CASPAK: THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT
Caprona was for Edgar Rice Burroughs what Mysterious Island was for Jules Verne: a place where the weird and impossible occurred. Burroughs' mysterious island is located in the cold waters of the far southern reaches of the Pacific Ocean, continually shrouded by fogs. The coast of this large island is protected by barrier cliffs, all but impossible to cross except by the most determined adventurers.
Caprona, named for an Italian circumnavigator of the previous century, has magnetic properties which render compasses useless. There is only one small pepple-strewn beach, and that is not far from a curious, warm, freshwater current which seems to originate from the island itself!
The Land That Time Forgot (Link to the novel, in three parts, collected as a single omnibus download) relates the story of how Bowen Tyler assumes command of a captured German U-boat, which story is an exciting event all by itself!, is additionally crewed by the survivors of an English tug and the German submariners. This command by Tyler is undermined by sabotage and the ever present danger that the Germans might try to retake their vessel. The saboteur secretly alters the U-boat's course at every opportunity until the underwater craft, which was manufactured by Bowen Tyler's father who owns a ship-building company, travels far from all shipping lanes and deep into the waters of the south Pacific.
Low on fuel and with no chance to return to any port the sitution for the submariners is grave by thte time the sabotage is discovered.
Rising out of the cold ocean mists is the island of Caprona. Bowen Tyler takes the submarine beneath the island's barrier wall through a subterranean river. When the submarine surfaces in the island's steamy interior, they are afloat on a massive waterway which teems with a profusion of life that is mind-numbing.
Almost immediately the reluctant adventurers are set upon by huge reptilian creatures which have been extinct for millions of years. Caspak is a place where evolution has taken an odd turn as only the grand master of adventure could write. All kinds of bizarre and prehistoric animals abound, as well as aquatic monsters and gigantic flying reptiles.
As Tyler's group travels up the river to the opposite side of Caprona they move into lands where the jungles become parklands and the fierce reptiles give way to predatory mammals like Saber-Tooth cats and Hyenadons.
The greater the distance north from the mouth of the subterranean river which links the inland lake to the Pacific, the more evolutionary advanced are the flora and fauna. It is as if, instead of traversing miles, they are traversing epochs. Tyler's group eventually encounters apes, ape-like creatures, and man.
Declaring a truce between the Germans and the English, who are in a state of war (1914-1919), all parties agree to work together until they are free of Caprona. External forces of unusual nature such as the prehistoric creatures and nature of Caprona, and the complication of a romantic triangle between Bowen Tyler, Lys LaRue, and the U-boat commander, puts a strain upon the agreed peace. The dangers of Caspak beseige the party at all times and, as they say, things go from bad to worse!
When The Land That Time Forgot was written World War I was full-blown in Europe. The United States had not yet entered the war, though the sinking of the Luisitania (the inspiration for Bowen Tyler's adventure) had aroused the nation. Edgar Rice Burroughs described the war machines then in use: submarines, ships, and airplanes. He also attempted to speak to his readership about the "war in Europe" as it was known to the American public 1916 to 1918.
The Land That Time Forgot consists of three separate, yet inter-twined, novellas. ERB collectors view the Caspak tale as a single story; yet, also collect it as was presented by ACE SF books during the 1960s: The Land that Time Forgot, The People That Time Forgot, and Out Of Time's Abyss.
The second part, The People That Time Forgot, begins in America. An expedition is gathered to rescue Bowen and Lys--their message in a bottle had been delivered to the Tyler home in California by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Leading the rescue expedition is Tom Billings, a long-time employee and family friend. A ship is outfitted and sails to the cold waters of the southern Pacific. Caspak is eventually located and Billings flies over the barrier cliffs without difficulty, but is immediately set upon by a monsterous flying creature. The plane is wrecked, and from that moment on Tom Billings discovers the incredible savagry of Caspak.
Book three, Out of Time's Abyss, chronicles specifically the tale of John Bradley and a handful of men from the English tug crew who had taken over the German U-boat under Bowen Tyler's original command. Fierce and primitive creatures make their exploration of the area near Fort Dinosaur extremely dangerous. Bradley ultimately becomes separated from his men and later finds himself upon the large island at the northern end of the immense inland lake of Caspak's volcanic crater. His adventures among the Wieroo, winged humans, and the events thereafter, reveal the true nature of evolution in Caspak.
See also: A CASPAK GLOSSARY - David Bruce Bozarth
See also: CASPAK IS AN ENIGMA - Rick Johnson
See also: THE LAND THAT DARWIN FORGOT - David Bruce Bozarth, a novel length pastiche of the rescue expedition.