Atlantis: And Other Lost Worlds by Frank Joseph
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Way back in the day, I was into all the fringe science stuff: UFOs, cryptids, ghosts, and lost civilizations like Atlantis. When you're young, the world is a magical place with plenty of room for relict populations of mammoths in Siberia, dinosaurs in Africa, and some kind of dimensional nexus in the Bermuda triangle. As you get older, it's hard to ignore the nagging voice in your head pointing out all the holes in the logic of such things.
With the passage of time, I've acquired a thick skin of cynicism beneath a carapace of skepticism. I was hoping this book would be a study of possible origins of the Atlantis story of Plato. It wasn't.
First off, for what it is, this is a good book. Frank Joseph is a good writer and is clearly passionate about the subject. I fact-checked a lot of the examples he cites and found them to be real places at the very least.
My problem was with the tone of the book. Atlantis is presented as an indisputable fact from the first few pages. I kept reading and kept debating on not continuing as the depths of crack-pottery deepened. Poseidon creating Atlantis? The Egyptians having a war with the Atlanteans in 1200 BC? The story of the creation from the Bible being a corruption of the original Atlantean creation story? It sure seemed like Frank Joseph was using Atlantis to tie together every creation myth, every great flood myth, and every unexplained ruin or structure in the world.
While I don't doubt the Atlantis story has some basis in fact, I have a hard time believing in a world empire that there's no trace off. Further more, I also have a hard time believing in an entire continent that sank beneath the waves. The thing about continents is that they're quite large. Plate tectonic theory doesn't allow for Atlantis, Mu, Lemuria, or any other legendary sunken land.
On a site note, I have to wonder if Plato's story of Atlantis had some influence on Michael Moorcock when he created the city of Melnibone on the island of Imryr in the Elric book. The sea maze and some aspects of the Melniboneans seemed lifted from Atlantis.
As a work of fiction, this book could have been great. Presented as fact, I find it kind of sad, though interesting and well-researched. Two out of five stars.
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