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Alas, That Great City –

Alas, That Great City

Sunday , 7, April 2024 Leave a comment

I have a weakness for Atlantis novels. I first read of the lost continent in the first volume of the Golden Book Encyclopedia. Love the illustrations in those volumes. I think the first fictional piece I ever read set in Atlantis was Henry Kuttner’s Elak of Atlantis in “Spawn of Dagon” in the paperback The Ghoul Keepers. Reprinted of course from Weird Tales (1938).

Francis Ashton (1904-1994) was a UK chemist and author. He wrote three novels from 1946 to 1952. He is probably best remembered for The Breaking of the Seals originally published in 1946. A fantastic tale of a man’s mind sent back in time to the lost continent of Bahste and its submergence when the current moon is destroyed. Donning reprinted the novel as a trade paperback in 1983 under its Starblaze imprint.

Alas, That Great City is described as a thematic successor to The Breaking of the Seals. Originally published in 1948, it has never been reprinted. The novel is 395 pages long. Jonathan Grant agrees to sail an unknown man to the mid Atlantic in his seven ton yacht. It turns out that Grant does not pick up a professor but his daughter, Joy. The first 100 pages of about the sailing of a small yacht, problems with sea-sickness, preservation of drinking water, etc. A storm at the spot on the appointed day in June has Jonathan and Joy thinking they are done for.

The narrative then suddenly changes to that of Larentzal and his foster sister Cleoli. The time is is thousands of years ago in Atlantis. Atlantis is in decline with decadence. Larentzal and Cleoli become involved in a plot to kill Queen Nethali. There are rebellious sub-kings, kings away at war, chariot races, prophets predicting doom. There is some action, escape, treachery, and a cataclysm that sinks Atlantis when a new moon arrives and the old moon is destroyed.

Ashton uses the idea of hypnotic regression and Hoerbiger’s theory of celestial catastrophe when moons are destroyed and replaced.

This is an interesting book but nothing essential. If you are going to read one Atlantis novel, get C. J. Cutliffe-Hyne’s The Lost Continent.


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