpse into the world of the strange creatures in the North Pole. Granted, Derennes has done something not a lot of people in his time did: show evolved creatures, not simply monsters that are extinct. But the world could have done with a stronger treatment. These intelligent creatures must have a significant amount of culture if they have the technology that Derennes shows us. What sort of culture? What are their social lives like? Do they dance? Do they sing?
A bonus for this novel is that it also comes with a short story written by Derennes called "The Conquerors of Idols", a short tale about a man reminiscing on his past. He calls himself a king and weaves the tale of a kingdom that, for all we know, never really existed, but that he believes he was a part of. In this tale he befriends someone of royal blood, which is considered quite natural in that place apparently, and, through a sequence of events, ends up on a grand journey to find a lost, mysterious Native American tribe and their riches and treasures. I get the impression in this story that Derennes was heavily influenced by Central and South American natives, particularly in how he presented the ancient culture of the indigenous people his characters meet. I found this story somewhat lacking in detail in comparison to The People of the Pole, however it was also an interesting story that ended with a bit of a twist, which I didn't really expect.
Overall, the translation was good. There were a few errors here and there, but I think almost all of them were from the translation from French to English and not necessarily an editorial problem. If you want to read some classic scifi and look at the roots of this fantastic genre, then check out The People of the Pole. It's a terrific look at an age of scifi that has since disappeared (a refreshing look, actually). More of the classic popular literature of foreign nations needs to be brought to the U.S. If The People of the Pole is an example of the wealth of ideas and adventurous stories of places like France, then clearly we are missing out on an entire arsenal of stories that could easily be turned into newfangled movies (though preferably ones taken with at least some seriousness, rather than given humorous and otherwise silly treatments as we are beginning to see more and more of in films these days). And with that, au revoir! (If I used that wrong, please correct me).