Thursday, April 21, 2005

The GREATEST Randian hero

Who's the greatest Randian hero in literature? John Galt? Howard Roark? Hank Rearden?

The character I'd nominate is Professor George Edward Challenger, who first burst upon the scene in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's landmark sci-fi novel The Lost World in 1912. No other fictional character is quite so brilliant, dynamic, and ego-driven as Challenger, not even Doyle's own Sherlock Holmes. This guy not only fought dinosaurs and natural disasters, in his last recorded adventure ("When the World Screamed"), published in 1928, he had the balls to shove a massive drill eight miles up the ass of the planet Earth itself, just to get its attention! Here are a few lines from the end of that story:
"...suddenly the mighty achievement, the huge sweep of the conception, the genius and wonder of the execution, broke upon their minds. ... From every part of the field there came the cries of admiration, and from the hillock [Challenger] could look down upon the lake of upturned faces broken only by the rise and fall of waving handkerchiefs. ... He rose from his chair, his eyes half closed, a smile of conscious merit upon his face, his left hand upon his hip, his right buried in the breast of his frock-coat. ... The June sun shone golden upon him as he turned gravely bowing to each quarter of the compass. Challenger the super scientist. Challenger the arch-pioneer. Challenger the first man of all men whom Mother Earth had been compelled to recognize."
Doyle wrote five Professor Challenger tales -- two novels (The Lost World and The Land of Mist), one novella (The Poison Belt), and two short stories ("The Disintegration Machine" and "When the World Screamed"). Each one is a gem.

Hollywood has made several movies (one of them starring Wallace Beery, above) and at least one TV series based on The Lost World, but it's ignored the other four stories. Someone really ought to correct that oversight.


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